There are some beautiful movies about India which will for sure inspire you to travel here, but there are also ones that show the grittiness of India – these are good to watch, too. They will help you understand more about India (even if a little overdone for Hollywood) and it will help you feel connected to India while you travel and see things in real life that you saw once in a movie. For me, there was one movie, A Little Princess, that inspired me to travel India back when I was just a little kid! Here are some movies about India to watch before traveling here, both beautiful and gritty, so you can get prepared for India’s amazing culture shock!
9 Movies about India to Inspire (and Prepare) You to Journey Here
I’m going to add the trailers to each movie so you can get a little sneak peak. Honestly, these are all so good that if you want to come to India, have been here and miss it, or just love the idea of India you will love this. In fact, if you never considered India as a travel destination, watch these and you’ll be booking a flight. I linked to the DVD’s on Amazo and since most of these are old, they are really cheap.
1. A Little Princess
My favorite of all the movies about India – even though it’s not so much about India as it is about this girl’s life, with scenes of gorgeous India in the background. A young girl, Sara, grew up in India with her father who was in the army there but is sent to London to go to boarding school. There are beautiful scenes from her childhood in India in the film. It’s based on a book and is written by the same author who wrote The Secret Garden.
Lion is going to make you cry your eyes out. It tells the story of a boy who gets lost on a train, ending up far away from home and in an orphanage because in India they didn’t have a way to help him find his way home – it’s too high of a population, with too many lost children. He is adopted by an Australian family and later looks for his lost family. We are taught to never give to but after seeing this it will soften your heart a bit and I think have you be more open to the difficulties some people in India go through. As a traveler, it’s important to have some empathy and be helpful when you can.
3. Jungle Book
The new Jungle Book was amazing! If you want to come to India and watch this, I’m sure you’ll end up adding some awesome jungle safaris to your itinerary. Did you know that some of the names in the Jungle Book are Hindi for what the animal is? For example, Baloo the bear: Baloo means bear in Hindi! Same goes for Bagheera which is a black panther/leopard. The writer of the actual book, Rudyard Kipling, drew on his own experiences in India as a child to write this. He was born in Bombay.
4. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
The actual plot of this movie isn’t the best ever, but it does show a side of India that other movies don’t which is that many people do come here to retire in Jaipur, Goa, and other cities. It also shows Jaipur in a beautiful way which is one of my favorite cities here. I think seeing the riches and “other side” of India is kind of cool. In this movie, a young guy has his own love story going on while he opens the “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” for old English people to come and retire at. It’s cute. There is a sequel too!
5. The Darjeeling Limited
This is an Indie flick where three brothers go on a train journey to find their mother, who is up in the mountains in Darjeeling after their father dies. They have a crazy adventure and it’s a very funny movie. You’ll see some things about India in this that are so true, like the shoe scam, lol. It’s definitely one to see especially if you want to travel India by train. The brothers are played by Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman.
6. Slumdog Millionaire
I’m sure you all know about Slumdog Millionaire since it’s won a million awards! This film has mixed feelings here in India with some people being angry it shows a negative side of India, but it does show the truth of what goes on with the mafia guys in charge of the beggars and, well, it will break your heart but it’s important to know the truth which although it might be dramatized here, it is the gist of how the streets are run. Mumbai surely has a dark side, but this movie has a great ending. Watch this first, then watch Lion and it will balance out your feelings!
7. The Lunchbox
Such a sweet movie! The lunchbox has its own love story, but it touches on India’s famous Dabbawalas. It means “one who carries a box”. You have chaiwalas, who serve chai as well. Dabbawalas serve boxed lunches served in tiffins. But, that’s beside the point! Dabbawalas are FAMOUS in India because in Mumbai they pick up homecooked meals from women’s houses and deliver them to the men working in Mumbai so they have a hot homecooked meal. They deliver 200,000 lunches a day in Mumbai and get those empty boxes back home, too. They make only – it’s a system people actually study because it’s so amazing. This movie is about that one-in-a-million mistake.
Having lived in the monsoon for 5 summers now, I just love this documentary which will make you want to travel to South India during the rainy season. While people might think it’s just a rainy time of year, the monsoon is a huge deal which effects people so personally but can cause absolute devastation to some. This is a really enlightening documentary! That feeling when the first big rains come and you know “It’s monsoon” officially, is the best feeling, a really happy time. The cinematography here is just stunning and it shows so many classic scenes of India that I get happy tears.
9. Life of Pi
WOW! Okay, read the book first – then see the movie. This is one of my favorite movies of all time. It’s the story of a kid who is lost at sea after a boat crash and is on a tiny boat with a Bengal tiger, named Richard Parker. It’s honestly amazing and the ending has a deep twist you don’t see happening.
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