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6 of the Best Bollywood Movies About University Life

25th April 2017 Posted by: Cristina Radulescu

PERHAPS you feel that you’ve binge watched enough House of Cards or Curb Your Enthusiasm on Netflix, or you are not in the mood to renew your Amazon Prime subscription; then why not try watching something else for a change?

As a university student, I find it somewhat cathartic to take some time out and watch movies focusing on high school or university life. They have a strong element of nostalgia and freedom which can be hard to come by during your day to day life. However, there’s only so many times you can watch Clueless, don’t you think? Although Hollywood apparently has a monopoly on highly commercial movies, as well as films with a steady cult following, there is an entire world of cinema that extends well beyond the limits of the United States.

Bollywood, for instance, has some phenomenal films about university or high school life, which are definitely worth a watch. After a week of personal viewing, here is my top 6:

1. Main Hoon Na (“Trust Me, I am Here”) – 2004

This film is an interesting mix of early 2000’s action movie and a college flick. Bollywood legend Shah Rukh Kahn stars as a former POW who is sent undercover on a university campus to tie up some personal loose ends – as well as being on a classified Government mission. In the midst of his professional duties, he gets caught up in a student love triangle, a situation which serves as the film’s comic relief.

And, in a quintessentially Bollywood fashion, people do break out into song and dance, seemingly out of the blue.

Although I would not go so far as to call Main Hoon Na a cinematic masterpiece, it is entertaining in the way it balances out the overt campiness of student-focused film, with the more serious undertones of an action plot, rooted in the very real conflict between India and Pakistan.

2. Wake Up Sid – 2009

This heartfelt coming of age drama represents a new age in Bollywood film making. It is far more rooted in reality and prizes the authentic experiences of students and 20-somethings (as opposed to the flashy, over the top stylistic approach normally associated with Indian film-making).

The movie’s protagonist Sid (played by Ranbir Kapoor, grandson of the Indian Golden Age star Raj Kapoor), is taken on a journey to prompt his personal growth, learning to deal with broken friendships and relationships.

3. 3 Idiots – 2009

The year this came out, it was the highest-grossing Bollywood movie to that date and it received critical acclaim on top of its commercial appreciation. Similar to Wake Up Sid, it tells the heartfelt story of three engineering students at the Imperial College of Engineering, a prestigious Indian university, who build strong relationships through their differences in character. Many current university students will perhaps find similarities to their own lives on screen, as the movie explores that point in everyone’s life when we leave home for the first time and we are expected to balance people’s expectations of us with who we really are.

The film was so inspiring that it led to global re-makes, including Tamil and Mexican versions, as well as Hollywood and Italian ones in the works.

4. 2 States – 2014

But where would we be on a list about films set at university if we didn’t include a romance? Once again, Bollywood is famous for its historically melodramatic romance movies spanning generations of filmgoers and 2 States is the Romeo and Juliet of the modern Indian age.

When two students fall in love at university, the question remains whether the Indian North-South divide will be strong enough to keep them apart. The story is more than just a sweet romance, because it gives valuable insight into the cultural clash that is an everyday reality in India for many 20-somethings, and is still hard to surpass.

Even if romance may not be your cup of tea, it is definitely worth a watch. The cinematography is beautifully crafted, while the plot benefits from great pacing (especially when alternating the romantic moments with the more tense ones involving the protagonists’ parents).

5. Student of the Year –  2012

A film most likely of earning a spot among your guilty pleasure watch-list, Student of the Year adds a Bollywood aesthetic to Gossip Girl-like drama and glamour.

The plot revolves around three best friend who attend a university dedicated to the upper crust and compete for the title of...you’ve guessed it... Student of the Year.

Everything in this film is over the top and will likely leave you puzzled, speechless and delighted. From the university grounds themselves, to the students and the unusually large nightclub they appear to have on campus, this is one of those delightfully hedonistic films that will put you in the best mood.

6. Yuva (“Youth”) – 2004

Finally, Yuva is a testament to the versatility of movies based on the lives of university students. The genre is not limited to light-hearted comedies, romantic stories or coming-of-age tales of wisdom. Yuva tells the story of three students, from three different social backgrounds attempting to enter politics. Their lives are changed for good by an incident on Kolkata’s Howrah Bridge in which they all take part. From that moment on, their relationships with the women they love, their friends and enemies gains a completely different dimension.

It is an intriguing political drama which masters the multilinear narrative in a masterful way, and definitely one to watch as soon as possible!

So, there you are! 6 alternatives for when you’re looking for a change of pace and are willing to change up your viewing habits.


If you liked this, try:

Beyond Bollywood: What Student Life is REALLY Like in the West

5 Must-See Films That Describe Canada to International Students


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