Kapoor and Sons (2006)

This slice of life in modern India pits family against each other as mores clash, which reminds me (in some ways) of Crazy Stupid Love: when its collision of subplots is funny, it’s absolutely hilarious; when it’s dramatic, it’s downright heart- wrenching. Regardless of where you grew up, life is complicated and people can be hard to love but learning to listen and communicate– despite obstacles– makes all the difference.

The Least of These: The Graham Staines Story (2019)

Contributions from professional talent spanning 5 continents produced a stunning work of art in tribute to the legacy of an Australian who moved his family to India to tend to lepers there. Every effort was made to maintain authenticity, including casting real-life sufferers for a scene shot at an original setting. Regardless of your religious affiliation, this is a genuinely compelling story about humanity, forgiveness, truth, faith, hope and ultimately love filmed with breathtaking cinematography.

The Lunchbox (2013)

Whether at work or school, many cultures eat from a stack of interlocking food containers; Asians have a Bento box and Indians have a tiffin box. In and amongst the frenetic jumble of vehicles, animals and people, India—Mumbai in particular—relies on a proficient delivery system to transport and distribute hundreds of thousands of lunches each day. Whether you consider their accuracy an art or a science, Harvard was impressed enough to study it. This modest, bittersweet movie uses the Dabbawalas’ synchronicity as the premise for an unlikely (though not impossible) scenario, in which a homemade lunch from a lonely housewife, desperate to rekindle the passion in her marriage, is accidentally delivered to a lonely widower about to retire after a long career as an accountant. A series of handwritten notes are exchanged resulting in a long-distance relationship between two strangers, whose lives become uniquely intertwined.

The Other End of the Line (2008)

It’s not often I re-watch a movie I originally found flipping through channels and intended to shut off once its dorkiness became unbearable. While not the most profound story ever, its simplicity makes it likable. If characters are well-developed, their behavior will likely be guessable. So long as the screenwriter is competent, any story can be entertaining when told without unnecessary complication.

This movie is the cinematic equivalent of comfort food: Granger, a flirtatious young man with a credit card issue strikes up an unlikely long-distance friendship with Priya, customer service rep for a call center in India, who is trained to pass for an American. Behind her family’s back, she travels to the States, hoping to kindle a promising romance. Both Priya—a  head-strong modern woman born to traditionalist parents—and Grange—an impetuous womanizer—each take a step towards maturity and self-sacrifice to find common ground, especially when Granger realizes how empty his previous shallow relationships have been.

The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014)

For once a cooking movie that’s not solely about an underdog (either a chef or a restaurant) pitted against some big bad meanies! When an Indian family moves to France after a series of misfortunes and are pleasantly surprised to learn about property for sale that includes an abandoned restaurant, they open a family-style diner that serves all their favorites from home. Salt-of-the Earth, Papa is a thorn in the side of food snob, Madame Mallory when he opens right across the street from her Michelin-starred fine dining establishment. The two couldn’t be more opposite; they also couldn’t be more passionate about food. Thoughtful consideration about pride in one’s craftsmanship and how food is more than just physically nourishing.

Monsoon Wedding (2011)

“These are my children and I will protect them from myself even if I have to.”

Event planning somehow brings out both the best and worst in people as the reality of life alteration sets in. Arranged marriage is no exception. The universally relatable emotions and timeless human struggles were all handled with such delicate precision that traditional cultural elements unique to India, such as the spectacle of music and decorations, are able to shine through. Every relationship faces disappointments and every family has failures it would rather not acknowledge but the true beauty of life is in unconditional love, which is a deliberate choice from which reflexive emotion flows.

“Whether our parents introduce us or whether we meet in a club what difference does it make?”