Note: Make sure to consume a copious amount of spicy Indian food prior to beginning your Bollywood journey. This will help set the mood and also provide you with the best excuse for when you feel the need to leave during a cringe-worthy scene.
Start your adventure with one of the most drawn-out, melodramatic, and emblematic movies of the century: Kabhi Khushi, Kabhi Gham (which will henceforth be referred to as K3G). Rather than simply allowing him to get his feet a little wet, you’re basically pushing him into the deep, deep end of the pool. A movie that literally stands for “sometimes joy, sometimes sorrow” and directed by Bollywood’s favorite writer-director double-threat, Karan Johar, K3G is bound to get your boyfriend appropriately wet (metaphorically and literally). K3G has all the right elements that you would want him to initially be exposed to. Jam-packed with extravagant singing and dancing sequences, heavy doses of nationalistic pride and adherence to tradition, and a smattering of good-natured, over-the-top humor capable of inducing second-hand embarrassment, K3G promises to deliver the most ideal, sought-after Bollywood experience. It also helps to watch K3G with a seasoned Bollywood-watching veteran to dissipate the incomprehensibly awkward scenes. Allow your boyfriend to bask in the glory of your exchange with aforementioned veteran as you two ceaselessly make fun of each and every scene and reminisce about the last time you two watched it back in 2004. There is a good chance that it will take him two days to finish watching the movie due to its sheer longevity. Note that it only mildly detracts from the overall effect the movie tries to achieve, so be understanding of your boyfriend’s short attention span. He can only improve from here. If, at the end of the viewing, he is thoroughly overwhelmed (or underwhelmed) by the grandiosity of the movie, abort mission immediately and watch something far less dramatic like Mission Impossible or Bourne Ultimatum. Passive aggressively, but adorably, wrinkle your nose at him from afar at his unfortunate taste in movies. If, on the other hand, he is actually able to withstand the entirety of the movie, then you may proceed and immerse him in more Bollywood movies. But be prepared for the busts that you will inevitably encounter.
Because you have doused him with an adequate amount of Bollywood culture, he can establish a healthy set of expectations for the next movie you two will watch. You can now deviate from the stereotypical Bollywood musicals and introduce him to something a bit more plot-heavy and contemporary. Try Piku, a movie that follows a quirky female protagonist and her hypochondriac father. It focuses on their fraught relationship as she struggles to meet her father’s outrageous needs and find success in her profession as an architect as well as in her love life. Laced with deep feminist undertones, the movie prods at the more serious concepts of duty and obligation while maintaining a buoyantly comedic tone. The movie has all the necessary parts to make it into your boyfriend’s Top Five list. However, he will undoubtedly find himself frustrated when he unsuccessfully struggles to keep up with the subtitles during the scenes in which the characters argue endlessly. He has just witnessed first-hand the folly of watching a Bollywood movie as a foreigner. Console him and tell him that it gets better.
Luckily, Netflix provides an array of Bollywood movies that you two can leisurely binge-watch. This will help him get further acquainted with the art of subtitle-reading and will help you embed those dramatic dialogues to memory for future use. Watch Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, a picturesque movie shot in Spain with an abundance of beautiful men and women seen flocking around in the backdrop of every scene. The movie focuses on a rich man’s get-away, bachelor trip with his two, equally rich best friends. Your boyfriend has to love a movie about three guys, right? There’s so much he can relate to.
The best thing about Bollywood movies is that one well-picked movie can become the perfect gateway into the Bollywood universe. Venturing forth is easy after that point. Movies will cast a variety of actors and actresses, most of whom your boyfriend will have already encountered in a previous movie. Like a poorly defined recursive function, the Bollywood universe will entrap your boyfriend as he continues to fall into the depths of its dark, cold pit. After a point, you will have to seriously consider taking a break. If ever you hear him attempting to sing Hindi songs or muttering Hindi catchphrases under his breath, note that you have just witnessed symptoms of withdrawal. You will need to carefully monitor his intake of Bollywood culture.
As you continue your consumption of this uniquely wonderful medium with your boyfriend, revel in the fact that you were successful in helping him become dangerously addicted to a set of foreign movies, which are exorbitantly filled with catchy songs, colorful dance numbers, wildly exaggerated themes, and gorgeous, fair-skinned characters. This is the only representation India needs.
*This post is intended for those whose boyfriends are not already obsessively addicted to Bollywood movies. If your boyfriend is, then you are obviously doing everything right.