For those of us who love to travel, 2020 has been a bit of a dampener, to put it mildly. Plans of beach vacations or backpacking trips for 2020 had to be put on hold as we tried to come to terms with a virus that can be fatal.
Most of us in India are still cooped up at home because Covid-19 cases are rising in many parts of the country. Forget travelling, many of us haven’t been to the park next door for a walk because of fear of the virus.
When the lockdown began, there was some hope that things would get better by the end of the year, but now it’s not even clear how 2021 is going to look. Many states (and countries) have relaxed travel restrictions, but unless it’s an emergency, the sensible thing to do is stay put. And if you’re someone who is dying to pack your bags and take off to the mountains, but can’t do so IRL, what better way to indulge your feelings than to watch some good Hindi movies where the characters do some (or a lot of) travelling?
So cosy up with the beverage of your choice and travel vicariously through our favourite characters from Hindi films. 2020 may have dashed our dreams of travelling, but we still have our movies.
1. Queen (Netflix)
2020 hasn’t been the greatest year of Kangana Ranaut either, and the developments this year may have wiped out from our memory that she gave us one of the best Hindi movies on a woman travelling alone. Rani, played by Kangana, is heartbroken when her fiancé breaks up with her a couple of days before their wedding. Rani shuts herself in a room and cries and cries until she can’t anymore. Her middle-class Delhi parents, who are already distraught by their daughter having been ditched at the altar, are even more shocked when Rani declares she is going to go on her honeymoon all on her own. An unsure Rani boards a flight to Paris and makes the journey of a lifetime.
Rani, who has never stepped foot outside her own little world in Delhi, meets new people, has new experiences and makes new friends. She meets care-free Vijayalakshmi (Lisa Haydon) in Paris, who owns her life and sexuality. Not only does Rani learn from her, Vijayalakshmi is the nudge Rani needs to truly find her independence. In Amsterdam, Rani befriends Taka, Tim and Oleksander. These experiences are life-changing, and by the time Rani gets back to Delhi, she is a completely different person.
Watch the film for the feel of Paris and Amsterdam from the comfort of your own couch, and for Kangana’s endearing portrayal of Rani.
2. Tamasha (Netflix)
When it released in 2015, Tamasha left its audience divided. The story of Tara (Deepika Padukone) and Ved (Ranbir Kapoor) either left one impressed or disappointed, there was no in between. But if you’re looking for a film to watch where the characters travel to beautiful destinations, this is a good option. Tara and Ved meet in Corsica and immediately become friends, but decide to not tell each other their real identities. As they spend their time exploring the island, Tara begins to fall in love with the fun and outgoing Ved. However, she leaves Corsica without telling him who she really is.
A few years later, she runs into Ved in Delhi, and they begin to date. But Ved isn’t the same person she met in Corsica. If you can ignore the typical Imtiaz Ali’s manic pixie dream girl trope of the woman saving the man from himself, the film is pretty watchable. The breathtaking visuals of Corsica and Ranbir and Deepika dancing into the sunset are sure to bring some joy. The parts shot in Delhi’s Hauz Khas Village will make you want to go there right now (but don’t), and AR Rahman’s music will soothe your soul. If nothing else, watch it for the chemistry between Ranbir and Deepika—some of their earlier real-life vibe seems to have spilled into the film.
3. Dil Dhadakne Do (Amazon Prime Video)
This is a cruise and a Europe trip, all in one film. Zoya Akhtar takes us along with the Mehras on a cruise ship where all hell breaks loose, with one of the family members jumping off the ship. But before all of that happens, we get to see visuals of Italy and Turkey — of the city of Istanbul, the Hagia Sophia, the hamams in the city, air balloons of Cappadocia and so much more. While it’s the colosseum in Rome that is world famous, Dil Dhadakne Do took us to the colossus of Tunisia.
Like in every Zoya Akhtar film, we not only meet each character, but find out who they really are behind the facades. For the Mehras, the cruise is important to keep up appearances as their business fails, Ayesha Mehra (Priyanka Chopra) is pretending to be happy in her unhappy marriage, her brother Kabir (Ranveer Singh) is pretending to date someone so that his family can form a business deal with the girl’s family and he can keep his private plane. But all of this falls apart as the family tells each other what they really think of one another on this cruise. While it’s difficult to really feel their pain, given the privilege and exotic locales, the movie itself is totally worth a rewatch in the times of coronavirus.
4. Finding Fanny (Disney+ Hotstar)
Homi Adjania’s Finding Fanny takes us on a road trip through Goa, and a part of it that we haven’t seen before on the silver screen. It’s set in Pocolim, a fictitious village in Goa. The trip begins when Ferdie Pinto (Naseeruddin Shah) realises that the love of his life Fanny never received a letter he had written to her, and never knew about his feelings for her. So, with the help of his friend Angie (Deepika Padukone) and her mother Rosie (Dimple Kapadia) he sets out on a journey. Add to the mix Savio (Arjun Kapoor) and Don Pedro (Pankaj Kapoor).
A comedy of errors follows as this mismatched bunch set out to find Fanny in one car, and the film wants to make you feel as uncomfortable as that sounds. But bonds form during the trip and it ends with an unlikely friendship between Ferdie and Rosie. This isn’t your typical time-pass movie, but a one worth watching if it’s Goa that you’re missing.
5. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (Amazon Prime Video)
Yes, this is Zoya Akhtar’s second appearance here, because she does send her characters on gorgeous trips. This one is about three friends Kabir (Abhay Deol), Arjun (Hrithik Roshan) and Imran (Farhaan Akhtar), who go on a road trip through Spain. Each friend chooses a destination and a challenge that all of them have to do. The friends end up driving from Barcelona to Costa Brava, Seville, and Pamplona.
While Kabir struggles in the relationship with his fiancée, Imran is conflicted about finding his estranged father. Arjun, who initially struggles to find his chill because his job entails attending video meetings during vacations and being panic-stricken ALL THE TIME, is later seen tipping his head over outside the car with “ude khule aasman mein khabo ke parindey” playing in the background. That scene is likely to make one want to go on a road trip right away. The tomatina festival, and lots of beautiful drives feature in the film. If you were planning to visit Spain in 2020, this film can, maybe, help you make peace with the situation right now.
6. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (Amazon Prime Video)
Yes, we’ve watched it a million times (despite its problems), but who would mind rewatching Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol waltz their way through luxurious locations of Switzerland? Set against the background of Switzerland, Raj and Simran fall in love with each other as they try to catch up to the rest of their friends after missing their train. By the time they realise that they are in love, it’s too late. Simran’s patriarchal AF father wants to parcel off his daughter in marriage to his best friend’s son, who is an trophy-hunting manly man from Punjab, even though he has nothing in common with Simran.
Not only do we see the streets and cafes of Switzerland, we see bits of London, and even Punjab ke khet (farms), when Raj follows Simran to India to win her family over. Add to that the iconic soundtrack of the film and this will surely lift your mood, and speak to the traveller in you.
7. Chalte Chalte (Netflix)
Switzerland was made famous by Yash Raj films, but would us Bollywood-loving Indians have even known the beauty of Greece had Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukherjee not danced away in its stunning locales?
Raj (like SRK is in every movie) follows Priya to Greece when he falls in love with her after they get into an accident on a highway in India. They travel through the country as Raj tries to win Priya over, even though she knows she’s engaged. He finally does so in Mykonos and Athens, perhaps the most beautiful locations on the planet. Their early 2000s fashion sense isn’t bad and neither is the soundtrack.
The story line is very early 2000s so you’ll have to bear with the problematic turns the story takes sometimes, but the film is still worth a re-watch.