3 Movies to Teach You New Cultures

By: Thulasie Manoharan 
I have always regarded a good movie to be a transporting device to an entirely new place and time. But most of the time the television comes off as a mind-numbing device. This is can be true in most occasions, and that is why there is a trick to it and its very simple. Watch good movies. Among the trillions of movies produced, there are movies that can leave you with a lingering sense of wonder, inspiration, purpose and an overall feel-good vibe. Then there are movies that give you the opportunity to break free of your cacoon and immerse yourself in a whole new culture and tradition. And if you’re worried about language barriers, well that is what subtitles are for. Below are three movies of entirely different cultural backgrounds that had been recommended to me, and now I can’t stop recommending them to other people.

Piku (2015)

At the very begining of the movie you are introduced to a father and daughter pair going on a deep discussion of bowel movements.  Not quite what we would have in mind, but nonetheless an interesting way to capture the attention of an audience. This comedy revolves around a Bangoli family consisting of a daughter, father and their Indian butler equivalent. Piku, the daughter, is an architect by profession and also a single independent woman who has to juggle the demands of her work life, personal life and her ageing father, Bashkor Banerjee’s childish tantrums. The story really takes us down to the very core of a realistic father, daughter relationship (minus the sugar coating) and this is enhanced when they are met with Rana, a quiet, contemplating cab driver who drives them all the way from Delhi to Culcatta due to Mr. Banerjee’s fear of flying. Rana’s zen-like presence serves as a breather amidst the chatter, that is Piku and Mr. Banerjee. Amongst, all the over the top dramatisation, this film stands as a tome of simplicity, giving all viewers a simulacrum of a typical Indian family. The storyline coupled with the Indian scenery, colour, tradition and Mr. Banerjee's constipation, will definitely tug at your heartstrings.

Children of Heaven (1997)

I was introduced to this film on one very fine Sunday afternoon. As my eccentric English teacher decided that we should watch a film instead of write essays. It was quite the wise move. I remember the movie having such an impact on my brother and me, that when we got home we begged our mother to purchase a DVD of it. In Persian, the movie is called Bacheha-Yesamanas. Set in the poverty stricken streets of Tehran, Iran, the story tells us about a pair of siblings, Ali and Zahra Mendegar. Ali was sent out to mend his sister, Zahra’s shoes and while buying groceries, looses them. Afraid to tell their poor father and ill mother, both Ali and Zahra reach a conclusion. Zahra will use Ali’s shoes when she goes to school in the morning, and race back home to give them back to Ali who will attend school in the afternoons. The pair try very hard to work things out in this manner, but after several occasions of being late to school, Ali gets reprimanded by his teacher. Fear not for the story takes a much cheery turn. We are often introduced to Iran as a war stricken country with not much to live for, but what we fail to realise is that amidst all this ruckus real people do live in this place. The story screams out innocence among the violence. The simple love and pleasures between people. It was most definitely an eye opener. I am very sure you will not want to miss this Oscar nominated film!

Amelie (2001)

When I think of Amelie, there just seems to be an intrinsic feeling that instantly makes me happy. Amelie is all thing mischivious, wonderful and expansively imaginative. This French romantic comedy will take you through a crazy journey through the lives of many, from Amelie’s brittle bone neighbour, to the green grocer, the waitress who works with her and even her fathers’ life. Imagine a person who loves sticking their hand down a sack of grains, or loves breaking the crust of a crème brûlée. That is what Amelie is made of. Growing up, Amelie was falsely believed to have a heart defect. Upon hearing this her parents shunned her from the outside world in order to protect her. After Amelie’s mother dies, Amelie is further surpressed and this makes her develop a deep sense of wild imagination. Her wild imagination coupled with her deep seated curiosity, is the very thing that gives the movie its zest. Having a somewhat lonely childhood, Amelie sets out to curate the lives of the people around her and inherently making their lives better. Through this journey Amelie learns about the simple pleasures in life and what joy it can bring. There are far too little words to describe just how good this movie is. Shot in over 80 Parisian locations, this movie takes its viewers through, what one would most definitely call an eccentric journey.
With all the movies set, all you will need to do is brew some tea and nestle down and watch away!



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