TV shows have been doing one-off episodes forever. Christmas episodes, reunion episodes, "very special" episodes which helped teach us kids not to do drugs (Saved By the Bell anyone?) and where babies come from—these were a staple when I was growing up.
But more and more producers are writing a new type of "very special" episode: the Bollywood episode.
Bollywood is still a bit of a novelty in most parts of the United States, and the success of films like Slumdog Millionaire and Bride and Prejudice have TV studios jumping on the India bandwagon faster than you can say "Jai Ho."
The result has been a flood of Bollywood-themed plot lines on shows ranging from daytime soap operas to popular sitcoms (and everything in between!), and while most of these episodes are written in an honest and good-hearted attempt at having fun, some miss the mark badly and veer dangerously close to mockery.
Without further adieu, here are some of the best (and worst) Bollywood episodes I've come across. Which ones have you seen, and which shows (if any) managed to nail that special filmi style?
(linked titles to go Youtube videos where available, which weren't embedding properly at the time I wrote this post!)
The hilariously bad soap opera featured a couple desperate to escape the plotting of a man-hungry woman, so they plan to run away to India together. Cue the dream sequence, which involves not-so-bad dancing and hilarious music (sample lyric: "I'm tired of your meddling, get lost Theresa!")
Late night British soap/drama Hotel Babylon started its fourth season with a bang when a wedding at the hotel between film star Omar (Chris Bisson) and Aishia (Preeya Kalidas) goes horribly awry. Determined to still have a good time, the hotel staff don their best saris, crank up the music, and dance the night away.
Sean and Gus help a man (the gorgeous Sendhil Ramamurthy) who believes he has had a curse put on him which is causing his girlfriends to suffer tragic accidents. Bonus points for casting Sendhil, I guess?
The less said about this one the better. Poor Raza Jaffrey.
Now we're getting to the good stuff. Raj (played by the very funny Kunal Nayyar) expresses his love for Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) the only way he knows how—by imagining a cheesy Bollywood dance sequence. The scene works by not taking itself too seriously. The result is fun and adorable—just like Raj.
Bollywood's so popular even cartoons are getting in on the action! This one's a classic, and is the only "Bollywood episode" I've seen which bothers to feature an actual Hindi song (the glorious "Pal Bhar Ke Liye"). In the words of Mr. Burns: "Oh go ahead and join them Smithers. I know you want to."