By Farah Naz Shaikh
Every girl needs her night-in with the besties – a cosy get-together with an innermost circle of friends topped with pizza, giggles and endless gossip. Now, we all know that at some point these sorority nights turn into musings of loves won and lost, the what-if’s and the why-not’s! Well, why stop there? Continue celebrating love, romance, and the happily ever after (or not) with a film that has all the masala. A pinch of flirtation, a dose of longing, oodles of romance stirred with pangs of betrayal and ultimately, some kind of wonderful karma wrapped up in delicious eye candy and amazing music. As lists go, here’s one we’ve made that is guaranteed to keep the estrogen level in the room super happy! So choose away, get the girls in, order the pizza and have the time of your life.
1. La La Land
Top of our list is, without a doubt, La La Land! Even before bagging three Oscars, this movie was nothing short of a must-watch. In a nutshell, the plot of this movie involves a jazz pianist falling in love with an aspiring actress. We all sometimes need a few hours to get away from reality, and take our word for it: La La Land is your perfect getaway when it comes to this. It’s outlandish and outrageous, and exactly the film you need on such a night. Yes, it’s a musical BUT it’s a musical you’ll love even if you hate musicals. Thrilling, action-packed and almost a love saga, this session will require you to keep a tissue box handy. No, really.
The story of unrequited love wrapped in scenic locations, star power and blockbuster music. Deepika Padukone plays the party-loving, vodka-swigging Londoner; the suave Saif Ali Khan pairs up with her as her boyfriend and occasional roommate, while debutante Diana Penty is the shy best friend who Deepika loves to tag along with everywhere. The boyfriend falls for the best friend. And therein lies the Cocktail lesson that no matter how happily a London-based Indian boy cohabits with a London-based Indian party girl, he will still choose to marry India ki sweet si, seedhi saadhi larki. Now if that isn’t a hot topic you girls want to spend the night debating over, what is?
3. The Bandit Queen
Gritty and sassy, just like it’s protagonist Phoolan Devi, The Bandit Queen is a biopic on the famed criminal who started life as a doomed woman born to a low caste Hindu family and became one of India’s most notorious and feared bandits. Directed by Shehkar Kapur, the title role has National Award Winner Seema Biswas playing the transformation of Phoolan with stunning conviction. With cinematography doing full justice to the barren landscape that was Phoolan’s domain, and a haunting sound track, the Bandit Queen is compelling and inspiring.
4. Always Shine
A 2016 film shining away on the indie circuit, Always Shine confronts ideas like jealousy and competition among women in the entertainment industry. Best friends, Anna and Beth, decide to take a weekend break at the Big Sur. When they arrive at their isolated forest retreat, the pair discovers that their once intimate friendship has deteriorated into forced conversations, and deep-seated resentment. As the barriers go down, stark and bitter realities emerge. A tingling psychological thriller, with excellent performances and photography, Always Shine throws light on the darker side of female rivalry and human psyche through a compelling script and stellar performances.
The movie every girl should watch, Queen celebrates the coming of age of a middle class girl, Rani, who is ditched by her fiancé just before her wedding day. However, Rani decides to go on the pre-booked honeymoon all by herself. The adventure takes Rani – played by the vibrant Kangana Ranaut – out of Delhi for the first time, where she ends up meeting new friends, discovering new cities and finding her own self. A script packed with Punjabi wit, hip thumakda numbers and relatable characters, Queen aces the anthem of girl power.
6. Volver (Spanish)
A sumptuous visual and emotional treat, Volver (in English, Coming Home or Coming Back), is a melodrama spun around the lives of four women. Raimunda (Penelope Cruz) and Sole (Lola Duenas) are sisters living in a small, sunbaked village of Spain, looking after their dying aunt. Their mother Irene has died, and Raimunda’s daughter, played by Yohana Cobo, is dealing with an even more personal death: of her innocence. After their aunt passes, Raimunda and Sole learn that it was common knowledge to most of the village that their mother (or her ghost) tended to her sister in her ailing months. Bereft of her faithful patient, the mother (played by Carmen Maura) returns to her daughters. A surreal story that will resonate with every woman, Volver unveils some bittersweet truths along the way. Directed by a man, the famed Pedro Almodovar, Volver has strong female characters whereas the men are liars, dirty cheats or pseudo-incestuous. “Men are the problem,” Irene tells her daughter upon learning she’s single again. “Get rid of them and you can start your life.” We see a whole lot of sighing and nodding going on with that one.
Also known as Fawad Khan’s Bollywood debut, this remake of a classic has a sweet, sparkly story of opposites attracting and love conquering all. Sonam Kapoor’s bubbly avatar off-sets Fawad’s brooding presence in a predictable sequence of events but hey, who can complain when there’s a gorgeous close up of Fawad every few minutes. That, if nothing else, makes Khoobsurat beautiful.
8. Dobara Phir Se
A script that will make you feel elated at the least. This Pakistani movie, which is one of its kind, finally has a female protagonist who is far from being a bichari. Zainab (the leading lady) is every woman – foolish, loving, real and vulnerable at times. Although, Dobara Phir Se, may just be another love tale with a happy ending, but it challenges the conservative norms of Pakistani society in more ways than just one – it addresses the divorce stigma and presents us with a very considerate and non-evil mother-in-law. We guarantee this movie will at least give you some hope, which is if it doesn’t manage to empower you.
9. Dear Zindagi
Much like its name, this movie is a tribute to life itself. Not only does it reflect on the simple joys of life, it teaches you how to combat the common problems, life may throw at us through the character of Kaira. The protagonist in this movie is again a female, one who is young, dynamic and independent to say the least. Kaira is a promising cinematographer in search of a perfect life. Her encounter with Jug, an unconventional thinker and her psychologist, helps her gain a new perspective on life. She discovers that happiness is all about finding comfort in life’s imperfections. So, if you are one of those young professionals going through some serious career backdrop or a break-up of some sorts, Gauri Shinde has made this one for you.
10. Eat Pray Love
Good food, beautiful Rome and heart-tingling romance are not the only features of this film that make it a must-see. Eat Pray Love is the journey of a married woman who one day gets an epiphany of how unhappy her marriage really is, and that her life needs to go in a different direction. After a painful divorce, she takes off on a round-the-world journey to “find herself” and definitely ends up finding more that just that. Feeling lost and robotic these days perhaps? Buy a DVD of this Julia Roberts starrer and get some inspiration.
So, it’s time to set a date and get your gang together and binge watch these films that not only cross genres and geographies, but are stories that make you sing, laugh, cry, dance, argue or just sigh in silent agreement. In short, ample food for thought and giggles with the besties. Happy watching!
Photo Credits: IMP Awards