India is one of the countries on the top of my Travel Bucket List. Therefore, I believe, when traveling somewhere new and culturally different – books and movies could be quite helpful in terms of understanding a local culture! Check my list of favorite books and movies about India!

Experiencing the Magic of India

Know the culture

You know that India is one of the countries on the top of my Travel Bucket List. In fact, I´ve almost made it to Goa once, but got accepted to a semester abroad study program and decided to focus on my career side. So my India travel plans were set aside. Although, I´ve never really left the idea of visiting rainbow-hued India.

In the meantime, I keep fueling my wanderlust through travel books and movies to inspire my future vacation choices. Besides, while traveling somewhere new and culturally-different, books & movies could be quite helpful in terms of understanding the local culture.

Also read: 7 Favorite Travel Quotes

Reading and watching the same things that the locals do could help you to get a different perspective. Let´s say this is how you get a small cultural preview of your future trip! Plus some inspiration and travel ideas along the way!

Inspire yourself

My parents recently went to India and returned home like they were not vacationing together: mom loved it, dad did not. It´s like I´ve told you in my San Francisco post – we end up liking places that match our personalities. One glimpse and either we are disappointed or this place becomes a part of our heartbeat forever. Although, cultural preparation might have also something to do with our first impressions. For instance, my mom has seen quite a few Bollywood movies as a child and was dreaming about getting her own sari, and dad simply joined her. See the difference?

You can´t really know in advance whether you like a certain country or not, but what you can do is try to dive into its history, books, and movies to learn as much as you can about your destination, try to see it with different eyes. In the end, experiencing a new culture on the other side of the world is always a mind-opening experience. It will change you and become a part of you forever, whether you want it or not.

Therefore, since I know I´m going to make it to India at some point, I´ve been stockpiling the best movies and books about India for a while. Want to experience the magic of India straight from your home?! – Check this collection of movies and books about India to get you in the mood before visiting or maybe, inspire your next trip.

Mahndi hands India - Interesting books and movies about India to fuel your Wanderlust
Photo by Vitaliy Lyubezhanin

Movies about India

Let´s start with the movies. Even though I used to be a true bookworm, after having two kids close in age it´s much easier for me to watch a new movie than to concentrate on finishing a book.

Current Favorites

I warn you, at least half of these are box-of-tissue-needed movies. You can also check Personal List: Movies That Touched My Heart.

  • My name is Khan (2010)
  • Taare Zameen Par (2007)
  • Gandhi (1982)
  • Pather Panchali (1955)
  • Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
  • Lion (2016)
  • Jungle Book (2016)
  • Life of Pi (2012)
  • Water (2005)
  •  Monsoon Wedding (2001)
  • The Lunchbox (2013)

Funny movies

  • The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
  • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)
  • Outsourced (2006)

Bollywood

There´s no movie list about India without some iconic Bollywood stories! Need a little splash of colors? – How about some colorful sarees and rhythmic dances.

  • Devdas (2002)
  • Jodhaa Akbar (2008)
  • Raavan (2010)
  • Guzaarish (2010)
  • Lagaan (2001)
Running woman in a sari, India - Interesting books and movies about India to fuel your Wanderlust
Photo by Saksham Gangwar

Books about India

Current favorites

  • “The White Tiger” by Aravind Adiga (2008) –  a Booker prize winner, very ironic, sometimes shocking and yet full of funny moments (some even darkly humorous), but extraordinary written!
  • “Shantaram” by Gregory David Roberts (2003) – an international bestseller, loved it from the first chapter! As the debut novel of Australian writer, it is essentially an autobiographical piece of work, but parts of it are reportedly fiction as well. But you know what? You feel an author genuinely loves India, his warmth towards the country and its people literally shines through the pages! Apparently, it´s contagious, you can´t help it but feel the same way!
  • “The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy (1997) – another booker prize winner. I should warn you this book has made me sad right from its first chapters, and yet I couldn’t stop reading till the last word. A forbidden love story, political and personal dramas, mysterious tale of misunderstanding and pain, echoing through the years… so many small things that ended up making a big difference!
  • “Midnight’s Children” by Salman Rudshie (2005) – talented, controversial, full of social criticism and very deep thoughts! Salman Rushdie’s books are not the easiest to read for me, they are full of metaphors – it´s like nothing else you´ve ever read! In particular “Midnight´s Children” won the Booker Prize in 1981 and was recognized as “the best novel of all winners” on two separate occasions, marking the 25th and the 40th anniversary of the prize. It´s enough reason to give it a try, isn´t it?

On my India reading list

There are quite a few books about India that I´ve handpicked from forums and Goodreads reviews but still didn´t get a chance to read. Besides, I try to savor them one by one and make pauses, otherwise, your impressions just end all mixed up.

  • “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” by Katherine Boo (2012)
  • The Guide” by R. K. Narayan
  • A Hundred Little Flames” by Preeti Shenoy
  • “The Palace of Illusions” by Chitra Divakaruni
  • “Train to Pakistan” by Khushwant Singh
  • “A Suitable Boy” by Vikram Seth
Indian spices - Interesting books and movies about India to fuel your Wanderlust
Photo by Pratiksha Mohanty 

Cookbooks

When you want to experience a new culture it´s not only about the novels. You know that I´m a huge foodie and gastronomic adventures form an essential part of my travel journey. I currently own two Indian Cookbooks, but there are quite a few on my radar.

Cooking Indian food can´t be compared to anything else. India is the world´s largest producer of spices: 75 of 100 spices listed by ISO (International Organization for Standardization) are manufactured in India. Once you get your n Indian cookbook and start stocking the groceries to make those recipes happen, you realize there´s a whole world of spices out there you literally knew nothing about. I couldn´t find even half of the spices I needed in the local Spanish shops or online and ended up ordering all from the UK.

  • Vegan Richa´s India Kitchen” by Richa Hingle
  • The Indian Cooking Course: Techniques – Masterclasses – Ingredients” by Monisha Bharadwaj

Do you have any suggestions for me?
I´d love to expand my list of movies and books about India!

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Interesting books and movies about India to fuel your Wanderlust

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