Five Movies to Watch Before You Visit India

#1 Outsourced (the movie, not the series), available on Netflix. PG-13 for some sexual content

A comical, and surprisingly accurate portrayal of culture shock and adjustment for westerners landing in India. Watch for cultural cues, things to do and not to do, and the high role of honor in this society. Ready yourself for some enjoyable light-hearted laughs and the color, chaos and confusion of this foreign land. A fun movie for the whole family (you can fast forward the bedroom scene).

#2 Gandhi (the 1982 version with Ben Kingsley), available on Amazon.
PG, some violent content but I had my kids watch this before moving to India

A serious, in-depth look at the India from before, and the India that exists today. Only recently independent less than seventy years ago, you will gain an appreciation for India’s quest for freedom and one of it’s greatest heros. Plan for an evening of deep thinking, intense action and stirring dialog.

#3 Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, available on Amazon.  PG-13 for some sexual content

A whimsical look into the business life, personal dreams, and view of love in India through the eyes of westerners who move there to retire. Watch for cultural adjustment tips, underlying value systems, and the way westerners are viewed in India. A great date night movie.

#4 Water, available on Amazon. PG-13 for disturbing social injustices. Subtitled.

A serious and compelling look into the depths of Indian society for women, widows, and children. A moving story with masterful cinematography and direction, notice deep Hindu world views that permeate society and why some things are the way they are. Plan to watch this alone when you have time to watch it a second time right in a row, with a box of kleenex nearby.

#5 Lagaan, available for free on YouTube, PG. Subtitled.

A lengthy 3-hour movie full of Bollywood dancing, cricket and politics. You will learn many things about Indian culture, family dynamics, caste, history and entertainment while watching. While the story-line may be long and drawn out for most westerners, pay attention to many subtleties of culture because this movie is made in India by Indians, not by westerners.

Do you have other favorite movies about India? I'd love to hear your favorite and why you like it.