If you’re looking for a classic Bollywood movie or a lesser-known gem to kick back in front of and enjoy after a busy day at the office or to sing along with on a girls’ night in, then the list below has got you covered! From high-octane thrillers to dazzling musicals to critically-acclaimed cinematic masterpieces, there’s something here for everyone.
And if you’re new to Hindi movies? Then you’re in for a treat, so choose your film, settle back, and enjoy.
Captain Vikram Batra became a household name in India in 1999 for the valor he displayed in the Kargil War of the same year, in which India and Pakistan fought for ownership of Kashmir. Sidharth Malhotra plays Batra in this movie which picked up a plethora of awards and nominations following its release, including for Best Picture at the International Indian Film Academy.
Captain Batra was awarded, posthumously, India’s highest award for courage, the Param Vir Chakra.
Kaali Kuuhi (2021)
This Netflix original production is a chilling movie about a haunted village and the vengeful spirit that has cursed it. It comes down to the powers of a ten-year-old girl to keep her family safe from the growing threat, which is complicated by the spirit’s determination to seek retribution: we soon learn that the village has a dark past that has involved the killing of its female children.
This might not be one to watch alone, but if you fancy a creep-fest, then pour the popcorn and get a pillow ready to hide behind.
Bareilly ki Barfi (2017)
If you’re looking for the ultimate in Bollywood feel-good entertainment, then seek no further than this must-watch from 2017. The movie stars Kriti Sanon and Ayushmann Khurrana and focuses on the adventures of a small-town girl who bumps into a couple of charismatic individuals with life-changing consequences.
Funny, contemporary, and with some killer dance scenes, Bareilly ki Barfi won’t disappoint – and if you need a pick-me-up, rest assured that you’ll be smiling from ear to ear by the time the end credits roll.
Mom is a riveting Hindi revenge movie that centers on a mother (played by Sridevi) who is determined to enact justice on the group of boys who attacked her daughter. Tense, heart-wrenching, and compelling, this film will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final scene.
Sridevi sadly passed away recently, and this was her final film. The actress was known for her exceptional, authentic performances – as evidenced in Mom.
A long-standing hit with audiences, Queen follows the character of Rani (played by Kangana Ranawat), who, having never set foot outside of her hometown, decides to go on a sightseeing trip across Europe solo.
What unfolds is a story that is equal parts hilarious and tear-jerking – and Ranawat’s performance is not to be missed.
Madras Cafe (2013)
If you fancy curling up in front of a riveting action thriller flick, then Madras Cafe is a great call. Starring John Abraham and Nargis Fakhri, the movie is about an Indian intelligence operative’s journey to a war-torn island, where he encounters a rebel group and a journalist who is passionate about the events unfolding.
Set in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the movie is a compelling insight into Indian politics and an exploration of India’s intervention in the Sri Lanka civil war. Although fictional, the film is inspired by real events; it was nominated for and won a plethora of awards, including Best Cinematography and the 2014 Filmfare Awards.
Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001)
This multi-award-winning movie tells the story of the community of a small Indian village who play a game of cricket against their cruel British rulers, with their future at stake. Starring Aamir Khan and Raghuvir Yadav, the film is a fusion of genres, combining historical drama, sport, and musical elements, and was a huge hit with audiences and critics alike. Its power comes from the strength of the actors’ performances and the care taken to recreate period detail: from the locations to the use of sound effects, the India of the British-rule era is brought vibrantly to life.
You’ll need to set aside a good chunk of time to watch the movie in one sitting, though: it has a running time of nearly four hours….although the original cut was over seven hours long!
The Touch (1980)
A gem of a film from 1980, The Touch stars Shabana Azmi and has been cited by critics as an example of the cinematic beauty of Hindi movies. The story revolves around the Principal of a school for blind children who, himself, is blind, and the romance that he develops with a social worker who visits the school.
Things become complicated when the main character begins to have doubts about the viability of the marriage, fearing that his soon-to-be-wife will come to pity or even patronize him as time goes by. Bit of Bollywood trivia? Al Pacino watched this movie before filming Scent of a Woman, and it’s believed to have had a significant influence.