Indian Cinema has come a long was ever since its onset of cinema in the early 20th Century. Indian Film industry is one of the largest when it comes to the sheer amount of audience it caters to. Gems from Bollywood like Mughal-e-Azam, Awara and Bahubali have earned a fan following across the globe. Here in this article, we list some of the must watch Bollywood movies through the years and eras.
Raja Harishchandra was the first feature length film in Bollywood. It was a silent film made in 1913 by Dadasaheb Phalke. Since then we’ve come a long way in terms of arts, culture and civilisation. Movies have transitioned too. In retrospect, we can draw a stark contrast between the old and contemporary movies. Whether it be screen resolution, sound design, or content. Or, a simple fact that earliest movies of the Indian cinema had men playing roles meant for women. In fact, now we’ve gone digital: which has open doors for OTT platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney Hotstar.
Below, we present you a list of 50 must watch Bollywood movies of all time:
1. A Wednesday
A man plants four bombs across Mumbai. He demands the release of four dreaded terrorists. And thereby, brings the system to its knees by exposing the flaws in their day to day operations. A movie with a gripping plot and devoid of the traditional superstars, A Wednesday has gained a cult following over the years!
Kancha Cheena and his goons destroy Vijay’s family and reputation: kill his father and molest his mother. Vijays wants to avenge the injustice that his family suffered by killing Kancha Cheena. A movie that will always be remembered for the legendary act put up by Amitabh Bachchan, Agneepath is a must watch Bollywood movie.
3. Amar Akbar Anthony
Kishenlal’s family succumbs to the poverty as he serves his term in jail. His wife dies and sons are adopted by three people: a Hindu, Muslim and Christian. Watch the film to know what happens 20 saal baad. One of the iconic works of Manmohan Desai and the example of a typical Bollywood Masala movie, Amar Akbar Anthony is also one of the must watch Bollywood movies of yester years.
Bhaskar is an Oncologists. He treats the poor for free; however, he is constantly perturbed by the prevalent poverty in the country. However, he comes across terminally ill yet optimistic and cheerful Anand. And his outlook towards problems and life change forever. A movie that has inspired millions and continues to do so even decades after its release, Anand is a must watch Bollywood movie that also teaches you some valuable life lessons.
5. Andaz Apna Apna
Two young men want to get rich to live a comfortable life. They plan to do so by marrying a millionaire’s daughter who is conducting a swyam-vyar type wedding. With funny characters, dialogues and comical acting, this film is a laughter riot.
Raj and his mother have been abandoned by his father. They live life of poverty and Raj grows up to be a thief. The father-son are unaware that they are related. As face each other in the court of law, as criminal and judge. One of the must watch Bollywood movies of all time, Awara was not only a superhit in India but also helped Raj Kapoor gain a cult following in the Soviet Union and many other countries.
7. Bahubali – The Beginning
In Mahishmati kingdom, Shivudu is in pursuits of Avantika. But, during one of his pursuits he comes aware of his past and legacy. And he decides to reclaim what was truly yours. With larger than life cinematography, effects, performances and sets, Bahubali is a visual extravaganza.
Black is a classic film of all times. Michelle’s parent isolate her from he rest of the world as she cannot hear or see. Her eccentric and persistent teacher Paul comes up as a ray of hope in her life .
9. Black Friday
Black Friday is a dark, audacious and immersive experience. Especially for the victims of the 1993 bomb blasts that brought Mumbai to standstill. The film centres around the actual event, recreating the entire scenario: the mouse and cat hunt between the Mumbai Police and the Underworld.
A Hindu man and a Muslim women marry each other against their families’ will. Mumbai riots which took place after the demolition of Babri Majid poise a threat for their family.
Border is an adaptation of India -Pakistan war of 1971. In particular it is about the Longewala post: a unit of 120 soldiers facing the wrath of full-fledged Pakistan army. The beauty of the film is that that it recognises the human plight of loss. A movie that aroused patriotism and nationalism in the 90s and even today, Border is probably the most popular war movie of Bollywood.
12. Chak De India
Kabir Khan was labelled as traitor in a World Cup match against Pakistan. Years later, he has been assigned as the captain of the Women’s Hockey team. He must use this opportunity to salvage his reputation. A movie that marked the beginning of new age cinema and sports movies in Bollywood, Chak De should also be marked for one of the most iconic performances of Shah Rukh Khan!
13. Chupke Chupke
Chupke Chupke is one of the best rom-coms of the Indian cinema. Sulekha’s husband wants to test her Jiaji’s intelligence by playing a prank on him. A this unfolds a series of comical errors in their lives. A movie with simple characters, simple plot and yet full of humor, Chupke Chupke is sitcom you can always watch with your family.
When love becomes an obsession, life falls apart. Kiran is engaged to Sunil. Kiran’s obsessed lover and stalker, finds it difficult to accept. He leaves no stones unturned to break them apart.
15. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge
Raj and Simran meet on a rail trip across Europe and fall in love. However, Simran is from a conservative family. She is getting married to a boy of her father’s choice. A movie that redefined love and romance, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge is probably the most iconic movie of the 90s whose plot, dialogues, performances and songs never seems to fade from the memory of audiences. A must-watch Bollywood movie in short!
Deewaar is the classic tale of choices we make amidst adversities in life. Ravi and Vijay are two brothers with a traumatic childhood. Ravi becomes a cop when he grows up and Vijay turns a criminal. their fates intertwine when they both face each other as a robber and a cop. The movie that established Amitabh Bachchan as the angry young man of Indian Cinema, Deewar unsurprisingly makes it to the list of the all time must watch bollywood movies.
Devdas has been made three times in Bollywood so far. And every time, it has been the highest grosser of the box-office. Originally, it was adapted from Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel of the same name. Devdas for the first time was brought to screen by Bimal Roy. If you are a sheer romantic you must watch this tale of pure-love.
18. Dil Chahta Hai
It is a coming of age film of three college passed friends: Akash, Sameer and Siddharth. The film aptly describes the growing up phase that youngsters go through.
19. Do Aankhen Barah Haath
A jail warden undertakes the responsibility of rehabilitating six prisoners. He takes them to work on a farm where they learn to value hard work.
20. Do Bigha Zamin
Bimal Roy’s classic Do Bigha Zamin was made in the year 1953. It mirrors the zamindari system prevalent in the country back then. It shows us how a poor farmer is robbed of his land by a cunning landlord. This movie is treasured as one of the classic of Indian Cinema and should definitely be in your list of must watch Bollywood movies.
Vijay is a look alike of the Don that Mumbai Police is searching for. He has been hired by the DCP to find the whereabouts about the Don and help police nab him. Vijay is pulled into the abyss of mafia world but finds it difficult to make his way out. A movie which has been remade into another hit and whose dialogues are remembered even today, Don is one of the most memorable releases of that era and one of the must watch Bollywood movies.
Ramu becomes crippled right after his parents death. Alone and on the street, he finds it difficult to survive on his own. He is befriended by Mohan who is visually handicapped but is a good singer. And, the duo together face the world and survive as a singer and harmonica player. A Bollywood classic and a beautiful tale of friendship, Dosti is a gem of Indian Cinema.
Vijay is a happy go lucky guy but his life would no longer be same after the disappearance of the city’s Inspector General’s son. How far would he go to save his family from the wrath of law?
24. Garm Hava
The film deals with the anti-Muslim sentiments raging across the nation post-partition. In particular, it talks about Salim Mirza and his family’s sufferings. Mirza’s ancestral property is snatched by Indian Government as owner, his elder brother migrates to Pakistan.
25. Gangs of Wasseypur
Gangs of Wasseypur is about the rivalries of warring gangs in and around Dhanbad. The usp of the film is that it has been directed by Anurag Kashyap.This action packed thriller is one of the best action movies of Bollywood.
Ghayal is an action thriller of 1990s. A rich business man kill’s Ajay’s brother and frames him for the murder. Once out of the jail, Ajay seeks revenge.
In order to escape his boss’s ire Ramprasad makes him belief of existence of an imaginary identical twin. We see a cynical Bhavani trying to find out the truth but finding nothing!The film is a laughter riot.
Raju, a tour guide, falls in love with the wife of one of his customers. He helps her escape the man, motivates her to take up dancing and music as her carrier. But, as he helps her build his own world is falling apart.
29. Hera Pheri
Babubhai, Raju and Ghyansham have only one problem in life: money. The film is their journey to come out of this problem. Watch this comedy as the trio make fool of others and themselves.
30. Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro
No film explores the topic of rampant corruption as beautifully as Jaane Bhai Do Yaaro. It is a dark satire on the Indian society of the 1983.
A woman is on a quest to find her missing husband.Or is she?Why else would a seven months pregnant woman travel from London all the way to Kolkata.
Lagaan is a period film dating back to the year 1983. India is under the British Raj and Indians are living their lives in misery. And Captain Russell only adds to their woes by doubling the land tax in a drought hit region.When Villagers bring this to his notice; he devises a cunning plan to escape : a game of cricket between the villagers and the British officials.
33. Mother India
Radha rises her three children single-handedly. Despite her adversities and hurdles which include a greedy money-lenders advances she never compromises on her morals.
34. Mr. India
.Arun’s family is a set of orphaned kids. One of the kids gets killed by a notorious gangster. Furious Arun decides to save the people from the gangster using his father invention: a watch which makes you invisible. Mr. India isn’t just a film it is a childhood nostalgia for every 90’s kid. If you haven’t watched the film yet, you must do it now.
Mughal Prince Salim and Anarkali love each other. But, emperor Akbar wouldn’t let Salim marry her. They both fight each-other: One for love, the other for ego.
Vishal Bhardwaj’s Omkara is based on Shakespeare’s Othello. A women decides to marry a man of her choice. But, in a society ruled by men, how can she ever be happy? Some want vengeance; others power and love often falls prey to such male ego.
Bhola is truly, madly and deeply in love with his beautiful neighbour. In order to win her affection he pretends to be an ace musician. His plan falls flat when she discovers the truth and decides to cut off all ties. A desperate Bhola must do all he can to save the love of his life.
Pakeezah is about the pious and true love between Salim and Sahibjaan. The only obstacle in their life is their past: Salim is from a respectable family whereas Sahibjaan is a courtesan in a brothel. Would they risk it all to be together?
Vijay tries to get his poems published but is struggling as none of the publications want it. However, amidst all the rejections and troubles he finds emotional support from a prostitue, who falls in love with him and his poems.
40. Rang De Basanti
Rang De Basanti is an ode to the freedom fighters of our nation. It connects the modern day, apolitical youth with our country’s past. A group of friends are cast in a film on freedom fighters. It instills a spirit of integrity and patriotism in them; to the extent that, they don’t think twice before killing corrupt minister.
41. Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam
Saheb Bibi and Ghulam: the title aptly describes the three central characters of the film. A faithful house wife resorts to drastic measures to draw attention of her husband who spends all his time at the brothel. None in the household seem to understand her agony except for Bhoothnath, a servant.
42. Salaam Bombay
An 11 years old Krishna is sent to work in a travelling circus after he destroys his elder brothers motorcycle. His family wants him to repay the money. to his brother. Along with the circus he moves to Mumbai. In Mumbai, he meets a drug dealer and a prostitute, and learns the ways of life.
Sangam and a plethora of Bollywood movies of the same category brings us to a conclusion: Bollywood is a tougher place for lovers to survive than real life. Do watch this classic love triangle and think for yourself.
Satya is a crime thriller about Satya, a young and naive man, who is falsely implicated in a murder and sent to jail. Unwillingly, he falls into the dark mafia world.
Jai and Veeru are recruited by Thakur Baldev Singh against the notorious bandit Gabbar. Sholay remains one of the most popular films across all ages.
46. Shree 420
Shree 420 is a classic film with Raj Kapoor and Nargis in the Lead roles. We see a naive Raj come to city for job, but instead he loses all his possessions and remains unemployed. It is much appreciated as it depicted the unemployment and the state of society post Independence.
An NRI decides to visit his nanny on one of his visits to India. As he reaches her village, he feels loved and warmth of his country-men force him to rethink his decision of staying abroad.
48. Teesri Kasam
Teesri Kasam is a sad yet beautiful movie with relatable characters and good moral lessons. It is about a village bullock cart driver who faces difficulty making his livelihood and his vows.
49. Umrao Jaan
Umrao Jaan is a famous Courtesan. Out of family rivalry, she was sold to a brothel as a kid. Although, she is in relationship with a Nawab, her reputation doesn’t let him accept her as a wife.
Vijay is a detective who tracks down his parents’ killer and hatches a play to avenge his loss. Zanjeer and a few other action packed film of the same period successfully gave Amitabh Bachchan the tag of, “angry young man” in Bollywood.
Well, Bollywood has a rich legacy with innumerable releases every single year and hence this list of the must watch Bollywood movies is along long! Write to us if we have missed any other movie that should make it into this list of all time bests.
How many of these must watch Bollywood movies have you seen? Comment below!