Every week, we will curate a collection of titles – movies, TV, general miscellanea – for you to watch (and in some cases, read, or listen to), in a series we call Weekend Binge. The selection will be based on a theme which binds the picks – which could be extremely blunt in certain instances, or confusingly abstract in some. No rules apply, other than the end goal being getting some great entertainment to watch.While the idea is to base the theme on the week’s major events – it could be the release of a new movie, or show – we could also use this opportunity to comment on our world in general, and turn to art to wrap our heads around some of the more difficult stories of the past seven days.When it comes to making films about other cultures, Hollywood’s track record is spotty at best. As with any other form of appropriation, or, to use a politer term, translation, when a foreigner looks at a different country and its people, they bring a unique perspective – one that doesn’t necessarily gel with ours.
In the case of films such as Slumdog Millionaire and Lion – both films starring Dev Patel and both films that could possibly elicit knee-jerk reactions from desis – this perspective highlighted the realities of living in modern India to almost absurd extremes. While this may not be an accurate representation in the larger context, it’s usually more likely for Western-made films to be more honest about our problems (and achievements) than we are – they’re made by people who are divorced of any personal baggage.However, none of this is applicable to Basmati Blues, the long-delayed Brie Larson movie that was given a strange release in India months after if crashed and burned in other countries. Like the recent Victoria & Abdul, it’s perhaps the best example of how not to make a movie about a culture alien to your own – it’s filled with racist stereotypes, poorly researched, and doesn’t have a single authentic character (let alone an authentic depiction of India) in its unbearable 130 minute run time.But Basmati Blues is, surprisingly enough, quite the anomaly. Here are five English movies about India that didn’t fall into the same traps – minus Slumdog and Lion and the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, because you’ve probably seen them.