10 Bollywood Films With An Eye On India

Filmmakers are increasingly looking at telling homegrown stories that find resonance among the desi audience.

Published On Sep 12, 2022 | Updated On Sep 12, 2022

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No walking around on the streets of New York or singing songs in front of the Eiffel Tower; no taking inspiration from the West or straight-off copying Hollywood blockbusters. In the past few years, filmmakers have turned their eyes inward to look at stories that belong to the heartland of India. From romantic comedies and family dramas to movies addressing social taboos and issues—these homegrown tales have an element of relatability for the Indian audience. Here’s a look at some films that add the desi tadka to the narrative.      

The small-town flavour comes alive in this sweet and charming movie about a self-assured girl who falls in love with the author of a novel.  Shot in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari retains the texture of Bareilly in the dialogues and songs. Rajkummar Rao and Pankaj Tripathi fit their roles perfectly, adding just the right texture to this film which is Indian at heart.   

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The twin temple towns of Haridwar and Rishikesh are the backdrop for Bhumi Pednekar’s debut film. The romantic drama had her playing an educated overweight girl (Sandhya) who is married off to an uneducated boy (Prem), played by Ayushmann Khurrana. The nostalgia of Kumar Sanu’s songs, cassette players and mohalla committees has an old-world charm about it. 

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Shot in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, Sanya Malhotra’s Pagglait saw her playing Sandhya—a young widow who has recently lost her new husband. Writer and director Umesh Bisht brings a certain authenticity to the film’s narrative with the endless stream of grieving relatives who gather at home. Malhotra, too, is believable as a small-town widow who is not exactly grieving for a husband she barely knew.   

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Amit Sharma’s directorial won many hearts when it was released for its portrayal of a mid-aged couple who get pregnant, much to the embarrassment of their grown-up sons. The premise of the film lends itself to a lot of comedy and drama that ensues once the relatives and neighbours learn about the pregnancy. Sharma walks a thin line of showing the conflicts of a middle-class family in an entertaining and engaging manner.  

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The film brought together the successful jodi of Bhumi Pednekar and Ayushmann Khurrana after Dum Laga Ke Haisha. Shot in Delhi, Rishikesh, and Haridwar, the story revolves around Mudit Sharma (Khurrana) who is all set to get married to Sugandha (Pednekar) but realises that he suffers from erectile dysfunction. Drama unfolds when the two families discover what they imagine would be a great hindrance to a happy marriage. However, in the end, it’s love that triumphs in spite of all the odds.    

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In this Shashank Khaitan-directorial, aspiring air hostess Vaidehi refuses to conform to her fiance’s chauvinistic ideas and chooses to have a career of her own. The Varun Dhawan-Alia Bhatt starrer wasn’t just an entertaining rom-com but also had a social message at heart. The movie was appreciated by the masses for its simple message told in an engaging manner. 

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The strangely-titled movie starring Akshay Kumar and Bhumi Pednekar addressed the issue of open defecation, especially in rural areas of the country. What made the movie an entertaining watch was that it had a love story at the core of it. One of AK’s highest-grossing films ever, it received mixed reviews for its writing but most critics agreed that the movie had a strong social message and had its heart in the right place.   

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Sharpshooters Chandro and PrakashiTomar’s lives were the focus of this biographical drama starring Taapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar. Shot in Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh, the highlights of the movie included endearing performances by the lead actresses as well as the simple storytelling. Pannu and Pednekar both won best actress awards in the critics’ category at different award functions.  

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What happens when you’re in a live-in relationship with your partner but have to pretend to be married for your families’ sake? The comedy-drama starring Kriti Sanon and Kartik Aaryan found a resonance with many youngsters who could relate to the themes. The majority of the film was shot in Gwalior and Mathura and the small-town texture added yet another layer to the drama.  

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The poster boy of social messaging enveloped in entertainment, Ayushmann Khurrana played a small-time actor who is good at imitating female voices. Though the tone of the film was comic, the underlying themes of loneliness and depression—topics rarely addressed in mainstream films—made this a film audience and critics took notice of. Although it received mixed reviews, the film was a hit at the box office. 

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Photo: IMDB

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