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If you’ve always been interested in watching movies from other countries of the world, but you haven’t been sure of where to begin, this guide will give you all the motivation you need to enter the vibrant, cheery world of Hindi movies.
Bollywood, as the industry is known, is one of the most entertaining movie industries the world has seen. Read on to understand more about this industry, and for some amazing Hindi movie recommendations.
What Is Bollywood?
Bollywood is the term used to collectively refer to Hindi movies produced by the Hindi film industry, which is based in the Indian city of Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay). It’s a portmanteau of the words “Bombay” and “Hollywood.”
The languages used in Hindi movies in Bollywood are Hindi and Urdu. In recent times, “Hinglish,” which is a combination of Hindi and English, is also increasingly being incorporated into Hindi movies that are set in modern times.
Characteristics of an Amazing Hindi Movie
Of course, the plot and the smaller details vary from one movie to another. But a majority of the most successful Hindi movies have some common elements that are all part of one big, Bollywood formula.
Here are some of the characteristics that a lot of the most amazing Hindi movies have in common.
They Are Explosively Colorful
Most Bollywood movies are furiously colorful. The colors start off right from the costumes, which are typically ethnic and vibrant. Even in urban plotlines, which feature the modern Indian, these movies ensure that their leads and the surrounding actors are dressed in bright and bubbly colors.
The makeup is also mostly not subtle, with a lip color or nail paint adding a necessary color pop to every outfit.
In many movies, the women’s sarees stand out for their intricate embroidery and heavy embellishments. Even in movies where the characters are relatively more subtly dressed, there’s always a pop of color in sight.
The backgrounds and the scenes in which the stories are set are also fabulously colorful.
They’re Longer than the Average Hollywood Movie
While the average Hollywood movie runs up to two hours (give or take a few minutes), most Hindi movies touch the three-hour mark easily. With such a distinctly long runtime, it’s easier to invest in the emotional element of the story.
Another upside to long movies is that it gives the audience a lot of time to get into the story and connect with the characters involved. Longer movies may seem like a drag, but once you sit down to watch one, you’ll be glad that Hindi movies run for as long as they generally do.
Most movies also have an interval at the halfway mark to give their audience a short break in between. The scenes before an interval are typically one of the high points of a Hindi movie, and in many cases, include a cliffhanger.
Hindi Movies Have a Lot of Songs and Dances
Songs form an integral part of Hindi movies. While musicals form a distinct sub-genre in Hollywood, most Hindi movies are musicals by default. The movie’s album with all the tracks from the film are released weeks, or even months, before the movie.
This helps build anticipation and people look forward to watching the movie on the big screens.
Most albums have a typical mix of a happy song, a melancholic number, a romantic track, and a fast, peppy song that you can dance along to. Indian moviemakers have been including music as an important element in their movies since as early as the 1930s.
In fact, Alam Ara, which was released in 1931, was the first sound film in Hindi cinema. This movie included seven songs.
They Have That Extra Something Known Locally As Masala
While not all Hindi movies have the masala element, it has to be said that masala films are uniquely Indian. Essentially, the masala factor means that Hindi movies, which are the cinematic equivalent of a mix of spices, include various subplots like a comedy track, a romantic track, an element of melodrama, and even a few fight sequences.
All of these blend together effortlessly to create a storyline that everyone in the family can enjoy. Of course, if you aren’t used to watching movies that blend all these various cinematic elements together, you’ll find that it takes some time to get used to the shift in tones that comes with such fully-packed scripts.
But once you do, you’ll find that this makes Hindi movies fun and entertaining.
The Best Hindi Movies Have Happy Endings
Sure, Hindi movies come with their own fair share of woes. The hero and heroine may face some hurdles that hamper their prospect of a future together, family feuds may tear parents and children apart, misunderstandings could cause a rift between siblings, or a villain may wreak havoc on the hero’s mission.
But at the end of it all, as the climax approaches, the problems are almost always resolved. The families reunite, the hero destroys the villains, and the protagonist and his lady love live happily ever after.
Although there are a few tragedies and slice-of-life movies made occasionally, most blockbuster Hindi movies almost always end on a happy note.
With every decade that has come and gone, Bollywood has given us some memorable Hindi movies that have stood the test of time and have continued to remain a favorite with fans and critics alike. Let’s take a quick look at some great Hindi movies.
1. Rang De Basanti
The movie revolves around a group of friends who graduate from Delhi University and continue to hang around their old campus, until a British filmmaker casts them in a film she’s making about Indian freedom fighters under British rule.
The group of friends is generally apolitical, but when a friend dies because of the corruption of their local government, their patriotism is awakened. Inspired by the freedom fighters whose roles they play in the film, the friends collectively decide to avenge the killing.
2. Jab We Met
This is one of the most colorful Hindi movies, and it tells the story of Aditya, a heartbroken business tycoon who is depressed and on the verge of committing suicide. He aimlessly boards a train, where he meets Geet, a high-spirited, chatty, and cheerful girl who is crafting a plan to elope with her lover.
When the train stops at a station midway, Aditya gets down and fails to get back on. Surprised, Geet runs after him and consequently misses the train.
Eventually, he finds himself pulled into her crazy life, and falls in love with her.
In this movie, PK is human-like alien who arrives on the earth to learn about its inhabitants. Within a few minutes of his arrival, his control device connecting him to his spaceship gets stolen, leaving him stranded on Earth.
The unanimous advice he seems to receive from the people of the Earth is that only God could help him.
Not having any clue about the concept of God, he sets off on his mission to understand the skewed principle of religion on Earth. In the process, he makes people sit up and take notice of how organized religion exploits them.
This Hindi movie follows the life of the ambitious Gurukanth Desai, who rises to power as a successful business magnate in the late 50s in India. Through a mix of chance and cunning, Guru marries the beauteous Sujata primarily for her dowry.
Later, he discovers that he really does love her.
Meanwhile, Guru becomes extremely successful, although his business methods have much room for improvement. But his fates darken when newspaper tycoon Gupta, an upright and principled man, is determined to destroy Desai and expose his ways.
One of the grandest and most colorful movies ever made, Devdas revolves around the story of Devdas and Paro, who are childhood sweethearts separated when Dev leaves India to study law in London. He returns home after ten years, and love blossoms between the two.
But Dev’s family opposes their union, and Paro’s mother, spurned thus, marries Paro off to an older widower. The story then follows the tale of Dev, who pines for Paro and takes to alcohol, which propels him to a future of doom.
Swades tells the story of Mohan Bhargava, a successful NRI (non-resident Indian), who works at the technological forefront of NASA in the USA. Driven by nostalgia, and to fulfill a mission he set for himself, he returns to his hometown.
There, he finds the nanny who raised him as a child, and intends to take her back with him to America. During his stay there, his journey leads him through the rural areas of India to the village of Charanpur, where he discovers that there’s so much work to be done, and that he owes it to his motherland to do it all.
While there have been a lot of excellent Bollywood movies released over the last few years, Bollywood has lagged behind Hollywood in the genre of suspense. That said, Bollywood has produced some memorable suspense films, including Sujoy Ghosh’s KAHAANI, which earned four stars on CinemaVoice.
Sujoy Ghosh’s latest film is BADLA, which reunites Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu from PINK in this remake of THE INVISIBLE GUEST.
The film begins with an enthralling climax, when Naina Sethi is falsely accused of murder. Her lawyer, Badal Gupta, is hired to defend her and he has 40 years of experience in court. In addition to defending his client, he must also uncover the truth about his client, who is innocent and who did it. Badla is a gripping revenge drama that works largely in flashbacks.
Badla stars Taapsee Pannu, Amitabh Bachchan, and Tony Luke. It’s a remake of the Spanish thriller The Invisible Guest. The film’s songs are highly praised by cinephiles, and its stellar cast has created a buzz among Hindi moviegoers. And it’s the second collaboration between Bachchan and Pannu after Pink.
In Badla, they once again prove their chemistry and deliver a solid performance.
“Padmavati” is the perfect example of a twisted melody that entices the audience into the story. The different volumes and tones of the music correspond with the intensity of each sequence. Ultimately, the entire cast manages to strike the right balance between charisma and mystery.
The leading actors, Bachchan and Pannu, are superb, but Amrita Singh steals the show with her performance.
9. Nadiya Ke paar
“Nadiya Ke Paar” is one of the most well known and best Hindi movies of all time. This 1948 Bollywood film was directed by Kishore Sahu and is one of the highest grossing films in the history of India. The film is known for a beautiful song called “Jab Tak Pure Na Ho Phere” sung by Hemlata.
It also features Jaspal Singh and a memorable performance by Madhuri Dixit as the titular character.
“Nadiya Ke Paar” is an enduring classic in the Hindi film industry. The romantic drama is one of the best films of all time. It was directed by Govind Moonis and starred Sachin Pilgaonkar and Sadhana Singh.
The movie revolved around two brothers and their relationship. Gunja’s brother forced her to marry Chandan’s brother, and the film was praised for its acting.
10. Kapoor & Sons
A must-watch film for the whole family, Kapoor & Sons is an absorbing slice-of-life drama directed by Shakun Batra. The lively direction catches the moments of family life in the best possible way. However, the script overdoes the humor at times.
Although it’s a slice of life movie, it does have a few flaws that detract from its overall quality.
First of all, the film is a family movie about a dysfunctional family – the Kapoor clan. Rahul Kapoor, who lives in a prestigious US university, returns home to an emotionally numb mother and asks her son what’s wrong. Despite being gay, Rahul isn’t called “dost” and his character is never portrayed as “gay” in the film.
Nevertheless, it makes Rahul’s plight believable.
Despite the flaws, the film is a decent family drama. It’s also very well written, with lots of nice lines and touches on family life. Even if young kids may get bored with the film, it will still touch a nerve for the majority of audiences.
If you’re looking for a feel-good family movie, this one is definitely worth a try. But be warned: it may not be for everyone.
While Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu was a good family drama, Kapoor & Sons is a much more middle-class movie. While Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu was more refined and aesthetically perfect, Kapoor & Sons is less so. It shows the dysfunctional family in all its glory, with constant cross-cutting. If you’re not into family dramas, you should skip this one.
11. I Am Kalam
I Am Kalam is an inspiring film that portrays the journey of a young Chhotu, who has been given the alias ‘Kalam’ by his father. He has always dreamed of meeting Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, the former president of India, and this film gives him the opportunity to fulfill that dream. It is a great role model for the youth of India.
Another great film is the biopic of former President of India, Sanjay Dutt, and the struggle for equal rights. Ranbir Kapoor’s performance as Sanjay Dutt is remarkable and he nails his part perfectly. Watch this movie online to find out what the fuss was all about. There’s also a Netflix version of this movie if you’re a Netflix subscriber.
I Am Kalam is one of the best movies of all time. This film showcases the differences between upper-class and lower-class Indians, and depicts the cast divide in rural India. The score by A. R. Rahman adds to the film’s rich history of social activism and shows the power of a powerful message.
It is an important film for all age groups and is one of the most praised Hindi movies of all time.
The Story of Pokhran is an action drama film directed by Abhishek Sharma and starring John Abraham. It depicts the events surrounding the 1993 Mumbai bomb blast, which took place during the government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The movie was delayed several years before its final release, but it won the Grand Jury Prize at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. Once again, a film about Indian democracy has made history.
One of the best Hindi movies of the year, Pagglait tells the story of the chachu Giri family, which is torn apart by a murder. It features a diverse cast of veteran and young actors, including Sanya Malhotra, who continues to wow with her likability and acting. This movie also marks the debut of music composer Arijit Singh.
Ultimately, Pagglait is an excellent weekend movie that deals with the evils of society and the complexities of family life.
The story takes place between Astik’s cremation and the concluding ceremony on the 13th day of his death, called tehrvi. The title is derived from the Hindi word “paagal”, meaning “crazy,” indicating that there is much churning in Sandhya’s mind and life.
Despite the tragic start, the film maintains a surprisingly equanimous tone.
The film deals with some of the most painful aspects of family life in India. A recent widow, Sandhya Giri, must deal with two families and her grief while trying to uncover the mystery surrounding her late husband. In the meantime, she must navigate an intense traditional world where regressive views of the past are prevalent.
The movie is not without its moments of comedy, however. Ultimately, Pagglait is a film that should be on your watchlist!
While Pagglait may not be the best Hindi movie of the year, it does stand out for its exceptional performances and brilliant writing. Umesh has come a long way from his previous films, such as Hero and O Teri. He’s also a talented writer with an eye for North India. You should see Pagglait if you enjoy satire and a strong female protagonist. There is something in this movie for every film lover.
So, if these movies seem like something you’d love to watch, then go ahead and catch these colorful blockbusters online. Bollywood may not have been your cup of tea until now, but once you watch these Hindi movies, you’ll certainly crave for more.