5 Life Lessons Bollywood Movies Taught Me

I’m pretty dense when it comes to movies and movie references. I’m not sure where I was for most of my pop cultural life, but when discussing movies with my friends, I gracefully offer to go get the next round of drinks to avoid admitting that I just recently saw Forrest Gump or still don’t get the hype around Quentin Tarantino.

However, I have been exposed to numerous Bollywood movies, many against my will. Growing up in Kansas, every Sunday my family would get together to play the latest Bollywood blockbuster. While I personally found the movies lacking depth or any deviation from typical rom-com formulas, I did realize five life lessons that the genre of Bollywood subtly teaches.

1. Age is nothing but a number.

Bollywood is dominated by a handful of heroes and heroines that get cast over and over again, regardless of age and movie topic. This means, 45 year old men gyrate and act like 20 year old college kids. No, seriously, they are playing 20 year old college kids. Though the physical signs of aging are generally present, the youthful spirit that these actors and characters exude reiterates the fact that age is just a descriptor of who you are- it doesn’t limit you.

You are only as old as you feel. If there are hobbies or interests that you’ve dismissed as unattainable due to your age, it’s time to dust off the walking cane and tackle them head on.

2. Quit taking yourself so seriously.

We build up so many moments (jobs, relationships, breakups) to be challenging, scary, or nerve-wracking because we are scared of outcomes. Most of the time, the worst outcome is a form of light rejection that we always bounce back from. Luckily, Bollywood understands this because even in the middle of the most intense love triangles and betrayals, they break into a beautiful meadow for a song and dance number.

We all need to quit the self-imposed sulking when real life interrupts our plans and brush that chip off our shoulders. Oh, hip shaking flirtatiously with someone helps too.

3. Take THAT risk.

I emphasize THAT risk because there is always that special interest that eats at us from within; for whatever reason (not the right time, not stable enough, not enough money) and we bat that interest away.

In Bollywood movies THAT risk is generally about love and winning the heart of a girl or guy deemed entirely out of our league. I’m extrapolating to include risks of profession, travel, and hobbies that we deem out of our respective leagues. I’m not sure who wrote the guidelines for leagues, but you’ll never score a home run if you don’t bat. (I’ll stop with the baseball references now.)

In spirit of three hour-long Bollywood movies, I’m cueing a bathroom break intermission. Are you guys still with me?

4.  We all want Love.

Love is always the central point of a Bollywood movie, and while as an ornery feminist I can scoff at the theme, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I love getting that warm fuzzy feeling from someone. As much as we say we don’t care what others think, its human nature to want to emotionally cuddle up to someone and hear his or her opinions. Also, I like being taken out to dinner.

5. Non Indian flash mobs need to step their game up.

Seriously guys, Bollywood has the “groups of synchronized dancers in open public spaces” formula down to a perfect science. We can all learn a thing or two about choreographing a performance at a bus station.

You can read more from Shilpa Rao on her blog.