The very best Bollywood movies to start your obsession
To the untrained (and, let’s be honest, unwilling to read subtitles) eye, Bollywood films are super inaccessible to non-Hindi cinephiles. But the uber-popular films continue to make waves in the film industry, with some even crossing over into the Hollywood magic machine.
If you’re interested in getting indoctrinated into the delightful world of Bollywood, but don’t have the slightest clue where to start, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Here’s a list of some of the best Bollywood films to get you started with your obsession.
Mahesh Bhatt’s breakout film Arth was partly autobiographical, a rarity in Bollywood even to this day. Pooja (Shabana Azmi) finds herself at a crossroads when her happy marriage begins to crumble upon her discovery that her husband, filmmaker Inder (Kharbanda), is having an affair with Kavita (Smita Patil).
Pooja’s search for identity outside the marriage leads find herself- a very uncommon trope in Hindi cinema. This ultimately leaves Inder alone.
Hum Aapke Hain Koun…! (1994)
This 1990s blockbuster was directly responsible for the resurgence in popularity for Bollywood films again after a devastating drop in attendance in the 1980s due to video piracy and disillusionment with the crude action films of that era. The film includes 14 songs, two weddings, and a cremation.
Nothing else really happens, yet its shamelessly lavish depiction of every celebration of a perfect North Indian family, and especially their elaborate colorful Hindu wedding rituals, pulled audiences into cinemas once again. ‘HAHK’ brought about the global awareness of modern Bollywood to the fore.
Black Friday (2004)
Long before director Anurag Kashyap stepped into the international spotlight with films like 2012’s ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’, he struggled to release this controversial real-life drama about the infamous 1993 bomb blasts in Mumbai – arguably his best film to date.
Kashyap maintained journalist Hussain Zaidi’s version of the planning, execution, and aftermath of the explosions and extracted great performances from his ensemble cast while also shooting one of the best chase sequences on film.
The six-minute scene features a suspect running from policemen in the Dharavi slum, and is said to have inspired Danny Boyle when he made ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.
3 Idiots (2009)
This 2009 Indian dramedy is directed by Rajkumar Hirani of Munnabhai fame and produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra. Starring Amir Khan, Sharman Joshi, Madhavan, Kareena Kapoor, Boman Irani, and Omi Vaidya, 3 Idiots is loosely based on Chetan Bhagat’s best selling novel Five Point Someone.
The film centers around three engineering students at one of the best colleges in the country. Their journey is a telling portrait of the education system in India as well as the challenges young students face in the pursuit of perfection, money, and that all-important degree.
Set in the early 1900s, this film follows a young man named Devdas (Shah Rukh Khan) on his way home to India after spending the past ten years in London. As the news reaches Devdas and his ex-love Paro’s (Aishwarya Rai) respective households, the family matriarchs have flashbacks to when the young couple were still children.
When Devdas’ mother found out the two wanted to get married, she refused to give her consent, and in doing so, set off a chain of events that ultimately lead Devdas into alcoholism. Though Paro has agreed to an arranged marriage with a wealthy landowner, she still loves Devdas, and is determined to turn him away from his darkness and alcoholism.
Based on the classic Indian novel by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhye, Devdas is the third feature directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali.