Take a moment and think about Bollywood. What are the first things that come to mind? Dancing, colors, sappy love stories, happy endings?
You’re mostly right. Bollywood is all that, but it’s also infinitely more.
Let’s start off with a little #TBT:
A little over a year ago, I broke up with the guy I thought I would marry. There was little prelude and even less epilogue.
Here’s the short version: One night I came home, and as I made tea, my boyfriend told me he didn't love me anymore and needed me to leave. No explanation. After nearly three years together and six months of living under one roof, it was all gone with zero warning.
I left and never looked back, kind of. I still Facebook stalk him every so often but that can’t be helped. His new girlfriend — the one he cheated on me with, natch — explicitly resembles the “after meth” photos people used to post all over my college campus to warn us off drugs.
I’m someone who loves projects, so immediately post-breakup the “Make Bella Happy” project was in full swing. I focused all my energy on trying to figure out why I thought all was right in my relationship, especially since we had just been ring shopping a few weeks prior.
Running, something I love and used to do with him, began to get me angry. Our favorite yoga studio became a place of torture instead of healing. Every time I left my house, I was convinced I’d run into him in the elevator, in Trader Joe’s, in a doctor’s office. I didn’t leave my room very much.
My home became a safe respite. I made it a point to come home immediately after work, day in and day out. All that extra time to myself left me with little to do, except go through everything in my Netflix “watch later” list.
I discovered Bollywood after misreading “Bride and Prejudice” for “Pride and Prejudice.” Before I watched the film, I think I had a really basic preconceived notion of what Bollywood was. I knew about the dancing, the hoopla, the over-the-top romantic gestures, the lack of sex and kissing, the inevitable wedding at the end.
Bollywood is basically like your average romantic comedy plus “Glee” plus "Pitch Perfect” and a Disney movie all thrown together into a two-plus-hour package. This unique cinematic medium embraces its craziness, instead of shying away from it.
And for f*cks sake, we all need a little bit crazy every so often.
There’s nearly always a happy ending.
Is it realistic? Not really. Chances are you won’t find your lover on a beach in the pouring rain. Your lover won’t suddenly regain his or her memory and remember you are "the one." If that’s your life, tweet me.
Honestly, I’m as aggressive post-breakup as anyone else. I love violent slasher films after a particularly disastrous fallout with a flame. However, it really feels refreshing to witness what romance should look like, happy ending and all.
Besides, there’s something pleasingly voyeuristic about watching things work out for once.
They’re a grown-up fairy tale.
There’s a reason we love Disney princesses so much. They represent what we hoped to be when we grew up. Bollywood heroines are similar in that they have that cloud of fantasy about them but are still approachable. They make mistakes, snap judgments, temper tantrums and they choose the wrong men. They’re like female leads in American rom-coms, but on steroids.
The men are similar. They’re larger-than-life, singing and dancing their way through questionable pasts. It’s a beautiful dichotomy that lends itself to a crazy over-the-top love story.
Sometimes it shouldn’t be about the sex.
I love a good ol’ romp probably more than most people, but it’s refreshing to have films that don’t just focus on the big love scene. Bollywood touches on the romance and drama leading up to sex, instead of building up to two actors’ semi-naked bodies rolling around between the sheets.
Sometimes I like my romance rated PG, and that’s not a bad thing.
You’ll wonder why our romantic comedies don’t have dance numbers.
If there was an impromptu dance montage in the middle of “Sleepless in the Seattle” or “Pretty Woman,” they’d be heralded as classics. Oh, wait...
The fashion is next-level beautiful.
Trust me, you won’t miss Chanel and Dior between all the glitter, gold and saris.
There's nearly always a wedding.
And they're the most beautiful things you've ever seen. Seriously, our plain Jane weddings don't stand a chance, not until they span several days and contain giant dance-offs.
People coming back from the dead or proposing to the bride's sister wouldn't hurt either.