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Top Bollywood movies of all time

Known to churn unique stories for the masses, Bollywood keeps experimenting with themes time and again. Yet, the charm of some movies remains forever. Here's a list of must-watch Hindi films.

Top Bollywood movies of all time
Top Bollywood movies of all time

Last Updated: 01.43 PM, Apr 12, 2024

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Bollywood has been making movies for over 100 years. A couple of new releases hit the cinemas every Friday, leaving film buffs spoilt for choice. From comedy to drama, action and romance, there is something for everyone. 

But, of course, there are some timeless Hindi classics that you can watch at any given time. Here’s a compilation of top 20 Bollywood movies that were, are and will continue to be hits:  

Top Bollywood movies of all time

Mother India (1957)

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Starring Sunil Dutt and Nargis in lead roles as Birju (younger son) and Radha (mother), respectively, director Mehboob Khan's film is the tale of Radha (Nargis), a poor villager who, without her husband (Raaj Kumar), struggles to raise her sons (Rajendra Kumar and Sunil Dutt). She survives in the face of various obstacles, including a crafty moneylender (Kanhaiya Lal). The film's title was chosen to refute the mockery of Indian culture seen in American writer Katherine Mayo's controversial book Mother India, published in 1927. At the time, it was the most expensive Indian film ever made; it also made more money than any other Indian film before it. The movie is regarded as a cultural classic and is one of the best films of all time. 

Where to watch: YouTube, Amazon Prime Video 

IMDb Rating: 7.8/10 

Mughal-e-Azam (1960)

K. Asif’s epic historical romantic drama starring Prithviraj Kapoor (Emperor Akbar), Dilip Kumar (Salim), Madhubala (Anarkali), and Durga Khote (Maharani Jodha Bai), centres on an alleged affair between Salim (who later became Emperor Jahangir), a royal prince, and Anarkali, a court dancer. This results in a difference of opinion that leads to a war between a father and son. After many financial and logistical hurdles, the film was released and is still remembered for its opulent sets, massive battle sequences which included hundreds of real elephants, intricate costumes, timeless musical composition, and realistic performances. No sooner had the black and white film been released in theatres in August 1960 that it became a glittering box office success. It remained the highest grossing film for 15 years.  

Where to watch: ZEE5 

IMDb Rating: 8.1/10 

Padosan (1968)

A feel-good romantic comedy, Padosan, starring Sunil Dutt, Saira Banu, Mehmood, Kishore Kumar, Om Prakash, and Keshto Mukherjee, was a remake of the Bengali film Pasher Bari. This timeless classic follows the life of a modest villager (Sunil Dutt, aka Bhola), who, despite his vow of celibacy, develops feelings for his new neighbour (Saira Banu, aka Bindu). He takes the help of his musical theatre friends to win over his lady love, resulting in hillarious outcomes. 

The film’s songs, namely Mere Samnewali Khidki Mein, Main Chali Main Chali, Ek Chatur Naar Karke Sringar, Bhai Battur and Kehna Hai Kehna Hai, became immensely popular and continue to be hummed by people even today. Musical maestro RD Burman was the man behind these hit songs. 

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video 

IMDb Rating: 8.1/10 

Sholay (1975)

Ramesh Sippy's Sholay is the story of two criminals, Jai (Amitabh Bachchan) and Veeru (Dharmendra), and their adventures after they are hired by a retired police officer, Thakur Baldev Singh (Sanjeev Kumar), to catch the notorious dacoit Gabbar Singh (Amjad Khan). Jaya Bachchan (Radha) and Hema Malini (Basanti) play Jai and Veeru’s love interests in the movie that also starred A.K. Hangal, Leela Mishra, Sachin Pilgaonkar, Asrani, and Mac Mohan in pivotal roles. 

Filmed in Karnataka’s Ramanagara over 2.5 years, Sholay is considered one of the greatest and most impactful Hindi films ever made. Positive word-of-mouth advertising contributed to the film’s box office success, and it ran for more than five years at Mumbai's Minerva theatre, breaking the record for the number of consecutive screenings in numerous theatres throughout India.  

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video 

IMDb Rating: 8.1/10 

Deewaar (1975)

This film has an ensemble cast of Shashi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Neetu Singh, Nirupa Roy, Parveen Babi, Iftekhar, Madan Puri, Satyen Kappu and Manmohan Krishna. Yaah Chopra's Deewaar is about two destitute brothers who fight to survive in Mumbai's slums after their father's misguided idealism betrays their family. They find themselves on different sides of the law. The wall that emerges between the two brothers, who are torn apart by fate and circumstances during a period of socio-political unrest, is symbolised by the word deewaar, which means 'wall'.

Deewaar received positive reviews and was a commercial and critical success. The writing, plot, and music of the movie were appreciated, as were the acting performances of Bachchan, Kapoor, and Roy. It is frequently regarded as a groundbreaking work of cinema. 

Where to watch: ZEE5 

IMDb Rating: 8.0/10 

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983)

Starring an ensemble cast that includes Naseeruddin Shah, Ravi Baswani, Om Puri, Pankaj Kapur, Satish Shah, Satish Kaushik, Bhakti Barve, and Neena Gupta, Kundan Shah's Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro is a dark satire. It is about the widespread corruption in Indian politics, bureaucracy, news media, and business. It was a commercial and critical success and is remembered fondly for the lead cast's acting and its comedy, which can evoke laughs even today.

Kundan Shah was awarded the 1984 Indira Gandhi Award for Best Debut Film of a Director for Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro. The movie was screened as part of the NFDC Retrospective at India International Film Festival in 2006. 

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video 

IMDb Rating: 8.3/10 

Bandit Queen (1994)

Based on Mala Sen’s book, India's Bandit Queen: The True Story of Phoolan Devi, director Shekhar Kapur's film starred Seema Biswas in the titular role. Phoolan Devi, a woman from a lower caste who is subjected to prejudice and sexual assault in her community, ends up becoming a respected gang boss after of some circumstances force her to choose a life of crime. The movie received the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi, Filmfare Critics Award for Best Movie and Best Direction in 1994. 

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video 

IMDb Rating: 7.5/10 

Andaz Apna Apna (1994)

Another ensemble cast film starring Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Raveena Tandon, Karishma Kapoor, Paresh Rawal (in a double role) and Shakti Kapoor in pivotal roles, Andaz Apna Apna is the story of Amar (Aamir Khan) and Salman Khan (Prem), two men from middle-class families with big dreams. They meet Teja (Paresh Rawal), a local criminal, and compete to win over Raveena's affections, the daughter of a multi-millionaire. Despite being a moderate box office success, the movie went on to become a cult classic. On the sets, there would be nonstop laughter. According to an Indian Express interview given by Rajkumar Santoshi, the cameraman would tremble with laughter while filming the sequences since there was so much giggling. The cameraman would sway and so would the camera

Where to watch: YouTube, Amazon Prime Video 

IMDb Rating: 8.0/10 

Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! (1994)

Written and directed by Sooraj Barjatya, Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! was adapted from Rajshri Studio's earlier film Nadiya Ke Paar (1982), which was based on the Hindi novel Kohbar Ki Shart by Keshav Prasad Mishra. The film, which starred Madhuri Dixit and Salman Khan, honours Indian wedding customs by telling the tale of a married couple and their families' relationship. It is about giving up your love for the sake of your family. 

Raamlaxman, who also wrote the soundtrack's whopping 14 songs, composed the music for the movie. The film went on to become the highest-grossing movie of the year. It was also the first movie to make more than ₹1 billion in India. It has had a long-lasting effect on Indian wedding customs, since even now songs from the film are played at weddings. It is acknowledged as the start of a revolution in the Indian film distribution business and a pivotal point in the history of Hindi cinema's box office. 

Where to watch: ZEE5, Amazon Prime Video 

IMDb Rating: 7.5/10 

Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995)

Aditya Chopra’s directorial debut Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) starred Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol as two young NRIs, Raj and Simran, who fall in love while travelling through Europe with friends. Raj makes an effort to win Simran's family over so that they can get married, but Simran's father has already offered her hand to a friend's son. Filmed in September 1994 through August 1995 in Switzerland, London, and India, DDLJ picked up the National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment in addition to 10 Filmfare Awards, which at the time was the most for a single film. It is the longest-running film in history, since it is still played at Mumbai's Maratha Mandir.

DDLJ is credited with launching the trend of rom-coms in Bollywood and inspired fashion. It also brought the Indian diaspora front and centre of the narrative and ushered in a new age of exotic foreign settings. Many have said that the movie captures the essence of love with its unadulterated passion and well-timed humour. Numerous boys and girls in the real world have adopted the characters as their role models.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video 

IMDb Rating: 8.0/10 

Lagaan (2001)

The story of Lagaan, which is set in 1893 in Central India during the late Victorian era of British colonial rule, centres on the village residents. After years of drought and exorbitant taxes, the villagers accept a challenge from a British Indian Army officer to a game of cricket in order to evade paying their taxes. They must endure the difficult challenge of picking a game that they are unfamiliar with and compete to win against expert players. Starring Aamir Khan and Gracy Singh in lead roles, it marked Aamir Khan’s foray into film production and was a resounding success.

Lagaan extended Bollywood's reach internationally. Some foreign critics called it "audacious" since it featured a musical love story set against the backdrop of a cricket match. The film featured grandiose settings and an intricate narrative, lasting three hours. It even forced the foreign actress to perform a lip-sync. However, it was universally admired and captured the attention of viewers across the globe with the allure of Bollywood. It introduced the globe to India, its vivacious culture, Bollywood's song-and-dance routine, and its intricate storytelling technique.

Where to watch: Netflix 

IMDb Rating: 8.1/10 

Black (2005)

The narrative of deaf and blind Michelle (Rani Mukerji) and her relationship with her teacher Debraj (Amitabh Bachchan), an ageing alcoholic teacher who also eventually gets Alzheimer's disease, is told in director Sanjay Leela Bhansali's film. Appreciated for its direction, story, screenplay, dialogues, cinematography, production design, costumes and performances, the film won three awards at the 53rd National Film Awards, including Best Feature Film in Hindi and Best Actor (Amitabh Bachchan). It is somewhat of a classic due to masterful acting, dramatic tension, and storytelling method on the one hand, and its visually stunning appeal and skillful marriage of form and emotion on the other. 

Where to watch: Netflix 

IMDb Rating: 8.1/10 

Rang De Basanti (2006)

Rang De Basanti, which was primarily shot in New Delhi, tells the tale of a British film student who goes to India to capture the lives of five Indian revolutionary movement freedom fighters. She inspires five young men to fight against the corruption in their government by befriending them and casting them in a film. In addition to garnering praise from critics and winning the National Film Award for Best Popular Film, the movie was also nominated for a 2007 BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Although it did not result in a nomination for either award, the movie was selected as India's official submission for the Best Foreign Language Film category at both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globe Awards. Two of the songs from the well-received AR Rahman soundtrack were shortlisted for the Academy Awards.

A news source claims that Shah Rukh Khan was considered for DJ's role, which Aamir Khan ultimately took on. In a similar vein, Sharman Joshi was finally cast as Sukhi, a part that Hrithik Roshan was considered for. Given how deeply embedded Aamir Khan's portrayal of DJ and Sharman Joshi's portrayal of Sukhi are in popular culture, it is difficult to envision Rang De Basanti with any other cast. But it's interesting to consider what may have happened to the movie if Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan had been chosen for these parts. Perhaps, the film's iconic and realistic casting made it what it became finally as these characters told the story that the audiences carried with them.

Where to watch: Netflix 

IMDb Rating: 8.1/10 

Jab We Met (2007)

Directed by Imtiaz Ali, the film is largely set in Mumbai, Bhatinda, and Shimla. It narrates the tale of Aditya Kashyap (Shahid Kapoor), a brokenhearted businessman who boards a train and meets Geet Dhillon (Kareena Kapoor Khan), a chatty Punjabi girl. Geet and Aditya set off on a trek to her home together, missing their train, and what happens next is a love that transforms them both. Irshad Kamil wrote the lyrics for the songs, which were composed by Pritam. Aditya and Geet's dialogues, the beautiful locations and the songs made Jab We Met so adored and appreciated. No wonder, it gives all the feel-good feelings if you watch it any day even years after its release.

Where to watch: YouTube, Amazon Prime Video 

IMDb Rating: 7.9/10 

3 Idiots (2009)

Based on Chetan Bhagat’s novel Five Point Someone, 3 Idiots is the story of three students – played by Aamir Khan, Sharman Joshi and R. Madhavan – at an engineering college and the pressures and pitfalls that come with studying. The film also saw the trio reunite after their last film outing in Rang De Basanti. Produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, the film also stars Kareena Kapoor Khan, Boman Irani, Mona Singh and Omi Vaidya in supporting roles. All Izz Well, Zoobi Doobi, Behti Hawa Sa Tha Woh to Give Me Some Sunshine and Jaane Nahin Denge - all of 3 Idiots' songs were relatable and regarding story's treatment, Hirani's freshness is also commendable.

Where to watch: YouTube, Amazon Prime Video 

IMDb Rating: 8.4/10 

English Vinglish (2012)

Sridevi plays Shashi Godbole in the movie, a modest business owner who makes sweets and snacks. In order to gain self-respect and stop her husband and daughter from making fun of her poor English, Shashi enrols in an English-speaking course. After a 15-year break following Judaai (1997), Sridevi made her screen comeback in this movie, which also stars Adil Hussain, Priya Anand, and French actor Mehdi Nebbou. And it is one of the most loved Hindi films. It is a cult classic because of its original plot, superb direction, emotional impact, cultural significance, and Sridevi's endearing and motivating performance.

Where to watch: ZEE5, Amazon Prime Video 

IMDb Rating: 7.8/10 

Gangs of Wasseypur (2012)

Featuring an ensemble cast including Manoj Bajpai, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Pankaj Tripathi, Richa Chadda, Huma Qureshi, and Tigmanshu Dhulia in key roles, the film revolves around the coal mafia of Dhanbad and the underlying power struggles, politics, and vengeance between three crime families. The tale takes place over 68 years, from 1941 to 2009. Over time, the movie has developed a sizable cult following thanks to its dark humour, innovative soundtrack, and realistic filmmaking technique that had never been seen in a Bollywood production. 

Where to watch: Netflix 

IMDb Rating: 8.2/10 

The Lunchbox (2013)

A young housewife named Ila (Nimrat Kaur) aspires to win her husband Rajeev's (Nakul Vaid) affection and finds solace in her marriage by preparing delectable lunches for him. The lunchbox Ila packs for her husband is inadvertently delivered to Saajan Fernandes (Irrfan Khan), a middle-aged widower who is set to retire from his accounting job. This happens due to a rare mix-up with the dabbawalas. When Ila finally sees her error, she writes a letter to Saajan and puts it in the lunchbox the next day, along with her husband's favourite meal. The two become friends as a result of the messages they send, sharing experiences and memories from their own lives which results in a heartwarming tale. 

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video, YouTube 

IMDb Rating: 7.8/10 

Andhadhun (2018)

A black comedy thriller, Andhadhun stars Tabu, Ayushmann Khurrana, Radhika Apte and Anil Dhawan. It is about a blind piano player (Ayushmann) who inadvertently gets involved in a retired actor's murder. The movie experiments with the concept of sight; certain people wear blindfolds, while others attempt to mimic Akash's purportedly sightless 'focus' by donning masks. Who is more blind, the one who refuses or cannot see? And how can one make gestures in front of a pianist who is blind? Watch the movie to find out. 

Where to watch: YouTube, Apple TV 

IMDb Rating: 8.2/10 

12th Fail (2023)

Vidhu Vinod Chopra is the director, producer, and writer of the biographical drama film 12th Fail. It is based on Anurag Pathak's 2019 non-fiction book of the same name, which tells the story of Manoj Kumar Sharma, an Indian Police Service officer who rose from abject poverty. Alongside Medha Shankr, Anant V Joshi, Anshumaan Pushkar, and Priyanshu Chatterjee, Vikrant Massey plays Sharma in the movie. 

With positive reviews from critics and viewers alike, 12th Fail is the highest-rated Indian film on IMDb. With a global box office revenue of around ₹70 crore, the movie was the most viewed film on Disney+Hotstar in 2023. On IMDb's list of the most popular films of 2023, it has surpassed any Indian film with a box office collection of over ₹4,000 crore. It serves as a reminder that success isn't determined by one accomplishment or a clear path. It all comes down to making innumerable attempts, having unshakeable faith in oneself, and being steadfastly committed to your goal — much like Manoj Kumar Sharma, the 12th fail who went on to become an inspiration to millions.

Where to watch: Disney+ Hotstar 

IMDb Rating: 9.0/10 

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