Ah, India. Land of eating with your fingers, snake-charmers, and terrifying traffic conditions. India has also been the subject of many a film, probably thanks to the instant exoticism it represents. Here are seven movies about India that anyone interested in the country should enjoy (or enjoy picking apart their inaccuracies).
"The Charge of the Light Brigade"
One of the definitive Hollywood movies about India, this golden-age swashbuckler has plenty of Indian flavor to satisfy you, and maybe even distract you from the movie's numerous historical and cultural inaccuracies. But what nice distractions: Stars Errol Flynn and David Niven are at the top of their games, plus Flynn's famous onscreen romantic interest Olivia de Havilland. And all those "empty horses"!
Another action-adventure film from Hollywood's golden age, this one stars Cary Grant as the leader of a group of friends who end up embroiled in a deadly fight against Thuggee cultists in 19th century India. It might not be politically correct, particularly Sam Jaffe's "brownface" portrayal of the titular Indian boy, but people interested in India who also enjoy classic-style thrills shouldn't miss this.
Unlike most classic Hollywood productions about India, Jean Renoir's "The River" was actually shot there, and conveys a huge amount of respect for the culture and people of India. The story has to do with British colonialists falling in love with one another while in India, but the local color and gorgeous Technicolor photography makes this a must for any India fan.
"The Jungle Book"
Like "Gunga Din," this Disney animated classic is based on a work by Rudyard Kipling. And yeah, the atmosphere of the movie has more to do with 1960s rock and roll than India, but it might make for a fun evening if you're in the mood for a little Beatles with your Indian culture. And the water girl at the end? Women totally used to carry water like that in India! See, it's educational.
This Hollywood throwback to movies like "Gunga Din" was blasted by critics for being "too dark" or "too scary," but many Indiana Jones aficionados agree it's one of the best of the series. The depiction of India is troubling to say the least, so any India devotee will have a field day correcting the movie's many fictional touches. For instance, do they really eat monkey brains over there? Asking for a friend.
"Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World"
Comedian Albert Brooks is sent to the Middle East by the US Government to try and find out what makes Muslims laugh (India has the largest Muslim population of any non-Muslim country in the world). That's the premise for this comedy, which is a classic "fish out of water" tale and features lots of authentic Indian locations as well as authentic Albert Brooks anti-comedy. Something for everybody, in other words.