The pace of life is getting faster day by day. It leaves 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 endeavors 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 they 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.
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Netflix has given hope to several upcoming film-makers. They get to tell their story without the burden of distribution, screen numbers, and censor board. Netflix is keen to expand in India. It 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.
1. Lakshya | Farhan Akhtar | 2004
Riding on the tremendous success of his landmark, coming-of-age debut ‘Dil Chahta Hai’, Farhan Akhtar’s sophomore ‘Lakshya’ is subdued and understated in its narrative about an indecisive & lackadaisical youngster who lacks awareness about the functioning of the world outside his campus.
Hritik Roshan’s Karan is not an unintelligent guy but a lazy chap who got everything easily in his life. What he lacks is an aspiration(Lakshya) and the need to have one, which almost everyone struggles with. It circles back to the obligation to have an aspiration for youngsters born with a silver spoon.
For middle-class youngsters, they don’t have the luxury of time & need since the Indian middle class has traditionally carved the path for their children from their birth. Karan finds motivation after his self-respect is devalued by his family and his firebrand & blunt girlfriend. This event does stick out like a sore thumb for its labored writing and implausible, quick change in his character. What follows is his gradual transformation from a careless, lethargic youngster to a determined and brave soldier who, down the line, understands his family and girlfriend better.
2. Gangs of Wasseypur | Anurag Kashyap | 2012
Before Gangs of Wasseypur, Anurag Kashyap had already made great movies like Black Friday, Dev.D, and Gulaal but only after Wasseypur, he truly became a household name and not just some indie filmmaker cinephiles knew about. Released in two parts, Gangs of Wasseypur is a 5-hour long epic that explores the life and times of the criminal lordships of the coal capital of India, Dhanbad. A film that begins in 1948 and ends in 2009, Wasseypur is an ambitious giant of a film.
Gangs of Wasseypur travels through generations of violence and is told through the eyes of three families that fought against each other in the name of revenge and rivalry. From the silent and raging Shahid Khan to the cunning and sharp Ramadhir Singh, from the colorful yet ruthless Sardar Khan to the lover boy Faizal, from the hateful Sultan to the unpredictable Definite, Gangs is an exhibition of memorable characters that stick around.
It will seem that Sardar Khan (Manoj Bajpayee) and the clan are the heroes and that Ramadhir Singh is leading a pack of villains, but honestly, there are no heroes or villains in Wasseypur, just criminals with different schools of thought. Gangs of Wasseypur is never about who wins the battle, but it’s a witness to the changing landscape of a notorious town that’s becoming more violent by the days. Wasseypur is an important Indian film because never before has a Hindi crime drama become such a pop culture symbol as Kashyap’s masterpiece did.
Also, Read – How Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur portrays clumsiness of people
3. Paheli | Amol Palekar | 2005
One of the least talked about Shahrukh Khan’s good films is multi-talented Amol Palekar’s whimsical folklore ‘Paheli.’ It’s an official remake of Duvidha by Mani Kaul based on the short story written by Vijayadan Detha. The film addresses an age-old concern – whether a woman tied to a man through marriage has any claim to her romantic desire, which often gets neglected in the patriarchal society.
When Rani Mukerji’s Lachchi is confronted with a conundrum to accept the love in the form of a ghost (shapeshifts to her husband Kishan, who left on business the very next morning of their marriage). She hesitantly accepts it, acting on her desire. The ghost in the film is a metaphor for a paradigmatic man. In one of the scenes, the ghost character of Shah Rukh Khan says, he is love. He lives in the women’s heart. He literally does, signifying a metaphor for the woman’s heart and his eternal, real-life romantic persona.
4. Manorama Six Feet Under | Navdeep Singh | 2007
Bollywood has hardly managed to make good mystery thrillers in this century except for Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahani, Sriram Raghavan’s Johnny Gaddar, Andhadhun and criminally underrated ‘Manorama Six Feet Under’. Based on Roman Polanski’s classic noir-thriller Chinatown (1974), debutant Navdeep Singh’s takes an inspiration and basic plot point from it, and cleverly molds it in the Indian political milieu, keeping mainstream sensibilities intact.
Abhay Deol stars as unemployed writer Satyaveer who agrees to spy on a minister on the request of his wife, which leads him from one twist to another mystery. It’s a small budget film set in Rajasthan that immensely benefits from smart adaptation, taut writing and abled cast across the board who feel and walk like the characters the play.
5. Paan Singh Tomar | Tigmanshu Dhulia | 2010
Paan Singh Tomar juxtaposes the ordered and disciplined life of a soldier-athlete to that of a rebel. In the process, it traverses the couloirs with fury as it goes on to explore the real-life events of Paan Singh Tomar. After having a celebrated career as a steeplechase athlete in the Indian army, he is forced to return to his native village to resolve a feud. He 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 film, which doesn’t sensationalize the history. It remains rooted to purely artistic intent. An honest and courageous approach in filmmaking garnished with an exemplary act by Irrfan Khan make Paan Singh Tomar a must-watch.
6. 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. And without a doubt, it is one of the best Netflix original Hindi movies. It’s 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
7. 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.
Related: The Best Bollywood Movies 2018
8. Parinda | Vidhu Vinod Chopra | 1989
Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s ‘Parinda’ is one of the most influential films of its time in the commercial space. It redefined the portrayal of Mumbai’s underworld in films and used the noir visual palette to depict the city of dreams being torn apart. Parinda paved the path for gritty crime dramas shot on real locations that directly inspired ‘Satya’ and ‘Vaastav’. Though Bollywood has made several successful films on sibling rivalry, separated by moral code; Chopra focuses on imperishable love between brothers that is put to test when their bond threatens the outcome of a gang war. Nana Patekar’s menacing and equally terrorizing act made him popular overnight and fetched him first National Award as well.
9. 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
10. 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.
11. Black Friday | Anurag Kashyap | 2004
Adapted from journalist Hussain Zaidi’s “Black Friday: The True Story of the Bombay Bomb Blasts”, Black Friday was supposed to be a miniseries. It was later changed to a feature script. Banned for two years due to then an ongoing case in court, Black Friday was released to critical acclaim. It saw an emergence of a filmmaker who married off the realistic narrative with commercial element to have a cinematic language of his own. Though Black Friday was not Anurag’s debut work, it was his first official release and the most accomplished work to date.
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From the first scene of Bomb exploding that will have your heart pounding in the horror, till the end credit rolls, Black Friday never ceases to ease the tension & thrill. It will chill your bones & soul. Black Friday shows the events of the 1993 Mumbai Bomb blast that resulted in hundreds of casualties and left thousands of people injured, as the manifestation of religious hatred between the Hindu majority and the Muslim minority. Black Friday jumps splendidly between the pre-blast and the post-blast events without sensationalizing or glorifying any character or the event itself.
12. Kapoor & Sons | Shakun Batra | 2016
Shakun Batra’s ‘Kapoor & Sons’ provides a much-needed antithesis to neat, convenient and epic family dramas that Sooraj Barjatya and Yash Raj churned out. Though it’s a different topic of conversation how good or bad the films were but the operatic melodrama of affluent families in crisis was not less than a fantasy.
Dharma Productions’s Kapoor & Sons was a pleasant divergence from their traditional & conservative character writing. The film’s strength lies in its relatable characters having tangible familial problems that we could relate to. It takes a generic plot to have a microscopic look at the foible of individuals and inter-personal issues with the dash of intrinsic humor.
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. He doesn’t use it as mere pieces of beautiful sets but making it as a character in itself. He picks 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.
14. 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. His eclectic performance elevates the occasional stumbling script into a profound chapter from Indian Cinema.
15. 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
16. Eeb Aalay Ooo! | Prateek Vats | 2019
Prateek Vats’ sharply written social-critique drama about a young migrant from Bihar, looking for a work opportunity in the capital of India, works as both: a scathing commentary on wide class-divide reflecting in toxic power dynamics and a personal struggle of an individual trying to fit in the social mold.
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Prateek Vats experience as a documentary filmmaker shows in his unflustered narrative & choice of framing that helps realize the internal turmoil of Anjani as well as his incessant struggle to conform. The sound designing and direction of photography of the film are exceptionally good but what stands out is Shardul Bhardwaj’s uninitiated but powerful performance as a young man reluctant to give up a head full of dreams. Eeb Aallay Ooo! is an underrated gem of Indian movies from the last decade,and perhaps one of the best Bollywood movies of 2019 streaming on Netflix.
17. Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye | Dibakar Banerjee | 2008
Dibakar Banerjee’s second outing, after Khosla Ka Ghosla (2006), Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye, established that he was not just a one-film wonder. Though the movie was not a top grosser at that time, the viewers loved it. More so, it also won the National Film Award for Best Popular Film.
The story of a youngster who charms his way into robbing in several cities across the country was well developed. The characters were well etched too. Even though Paresh Rawal played three different characters, none of them felt overlapping the other. The other characters were also well drawn. But the highlight still remained the way in which the protagonist, played by Abhay Deol, uses unique and innovative ways to steal from unsuspecting middle-class people. Not just that, it also depicts how he is duped as well, by one of his close aides. Dibakar’s screen translation of the misadventures of the real-life robber from Delhi smoothly made its way into people’s hearts through this film.
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18. Manto | Nandita Das | 2018
Saadat Hasan Manto’s brutal, gut-wrenching and contentious five short stories are weaved together into the personal arc of Manto’s life, and his relationship with his family and friends. The meta-narrative structure allows Nandita Das to address the urgent issue of “freedom of expression” in India that is now relevant more than ever before.
Every frame bleeds of bitter truths of life, the moral decline and the social stigma that is still plaguing society. The aesthetical lyricism is at the display that captures the disposition of several characters. Though at times, the film feels uneven with multiple subplots crammed together, it is Nawazuddin’s internalised performance and Das’s sly writing that manages to capture Manto’s restlessness and emotional turmoil after the division of India. Nandita Das’s interview.
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19. 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.
20. 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.
21. Aamir | Raj Kumar Gupta | 2008
In a downbeat, tense thriller, debut filmmaker Raj Kumar Gupta puts a well-educated Muslim in the underbelly of Mumbai slums to examine the state of Muslims post-9/11. Aamir, a middle-class medical student from UK, returns to Mumbai to find himself involuntarily pulled into a violent & psychological vortex of a heinous terrorist plan, at the mercy of Muslim extremists. Shot on real locations in 22 days, Aamir is nerve-wracking and heart-pounding, that has debutant Rajeev Khandelwal in his career’s best performance.
22. 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.
23. Yuva | Mani Ratnam | 2004
Mani Ratnam’s coming-of-age political drama sees three youngsters from different strata crossing each other’s path in this hyper-linked narrative. It bombed at the box office upon its release, and the audiences were so frustrated with the narrative structure that they found it confusing and tasteless. However, since then it has gained a cult status among millennials for its gritty and sharp portrayal of youngsters. Though the politics in the film hardly goes beyond what meets the eye, it does manage to reinvigorate the political discussion among youngsters more seriously.
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.
24. Swades | Ashutosh Gowariker | 2004
Arguably one of the finest films to come out of the Hindi film industry in the 21st century. It also consists 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. It feels more relevant 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. It has a brilliant soundtrack. And it has 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.
25. Dil Se | Mani Ratnam | 1998
The Mani Ratnam – A. R. Rahman duo is a match made in heaven. Dil Se is the epitome of their skills. And it 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.
More lists related to Bollywood Movies on Netflix;
The 10 Best Netflix Original Movies of 2018
The Best Netflix Original Movies of 2019
The 10 Best Netflix Original TV Shows
The 25 Best Hindi Films of the Decade (2010s)