The 20 Best Bollywood Movies on Netflix Right Now
The pace of life is getting faster day by day leaving us no room for an afternoon siesta and a family screening of films every evening on TV. Our generation is essentially deriving its pleasures from various streaming service providers’ subscriptions readily accessible on our smartphones at all hours. But our endeavours often lead us to an alley of confusion on what to watch, especially when it comes to Hindi films which continue to rule our hearts but are somewhere lost in the crowd of tons of web series/shows, films, and international content. With the advent of OTT, that has revolutionized how we see the movies, the streaming giant Netflix has given resurgence to the low budget Bollywood movies which could hardly find screens in the competitive market.
Netflix has given hope to several upcoming film-makers to tell their story without the burden of distribution, screen numbers, and censor board. Netflix is keen to expand in India and has been aggressively marketing as well. It has announced 10 new original films for India in partnership with top directors and producers of Bollywood, comprising Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions, Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment, and Ronnie Screwvala’s RSVP, Hindustan Times reported. Below is our attempt at bringing you a bunch of best Bollywood movies available on Netflix which you must watch if you haven’t and which you can re-watch anytime if you already have for they never get old.
20. Soni | Ivan Ayr | 2019
After traveling across several International Film Festivals in 2018, Netflix picked Ivan Ayr’s Soni as a part of the Netflix India Program. Soni is a low-budget independent movie about violent crimes against women.
Ivan Ayr doesn’t resort to sensationalism and theatrics to address the plaguing issues ranging from gender prejudice, sexual harassment to the power distribution among different strata that manipulates the law. Keeping the women police officers at the vantage point, he captures the helplessness of women in the Indian society within the law and outside of it reflecting the gender disparity and prejudices within the family of female cops.
Soni featured in our list of The 10 Best Indian Movies of 2019
19. Andhadhun | Sriram Raghavan | 2018
Ranked among one of the best thriller movies in Bollywood, Andhadhun took everyone by surprise. Sriram Raghavan has a panache for making intense thrillers around quirky characters and circumstances. Andhadhun is a testament to it. Raghavan puts a blind (or maybe not) protagonist at the centre of this wicked thriller that unfolds in the heart of Pune.
He patiently sketches the characters to give them a personality, even if no one is black and white and, compels us to root for them. Dripping in the neo-noir genre, the camera follows multiple characters across Pune and various subplots that touch on the moral and ethical dilemma of an individual, and a loosely handled organ traffic subplot that is a significant complaint in a terrific film otherwise.
18. Mukti Bhawan | Shubhashish Bhutiani | 2017
Mukti Bhawan or “Hotel Salvation” is beyond what is played on the screen if one is able to invest himself in the film completely. It won’t keep you on the edge of your seat, nor will it get you excited or mesmerized, it won’t set you on a laughter mode either but its consumption demands your focus and your complete investment to dig into the underlain philosophies and complexities.
Mortality is a truth hard to embrace and impossible to be predicted. Mukti Bhawan tells the story of a son whose father is reluctant to leave his breath and attain salvation in the holy city of Varanasi and the turmoil which our characters go through the film make us wonder if choosing what can’t be chosen is possible. Mukti Bhawan featured in our list of the best Bollywood movies 2017.
Related to Bollywood Movies on Netflix – Mukti Bhawan  Review: Making Peace with Death
17. Raman Raghav | Anurag Kashyap | 2016
Anurag Kashyap’s Raman Raghav 2.0 is dark, delirious and stylistically delicious. It doesn’t leave any stone unturned and is a true Kashyap film in all measures.
There’s a strange smile that appears on your face as you watch Ramanna dismantling his victims in Anurag Kashyap’s Raman Raghav 2.0. It’s not because Kashyap somehow magically manages to justify the mystifying murders in his film, nor because he tries to ground you into rooting for his killing machine, it’s mostly because of it jabs at that side of a human brain which has violence and anarchy all over its surface.
He kicks a dark, blunt hole in your head. One that shakes you to the moment of spine chilling, psychotic disorder. Here’s a film that never steps back on its delivery of evil. It piles a dozen grim shenanigans in front of your eyes and just keeps increasing the weight until you gasp or possibly choke yourself to death.
Raman Raghav featured in our list of The 15 Best Indian Films of 2016
16. Pink | Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury | 2016
Pink raises some uncomfortable questions and truths about the world we live in. Uncomfortable because knowing or unknowingly most of us are also part of the world that’s in the wrong here. Pink leaves a deep cut on our conscience.
It affects the judgment and also stares right into everyone whose notion about women is shrouded by cheap, mindless props or their own viciously unacceptable characterizations about them. Subtle and loud in equal measures, Aniruddha Roy Chatterjee’s Pink feels like a lesson on morality. But it also feels like a lesson that needs to be taught and at least, listened to. Pink is one of the most important Bollywood Movies on Netflix right now.
15. Masaan| Neeraj Ghaywan | 2015
A lyrical meditation on everything between life and death. Everything about Masaan is flawless – densely layered narration, powerful images that would be difficult to shrug off, moving performances, emotionally stirring lyrics and haunting music to go with it, and the deeply affecting climax at the Sangam.
Masaan is a harrowing story of finding yourself at the cost of losing everything. Winner of two awards at Cannes, Masaan is a rare cinematic achievement that leaves a scar on conscience. As far as Bollywood Movies on Netflix are concerned, it is right on top.
Also, Read on Masaan: Ends- Subversive, Unconventional, Endless
14. Ugly | Anurag Kashyap | 2014
This Hindi language thriller is what I define as a morally devastating account of the outcomes of ignorance, selfishness and hedonistic approaches of humans in the ugliest of situations. Ugly acts as a mirror whose glare is blinding to its audience if looked at with both eyes open.
Anurag Kashyap’s film is a technical marvel, on the other hand, considering the processes involved which not only make this an honest and grittily realistic film but also allow it to suspend our disbelief in the strongest of ways. Let Ugly frustrate you, haunt you and treat you with one of the bravest pieces of Hindi cinema.
Related to Bollywood Movies on Netflix – Every Anurag Kashyap Film Ranked
13. Haider | Vishal Bharadwaj | 2014
Haider is the final part to Bhardwaj’s Shakespearean trilogy, consisting of Maqbool (Based on Macbeth and with Mumbai underworld as its backdrop) and Omkara (based on Othello in the backdrop of UP politics). Vishal Bharadwaj has very wisely chosen treacherous Kashmir of 1995, while just not using it as mere pieces of beautiful sets but making it as a character in itself, picking up issues of the daily life of Kashmiris to give dimensions to Prince Hamlet, Gertrude, and Claudius.
Haider unfolds at leisure pace but it is so powerfully character driven that every small character matters including Salman and Salman who are die-hard fans of Salman Khan, providing comical relief to this dark saga of revenge. This is more of actual politics in Kashmir intricately woven with human drama while Omkara and Maqbool emphasize only on personal politics. Read the complete review of Haider.
12. Aankho Dekhi | Rajat Kapoor | 2014
Existential topics have hardly been dealt with in Indian cinema. The crisis that the aged Bauji faces here doesn’t just stop at being about his own personal regrets. It becomes more universal making a Messiah of sorts for the others.
An absurd yet highly insightful and realistic film, Aankhon Dekhi is no short of some clever directorial decisions. And Sanjay Mishra’s performance is the highlight here which elevates the occasional stumbling script into a profound chapter from Indian Cinema.
11. The Lunchbox | Ritesh Batra | 2013
What can be said about this movie that hasn’t already been said? The most realistic chance we ever had at winning the coveted “Best Foreign Film (now best international film)” Oscar until we shot ourselves in the foot.
While I didn’t personally fall in love with this film the way many did, I still have a deep appreciation for all it was able to accomplish. It’s an exceptionally well-acted and well-written film with some truly wonderful shots and moments. It’s slow, moody and takes you on a simple heartwarming journey through life with relatable characters.
Also Related to Bollywood Movies on Netflix – The Lunchbox  Review: Strangers sharing loneliness in the claustrophobic Mumbai
10. Shanghai | Dibakar Banerjee | 2012
In Dibakar Banerjee’s ‘Shanghai’, ‘Shanghai’ is a dream. A dream of a prosperous and developed city. The path in achieving the goal is paved through corruption, political influence, moral compromises, unethical practices, and difficult of all, mass dislocation.
Adapted from Vassilis Vassilikos’s political relevant novel “Z”, Dibakar’s Shanghai keeps Indian socio-political milieu intact and still channelizes the essence of the original. The film requires patience, as it never rushes to manufacture the drama. Absence of theatrics and nuanced detailing of the screenplay makes Shanghai a rare Indian political drama that would leave you thinking.
9. Paan Singh Tomar | Tigmanshu Dhulia | 2012
Paan Singh Tomar juxtaposes the ordered and disciplined life of a soldier-athlete to that of a rebel traversing the couloirs with fury as it goes on to explore the real-life events of Paan Singh Tomar who, after a celebrated career as a steeplechase athlete in the Indian army, is forced to return to his native village to resolve a feud and is ultimately thwarted into an ugly world of oppression when the system turns a blind eye to his difficulties.
Precisely directed with a rustic appeal in its cinematography, Paan Singh Tomar is a rare biographical firm which doesn’t sensationalize the history and remains rooted to purely artistic intent. An honest and courageous approach in filmmaking garnished with an exemplary act by its lead make Paan Singh Tomar a must-watch.
8. Shor In The City | Krishna D.K. | 2010
This 2011 Crime-Drama revolves around the underbelly of Mumbai and wonders through its streets with an eye for details and emotions. The emphasis here isn’t the extravagance of gangster’s lives or the tragedy of living like that.
Rather, it focuses on the small moments of humor, love, and compassion and makes up for an intimate portrayal of their actual livelihood. Tushar Kapoor and Radhika Apte shine in this small film with their skillful performances.
7. Udaan | Vikramaditya Motwane | 2010
Vikramaditya Motwane penned what could possibly depict the angst more precisely than any other film could have. ‘Udaan’ is a remarkable feat in what one could achieve with a highly personal approach with respect to the milieu surrounding the subject.
Rajat Barmecha portrays all the required nuances of a young poet breaking out of his own cage in this coming-of-age drama. And along with the soulful tracks, the film presents a realistic portrayal of what it is to survive with a paternal force without the required warmth.
6. Life in a Metro | Anurag Basu | 2007
Amidst all the outlandish musical dramas which were often distant from the reality, Anurag Basu presented this collection of stories that intersect one another in the crowded streets of Mumbai. The romantic narratives were rooted in reality while presenting the characters trying to make it work in the middle of all the taboos or social prejudices.
The film was backed by an original soundtrack of Pritam whose band pops in between the intersections. The film’s approach was welcomed within the industry creating an impact on similar future projects.
5. Khosla Ka Ghosla | Dibakar Banerjee | 2006
Dibakar Banerjee’s Khosla Ka Ghosla brought a new wave of low budget comedy in Bollywood with clean and simple narrative rooted in realism. The characters felt like one of us facing issues we usually deal with.
It brought land grabbing issue in Delhi to the surface. Land shark Kishan Khurana illegally overtakes K.K. Khosla’s plot of land bought with the life’s saving. It’s all about how the Khosla family gets together to reclaim the land from right under Khurana’s nose. The story is wafer-thin without any dramatic moments to please the audience sensibility. But Khosla ka Ghosla works for weaving the oddball characters that breath and feel like one of us in the well-written script having a strong comedic undertone to it.
4. Rang De Basanti | Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra | 2006
Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra’s artistically ferocious call against the establishment which parallelly retold the story of legendary Indian rebels who died for the cause of our freedom not only redefined how Indian cinema approached patriotism but also went on to become of the most culturally influential films of all times in India.
In a “Jésus de Montréalesque” narrative where our protagonists start to mirror the lives of five revolutionary freedom fighters as they act in a documentary film on them, they champion a better version of themselves and reflect what the youth of India aspires its country to be. Rang De Basanti is not driven by star power nor is mired by done-to-death plot devices. It is a refreshing piece of cinema with profound philosophical indulgence that has the spark to ignite a fire in the coldest of hearts.
3. Yuva | Mani Ratnam | 2004
I watched Yuva quite randomly on a flight last year and it was a very pleasant surprise. The manner in which three different men cross paths and their lives then become entangled is smoothly executed and the character development for each feels organic.
Abhishek Bachchan, Ajay Devgn, and Vivek Oberoi all put their best foot forward. Esha Deol and Kareena Kapoor are sidelined unfortunately but Rani Mukherji plays a memorable part. Despite the close to 3 hour running time, at no point was I bored or unengaged. Mani Ratnam’s direction and writing both shine.
2. Swades | Ashutosh Gowariker | 2004
Arguably one of the finest films to come out of the Hindi film industry in the 21st century comprising of Shah Rukh Khan’s one of the most powerful performances of his career, Swades is a film capable of invoking the sense of national duty without adapting to a propagandist approach. It respects its culture without the crutches of ethnocentric sentiments and braves to dissolve the shackles of ignorance.
What makes Swades an important piece of cinema is its aspirations to instill a scientific temperament in everyone alike, more relevantly in today’s time when people are increasingly bargaining a rational and scientific temperament for a political one. Swades is essentially loaded with all emotions, a brilliant soundtrack, and elements which take us to the abysses of our reality. The film enjoys a healthy cult following among the many Bollywood Movies streaming on Netflix.
1. Dil Se | Mani Ratnam | 1998
The Mani Ratnam – A. R. Rahman duo is a match made in heaven. And Dil Se is the epitome of their skills which was rightfully rewarded in the Berlin International Film Festival from that year. The melodrama was handled with utmost grace and sincerity with a topic which is relevant even now.
The musical numbers still feel fresh so do the performances. And the cherry on the cake is the excellent performances by the leads, especially Koirala, whose mere presence evokes all the emotions needed to convey. This SRK-starrer isn’t considered a classic for no reason.
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