Guide to Throwing a Great Bollywood Bash

Bollywood dance show
Skip/Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY 2.0

Planning a party and want it to stand out (for all the right reasons) in the minds of all who attend? Look no further! A Bollywood theme party is the way to go. A Bollywood party ensures serious fun in an unusual sort of way—your guests will be talking about it for months to come! 

What Is Bollywood?

For the uninitiated, Bollywood is India's equivalent of Hollywood. The only difference is that it churns out a lot more movies than Hollywood every year and they're all in Hindi. The 'B' in Bollywood is for Bombay (which is what Mumbai used to be called), the home of Bollywood.

In India, just like its western counterpart, Bollywood sets trends and its actors are greatly idolized. In fact, approximately 4 billion movie tickets are sold in India every year for Bollywood movies alone. These movies range from the truly good to the sometimes downright ludicrous, but they're always great for laughs! Just as India is thought to be the land of snake-charmers, where elephants walk the streets (and this part can on occasion be true, because anything can happen in India!), Bollywood is perceived as a colorful, musical extravaganza and melodrama. This too is only partly true, as Bollywood is also home to some very well-made, thought-provoking and true-to-life (well, at least Indian life) cinema.

So, back to our party planning. Here's how you can replicate 100 percent unadulterated Bollywood magic in your home. As with everything, it's all in the planning! Plan ahead and you'll save yourself heaps of time and stress.

The Invitations

To make the party really fun, ask friends to come dressed as their favorite Bollywood stars. If they don't have a favorite, ask them to come dressed in Indian costume anyway. For the invites, make Rangoli (pronounced as rung-o-lee) cards. Rangoli is the Indian art of painting with colored powders, pastes, and even flower petals and leaves to create beautiful pictures to decorate the home. They are usually made on the floor just outside the entrance to a home, as a sign of welcome. You can replicate the warmth and welcoming message of Rangoli on a card. To create your cards, you will need:

  • Heavy card stock - cut it into the size you want and fold in half to make a card
  • A pencil
  • PVA glue
  • Colored sand in various colors

Making the cards: Draw on an Indian pattern. Once you're done, decide what colors you want each part of the design to be. Now use a thin paintbrush to outline and fill in all the parts of your design that will be the same color, with PVA glue. It dries clear, so don't worry about it showing on your finished card. Now dust with colored sand. This is available at most craft stores and is very popular with kids. You'll see why once you get started working with it. Tap off the excess sand gently and allow to dry.

Repeat this, adding more colors to different parts of your design as you go along. Wait for the glue you applied for each color to dry completely before you apply glue for the next color. End result? Really pretty, very unique cards your friends will love! They'll also be a great conversation starter when you get together.

The Food

This has to be the most important part of any event. Food can make or break a party, so you've got to make sure you serve the best you can. Indian cuisine is amazing in that there is just so much to choose from! Make sure to plan your menu well in advance so you can shop for all your ingredients.

Recipes: Once you have everything you need, read the recipes thoroughly and figure out which foods can be prepared (even partly) ahead of time. Depending on how far ahead you can prepare a dish, plan your schedule. This will ensure you have no last-minute food disasters and that you will enjoy the evening just as much as your guests. Some food ideas:

Plating: Here's a pretty and authentic serving idea - Buy banana leaves from your local Indian grocery store. Wash and pat dry. Remove the center rib by cutting on either side of it with a sharp knife. Cut the leaves to fit your serving platters. Line the platters with these leaves and then place food on them.

Drinks: There are heaps to pick from. Have LassiGulab Ka Sharbat or Badam Milk if the temperatures are soaring. If it's winter in your neck of the woods when you choose to have your party, serve cups of Masala Chai or some spiced apple cider

Desserts: You can never have too much of a good thing. Round the meal off with a buffet of delectable Indian desserts. I love to have two or three different sweet dishes so my guests can pick and choose. You could serve some popular Bengali desserts from East India or go the North Indian route and serve some world famous sweets from that region of India. Want to know what I love? Gaajar Ka Halwa with ice cream, Rasmalai or Besan Ka Laddoo.

The Decor

India is a colorful country. From its food to its dress, color abounds and plays a huge role. Every color has its cultural and religious significance. Bollywood is India captured on film. For your party, go all out with color.

Colorful decor ideas:

  • Drape your sofas with colorful throws and stack them with pretty cushions in gorgeous summery hues.
  • Decorate your table with a complementary tablecloth and set it with pretty reed mats.
  • Create a stunning table centerpiece: Pour water into your prettiest glass bowl until half full. Add some colored marbles or glass beads and float flowers and candles in it.
  • Use heaps of candles to light the room instead of turning on the lights. This makes for an amazing atmosphere! It is also a proven fact that most of us look best by candlelight. Just be careful where you place the candles, as you don't want them to be a fire hazard.
  • Burn incense in your room, being careful to place it in safe locations. Don't use a very strong fragrance. Do the sniff test before you buy.
  • Get hold of popular Bollywood tunes from your local Indian store. Most will stock Bollywood movies and music for rental or sale. Play them at your party to set the perfect mood. Get all your friends to make up their own dances!

Making a Mirror Drape: For a really stunning accent, create a shimmering mirror drape and hang it in one of the windows in your party room. To make it you need:

  • A ball of thin jute twine
  • Lots of tiny mirror pieces (from the craft store)
  • PVA glue
  • Curtain pole or dowel rod as long as the width of your window (or the space you intend to hang the drape)

Measure the length from the point you will hang the drape, to the floor. Add an extra 5 inches and cut a piece of twine that length. Now use this piece of twine as a 'template' to cut at least 10 more pieces of twine.

Lay the piece of twine down on the floor in a straight line. Put a dab of PVA glue on the backs of two pieces of mirror. Now, starting 5-7 inches from the top of the twine, press the two pieces of the mirror together to sandwich the twine between them. Hold for 10 seconds and release. Allow it to dry. Repeat this, spacing the mirror bits according to your preference till you reach the bottom of the piece of twine. Do this for all the other pieces.

Once the glue has dried and all the mirror bits are secure, tie the twine to the dowel rod or curtain pole and adjust the spacing between them for best effect. When your mirror drape is hung, the slightest movement will make the mirrors shimmer and glitter! Bollywood magic at its best!

The key to throwing a good party, no matter what the theme, is to plan ahead and plan well. That way, on the day, you too will have a great time as you watch your guests enjoy themselves. They will, needless to say, love your party and love you even more. Now that's something I wouldn't mind working hard for!