The online streaming giant has accumulated some quality Hindi titles in its library. Here’s a list of some of the best Bollywood movies on Netflix right now. Check them off your list, before they’re taken off. (PS: Netflix is constantly changing out its content. It shuffles titles, adding and removing them with no set schedule/frequency. These films were playing as of September 16, 2020).
Bookmark this list to stay updated with the latest Bollywood movies out on Netflix. We update the list as soon as a new title comes in or leaves Netflix.
Best Bollywood Movies on Netflix
1. Raat Akeli Hai (2020)
Leaving an indelible mark on the landscape of crime dramas, this whoddunit follows the classical ‘one murder many suspects’ approach. The ensemble cast delivers eloquently, and every character comes to occupy an important entry point into the dark vicissitudes of the case at large. With Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Radhita Apte leading the film as brilliantly as they do, this Honey Trehan directorial also features Tigmanshu Dhulia in a pivotal role, almost creating the semblance of an offbeat crossover between Sacred Games and Gangs of Wasseypur.
2. Kamyaab (2020)
Director: Hardik Mehta
Kamyaab is an ode to the life of character artists. It sees you at the other side of the camera, the life behind the scenes, when the lights are out and curtains drawn. For an audience blinded by the glamorous side of cinema and used to idolising heroes, Kamyaab comes as a rare, refreshing effort as it passionately explores the non-glam, dowdy side of the film world. And it does so with humour and an earnestness. Sudhir Mishra is a class act. He pulls off the part with a finesse and sensitivity, that only he can. Deepak Dobriyal is a delight to watch. It’s nostalgic and heartwarming to watch actors from the yesteryears we’ve grown up watching, together onscreen. Thank you Hardik Mehta for this one! Kamyaab is a must watch for fans of film!
3. Article 15 (2019)
Director: Anubhav Sinha
Article 15 is a bold, fearless attempt at depicting the grim reality of 21st century India. A fiercely intense and nuanced portrait of a country blinded by its prejudices and hypocritical leanings. It was a much-needed film and so relevant for our times. The socio-political issues couldn’t get any closer to reality. So does the treatment of the film.
Article 15 is brutal and hard-hitting. The performances only add to it. Ayushmann Khurana’s restrained act seethes with unflinching resolve. Is there something you can’t do, Ayushmann Khurrana? Like 2018, this is your year! Sayani Gupta is a revelation. Zeeshan Ayyub’s is a brief but class act. The supporting cast rounds it out to perfection.
4. Hamid (2019)
Director: Aijaz Khan
Set against the backdrop of a nation long divided by politics and war, Hamid is a poignant human tale of loss, resilience and hope. It tells the heartbreaking story of Ishrat (Rasika Dugal) whose husband (Sumit Kaul) has gone missing, her indefinite search thereafter and the trauma that comes with it; it’s the story of 8-year old Hamid (Talha Arshad Reshi) who hatches a naive plan to bring back his missing father.
What also makes Hamid beautiful is there are no taking sides. The film shuns theatrics and never attempts to impose ideologies and beliefs. It gives a fair picture and an equal voice to both sides. While the film does evoke anger, the idea is to stir up compassion and empathy. And director Aijaz Khan does so with sophistication and ease.
5. Soni (2019)
Director: Ivan Ayr
Soni is a crime-drama unlike any other. It tells the story of a female cop who faces obstacles because of her temper and gender expectations. Soni is special in its own way. Its most extraordinary feat is perhaps dealing with a sensitive subject-matter without getting preachy. The movie is steeped in realism and is driven forward with the aid of unflinchingly powerful performances and captivating and mesmerising music.
Debutant director Ivan Ayr gives us the many faces of India, both progressive and regressive while highlighting the merits and demerits of both.
6. Badla (2019)
Director: Sujoy Ghosh
An adaptation of the Spanish thriller The Invisible Guest, Badla is a riveting, briskly-paced murder mystery that keeps you at the edge of your seat. Director Sujoy Ghosh builds tension right at the outset demanding viewers’ attention and absorbs you right in. Just when you think you have it all sorted, the film throws you for a loop. It keeps you busy and guessing all along as the cat-and-mouse story unfurls.
Ghosh likes his stories and characters rooted in a believable world. The places not only lend credibility but assume a character of their own in his films. Shot in Glasgow, Scotland, the city aids the general mood of the film — dark, grim, mysterious. Avik Mukhopadhyay’s superlative cinematography adds context to the setting. Together, they get the milieu and atmospherics just right.
7. Andhadhun (2018)
Director: Sriram Raghavan
There isn’t a dull or wasted moment in this cleverly crafted, briskly-paced thriller. Veteran Sriram Raghavan knows how to keep his viewers engaged. And he does it without resorting to cheap contrivances and manipulation. A solid script brought alive brilliantly on screen, Andhadhun seals the deal with spectacular performances. Delivering two major hits in a single year in two extremely contrasting genres (thriller and comedy), the everyman and very versatile Ayushmann Khurana turns in one of the strongest performances of 2018.
8. Manto (2018)
Director: Nandita Das
Manto. What a writer and what a class act by Nawazuddin. A searing portrayal of an intense writer caught in the madness of India’s partition and the havoc it wreaks on its divided people. This is no time for romantic poetry, for the truth must be told to cleanse the soiled soul. In prose that’s as stark and unsentimental as cold meat. Manto’s short stories still work to shake our stricken conscience. Such is the power and endurance of his hauntingly real creations. Nandita Das does well to direct this difficult subject and beautifully weaves Manto’s stories in the narrative. Pity we don’t make men like him any more.
9. Love Per Square Foot (2018)
Director: Anand Tewari
Love Per Square Foot is a modern-day rom-com that does justice to its genre. The film marries mainstream and indie sensibilities to create a realistic and engaging film. A young, urban couple gets into a marriage of convenience to fulfil their dream of owning their own house. The film is well written and with actors like Vicky Kaushal and Angira Dhar and veterans Ratna Pathak, Supriya Pathak, Raghubir Yadav, Love Per Square Foot is in great hands.
Actor Anand Tiwari, known for roles like Go Goa Gone (Bunny) assisted in Barfi and President is Coming (mockumentary) before directing his first feature film. It’s an admirable effort with no rough edges. Each scene is well-staged and actualised.
10. Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (2018)
Director: Vasan Bala
Most Bollywood action movies involving clichéd story arcs are usually written off, because we’ve seen those kinds of movies a gazillion times. And don’t get me started with the action sequences. Bollywood movies, most of them anyway, have terrible sequences. The storylines seem so awfully trite. But sometimes, SOMETIMES, the clichés are lined up just the right way that we can’t help but love the movie. Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota, an eccentric, hilarious action comedy, is just that. It bucks the very Bollywood conventions it draws from.
11. Stree (2018)
Director: Amar Kaushik
Like all unusual, inexplicable ghost stories we’ve grown up watching, here too we’re served with a tale that defies easy explanations but one that draws you right in. There’s no time for why-abouts when you’re already warned with a ‘based on a ridiculous phenomenon’ disclaimer. Credits also to the writers (Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK) and the director (Amar Kaushik) who keep you riveted in this imaginative tale, which, if not in good hands, could’ve possibly looked outrageously silly. Horror comedy is a barely explored, if not a completely unwalked territory for Hindi cinema. We’ve only scratched the surface. But with Raj and DK’s zombie horror Go Goa Gone (2013) and now Stree (2018), we’ve come a step closer to justifying the genre. [Read our full reviews of Stree here]
12. Once Again (2018)
Director: Kanwal Sethi
It’s a beautiful, sensitive film about mid-life romance, touching an emotive chord with its awkward silences; so much is left unsaid and that’s a part of the allure — restrained and compelling to the core. A celebration of meaningful storytelling, this Netflix original may lack expanse but its journey is inwards.
Class act by the two lead protagonists, sharp direction and sublime music by Talvin Singh.
If you are a Shefali Shah fan, like me, you will know what to do, where to go.
13. Lust Stories (2018)
Directors: Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee
It’s hard not to associate ‘lust’ with ‘sex’ when you think Hindi cinema. Films that explore this theme/genre fail to rise above insipid, lacklustre writing and shoddy visuals. Those that narrate it with subtlety and a sense of purpose are few and far between. With Lust Stories, filmmakers — Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap go beyond the obvious and turn the idea on its head.
Foregoing the trappings of commercial cinema, all four directors uninhibitedly explore human desires and relationships; how we perceive them today and the taboos that have been associated with them for generations. The four shorts capture a generational shift in perception and ideas. (Read our full review of Lust Stories here)
14. Bahubali 1, 2 (2015, 2017)
Director: S.S. Rajamouli
The Bahubali series makes you more than suspend disbelief. It takes you to the realm of the possible: gigantic waterfalls, a mythical kingdom, a rising to the clouds city, water to air transport, palace intrigues, unusual war sequences and so much more. All choreographed and shot with such dexterity that it makes you marvel at human prowess and skill. Kreem’s music is spellbinding and trance-inducing. Indian cinema has seen or experienced nothing like this celestial madness. I hope that one day soon Rajamouli can pack in these two parts into one glorious film of three hours, subtitle it in English and expose the global audiences to the magic of Indian cinema.
15. Gurgaon (2017)
Director: Shanker Raman
Gurgaon is one of the best noir films to come out in the year 2017. The daughter of a real estate tycoon gets kidnapped by her own brother. The family tries to track her down but in doing so, they uncover many secrets and everything goes downhill. A well-scripted, narrated thriller, Gurgaon keeps you engaged throughout its runtime.
16. Loev (2017)
Director: Sudhanshu Saria
While India is still grappling with the political and social reality of homosexuality, few films here dare to graze the subject. Rarer still are those that go beyond the challenges of coming out. A sensitively rendered gay drama, Loev explores the dynamics of love, friendship and intimacy between three men – Sahil (Dhruv Ganesh) Jai (Shiv Pandit) and Alex (Siddharth Menon). The focus isn’t on their sexual orientations and that’s set straight right from the first scene. A great film isn’t just about good content or story. It’s also in the telling. And that’s where Loev succeeds. The film is storytelling at its best — nuanced and seamless — aided also by the chemistry between the characters. Don’t miss it!
17. Tu Hai Mera Sunday (2017)
Director: Milind Dhaimade
Milind Dhaimade’s Tu Hai Mera Sunday revolves around a group of friends, from varied walks of life and ages, bound by their common love for football. The film endears us to all the characters (each of which is well written) acquainting us with their worlds – their everyday lives, relationships, fears, insecurities, daily struggles.
Right at the start, the film sets the mood and makes it clear what to expect but don’t be duped by its casual, leisurely pace. Packed with life lessons abound, the film subtly and effortlessly makes its point without getting preachy. The brilliantly done music (courtesy Amartya Rahut) brings out the mood of the film.
The charming little gem is also a sobering reminder to step back from the humdrum of our everyday lives and appreciate and admire the world around us. Tu Hai Mera Sunday is the kind of film you wish would never end.
18. Dangal (2016)
Director: Nitesh Tiwari
Aamir Khan goes for gold in 2016. After Manoj Bajpayee in Aligarh, he delivers the finest performance of the year and his career’s best. His dedication to perfection is synonymous to his being but the physical transformation he went through for the character at this age is commendable. Staunch, fiery, intimidating and a man of few words, wrestler Mahaveer Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan) dreams of winning a gold for his country. He wants to live the dream through his son. But life has planned otherwise. After four daughters, he gives up on his dream. Until a few years later, when Phogat sees hope again. The hope of living the dream through his elder two daughters – Gita and Babita. Dangal is a journey of a father and his daughters of realising this dream. But the film is bigger than that.
19. Dhanak (2016)
Director: Nagesh Kukunoor
If there’s one Indian director whose films seem straight out of a novel, it has to be the man who’s won us over with gems like Iqbal and Dor. It isn’t just because of Nagesh Kukunoor’s storytelling skills but his eye for the tiniest of detail. He weaves them so beautifully in his stories. There’s something equally majestic and dramatic about the backdrop he places them in. The settings have a character of their own. His latest title Dhanak looks like the kind of film straight out a children’s novel. Fairy tale, dream-like, magical and deeply satisfying.
20. Pink (2016)
Director: Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury
It’s sad that an idea like Pink has taken this long to be told. A well-intentioned and a well-made drama, Pink takes you by the scruff of the neck, immerses you into our reality and shakes you up in the process. The film questions your mindsets more than your morals. Who defines what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s permissible, what’s not, what’s acceptable, what’s not?
21. Maroon (2016)
A dark psychological drama about a man whose wife goes missing, Maroon is more of a character study than a who-dunnit mystery. The indie thriller is well written and actualized, mostly because of a remarkable performance from protagonist Manav Kaul. (The latter delivered a memorable brief role in Hansal Mehta’s Citylights (2014)). Shot entirely in a single house, the film is so arresting it puts you inside the protagonist’s head, making you empathise with and feel for him, particularly as the character begins to unpeel, unravel. The climax may leave you with a lot of questions, but look closer. There are enough hints scattered throughout the film. If this a debut attempt of writer-director Pulkit, I can only wonder what more he has in store for us.
22. Udta Punjab (2016)
Director: Abhishek Chaubey
In an industry swarming with lacklustre content, Abhishek Chaubey’s Udta Punjab shines with an edgy take on a bold, controversial subject. Drug abuse has plagued Punjab for years now. The film brings to the fore its impact on the youth; the involvement or rather the facilitation of its use — from the powers that be to the law enforcement agencies.
For all the noise Udta Punjab created before the release, it was totally worth the hype. And is, indeed, an important film.
Watch Udta Punjab on Amazon
23. Waiting (2016)
Director: Anu Menon
A wonderfully written, executed and acted piece of work, Waiting is a finespun concoction of a variety of elements – love, life, relationships. It makes you ponder over the fragility of relationships despite the connected worlds we live in. It explores the ever-widening generation gap through it’s sixty and twenty-somethings Shiv and Tara. And blends all these elements into a heartening, un-preachy, sometimes sad, sometimes funny film.
Much of what the film ends up being has to be accredited to the performances. Rajat Kapoor delivers any part with splendid effortlessness. I wonder if Naseeruddin Shah ever needs to give a retake. Kalki displays angst and impatience with an equally admirable mad intensity as the calm composure she dons while learning to cope with her reality. [Related: Shakuntala Devi (2020) Review: Watch It For Our Feisty, Unconventional Protagonist]
24. Masaan (2015)
Director: Neeraj Ghaywan
Masaan heavily critiques the so-called customs and traditions of Hindu society which are narrow-minded, unjust and absolutely illogical. The cinematography is beautiful and aptly captures the essence of the holy city Varanasi in all shapes and forms and deftly contrasts the external beauty of the city with its internal corruption and hidden ugly face. The socio-cultural commentary is poignant and features some of the best performances on screen.
25. Tamasha (2015)
Director: Imtiaz Ali
Imtiaz Ali is a storyteller. But his films are as much or even more about his characters (and their journeys inward) as his stories. Characters who defy so-called societal norms. Characters who wish to break free. You don’t completely know them at the outset. He unravels them bit by bit, letting you explore them along the way as the film unfolds, without trying to control them or give them a direction. That’s the beauty of his films. And Tamasha boasts compelling performances from its leads, Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone. Watch it for them if not anything else.
26. Haider (2014)
Director: Vishal Bhardwaj
Haider featuring Shahid Kapoor, Tabu, Irrfan Khan claims to be inspired by the story of Hamlet. It’s a film of revenge and retribution, love for one’s land and love in general. It is a movie on revolution marked by perhaps what is Kapoor’s career-best performance. The film takes political issues and explores them in great detail while entertaining its viewers at the same time, which is not an easy task. One of the finest films on Kashmir issue and among the best in Bharadwaj’s filmography, Haider is not to be missed.
27. Khoobsurat (2014)
Director: Shashanka Ghosh
A fairly watchable, fun romantic comedy that never misses a beat. Khoobsurat is a story of a misfit assigned to work for a royal family who develops an interest in the prince. Feelings takes flight and a romantic relationship grows between her and the prince.
28. Madras Cafe (2013)
Director: Shoojit Sircar
Madras Cafe is a political conspiracy thriller in which an Indian agent gets caught in a civil war between the two sides in Sri Lanka and gets wind of a plot of the assassination of a former Indian Prime Minister.
29. Kai Po Che (2013)
Director: Abhishek Kapoor
The game of cricket becomes a uniting factor for three friends (featuring Sushant Singh Rajput, Rajkummar Rao, Amit Sadh) who start an academy to train budding talents. But they must deal with all the natural and man-made disasters that frequently occur in the theologically, politically, economically and socially unstable town.
30. The Lunchbox (2013)
Director: Ritesh Batra
Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox featuring Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui is a rare Bollywood film to have won hearts both on the home ground and overseas. As an original piece of film-making, it depicts an unusual friendship that takes birth through a mistake made by Mumbai’s tiffin carrier service.
31. Lootera (2013)
Director: Vikramaditya Motwane
Motwane’s sophomore effort after the critically-lauded Udaan (2010) was equally well received by critics. It may not have found popularity with the mainstream audience but Lootera firmly established Ranveer Singh as an actor. At her brilliant best, Sonakshi Sinha shines in one of her career’s finest roles.
Watch Lootera on Amazon
32. Kahaani (2012)
Director: Sujoy Ghosh
Kahaani is a gripping mystery thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat as you follow a woman who is looking for her husband, all traces of whom have mysteriously vanished from existence.
For a thriller, Sujoy Ghosh knows how to use the milieu and settings just right. The city is almost another character in the film. Kahaani is sure to shock you with its clever twists and turns, never underestimating its audience.
33. Barfi (2012)
Director: Anurag Basu
Barfi is a heart-warming and simultaneously heart-wrenching love story that takes a lot from Hollywood romances but adds enough to make it fairly authentic and original. The plot construction is praise-worthy. The movie is able to hold everything together despite seeming to be quite convoluted if you read the script. The performances given by the lead characters are fantastic as they seem to be completely absorbed in their roles.
One of the finest creations of Bollywood, Barfi gives us a love triangle that is both childishly cute and maturely melancholic.
34. Shor in the City (2011)
Director: Krishna DK, Raj Nidimoru
Raj and DK decide to flex their muscles in the familiar territory of quirky illegal dealings in a metropolitan city. Not drastically different from 99, Raj and DK made a darker film with Shor In The City. The indifference to human life is evident. It’s a time where individuals get away with anything amidst the noise and glitz of the Ganesh festival. Compare the visual palate of both films. The murkier tone of Shor In The City is apparent against the refulgent screen of 99.
Where 99 was about several minor subplots connected to the central storyline, Shor… is about 3 disparate narratives interspersing at times but largely uninvolved with each other.
35. Delhi Belly (2011)
Director: Abhinay Deo
This was not your typical Bollywood fare. A black comedy, Delhi Belly revolved around the life of three roommates – a journalist, a photographer and a cartoonist. A host of confusions arise as they get involved in a gang battle when a package to be delivered to a gangster gets mixed up with stool samples. Imagine the hilarity of the situation and couple that with what ensues. But the bigger task was to have effectively pulled it all off with the desired impact. And Delhi Belly is a smart, crackling comedy thanks to a taut, clever script by Akshat Verma and masterful direction by Abhinay Deo.
36. Peepli Live (2010)
Director: Anusha Rizvi
Journalist-turned-filmmaker Anushka Rizvi’s debut feature was one of the year’s biggest critical and commercial successes. Revolving around farmer suicides, Peepli Live is a crude, pithy satire against the government and the media. With a solid script, an engaging narrative and a brilliant cast, Rizvi’s dark comedy is recommended viewing.
37. I Am Kalam (2010)
Director: Nila Madhab Panda
A tribute to Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the Missile Man, I Am Kalam follows a young boy who is rightly inspired by this great man, changes his name to Kalam and aspires to achieve his dream of meeting the great personality.
The movie is wonderfully written and clearly reflects the love that has been poured into it. With an inspirational story and inspired storytelling, Kalam surely makes a place for itself in my heart as one of the best tributes that could have been paid to Dr Kalam. The spirit of the film is deeply rooted in Kalam’s philosophy as we see the goal of education being an ultimate achievement for the young and ambitious Kalam depicted in the film.
38. That Girl in Yellow Boots (2010)
Director: Anurag Kashyap
Anurag Kashyap’s mystery/drama tells the story of a British woman of mixed-origins, in search of her Indian father. Penned by Kashyap and lead actor Kalki Koechlin, this is a mood-piece set in a grimy Indian metropolis’ underground, driven by sexism, violence, and black money. Apart from pacing problems, the movie flounders due to a predictable series of dramatic cliches.
The narrative lacks ambiguity and subtlety that’s necessary to depict such a complex character. Nevertheless, Kalki’s performance is intriguing. She manages to bring out the multiple facets of her character well.
39. Paan Singh Tomar (2010)
Director: Tigmanshu Dhulia
Another film about a good guy who fights against the injustices of the system, Paan Singh Tomar distinguishes itself from the crowd with its spot-on performances, gritty settings and balanced pacing. It tells the true story of a man who was extremely talented but had to sacrifice everything in order to avenge his mother as the system sits silently without providing any assistance. The movie shines thanks to the mind blowing performance of its lead. Irfan Khan steals the show as he embodies the man entirely.
40. Udaan (2010)
Director: Vikramaditya Motwane
Udaan is a very special film detailing the life of a budding artist who struggles to survive with the harsh realities of this world. The story is immensely moving and will be relatable to anyone who has ever had a dream and has fought relentlessly to realise that dream. The realism that this movie achieves is almost frightening as we are not given an outlet of escapism. We are instead, thrust into the harsh realities of our own world and brought face to face with it. But, we are also told that there is light at the end of the tunnel; there exists hope even in the face of great despair. And achieving this uncanny realism is no small task, making this a necessary viewing.
41. Wake up Sid (2009)
Director: Ayan Mukerji
Another modern classic that refuses to grow stale is this coming of age drama comedy. Wake Up Sid is a story of young, carefree, urban boy Siddharth Mehra whose life transforms after falling in love with a woman, who happens to be a writer. A woman with dreams, aspirations and a path cut out for herself. Unlike Sid, who’s still lost but hasn’t tried to figure out life yet. Not until he meets this woman. She gives him a new perspective to life. A reason to live. With believable characters and an indie flavour, Wake Up Sid feels fresh in every viewing.
42. Dev D (2009)
Director: Anurag Kashyap
Anurag Kashyap’s cinema often starts from something familiar and clear and soon shapes into something unexpected and crazy. Dev D — the director’s own version of the classic self-destructive lover character — is no exception.
DoP Rajeev Ravi and Kashyap deftly create an immersive atmosphere, underlining the miasma of dingy, urban corners. Adding to the film’s hypnotic visual tone is Amit Trivedi’s spectacular soundtrack.
43. A Wednesday (2008)
Director: Neeraj Pandey
This Neeraj Pandey-thriller deftly portrayed the wrath of the common man, the anger of the masses and the suppressed rage brewing within. Such a delicate balance was achieved between the roles of a villain and an anti-hero that to this day, after severe deliberation, the situation would stand up as a debate instead of a definite solution. Such was the power of Naseeruddin Shah’s performance that led us to not only enjoy the film but also empathise with his character, one that stays with you long after you’ve finished watching the film.
44. Oye Lucky Lucky Oye (2008)
Director: Dibakar Banerjee
Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! was more proof of Banerjee’s ability to create a smart, brilliantly written story with equally well-written characters. It may have been a comedy, but it was darker than it was. You just needed to look into the fine print, and uncover the subtext. It expects as much of the audience as the audience expects of the film.
It’s a Catch Me If You Can-esque film, with a Delhi twist. A cool thief, a great soundtrack, and an intelligent film that respects the audience. Can’t ask for much more.
45. Guru (2007)
Director: Mani Ratnam
Guru is a movie about the life of a poor villager who struggles in the city and eventually becomes the biggest business tycoon of India.
46. Taare Zameen Par (2007)
Dir: Aamir Khan
Aamir Khan’s directorial debut centered around the flaws of an indoctrinated society and a faulty system of education. The title is a metaphor for children. Aamir highlights the fact that every child is special in their own way. The social stigma towards pressurized, template education is showcased in great detail. This movie may be about the life of a dyslexic child, but is a beautiful lesson in parenting.
The film also rebukes a system of education that evaluates the worth of a human being based on his or her retention capability.
The marine art symbolism stands out as a core theme to illustrate the diversity that is present within human beings as well. And Ishaan Awasthi (Darsheel Safary) wows us with an amazing display of complex emotions. The suffering in silence is heartbreaking and resonates with the viewer. Aamir delivers an impeccably heartwarming performance. But the real star of the film is the script by Amole Gupte. [Related: 9 Memorable Indian Films Led By Child Artists]
47. Khosla Ka Ghosla (2006)
Director: Dibakar Banerjee
Banerjee’s directorial debut turned heads instantly. The film resonated deeply with the Indian (especially Delhi) middle class, as Banerjee, through the masterful performance of Anupam Kher, brings to life the everyday struggles of an ordinary middle-class man, with mounting bills.
Banerjee explored the side of the city, capturing its essence and culture as no filmmaker had done before.
Khosla ka Ghosla is a simple, relatable story executed to perfection.
48. Rang De Basanti (2006)
Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra picked an unpopular theme for its times. For the modern Indian audience, this could’ve gone either way. But the risk taker director had placed his bets just right. An iconic films in the annals of Indian cinema, Rang De Basanti resonated strongly with the young minds. The powerful performances along with a script that covers two different timelines superimposed upon each other make this movie compelling and intriguing.
49. Socha Na Tha (2005)
Director: Imtiaz Ali
Critics loved it but the box office snubbed it. The film was a commercial failure, possibly because it had no big names to boast of or bring the audience to the theatres. It was a first for director Imtiaz Ali and actor Abhay Deol, while Ayesha Takia had two flops behind her, the same year. It was much later when moviegoers warmed up to it. I happened to watch it five months after its release. Even today, it’s hard to keep away from each time it’s on TV. Socha Na Tha is mainstream romance done right. And Imtiaz is among the very few filmmakers who nail this genre.
50. Swades (2004)
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Ashutosh Gowariker started writing Swades at the same time as Lagaan. The latter released first and obviously left the critics and audiences wondering ‘What after Lagaan?’ One of the most defining films of our times, Lagaan had altered the course of modern Indian cinema. Gowariker’s answer was down pat. Nothing better could have followed. It may have taken time for the audience to accept and embrace the film but Swades is inarguably, one of the best-made films of our times. Shahrukh Khan as Mohan Bharghava shone in one of the career’s best performances. His subtle, understated style was a delightful break from his larger-than-life onscreen persona. A cult classic, Swades is treasured not just for its impeccable performances but its subject that struck a chord, old-world charm, simple narrative that held us right through the end (despite the three and a half hour runtime) and solid direction.
51. Chameli (2004)
Directors: Sudhir Mishra, Anant Balani
In Chameli, we get to see the world and life through the eyes of a prostitute as she meets a banker during a heavy downpour in the city of Mumbai while seeking shelter from it. They get talking about life and from them we get to know about the horrific truths that plague the lives of sex workers.
The film comes from a space of earnestness and empathy. Chameli is an unlikely film for mainstream Bollywood, fairly watchable for its characters who aren’t caricatures. They are real people. That’s what adds to its appeal.
52. Yuva (2004)
Director: Mani Ratnam
What is politics, but a dirty game of violence and scandals? This movie tries to show the corrupt nature of politics that has reached every alleyway of society. But it also contrasts this corruption of adults with the unflinching morality of the youth, the Yuva.
The movie revolves around two friends, one a student leader and the other, a son of an IAS officer. They join politics but are threatened by a veteran politician who tries to push them out of the game by killing them.
53. Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi (2003)
Director: Sudhir Mishra
The movie has the backdrop of political tensions during the 1970s, mainly in the form of Naxal revolutions. It smartly portrays a love triangle as the forerunner in this setting.
54. Lagaan (2001)
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
One of the most defining films of our times, Lagaan altered the course of modern Indian cinema. The Aamir Khan-starrer masterpiece was the third Indian movie to be nominated for an academy award. It captures the essence of colonial oppression with a game of cricket. The various injustices and betrayals that the British practised in our country for the 200 years of its Raj are highlighted through a simple game. The cinematography is fantastic and in sync with the period-piece-esque style. That coupled with incredible storytelling and performances truly make this one for the ages.
55. Dil Se (1998)
Director: Mani Ratnam
Dil Se (Tamil title: Uyire) was the better one among Mani Ratnam’s unofficial ‘terrorism’ (or political) trilogy. The usual simplification of the sociopolitical backdrop wasn’t so bothersome in Dil Se.
It’s a very good love story at heart with career-best performances from Shahrukh Khan and Manisha Koirala. As Amar, SRK gives a layered performance, transforming from a carefree youngster to a desperate adult. There’s a scene when Manisha tries to cry but her frozen emotional state doesn’t bring out the tears. Such endearing moments prove why she is one of the best actresses in Indian cinema.
Visually, Dil Se is among Ratnam’s top three works. Santosh Sivan’s majestic portrayal of Ladakh will stay forever in our minds.
56. Kabhi Haa Kabhi Naa (1994)
Director: Kundan Shah
This is not the story of a ‘hero.’ Sunil (Shah Rukh Khan), far more human and relatable, undoes the definition of a Hindi film ‘hero,’ one scene at a time. He’s one of us. This is probably what didn’t sit too well with the audience back then. But that’s exactly what set it apart from its contemporaries and makes this Kundan Shah film a modern classic.