Countryfile’s Anita Rani discusses her latest BBC2 documentary Bollywood: the World’s Biggest Film Industry – and why she still holds a candle for India’s cinema classics…
Your new show is all about Bollywood. I’m picturing all-singing, all-dancing movie marathons at your house…
No! I don’t actually watch all that much Bollywood – they churn out films, and I’ve got family members who’ll watch everything going. But I’m very selective and will wait till something’s highly recommended. They’re all very long – you’ve really got to invest time!
Lunchbox is a beautiful Indian film that came out last year – but there’s no singing or dancing, so it’s not strictly Bollywood. There are some classics you need to watch: Sholay, an early Indian western, is epic. Love, friendship, comedy, a great villain. Everybody knows every lyric to every song – they get played at every wedding! And Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham is really cheesy, but it’s a big hit for the diaspora in Britain. Omkara is the Indian version of Othello, set in the Rajasthani desert. Shakespeare is so Bollywood.
Being Indians, we can’t actually just have a small screen at home. Our telly is decent-sized and we’ve got surround-sound. I’ve got my own swivelly Bond villain chair, but my husband and I sometimes sit together on the sofa. I like to get cosy, make popcorn, eat expensive chocolate and have a nice bottle of red wine. I’m often distracted by my phone, though, or have a book or magazine I’m flicking through.
What are you watching?
Atlanta. I’m obsessed with Donald Glover [who writes and stars in the show] – and I’ve been a huge fan of his music as Childish Gambino [his rapper alias] for ages. He’s a clever dude. Atlanta is very subtle, with such an interesting insight into the lives of his characters, especially how they’re viewed by outsiders. Westworld was entertaining but a bit full-on. The music documentary The Defiant Ones on Netflix is one of the best series I’ve seen in a long time – the people involved, the way it’s shot… It’s just perfection.
Whose advice do you take on what to watch?
Twitter’s always a good place to find out what people are watching. I think my husband’s taste is dreadful – his standards are much lower than mine. I know I’ve got great taste, so we meet in the middle when we decide…
So no rubbish gets past you?
Oh it does! I find myself watching weird alien history programmes, and there’s an Australian remake of Monkey that’s so bad it’s good!
Bollywood: The World’s Biggest Film Industry (BBC)
Do you miss old TV shows?
Yes, bring back Quantum Leap! I was bought my own TV at a young age – my mum and dad worked very hard running a factory and I was given a telly in my bedroom when a lot of my friends weren’t allowed one. Me and my brother watched brilliant shows on a Saturday morning like 8.15 from Manchester. I’d also watch a lot of late-night telly that I wasn’t supposed to see, like The Word and Baadasss TV… It was usually on Channel 4.
Anita Rani presents Bollywood: the World’s Biggest Film Industry on Monday 13th August at 9.00pm on BBC2