Movies, books, and songs to capture the essence of Bangkok and get you in the mood for travel

Movies

Cheeni Kum (2007)
Lighthearted romance about Buddhadev, a persnickety London-based restaurateur who meets Nina, a woman from Delhi who is almost half his age. Planning to marry, Buddhadev travels to Delhi to seek approval from his future father-in-law, a conservative retiree who is six years his junior.

Delhi Heights (2007)
The ups and downs of a married couple residing in the Delhi Heights apartment complex. Running parallel to their story are those of other residents, including a gregarious Sikh fellow and a cricket bookie. Mixed box-office reviews.

Fanaa (2006)
Starring Bollywood stalwarts, Aamir Khan and Kajol, this romantic-drama is about a blind Kashmiri girl who falls in love with a smooth-talking Delhi tourist guide. Spotlighting some of Delhi’s most renowned monuments, the plot seesaws between hope and love to espionage and tragedy.

Khosla Ka Ghosla (2006)
Comedy about a soon-to-retire middle-class Delhiite who excitedly purchases land on which to build his dream home. But after shelling out his life savings he discovers, much to his horror, that the land has been unlawfully occupied by an unscrupulous property shark.

Monsoon Wedding (2001)
Set against a looming monsoon, this color-charged movie revolves around an arranged marriage in Delhi. A series of intersecting stories—from that of the goofy event planner to those of the bride’s relatives—injects plenty of dramatic and comical twists.

Books

City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi, by William Dalrymple (1993)
Through captivating events and characters, Dalrymple deftly unpeels Delhi’s plenteous layers, past and present, in a quest to discover what makes the city tick. This brilliant travelogue effortlessly traverses time to intimately unveil the beating heart of Delhi.

Delhi: A Novel, by Khushwant Singh (1990)
Darting back and forth through some seven centuries of Delhi’s rocky history, this historical novel centers on the life of a lascivious journalist and is interwoven with a jumble of engaging characters, from princes to poets.

Inhaling The Mahatma, by Christopher Kremmer (2006)
From Old Delhi’s teeming streets to New Delhi’s corridors of power, Kremmer superbly captures modern India at a time of change. Through riots, a hijacking, and other close encounters, the author, aided by the grace of his adopted Indian family, finds resilience and optimism amid India’s chaos.

The Last Mughal, by William Dalrymple (2007)
Largely shaped from the rebels’ formerly untranslated documents, this gripping book relays the Indian and British perspectives of the 1857 siege of Delhi—climax of the largest anti-colonial revolt in history that led to the demise of the highly cultivated world of Mughal Delhi.

Twilight in Delhi, by Ahmed Ali (1940)
Classic historical novel set in Delhi after the War of Independence (1857). Revolving around an upper-class Muslim family, it proffers a nostalgic window into the Islamic and Hindu culture of Delhi and how it, and Delhi at large, changed with British rule.

Music

Compilations:

Desert Visions
Fusion music—Indian meets Western—that works. Prem Joshua creates edgy repertoires incorporating the traditional sounds of Indian instruments such as the sitar, tabla, and santoor, with the saxophone, keyboards, and bamboo flute.

Divya Jyoti
Beautiful selection of aartis (devotional songs) by respected artists including the inimitable Rattan Mohan Sharma. Pieces include “Om Jai Jagdeesh Hare,” “Jai Ganesh,” and “Saraswati Aarti.”

Jhini
Indian Ocean creatively marries classic and contemporary Indian regional music, using an enigmatic medley of instruments from the Indian tabla (twin drums) to the bass guitar.

Music of the Deserts
Zakir Hussain dramatically mixes the sounds of nature—from eerie sandstorms to crashing thunder—with rhythmic subcontinental music that cleverly interweaves Indian instruments such as the sarangi, shehnai, and dholak.

Classic Songs:

Music and Indian culture have long been intimately intertwined. Here are just a handful of unforgettable tunes, old and new, that have made a lasting impression.

  1. “Aaj mera jee kardaa” by Sukhwinder Singh
  2. “Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hai” by Lata Mangeshkar
  3. “Chaiyya chaiyya” by Sukhwinder Singh and Sapna Awasthi
  4. “Dil cheez kya hai” by Asha Bhonsle
  5. “Jhalak dikhla ja” by Himesh Reshammiya
  6. “Kajra re” by Alisha Chinai, Shankar Mahadevan and Javed Ali
  7. “Rang barse” by Amitabh Bachchan
  8. “Sarakti jaye hai rukh se naqab ahista ahista” by Jagjit Singh
  9. “Tum pukar lo” by Hemant Kumar
  10. “Chalte chalte” by Lata Mangeshkar

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