My exposure to cinema was by watching mainstream Hindi films, with occasional big budget Hollywood products thrown in.
It was not until I was in my late teens that I was introduced to world cinema, first as a student at the Alliance Française in Delhi and later by meeting like-minded people at the Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University.
That early burst of watching films from around the world and different regions of India led me to visit art-house and revival movie theatres in New York City where I saw American, European and Asian classics. Somehow, I managed to store all the information in my head.
Many people make lists of their favourite films.
Some like the ones made by Martin Scorsese and others compiled by Sight & Sound magazine become the holy grail, shared by many, especially in the age of social media.
I began to think of making a list of my favourite films, and started the project as a game, testing my memory.
But the list became longer and stronger.
I challenged myself to add films from different parts of the world, covering decades and genres. As films were added, I had to delete some, so the list stayed at 100.
Here is my list of 100 best (and must watch) films -- many classics, some relatively new and several personal favourites.
The oldest film in this list is 82 years old: Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator.
The newest is this year's Best International Film Oscar winner, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi's Drive My Car.
It is by no means a perfect list and I might have missed out some important films but these are films that have entertained me, taught me how to be compassionate, to view the world, and understand people, their histories, behaviour and customs.
100. Raise the Red Lantern (1991)
99. Rosemary's Baby (1968)
98. The Third Man (1949)
97. Y tu mamá también (2001)
96. Meghe Dhake Tara (1960)
95. Lebanon (2009)
94. Junoon (1979)
93. Howards End (1992)
92. My Beautiful Launderette (1985)
91. Pyaasa (1957)
90. Kramer vs Kramer (1979)
89. High Noon (1952)
88. Paradise Now (2005)
Palestine/ Israel/ Netherlands
87. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Guillermo del Toro
86. Wages of Fear (1953)
85. Samskara (1970)
Pattabhi Rama Reddy
84. Manhattan (1979)
83. The Graduate (1967)
82. Biutiful (2010)
Alejandro González Iñárritu
81. Nayakan (1987)