Pakistani soaps Humsafar and Zindagi Gulzar Hai now on Netflix!

I finished up watching The Crown (so good!) and all of a sudden there were new recommended for me shows on Netflix.  Usually, Netflix turns over new content at the beginning of the month, but this time, it was mid-month.  My jaw dropped.

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The Pakistani soaps Humsafar (Soulmates) and Zindagi Gulzar Hai (Life is a Rose Garden) are now streaming in glorious HD with subs on Netflix!  Netflix gave me an early holiday gift!  To say I was excited would be an understatement.

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I was literally jumping up and down in my family room.

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Why was I so excited?  I fell, and fell hard for Pakistani actor Fawad Khan when he debuted in the Bollywood/Disney film Khoobsurat with Sonam Kapoor in 2014.

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At that time, I wanted to see more of his work, and there was nothing else on film, but he had done two soaps in Pakistan that were sensations in both that country and India.  ErosNow.com put all the episodes of Humsafar to stream on their site with subs and I was totally hooked.

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These soaps are not like American soaps that are open ended.  These productions are just one season or about 25 episodes long.  They have a complete story arc.

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Humsafar also stars Pakistani actress Mahira Khan who will debut in the Bollywood film Raees opposite Shahrukh Khan next month.  (Bonus!  There’s another Mahira Khan soap on Netflix, Saqday Tumharay).

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In Humsafar, Mahira is the poor cousin of Fawad.  Her mother is dying of cancer and asks Fawad’s father to arrange their marriage so she knows her daughter will be taken care of.  It’s rich boy/poor girl with a love triangle and a scheming mother-in-law.  To me, it was absolutely fascinating to get a glimpse of life in Pakistan and Fawad is amazing.

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Zindagi Gulzar Hai is even better but was much more of a challenge to find with subtitles, and there were a few episodes I never could find with subs, but I watched anyway because I was hooked right from the first episode.  I am thrilled to be able to watch this with subs, and in high def since I was scrounging on Youtube and Pakistani sites to find the episodes in questionable quality.  Again, we have the poor girl (Sanam Saeed as Khasaf) and the rich boy (Fawad Khan as Zaroon) dynamic but both characters are flawed and complex.  It’s also hate-to-love which is just about my favorite romance trope.

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Zaroon and Khasaf meet in college, and Zaroon is frosted that this arrogant girl bests him in the class rankings.  Khasaf thinks Zaroon is a shallow playboy, and Zaroon thinks Khasaf is a too traditional stick in the mud.  It’s just delicious to see their feelings change over time.  Your heart aches for Khasaf who has so many struggles in her life, but she’s also so prickly a character.  I loved what a spitfire she is.  Pakistani actor Javed Sheikh, who was SRK’s father in Om Shanti Om, plays Fawad Khan’s father.

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The proposal scene (which I can’t find with subs) is just the ultimate.  Khasaf can’t believe the guy who hated her through college now wants to marry her, but is convinced he’s changed when he catches hot chai in his hands when it’s about to spill on her.

 

But it doesn’t just end there — there’s more to the story as they adjust to each other in their marriage and have to accommodate for Khasaf’s career in the civil service.  The reason Khasaf scoffs at marriage and men is because of her complex relationship with her father who married a second wife to get a son, and abandoned his first wife and daughters.  I just loved getting to see these actors portray complex characters who grow and change over time.  Highly, highly recommend both soaps.  I’m going to enjoy watching those episodes I couldn’t find previously with subs, and trying Mahira’s other soap.  I love how Netflix is getting content from all over the world!

Check out this post on BrownGirl to get a sense of what a sensation both Humsafar and Zindagi Gulzar Hai were in Pakistan and India when they first aired.

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Another new addition to the Netflix line up is the excellent Israeli film Sand Storm.  It was the winner at Sundance for World Cinema last January.  It’s set in the Bedouin community in Israel. Sand Storm is a family drama where the father in the family marries a second wife, and his headstrong daughter has a secret affair with a boy from another tribe she’s met at college.  Such a great film!  The Q and A was fascinating with the Israeli director Elite Dexer.  She said that most audiences see the film as an intense drama, but when she showed it to the Bedouin community where she was allowed to film it, they laughed and viewed it as a comedy, especially the put upon husband dealing with two strong willed wives.

 

Check out AccessBollywood for an up to date list of Indian content on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Happy Birthday SRK – My Favorite Shahrukh Khan Movies

unnamedShahrukh Khan was my entree into Indian Cinema.  And it’s all because of Netflix.  Netflix streaming’s algorithm recommended Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge to me because I love romantic movies.  Then I watched Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and I was a goner.  I think my story is similar to many other non-Desi fans of Indian Cinema — Shahrukh Khan is our gateway to this wonderful world of film.  And the internet and Netflix makes it so easy now to really dive into an obsession.

How big a fan of Shahrukh Khan am I?  This is my phone’s lock screen background:

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I’ve seen 50 of Shahrukh Khan’s 70 plus movies.  Picking my favorite Shahrukh Khan films after the top two is like picking my favorite children.  SRK brings something special even in the worst of films.

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The only Shahrukh Khan film I really can’t stand and won’t watch again is King Uncle, and really that’s a Jackie Shroff Annie remake and SRK is barely in it.

But enough of the worst, on to my favorite Shahrukh Khan films:

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10.  Swades

My love of this movie about an NRI who returns home to India is particularly for this song sequence.  In Yeh Tara Woh Tara, when the projector won’t work in the village, SRK leads the children in a song about the stars.  And we get that classic arms outstretched pose projected on the sheet used for the screen.  Just a magical moment of a song.

 

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9.  Chak De India

I love that SRK did this film about a girl’s field hockey team.  Just a masterful performance and a great message.  He’s let his female co-stars have top billing in his films, and here he lets a whole team of them take center stage.

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8. Don

I recently watched the original Don with Amitabh Bachchan, and I am now even more impressed with how Farhan Akhtar kept the spirit of the original, while updating it and giving it a new twist.  Plus he has the cool seventies music from the original updated and incorporated in this fantastic film.  I love Shahrukh Khan in double roles, just love seeing him create two different personas in the same film, from Baazigar to Fan.  This is one of the best, and so delicious to see him in a dark sexy villain role.

7.  Kuch Kuch Hota Hai

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai can be silly, but Karan Johar can just get me right in the gut with his love story triangles (or quadrangles).  This gazebo scene is just so sexy.  That SRKajol magic!  We get SRK/Rani plus a sweet Salman Khan as a bonus.

6. Om Shanti Ohm

I love Farah Khan and her collaborations with Shahrukh.  Main Hoon Na barely missed the cut for this list, but I have to give it up to OSO.  Farah has given us an homage to classic Bollywood film, launched the debut of Deepika Pudakone, and the song sequences are just amazing.  Farah was a choreographer first, and the great music is paramount in this film.  I will love her forever for making SRK the item guy in the sexy Dard-e-Disco.  We won’t talk about how many times I’ve seen the Dard-e-Disco song video.

I saw Om Shanti Ohm early on in my watching of Hindi films, and I don’t know if I recognized anyone except Kajol the first time I watched Deewangi Deewangi.  This song is my yardstick of how far I’ve come in watching Hindi films.  Farah Khan loves allusions to other Hindi films in her movies, and cameos and this is the king of cameo songs.  I didn’t know Dharmendra or why Shahrukh made that hair gesture with the thin guy I now know is Zayed Khan.  These days, I’m so advanced I know the guy playing Shahrukh’s father in the second half is a big Pakistani soap star (And I’ve watched him play Fawad Khan’s father in Zindagi Gulzar Hai)!  OSO is just that much funnier and you just appreciate it so much more knowing filmi background.  I laughed so hard at the Filmfare scene on a subsequent watch with Abhishek being nominated for Dhoom 4 and SRK being nominated for two identical looking romances in the Swiss Alps with sweaters.

5.  My Name Is Khan

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This may have been the first movie I saw with SRK where he wasn’t playing a version of the SRK persona, but was really acting a character.  Shahrukh plays a man with Asperger’s and his relationship  with Kajol in the first half of the film is just wondrous.  The second half of the film is like looking at my  country through a fun house mirror.  The flood scene somewhere in the South where SRK is taken in by an African American family is a little weird, but it’s still a very moving film with a powerful message.

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4. Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham

KKKG feels like the ultimate Bollywood film.  It’s got just about everybody in it!  I’ve shown this movie as a first Hindi movie to friends because it introduces you to all the major players.  I’ve posted just the reunion scene of SRK with Jaya who plays his mother, and without subtitles, I’ve had people demand to know where they could see this film because of the emotion they saw.  This song,  Yeh Ladka Hai Allah, may be my ultimate SRK and Kajol dance and fall in love number ever.  It is just so, so swoony.  Yeh Ladka Hai Allah, indeed.  And the outfit Shahrukh is wearing is so, so gorgeous.

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3. Veer-Zaara

Veer-Zaara is Yash Chopra at his peak.  Lush scenery, beautiful songs, and an interfaith romance that just makes me tear up each and every time I watch it.  My favorite song sequence of Shahrukh’s ever is Main Yahan Hoon from Veer-Zaara.  Oh, my gosh.  The way Priety is trying to forget Shahrukh as her father forces her to become engaged to Manoj, and yet, she sees Shahrukh everywhere.  He haunts her.  And then goes in for her collarbone in the rain and I swoon.  Every. Single. Time.

 

2. Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (Match Made in Heaven) was the second Shahrukh Khan I ever saw, and I watched it right after DDLJ.   This is how new I was to my love of SRK.  I actually paused the movie and looked it up, because I could not believe Raj and Suri were the same actor.  I loved the comedic Raj, but quiet nerdy steadfast Suri stole my heart.  Such a great film.  Aditya Chopra is the master.  I watch this film over and over..  It is my comfort and my solace.  Watching this film cemented my love of Shahrukh Khan forever.

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  1. DDLJ  (Could there be any other?)

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (The Bravehearted Wins the Bride) is the one that started it all.  The first half can be a little silly, reminding me sometimes of a prank filled John Hughes film.  But, oh, man, the second half hits you.  I can’t even really express what watching DDLJ did to me the first time (and every time).  It touched my heart and gave me something I didn’t even know I was missing.  Hollywood rarely makes Rom-Coms anymore, much less musicals.  This film opened my world and gave me the gift that is Indian cinema.  Since I watched DDLJ in the summer of 2014, I’ve watched over 300 Indian films.  Thanks, Shahrukh for making me fall in love!  And Happy Birthday!