Some movies are great to watch when stoned – multiple facets and meanings appear to emerge, and even the mundane looks riveting and often vastly funnier. In the West, movies such as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Big Lebowsky are tailored to provide audiences with surrealism and psychedelic imagery. In India, and more specifically Bollywood, this genre has so far remained largely unexplored.
Here’s a list of movies to watch when stoned. We are looking at Hindi movies only and won’t be including regional movies such as Gandu by Q or Upendra’s Super.
Directed by Anurag Kashyap, this 2009 movie deals with student politics, secessionist politics, unrequited love and retribution. Set in present day Rajastan, this movie features brilliant use of imagery (for example ‘Democracy Bar’, or the character of Ardhnarishvar) and Piyush Mishra who provided music, lyrics and also acted in the film. His scenes are laden with satire and humour while those with Kay Kay Menon depict chauvinism at its best. All said, with its stellar performances and great use of colour, Gulaal is a must watch film when stoned.
2. OM DAR-B-DAR:
The quintessential example of a surrealist and postmodernist Indian movie, this film makes for great watching when under the influence of certain somethings. With militant tadpoles that refuse to grow into frogs, and combining a strange mixing of magic realism, dream sequences, Puranic tales and Science, this absurdist tale takes us through Om’s adolescent years in the sleepy town of Ajmer- a town known for sending the highest number of song requests to All India Radio. A non-linear storyline, surrealist imagery and songs like Bunty Babylon Se and Meri Jaan (which inspired Emotional Attyachar in Anurag Kashyap’s Dev D), this movie, directed by Kamal Swaroop in 1988, had to wait 26 years for release. The movie has over the years acquired a cult status and has inspired many film makes and cinema lovers including Anurag Kashyap, Imtiaz Ali, Amol Gupte and Kiran Rao.
3. NO SMOKING:
The second Anurag Kashyap movie on our list, this neo noir psychological thriller was a commercial dud, but was applauded across festival circuits. Considered much ahead of its time, this movie was loosely based on Quitters Inc.-a short story Stephen King- and follows a suave John Abraham as he looks to quit his chain smoking by enrolling himself in the Paresh Rawal run rehabilitation center called Prayogshala, which employs methods that are both dubious and bizarre. Paresh Rawal plays Sri Sri Prakash Guru Ghantal Baba Bangali Sealdahwale, while Jesse Randhawa’s act in the song “Jab Bhi Cigarette??? stays with you long after the movie is over. Bordering on the abstract, this movie can have more than one interpretation and can be a great movie to watch when high.
4. URF PROFESSOR:
Another movie that has acquired an underground cult following over the years, this black comedy made in 2000 by the late Pankaj Advani, who made the equally dark Sankat City, was applauded for its iconoclasm and use of parody across film festivals in Pakistan and Philippines, though in its home country it failed to get a Censor certificate due to its explicit content. The plot follows Manoj Pahwa, a hired assassin with hyperopia and a keen interest in reading, who also tries his luck with lottery tickets. The film also features Yashpal Sharma, who plays Pahwa’s aide quite effectively, as well as Sharman Joshi and Antra Mali, in perhaps their earliest roles.
A movie that inspired a scene in no less a movie than Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, has earned its entry into this list. We get a glimpse into the mind of Kamal Hassan as the plot follows the murderous trail left behind by the psychotic antagonist (played by Kamal Hassan, of course!) as he encounters whip-wielding sadist women, mind altering drugs and coked-up pop-stars. Having used some rudimentary animation in his period drama Hey Ram the previous year, this 2001 flick uses animation beautifully to show gore and violence.
Another black comedy directed by Rajat Kapoor and starring his gang – Ranveer Shorey, Vinay Pathak, Saurabh Shukla, and Neha Dhupia – Mithya tells the story of a struggling actor who gets caught in a deliciously vicious trap of ganglords and crooked killers. A film that is ironic, hilarious, and sad at the same time, Mithya released in a time when small budget films like Johnny Gaddar, Manorama Six Feet Under, and Raghu Romeo were managing to see releases.
7. ANDAZ APNA APNA:
Another movie that failed commercially, but has assumed a legendary status over the years. From a time before Aamir Khan had turned into a perfectionist with a sensitive side, and Salman Khan into a shirtless wonder, this buddy flick gave the world a glimpse of their acting prowess and their ability at handling situational comedy. Memorable performance from Paresh Rawal and cameos from Jagdeep, Mehmood and Shakti Kapoor make this a mandatory watch when high as its deadpan humour leaves you in splits. Also it one of the very few movies where Shakti Kapoor is not crass and excruciatingly painful to watch.
Before Ram Gopal Verma lost his sanity and discovered Twitter, this maverick who is widely credited as having changed the face of Indian cinema gave us this psychological horror film. Although RGV had also made the crime-comedy Daud two years earlier which also makes for great viewing when high, it is this movie with its plot twists and uncertainties that makes it to our list. Penned by Anurag Kashyap, this film is undoubtedly one of the best in its genre and is sure to send a shiver down your spine. The RGV-Kashyap team got the recipe right for a successful suspense/horror flick: rainy afternoon, psychotic killer on the loose and an apartment with a lone occupant. Consisting of just three characters, this movie will grip you till the very end and we strongly suggest that you give it a watch when high.
Gun fights in slow motion, Bollywood classic numbers remixed tastefully and a unique use of light and colour to leave you woozy, this crime thriller is about a botched up kidnapping. Though the movie at times moves at a slow pace, every scene is artfully crafted and the accompanying soundtrack leaves the watcher spellbound. The experience of watching a group of rich kids move from one crime to another in order to cover their tracks and their gradual descent into chaos is especially more riveting when intoxicated.
10. MSG/ Clerk/ Ankhiyon Se Goli Maare/ Gunda/ Tehelka:
There are movies that are so bad that they are actually good: Some of us get our kicks from watching really shitty movies when high. Since we could not arrive at just one movie that will have you in splits with its plot and marvelous acting and make you doubt your sanity and pose questions about your very existence, we decided on letting you choose your own poison. You may want to watch the exploits of the messianic Saint Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insaan in Messenger of God (MSG) or find out how Manoj Kumar found the connection between passive smoking and falling in love in Clerk. You may also want to investigate if Govinda slurring his words in Ankhiyon Se Goli Maare was the complete joke or was their more to it. A personal favourite of mine is Tehelka. The plot revolves around a fictional kingdom of Dongrila, ruled by an evil dictator, who is very imaginatively named Dong. When not drinking or merrymaking, he is engaged in recruiting women for suicide bombings across India. Apart from having Amrish Puri ham his way through the entire film, this movie also commits the sacrilege of having a bloated Dharmendra mouth Eli Wallach’s famous words…???When you shoot, shoot; don’t talk???.
Did we miss any movie in this list? Let us know in the comments below!