Choosing the best Bollywood films is almost a challenging task since the number of Indian films being released is continuously increasing every year. Luckily, Bombay 60 has many Bollywood movie critics and enthusiasts who are willing to provide honest and reliable reviews about the best Indian movies of all time. Take a look at our top 20 below:
Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is a romantic-comedy film that is emotionally satisfying. The plot revolves around 2 mismatched lovers, funny Bunny and geeky Naina. Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone played the parts of the protagonists.
In the film, the couple met on a trekking trip where medical student Naina learns how to unwind from the Bunny, whose motto in life is ‘Life needs some spicy fun’. Eight years later, the two reunited again at a friend’s wedding to confront their feelings for each other and reassess their priorities in life.
The film was released in 2013 to address the dilemma of many educated Indians of whether they should get the dream job overseas and risk alienation from their friends and family back home. At its heart, the movie is a celebration of friendship amongst friends and family. This is a great introduction to those who haven’t seen a proper Bollywood movie before. It is full of scenes that will make you smile and weep as well as lavish songs and dance sequences.
After his Oscar-nominated ‘Lagaan’, director Gowariker released his entertaining and deeply moving ‘journal of personal discovery’, Swades. Here, a NASA scientist, Mohan, takes a leave from his job in America to visit his former nanny in India. The rest of the film shows Mohan’s transformation from a non-resident to a non-returning Indian.
Released in 2004, the film depicts how overseas Indian workers still manage to find love for their fellow Indians and their country. Most scenes in the movie accurately portray the wholesome villages at the heart of India. In addition, there is also an outstanding establishment of ordinary characters and events to something vital that slowly creeps into your senses, just like India itself.
Gully Boy is like Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, following the journey of how the protagonist turns his dreams into reality. The film is played to perfection by Ranveer Singh as Murad Ahmed. Here, Ahmed hones his talent in singing and rapping while tending to his overprotective girlfriend Safeena Firdausi, played by Alia Bhatt.
Released in 2019, the film revolves around Murad Ahmed and his aim to impress rapper Nas. Viewers will follow his twists and turns of making his musical dreams come true even if it means he has to battle people, staid office jobs and social conventions along the way.
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro
Inspired by Michelangelo Antonioni’s film Blow-Up, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro tells the story of 2 Mumbai photographers who took a picture of a corrupt businessman killing a government official. The photographers ensure that the dead body doesn’t end up in the hands of the killer, his competitor or other journalists who have a vested interest in the case.
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag follows the story of Milkha Singh also known as ‘The Flying Sikh’ who won the 400 metres final at the 1960 Olympics. As Singh was about to win, he lost his concentration and ended up in 4th place. As a result, his defeat was regarded as a national disgrace for a nation that was struggling to find its feet and had high hopes for his Olympic victory.
Released in 2013, the film opens with Indians burning the models of Milkha Singh. It then moves on to the story of his life from being a barefooted sprinter up to his traumatic childhood experiences and eventually, his return to his old home in Pakistan as an adult. The movie is a classic victory for the underdog story that is more engaging and moving.
The skilled and handsome Farhan Akhtar played the role of the protagonist and did a great job in bringing the story to life despite the complex character and scenes.
Mother India exposes western audiences to Bollywood by unfolding the heartbreaking story of rural farming in India and the exploitation of its farmers by their landlords. The film follows the hardships of Radha, a village mother of 3 who was abandoned by her husband and forced to work in the paddy fields. It builds the idea of how pure and self-sacrificing most mothers are which is synonymous with the idealised Indian nation.
Set in the 19th century, Lagaan is a film released in 2001 telling the story of a drought-struck village that unites to take on their cruel imperial rulers through cricket. The combination of cricket and colonialism in a unique plot that director Ashutosh Gowariker managed to successfully pull out.
Aamir Khan took the lead role and did a great job making Lagaan be nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars.
Pakeezah is a story of a girl named Sahibijaan who marries Salim despite his family’s disapproval. Sahibijaan began to deem herself unworthy and ran away. Released in 1972, the film revolves around the story of whether the couple will be reunited and society will accept them. The movie has an evocative soundtrack, creating the most magical and lyrical portrayal of scenes.
Shot in Bangalore and released in 2009, 3 Idiots is the story of 3 engineering students: Farhan, Raju and Rancho. This comedic film has lengthy flashbacks detailing the college life of the ‘3 idiots’. The film addresses the possible failure of higher education in India, intense pressure to excel in school and student suicide. It became a huge hit worldwide due to its meaningful messages and comedic scenes.
Amar Akbar Anthony
Amar Akbar Anthony is a film about 3 brothers who were separated at birth. When they all finally met, they found out that each brother was raised in different religions: Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. The film brims with cliches and has set the commercial template that many Bollywood movies still follow these days.
Released in 1995, Bombay is a poignant film that tells about the darkest periods in Indian history: the Bombay riots of 1992 and 1993. The film focuses on the love story of 2 lovers from different faiths who decided to elope and start a family in Bombay. After it was released, the house of this film’s director was bombed by extremists. Nevertheless, the movie has still reached its commercial success and managed to resonate with the cry for peace in India.
Mr India is an invisible superhero that uses his power to fight Mogambo who intends to take over the world. The story was told in such a cheeky kitsch way that made the catchphrase ‘Mogambo Khush Hua’ became a national craze.
Released in 1998, Satya is a gangster film directed by Ram Gopal Varma that tells how Satya was unwittingly sucked into the world of crime in Mumbai. The film is a realistic portrayal of the criminals’ daily lives and gloomy treatments.
Dil To Pagal Hai
Dil To Pagal Hai is a musical romance film that explores the life of dancers in a musical troupe. Here, Rahul does not understand how people fall in love while Pooja believes that soulmates exist and there is someone, somewhere who is made for you. The two start their friendship and later on have the potential to love each other.
Director and lead actor Raj Kapoor starred in Shree 420 where he plays Raj who comes to Bombay and falls in love with Vidja. However, Raj’s need to earn a living leads him to collaborate with a corrupt businessman and his associate. The film is centred on the idea of the general state of unrest in unemployed youth and increasing division in classes in India.
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobra means you only live once in English. In the film, 3 friends take on a road trip to Spain: Kabir, Imraan and Arjun. The movie was made with support from the Spanish tourism authorities since it highlights the tourist hot spots at the expense of the drama. It succeeded in becoming a hit due to the charismatic and handsome leads.
Released in 1989, Parinda is a story of brothers Kishen and Karan. When Karan returns to complete his education overseas, he finds out that his brother became a gangster. The film boasts fine editing and stellar sound which made it become a box office success.
Shaan is a story of 2 con men who collaborated with a sharpshooter to avenge the death of their brother at the hands of Shaka. The film rode on high expectations that satisfied many viewers, thanks to the excellent portrayal of characters and scenes.
Silsila is Yash Chopra’s infamous film based on the real-life affair of Bollywood’s star Amitabh Bachchan and actress Rekha. Bachchan even persuaded his retired actress wife, Jaya, to play as his screen wife and Rekha to act as his screen mistress. Today, Silsila is regarded as a flawed classic due to the controversial casting.