Bollywood films are renowned for their excesses—extravagant costumes, surreal sets and dance sequences featuring countless extras—but a new generation of Indian directors have long been blazing their own trails. Eschewing sweeping romances with happy endings and tear-jerking family dramas, they have honed in on contemporary social issues and the concerns of young people. In their varied work, you can find commentaries on the urban-rural divide, corruption, activism and the realities of living in an emerging economic superpower which is bound by its traditions but also hurtling towards the future. Many of these films continue to weave in musical numbers and meet cutes, but the focus is on holding a mirror up to society, versus pure spectacle and escapism.
If were looking to see Bollywood beyond campy song-and-dance, put these eight powerful movies on your watch list.
1. Swades (2004)
Shah Rukh Khantakes on the role of a cynical NASA scientist in Ashutosh …