Friday, July 31, 2015

Suleikha's Epic Bollywood Recs Post

Buckle up, folks. This is a huge recommendation list of Bollywood films. For those of you just joining the party, "Bollywood" specifically refers to big-budget Hindi-language films made in Mumbai, India — though I DO have some indie/arthouse Hindi films on this list because they're awesome and you should watch them.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If it's one-hundred percent in English, it is not a Bollywood film. It might be Indian arthouse, though. Similarly, Gurinder Chadha, Mira Nair, Deepa Mehta and Danny Boyle are NOT Bollywood filmmakers. Bride and Prejudice is not Bollywood. Fire is not Bollywood. Slumdog Millionaire is absolutely not Bollywood.  
I've split the films up by categories so if a favorite of yours doesn't pop up in one place, it may be listed under something else. I've linked to some reviews where I can. Y'all know what IMDB and Wikipedia are, so I trust you to do that if you need to. Most of these films should be available via Netflix and online retailers. I've tried not to be that jerk who lists movies you can't find.
Also, I don't have a whole lot of Salman Khan films on this list because he makes me rage-y. I'm sure someone can rec you his greatest hits in the comments!
Classics Through the Decades
Shree 420 (1955)
Mughal-e-Azam (1957) Based on the allegedly real-life tale of future Mughal emperor Jahangir and a dancer named Anarkali, 
Aradhana (1969) Sexiest. Song. Of. All. Time.
Bobby (1973) 
Sholay (1975) Spaghetti western, desi-style!
Silsila (1981) Scandalous because it allegedly mirrored the actors' real-life affair.
Lamhe (1991)

Hollywood Remakes
Chori Chori (1956) and Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin (1991) - It Happened One Night
Ek Ladka Ek Ladki (1992) - Overboard
Yeh Dillagi (1994) - Sabrina
Main Khiladi Tu Anari (1994) - The Hard Way
Pyar To Hona Hi Tha (1998) - French Kiss
Kaante (2002) - Reservoir Dogs and The Usual Suspects
Ghajini (2008) - Memento
We Are Family (2010) - Stepmom
Period Pieces
1942: A Love Story (1994)
Lagaan (2001) I hate this movie. Other people like it.
Devdas (2002) See above. I like the 2009, modernized, Dev D. much better.
Jodhaa-Akbar (2008)
The Dirty Picture (2011)
Lootera (2013)
Modern Love
Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999) 
Hum Tum (2004)
Namastey London (2007)
Band Baaja Baaraat (2010)
Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013)
The Lunchbox (2013) Critically acclaimed for a reason.

Ladies in the Lead
Dushman (1998) Kajol is a badass and the villain is TERRIFYING.
Chameli (2004) Kareena Kapoor plays a world-weary, foul-mouthed sex worker. 
Black (2005) Rani Mukerji as a quasi-Helen Keller.
Dor (2006) An exquisite friendship between Gul Panag and Ayesha Takia.
Aaja Nachle (2007) Madhuri Dixit's "comeback" film.
Kahaani (2012) Vidya Balan is my girlfriend.
English Vinglish (2012) In which Sridevi makes us all cry.
Queen (2014) Kangana Ranaut is a revelation in this.
Whether it's Shahrukh, Salman, Saif or Aamir, there's no denying the Khans have ruled the last three decades of Bollywood cinema. Here is a shortlist of films that aren't in other categories.
Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988) Warning: This is a Romeo & Juliet story.
Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (1992) College romance centered on a bike race.
Deewana (1992) In which SRK takes the hero role and the girl from Rishi Kapoor.
Darr (1993) SRK used to play villains. He makes for one CREEPY stalker.
Hum Aapke Hain Koun (1994) A big, splashy film that was a '90s watershed.
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) The longest-running Hindi film of all time.
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998) One of my favorite movies of ALL TIME.
Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003) - I hate this movie but love the soundtrack.
Rang De Basanti (2006) Social justice and a history lesson. I cried.
Chak De India (2007) SRK's in it, but it's really about kickass lady sportsing!

The Big B
Amitabh Bachchan is one of the most famous actors in the world, and with good reason. I'm putting some repeats from other categories on this list. Because duh.
Deewaar (1975)
Sholay (1975)
Amar Akbar Anthony (1977)
Don (1978)
Lawaaris (1981)
Silsila (1981)
Coolie (1983)
Mahaan (1983)
Sharaabi (1984)
Kaante (2002)
Black (2005)
Bunty Aur Babli (2005)
Auteur, Auteur
Mani Ratnam - a) awesome and b) they dubbed a lot of his Tamil films in Hindi.
Roja (1992)
Bombay (1995)
Yuva (2004)
Guru (2007)
Zoya Akhtar, Farhan Akhtar - These siblings make GREAT films.
Dil Chahta Hai (Farhan, 2001)
Rock On!! (Farhan produced, 2008)
Luck By Chance (Zoya, 2009)
Karthik Calling Karthik (Farhan produced, 2010)
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (Zoya, 2011)
Dil Dhadakne Do (Zoya, 2015)

Vishal Bhardwaj - His Shakespeare series is just BRILLIANT.
Maqbool (Macbeth, 2003)
Omkara (Othello, 2006)
Haider (Hamlet, 2014)
Moves I Haven't Seen Yet That Other People Rec A Lot
Taal (1999)
Fanaa (2006)
Ishqiya (2010) and Dedh Ishqiya (2014)
Gangs of Wasseypur (2012)
Get Your Crack Right Here
Amar Akbar Anthony (1977) Brothers separated as kids, raised Hindu, Muslim and Catholic.
Mahaan (1983) Amitabh Bachchan in a TRIPLE ROLE.
Nagina (1986) She's a snake. Literally.
Kishen Kanhaiya (1990) Corsican twins separated at birth. Like, you hit one and the other feels pain.
Khalnayak (1993) A lady cop goes on the run with a criminal with questionable hygiene.
Jai Kishen (1994) Twins separated at birth. One is a blind martial artist.
Karan Arjun (1995) Reincarnation. Superhomoerotic fraternal twins.
Munnabhai MBBS (2003) A mob kingpin pretends to be a doctor to impress his parents.
Dhoom (2004) Motorcycle racing thieves, paper-thin plot, lots of chases.
Bunty Aur Babli (2005) A much happier, cuter, Bonnie and Clyde.
Om Shanti Om (2007) Another one of my favorites, featuring reincarnation, Bollywood meta references and gratuitous wind machine.

This should keep you all busy for a while, but I'm sure people will provide more recommendations in the comments. Remember: I left out a LOT because finding copies of older movies is hard. 

**I am so anal-retentive, I will probably keep adding titles. 


  1. *heats up credit card*

    I'm also going to put in my plug for my favorite Bollywood movie thus far: Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, also with SRK.

    Introspective dorky guy who undergoes transformation into...okay, an extroverted dorky guy! Hidden identities involving mustaches! Marriage of convenience where one party is secretly in love with the other! And a dancing competition!

    1. RNBDJ didn't really speak to me personally -- I had issues with the identity stuff -- but everyone else I know adores it, so you have a lot of great company!

      Happy spending! :D

    2. Oh, I can completely understand that. But hidden identity is my crack and so I'm willing to forgive a lot. The other ones you have on here that I've seen are awesome, so I'm very excited to dive in. :)

  2. I loved The Last Lear and Rajneeti. Both two of Arjun Rampal's better films. SRK and northern Calif star in My Name is Khan, I cried so hard!!! That movie is Oscar material untIl it derails in the last hour (by Western standards anyway). Slumdog millionaire is slick and fun. You know my love for all things Arjun of course. You listed my other favs of his. Thanks (sort of) for the list of more movies to get! Sometimes FYI you get a better deal and selection at flix films.

    1. Did you really just cite Slumdog as a Bollywood film? Go sit in a corner, Carolyn Jewel! No more Rampal for you until you think about what you've done!

    2. I admit it's a film that wouldn't count. I was thinking that ppl not used to longer films and the different story approach could slide into the real thing with Slumdog. Better to be bold and dive right in with anything Arjun. I'll go sit in a corner because you're right but I'll be looking at my AR Pinterest board.

    3. LOL!!! I love this... I always start my new sessions of Bollywood dance classes by asking the students, "Okay, so how many of you have actually seen a Bollywood film?" ...wait for the hands... then, "By the way, Slumdog Millionaire doesn't count." ...half the hands go down... it's funny but also sad... :P

  3. Rebekah WeatherspoonJuly 31, 2015 at 3:16 PM

    Holy wow! I have a lot of movies to watch! yay!!!!

  4. Great list. Now if only I had Netflix...!!!

  5. Ooh! I did not realize Vishal Bhardwaj had made another Shakespeare movie! Omkara is one of my favorites.

    1. Yes, it's so good! He really has a great handle on how to adapt Shakespeare to a gritty Bollywood aesthetic!

  6. Queen is up there as my fav movie. Also Piku is one of the best movies I've watched! Soooooooo good :)