Best Bollywood Movies
It may come as a shock, but it is not Hollywood that produces the most films in a year - it's actually Bollywood! This prolific industry produces hundreds of films a year, with many of them even making their way across the seas to international markets.
However, finding the very best Bollywood movies is a daunting task, as there are so many different options, themes, and influential options to choose from. We'll try and whittle down some of those films that are key to the industry - and to India as a whole - as we go through to make our selection.
Right from the outset, finding the best of Bollywood is hard. Do we go for classic card-based movies such as Teen Patti The Movie or do we turn to more classic movies such as 1957's Mother India?
Then, of course, we have the blockbusters to contend with, such as the Bahubali franchise that even influenced Hollywood. Perhaps we take a chance on love and pin some of those romantic delights such as Bobby? Or hit those bold musical numbers so beloved by Indians all over the world? Stick with us and see which movies we thought to show off Bollywood best!
Bollywood and card games
India is very much into games and nothing shows this better than some of the movies that have been made. 1984's Andar Bahar is, as the name suggests, all about that specific Indian card game. This film actually takes on some of the aspects from the Hollywood film 48 Hours, where a criminal gets the help of a small-time safe-cracker to rob a bank. Things do not go as planned, however, with Andar Bahar the movie handing us more twists and turns than the actual card game itself! As in the movie world, the bad guy does end up being apprehended.
Another popular card game in India is the poker-based Teen Patti. This has also been made into a movie, this one in 2010. Another Hindi film, this too is all about the thrills but follows a professor in maths who is attempting to write a thesis on probability - relating it to the game Teen Patti.
As you might imagine, there are many twists and turns to the plot as the professor receives a letter from England, people try to poach the idea, and so much more. The descent into betrayal and mistrust due to the success of the strategy is one to behold.
Bollywood has never shied away from representing gambling in its movies. In fact, there are a number of other films that centre around this pastime. One of the top films in this genre is Striker (2010), which is actually based on real-life events.
The film revolves around a young man who enjoys playing Carrom - a risky game that requires a fair amount of skill. However, he becomes successful at the game, winning huge purses and earning a championship by the tender age of 12. As he grows older, the darker parts of the game and this lifestyle start to take its toll.
• Andar Bahar
• Teen Patti
• The Great Gambler
Romance and comedy
For most of us, when we think about Bollywood, we think big, bright, and fun. And of course, with a huge side of romance. With this in mind, what better movie to make our list than 1995's Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge? As you might expect, this is the age-old tale of forbidden love crossed with family loyalty. The story sees an immature suitor follow his love, who is in an arranged marriage, across Europe, where they fall in love all over again. Big, bold, and starring the inimitable Shah Rukh Khan, this film sets the bar for all romantic movies (and real-life acts) to come.
No list would be complete without the classic Mother India (1957). The film is a dramatic tale about the complex nature of farming in India. It follows the story of a newly independent India, where the farmers are being exploited by their landlords.
The main storyline follows the village mother, Radha, as she struggles to get by after her husband abandons her and their three sons. All about self-sacrifice and the idealisation of India, this film stands out on another level - it was the first Hindi film to ever get nominated for Best Foreign Language film at the Oscars.
Bringing cricket to life
Our list of Bollywood films yet again wouldn't be complete if we were to miss out movies about one of India's favourite sports - cricket. Presenting: Lagaan (2001). Set in the 19th century, the film is set in a village beset by drought, whose inhabitants learn cricket in an attempt to take on their rulers.
For years, this strange mix of cricket and colonial rule meant the film was left unmade, but finally, it was taken on, becoming a huge critical and box office hit. Its success (it's the biggest film to get a Best Foreign Language nomination) has seen other alternative subject matters come to the big screen.
Action and thrills
The last movie on our list is arguably one of the finest Bollywood creations. Sholay (1975) is a masala Western that has gained cult following over the years since its release. The movie has it all - from bromance, to massive action fight scenes, huge songs and, of course, plot twists galore - the thrills will keep you glued to the screen right up until the end. With iconic moments and one of Bollywood's baddest bad guys, Gabbar Singh, it'll come as no surprise to find that this villain is, even now, used to scare children to bed if they misbehave!
Final thoughts on the best Bollywood movies
With so many movies to choose from, it's truly hard to pick out the very best Bollywood has to offer. And of course, we're sure to have missed out some of the favourites. Consider, for example, Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), a musical comedy about three brothers separated from birth. Or possibly the classical historic romance that is Pakeezah (1972).
There are even modern classics, such as 3 Idiots (2009), missing from the list, despite its catchphrase "All is well" still doing the rounds in the country. However, we've just selected some of the most influential of them all. Which is the very best Bollywood film is really down to you!