The first film that Bollywood ever produced was in 1913 (Raja Harishchandra). Since then Bollywood produces an average of 150-200 films per year. But a handful of them leave a mark and are always remembered by the audiences. Here are a few best Bollywood movies of all times, choices may vary.
It starred Dilip Kumar, Vaijanti Mala, Suchitra Sen, Motilal, Pran and Jonny Walker. This movie was directed by Bimal Roy and was based on the eponymous novel by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyaya. Set against the backdrop of rural Bengal during feudal times, Devdas is the story of a domed love between Devdas (Dilip Kumar) and Parvati (Suchitra Sen). Many Movies have been made on the same novel but this movie stands out with superlative performances by everyone. The character Chunni Babu, played by Motilal deserves special mention and appreciation.
Mother India (1957)
It starred Sunil Dutt, Nargis, Raaj Kumar, Kanhaiya Lal, Rajendra Kumar. A classic directed by the well known Mehboob Khan, this is the first Indian movie to be nominated for the Oscars (in the foreign language category). It is the story of poverty sicken village woman named Radha (Nargis) who, amid many other trials and tribulations, struggles to raise her sons and survive against an evil money lender. She even kills one of her sons in the end of the movie. This movie brings out the compelling case or socialism and is perhaps India’s most revered film.
It starred Prithviraj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Madhubala, Durga Khote. This film was directed by K. Asif and is a film of epic proportions; it took a whole nine years to complete the movie. The role of Prince Salim is played with unusual, understated elegance by Dilip Kumar. Prithviraj Kapoor plays one of the most convincing portrayals of Akbar the great in the history of Bollywood. This film created box office records in India when released. In 2004, it was released again in a restored color version of the film. This again was a huge success and the film successfully completed 25 weeks at the box office.
It starred Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman. This movie was directed by Vijay Anand and was based on a novel by the respected writer, R K Narayan. It is story of a freelance guide Raju (Dev Anand) who falls in love with Rosie (Waheeda Rehman). It is a moving story of the power of faith. This movie is remembered for its award winning performances by the lead actors and memorable music by S D Burman. This definitely is one of the most memorable movies of the evergreen superstar Dev Anand. There is a 120 minute US version of this movie which was screened at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, 42 years after its release.
It starred Rishi Kapoor, Dimple, Premnath, Pran, Durga Khote, Aruna Irani. This movie was directed by Raj Kapoor and it introduced a new genre to Bollywood: the teenage romance. The bold theme of teenage love, rebellion and elopement was repeated in a number of films after the release of this movie. Raj Kapoor is said to be inspired by the Archie series of comics in making this film. This film became so popular after its release that many people named their children Bobby as it was a name suitable for both a girl and a boy. The music too struck a chord with audiences and is still popular among them.
It starred Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Hema Malini, Sanjeev Kumar, Amjad Khan, Jaya Bhaduri and A K Hangal. The movie was directed by Ramesh Sippy and it is one of the biggest ever hits of the Hindi film Industry. It ran for 286 weeks straight (more than five years) in one Mumbai theatre. Sholay achieved a still standing record of 60 golden jubilees (50 consecutive weeks) across India. It was the first film in the history of Indian cinema to celebrate a silver jubilee (25 weeks) at over a hundred theatres across India. By some accounts, Sholay is the highest grossing film of all time in Indian cinema.
Umrao Jaan (1981)
It starred Rekha, Farooq Sheikh, Naseeruddin Shah, Raj Babbar, Prema Narayan and Deena Pathak. This movie was directed by Muzaffar Ali and was set in the backdrop of the First War of Independence in 1857; this film is a tale of a noted Lucknow courtesan, Umrao Jaan Ada. This is the best film ever made on the subject of a courtesan. Rekha played the title role was and appreciated for superlative performance as a courtesan. Even the critics appreciated this movie to great extend because of its engaging story telling and the whole backdrop. Few of the songs from this movie are remembered and sung till date.
From the Chopra banner came this classic story of love, betrayal, life and adultery. The controversial duo of Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan and Rekha came together in this movie. The movie tells the tale of Amitabh’s undying love for Rekha and how circumstances force him to marry Jaya. Years later, he manages to rekindle his old romance and is ready to give up his loveless marriage. And then life changes again and all for the better. “Love is faith and faith is forever.”
Directed by Mahesh Bhatt, this movie is exceptionally forward in its thought line and theme. Dealing with the topic of infidelity and adultery, questioning how far to maintain the sanctity of marriage. There is a tug of war between the wife played by Shabana Azmi and the other woman played by Late Smita Patil for the man Kulbushan, who unceremoniously dumps his wife for the other woman. After days of depression and trying to convince him to come back, she decides to move on with her life. The ending is overpoweringly feministic where Kulbushan after being dumped by Patil returns to his wife whoa sks him a very pertinent question which points fingers at the chauvinistic thought process of the Indian public. This movie has some amazing music from the maestro Ghazal king Jagjit Singh.
Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988)
It starred Aamir Khan, Juhi Chawla, Alok Nath, Beena, Dilip Tahil, Nandita Thakur and Reema Lagoo. This film was directed my Mansoor Khan and this movie in a way turned the tide for Bollywood. It was a complete Bollywood masala movie and it became a huge success because it introduced freshness in the form of the teenage love story. This film is regarded to be loosely based on the plot of Romeo and Juliet as in the end both the boy and the girl dies. The songs of this movie became immensely popular and are hummed till date.
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge (1995)
It starred Shahrukh Khan, Kajol, Parmeet Sethi, Satish Shah, Amrish Puri, Farida Jalal, Anupam Kher and Mandira Bedi. This film was directed by Aditya Chopra and has set a record of its own. It has played for 700 weeks straight in a theatre in Mumbai and is said to be still playing there. It is story of a young couple who fall in love on a vacation and how the boy tries and wins over the girl’s parents and marries her. This movie had freshness in its story telling and so it became a huge hit. It was shot in the exotic locations of Switzerland, London and India. It won million of hearts worldwide and made Shahrukh Khan an international superstar over night.
It starred Chakravarthy, Urmila Matondkar, Manoj Bajpai and Govind Namdeo. This movie was directed by Ramgopal Verma and is regarded as the best ever crime drama of Bollywood. Set on the backdrop of underworld of Mumbai, Satya was a ground breaking film with some amazing performances by the actors in the movie. This movie was an unexpected success as it didn’t have any big name, but it only became a hit because of its intense story telling and great acting.
It starred Aamir Khan, Gracy Singh, Raghubir Yadav, A K Hangal and Rachel Shelly. This movie was directed by Ashutosh Gowarikar and had the backdrop of pre Independence India. This story is about a village under huge land tax and in attempt to persuade the British officers to reduce the taxes they had to play a cricket match. No other cricket match could have been more interesting than this, a match for freedom. It became a huge hit when released and was the third movie from India after Mother India (1957) and Salaam Bombay (1988) to be nominated for Oscars in the Foreign Language Film category.
Dil Chahta Hai (2001)
It starred Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Akshaye Khanna, Dimple Kapadia and Preity Zinta. This movie was directed by Farhan Akhtar a debutante, but it didn’t seem so by the way he handle this story of three friends and how their friendship and life changes with time. It is one of the pioneers of the New Age Cinema and a cult movie. It dealt with issues like falling in love with an older person, friendship, reconciliation. The performances were simply outstanding.
This movie was a box office flop but it got critics claiming how deeply the movie touched their hearts. This is the story of a NASA scientist Mohan Bhargava who decides to take a journey back to his homeland in search of his childhood nanny, Kaveri Amma who lives in a small village called Charanpur in Uttar Pradesh. Mohan discovers the several problems of rural India from child marriage to gender discrimination, illiteracy, poverty. Unconsciously, he involves himself in creating a better society. Mohan falls in love with a simple school teacher Geeta. He makes the difficult journey back to U.S.A only to leave his job and come back to his roots in order to create a better India in his own little way. Critics thought this to be the best performance of Shahrukh Khan till date. This movie was brave and honest, to the core.
Rang De Basanti (2006)
This movie was another path breaking movie known for its cinematic excellence. The movie successfully binds the themes of friendship, social commentary and romance. A documentary film maker from London makes a journey to India to make a documentary on freedom fighters of India based on the diary of her grandfather who was an officer of the British Government. The movie was inspirational of sorts inspiring the movement against the judgement in the Jessica Lall Murder case. The movie won the hearts of millions of Indians both in India and overseas.
Taare Zameen Par (2007)
It starred Darsheel Safary, Aamir Khan and Tisca Chopra. Yet another Aamir Khan movie and this one was directed by him too. This was basically a children’s movie. The film explores the life and imagination of an eight year old boy played by Darsheel Safary, who has dyslexia and because of that is poor in academics. This movie totally changed the prospective of the parents towards their children. It is a must watch for parents.
It starred Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Vidya Balan and Paresh Rawal. This film was directed by R. Balakrishnan and was story of an intelligent and witty 12 year old boy with extremely rare genetic defect called progeria, named Auro. Auro’s character was played by Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek played the character of Auro’s dad. It had a heart rending story line and the boy died in the end. But this certainly for the first time that such a movie was made and struck the right chords. Amitabh Bachchan’s performance was extraordinary and even won the National Award for Best Actor for this movie.
Johnny Gaddaar (2007)
This movie gave a stupendous beginning to the career of Neil Nitin Mukesh. Starring alongside the veteran Dharmendra and brilliant actors like Govind Namdeo and Vinay Pathak, this movie is a story recounted by four cops on one rainy night while patrolling the streets. The movie is entirely narrated in flashback, brilliantly hopping from past to present. It is a thriller which involves the story of five gang members, gambling and 2.5 crores which goes missing. The movie is one of Bollywood’s finest thriller movies. It will keep you hooked till the end.
Dev D (2009)
While naming the best Bollywood movies of recent times, how can one possibly miss Dev D. This movie is a brilliant modern day version of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s Bengali classic novel ‘Devdas’. Anurag Kashyap revamped Devdas in such a cool way. The character of Paro brilliantly done by Mahi Gill is full of self importance and confidence, despite being in love. The movie has loud remarks on male chauvinism of the Indian patriarchal society which decrees how a woman must sexually conduct herself. Abhay Deol plays Dev which such ease, involving himself deeply in the skin of the character. Kalki plays Chanda, who is forced into prostitution because the society could not forgive her juvenile mistake. Dev due to his own ego, lets go off Paro and plunges into a sea of drugs and alcohol. He tries to seek solace in the arms of Chanda but could not accept her immoral profession. In the end, his does make a fresh start to his life with Chanda. The movie had a fresh style of direction and catchy music to go with it. The movie was creative and vibrant in its style.
These are just a few of the huge list of popular Bollywood films. Is your favorite one of these? Do share your thoughts.