Since time immemorial, India has amalgamated discrete communities from across the globe into its cultural fabric and given them acceptance right in its heart. When talking about this, we cannot help but acknowledge one such beautiful community, the Parsis. They are as intelligent as they’re interesting and have never failed to intrigue the rest of the world with their quirky and rather eccentric ways of living. If you’re someone who’s remained nonchalant thinking of them as just a peaceful people, with unprecedented love for their car, their breakfast, their agiary, inside jokes and their typical swears, then say hello to these movies with unconventional portrayals of Parsi characters, that not only introduced to us the many faces of a typical Parsi and but also helped us see the world of emotions that hides behind their otherwise calm demeanor.
1. Khatta Meetha (1978)
This was probably the first time a mainstream movie depicted the story of a Parsi guy wherein Homi Mistry (played by Ashok Kumar) struggles as a widower to bring life back together, and in the process also bears the consequences of his decisions when confronted by his family, children and society alike. Watch this Basu Chatterjee classic indefinitely to get an insight into the workings of the community and a pool of emotions that every character portrays.
2. Pestonjee (1988)
Anupam Kher and Naseeruddin Shah reprise the roles of two Parsi best friends, Pestonjee and Phiroj, respectively and how! In this rather compelling movie, characters give the audience a sneak peek into the subtle nuances that dwell within every Parsi and you must definitely see it for the veritable depictions it offers of the typical life of a Parsi in Bombay. Directed by Vijay Mehta, this film also won the Best feature film in Hindi award at the 35th National Film Awards.
3. Percy (1989)
Written and directed by eminent Parsi personality, Pervez Mehrwanji, Percy is an emotional drama that looks at the mother child relationship in the absence of a father figure around. It tells an engrossing tale of a Parsi boy, Percy (played by Kuroosh Deboo) and how he finds solace in music.
4. Earth (1998)
Set against the backdrop of India-Pakistan partition, Earth follows the life of a young Parsi girl, Lenny from Lahore and how the change of events leads to drastic transformations in the life of the protagonist and the people she loves. Maia Sethna, who plays young Lenny in the movie, manages to leave a lasting impression and acts beautifully. This Deepa Mehta creation must not be missed for its powerful storyline, star cast (that includes powerhouse performers like Aamir Khan, Nandita Das, Rahul Khanna) and unadulterated representation of Parsi life in pre-independence era.
5. Being Cyrus (2005)
It is almost inevitable to be talking about significant movies showcasing Parsi characters and not talk about this one. This movie marked a lot of firsts; Homi Adajania’s first movie as a director, first Indian movie to be released entirely in English language and first big budget Parsi centric movie of the century in Bollywood. If the presence of acting stalwarts like Naseeruddin Shah, Dimple Kapadia, Boman Irani, Simone Singh and not to mention Saif Ali Khan, doesn’t already give you reason enough to watch this, see it for the complex emotions, dysfunctionality and dark side of the Bawa you never knew existed.
6. Parzania (2007)
Inspired by true incidents that took place in the aftermath of the Gujarat riots (2002), this film is a compelling watch to understand what lead to the disappearance of a 10-year-old Parsi kid Azar Mody amidst communal tension. Parzan Pithawala plays the Parsi lad Azar Mody onscreen and brings alive the real emotions and trauma with much gravitas. This one is definitely unputdownable.
7. Little Zizou (2009)
This 2008, multilingual release is an amusing movie that revolves around a couple of interrelated Parsi families in Mumbai and brings to center stage the offbeat passions that people from each family possess. Written and directed by Sooni Taraporewala, this movie was felicitated with the ‘Rajat Kamal’ award at the 56th National Film Awards.
8. Ferrari Ki Sawaari (2012)
In this sports comedy drama movie directed by Rajesh Mapuskar, Sharman Joshi plays Rustom Deboo, son of Behram Deboo (Boman Irani) and father of a little boy Kayo Deboo. This movie makes for an entertaining watch as the Parsi men from 3 different generations struggle to strike balance amongst themselves.
9. Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi (2012)
There cannot be a more Parsi sounding name than Farhad and Shirin and there can be no one else who could play it better than Boman Irani and Farah Khan. Directed by Bela Sehgal, this is a laughter riot that uniquely displays the lives of middle aged Parsis and their interactions with the pesky community that largely comprises of fussy old aunties. The fact that it is so relatable for everybody who is a Parsi or happens to know of one, is what makes it all the more striking.
10. Phantom (2015)
In Phantom, Katrina Kaif play an Indian Parsi working as a humanitarian aid assistant in London. This was the first time that a Parsi character was seen portraying strong agent-like attributes onscreen and showing off skills adequate for combat.
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