25 Most Critically Acclaimed Bollywood Movies You Should Watch

In the age where any bullshit sells for cinema, the importance of and need for good cinema is paramount. There have been many such movies that have been heavily lauded by critics for their cinematic genius. Some of these movies are highly underrated, others have achieved cult status. Let’s have a look at some of the most critically acclaimed Bollywood movies that you should watch.

Also read: 15 Best Bollywood Movies of All Time By IMDb Ratings

1. Maachis

This critically acclaimed Bollywood movie directed by Gulzar is one of the best Bollywood movies of all time. It attempts to present the radicalization of youth and their turning towards extremism with such dexterity that it amazes the audience. This movie is lit.

2. Newton

Rajkumar Rao plays the role of a government servant who is sent to a politically sensitive Naxalite area for election duty. Despite numerous obstacles, he strives to conduct a fair voting process. The movie is humorous, satirical, and gravely important for recent times. The movie was sent for consideration for nomination at the 90th Academy Awards.

3. Salaam Bombay!

The movie depicts the life of children in Mumbai slums, the trials, and tribulations in a way that moves your heart. It is one of the most powerful movies of the 80s and was one of the only three Indian movies ever nominated for the Oscars. This movie is a classic.

4. Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda

Manik, a storyteller, talks about the three women whom he met at three different stages of his life and how they helped him evolve as a person. This 1992 Shyam Benegal movie (based on Dharamvir Bharti’s novel of the same name) was too complex and nuanced for people to grasp back when it was released for the first time. But once one gets through the various beautiful layers of this movie with patience, one can see that this is a masterpiece.

5. Barfi

Watch this movie if you want to understand love in its rawest, most innocent form. A deaf and mute man falls in love with a girl with autism. The movie is a poem that makes your heart ache each time you read it, but you still go back to it for it is the only form of hope available to you in the big bad world.

6. Taare Zameen Par

It’s a beautiful yet heartbreaking story of a teacher who realizes that his student has dyslexia and offers him a helping hand when everyone else refuses to understand him. This poignant film is one of the best movies ever made in India.

7. Manthan

This was the first Indian movie to be produced collectively by thousands of dairy farmers who financed this wonderful movie based around the White Revolution in India. The movie was lauded for its themes of rural empowerment, and above all the excellent performances.

 8. Satya

Mumbai ka king kaun? Bhiku Matre!  On the surface, this movie seems like the story of a few criminals and their reign of power in the city of Mumbai. But deep down it is the story of every person who is destroyed from within by the violence that they inflict on others. Ram Gopal Varma’s best contribution to Indian cinema, Satya, is a seminal movie of the gangster genre.

9. Black

A bond between a teacher and a student had never been portrayed so beautifully! Mr. Bachchan won the National Award for Best Actor for his role as Debraj Sahani, the teacher of a girl with visual and hearing impairment, in this movie. It is one of the most critically acclaimed Bollywood movies of all time.

10. Maqbool

One of the most popular Shakespeare adaptations in Indian cinema, Maqbool, reprises the story of Macbeth in the ambitious rise to power and eventual downfall of a man named Maqbool. Interestingly, here Duncan is not the King of Scotland but an underworld don, and Maqbool is his trusted (ahem) henchman.

11. Rudaali

Rudaalis are women who publicly express their grief at funerals and are paid to do so. The tradition has its roots in Rajasthan. The movie follows the life of Shanichari, a woman tormented by fate, who is unable to cry despite her tragic life. Her life changes when she meets Bhikni, a Rudaali.

12. 1947: Earth

Based on the novel ‘Icecandy Man’ by Bapsi Sidhwa, this hauntingly brilliant movie featured Aamir Khan in the titular role. All the actors in the movie did a great job at adding life to the characters of the novel. Characters from a partition novel had never been brought to life with such dexterity.

13. Rang De Basanti

A group of young friends, the future of the nation, find themselves filled with a newfound sense of patriotism when they participate in the making of a film based on the Indian freedom struggle. This fervour gives them the power to rebel against the oppressive powers of the present world. This movie is a masterpiece.

14. Fire

It was 1996 and Deepa Mehta made this brilliant movie that explored homosexual love and managed to get it released with little censorship. Sisters-in-law find comfort in each other’s company after being overlooked by their husbands in this film. The movie raised quite a few eyebrows in the then-conservative (debatable) India so much so that riots broke out.

15. Dor

With extremely beautiful performances and a fresh take on the plight of widows in India, this 2006 movie is a must-watch. The movie celebrates the friendship of two women who are drawn to each other by fate. It is heart-touching in its presentation and honest in its execution.

16. Gangs of Wasseypur

This gem of a movie by Kashyap brought about a change in the way cinema was created and perceived by the audience. An ensemble cast comprising little-known but extremely talented actors, hard-to-forget characters, a gripping plot, and dialogues that resonate in the populace even after so many years of the release of this movie. That’s the definition of brilliance that you just read.

17. Ek Doctor Ki Maut

One of the least talked about films (except in the critics’ circle) this movie is par excellence. It talks about the ostracisation of a doctor who discovered the vaccine for leprosy but due to the suppression of the health ministry, his ground-breaking research is overlooked by the world. The movie is relevant beyond ages.

18. Pink

“No means No!” This clarion call spread like wildfire after this movie was released. A retired lawyer steps forward to help a girl who has been molested by an influential man when the accused tries to get her case rigged. The movie throws light on the importance of consent in a way that we have never seen before.

19. Udaan

This movie is a poignant saga of the struggles of every middle-class youth in India. Issues such as parental toxicity and domestic violence are treated with dexterity in this movie.

20. Aligarh

Dr. Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras, a reputed professor is subjected to the humiliation of a sting operation being carried out to determine his sexual orientation. He later forms a bond with the journalist who covers his story. This movie is as poignant as it is socially awakening.

21. Ugly

When a little girl goes missing, her father and stepfather start accusing each other of kidnapping her. You’ll literally be on the edge of your seat, biting your nails while watching this gripping thriller.

22. Tamasha

A story about self-discovery had never been this heart-touching. Ved’s story will resonate with everyone who watches this movie with an open mind and unperturbed attention. Every frame of this movie is packed with multiple aesthetics to offer to the audience. Even if you watch it for the 10th time, you’ll definitely discover something new. This seminal movie will still be relevant some 5 decades from now and beyond.

23. Swades

Mohan, a man working for NASA returns to India in search of his old nanny, Kaveri Amma. He finds himself in a remote village, rich in culture but devoid of the comforts of modern life. Although inclined towards going back to America again, he finds himself drawn towards his motherland in order to do something good for it. Talk about brain drain, traditional versus modern life, customs, religion, education, etc., everything has been talked about in a new light in this movie.

24. Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron

Two photographers accidentally capture a murder in their lenses in a mission to expose the corruption of the rich. The excellently written plot and the rollicking satire make this movie more than mere entertainment. Generally considered as a comedy movie, this movie is more relevant now than it was some 4 decades ago.

25. Masaan

Be it casteism, the stigma surrounding pre-marital sexual relations, or other prejudices of the society, the characters in the movie constantly struggle to get past all of it and live a respectable life. It is one of the most critically acclaimed Bollywood movies of recent times.

So, these were some of the most critically acclaimed Bollywood movies that deserve your attention. Which of these movies are you going to watch next? Do let us know in the comments section.

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