With our busy lives it can often be challenging to find the time to bring the family together for a movie night. With a little planning, however, you and your kids can enjoy an unforgettable evening together. Creating family time around a theme, especially that of another country, can become a memorable tradition. Evening meals, even family outings and day trips, can be planned with Japan, France, or Italy in mind.
When it comes to sparking a child or young adult’s imagination and broadening cultural horizons, India offers boundless inspiration, from the exquisite cuisine to the equally wonderful films depicting Indian culture.
Here are some film recommendations for creating your own exotic family movie night:
“The Jungle Book”: This 1967 Disney classic based on Rudyard Kipling’s masterpiece is set in the jungles of India. In the story Mowgli, raised by wolves, is led by his guardian, the panther Bagheera, on a path to discover his destiny. Voiced by veteran character actors, and with memorable, familiar songs and endearing characters, the young will enjoy seeing this for the first time, and the young at heart will enjoy reliving it.
There are several intense scenes which at various times involve either a villainous snake, tiger, or an elephant stampede. Parents of children younger than five may want to preview the film.
“Bend It Like Beckham”: A feel-good film with an empowering message for girls set in England. The movie was a sleeper hit in 2003, and it’s a Cinderella story of sorts, that is, if Cinderella wore cleats. Jess (Parminder K. Nagra) is a gifted soccer player, but she’s coming of age, and her Indian parents want to arrange her marriage and her life. Jess hides her playing from her parents, but keeping the secret becomes impossible when she is offered the opportunity of a lifetime. The movie is fun to watch and beautifully filmed.
The film is rated PG-13. On the conservative side, the film is appropriate for 14 and up due to a sexual situation, language, and a depiction of drinking. Lesbianism is discussed, but this should certainly not be a deterrent.
Keira Knightley has a supporting role in the film, which launched her career.
“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (for the Elderly and Beautiful)”: Admittedly, this 2011 drama is for grownups, but if you have mature teenagers, they just might enjoy this cinematic gem. You might think that a quiet movie about British retirees would be a snooze fest, but you wouldn’t be more wrong. A cast of Britain’s most renowned Oscar winners or should-be winners, including Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, and Bill Nighy, offer beautifully understated performances as seniors relocating to Jaipur, India, to spend their golden years in paradise. The resort hotel awaiting them is anything but, and yet each character discovers who they really are as they experience a magical and exotic world that is, as Dench’s character Evelyn describes it, “an assault on the senses.”
Maggie Smith, as always, steals the show. Teens will remember her as Professor McGonagall in the “Harry Potter” films, but she transforms herself into an outspoken former maid with racist views who’s terrified of her uncertain future, and remarkably manages to be sympathetic. “Downton Abbey” fans will be delighted to see that not only Smith but also Penelope Wilton, who plays the mother to the heir of the estate in the “Masterpiece Theater” melodrama, are featured in powerhouse performances. Dev Patel, who launched his career with “Slumdog Millionaire,” plays the ambitious dreamer who runs the hotel.
The film is PG-13 due to strong language, sexual themes and situations, and the death of one of the characters. The theme of adultery is subtly explored. Due to the sophisticated nature of the movie, the film will best be appreciated by mature young adults 15 and up.
Two other outstanding movies set in India that adults and mature teens will enjoy are “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Monsoon Wedding.”
One final note…
Your night in India won’t be complete without giving some thought to the food. Try preparing samosas, which are served instead of popcorn at movie houses that exclusively screen Bollywood films. Visit Indian Food Forever to find this and all the recipes you’ll need to create your memorable evening in India.