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30 Bollywood Films That Everyone Absolutely Must See

All you need to know about the wonderful Indian film industry, where magic is possible — including the best films to start with.

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Bollywood is magic. That's the only way to describe it. It's the Indian (Hindi) language film industry, named after Bombay (the original name for Mumbai), where it's based. The country’s biggest film producer, Bollywood beats Hollywood as the largest film industry in the world in terms of output. Not only that but it has major crossover appeal that makes its films globally popular.

Salman Khan Films

Bollywood produces more than 1,000 films a year alone. In comparison, Hollywood produces less than half that number.

And to clarify, "Bollywood" isn't an all-inclusive term for any film that comes out of India. There are other language regions in India too, like Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada, all of which have their own film industries. Bollywood is the most dominant one.

What makes Bollywood so popular? It knows how to tell a good story using all sorts of elements like extravagant songs, lush locations, and larger-than-life characters and stories, things that you usually don't see in other Asian film industries or in Hollywood. It often can’t fit into just one genre because it's an expert at genre-blending — drama and comedy, action and romance, you name it. With universal themes to top it off, nothing in Hollywood can quite replicate or compare to the colors and energy of Bollywood films.

Yash Raj Films

That said, here are some misconceptions that I'll fix for you right now:

1) Not all Bollywood movies are three hours long and not all of them have song and dance. There are plenty of films that are more grounded and nuanced with no dances and no dream sequences and songs. Longer films usually have intervals in between so you can take a break.

2) Not every film is set in India and about Indian issues nor are they all traditional. Films are set and shot all over the world, take on a whole range of themes and topics, and there's everything from thrillers to action to horror to period films. There's a Bollywood movie for everyone.

Bollywood's favorite theme overall is love. Any kind of love — romantic, friendly, familial, etc. Emotion is at the heart of everything. No one can pull at your heartstrings better than Bollywood can!

Red Chillies Entertainment

There are many wonderful actors in the industry but the name you have to know is Shahrukh Khan, one of the richest and most famous actors in the world. He's known as the King of Bollywood and the King of Romance, and for good reason (please reference GIFs below)!

Yash Raj Films

The thing I personally love about him is how he can act with his eyes, without saying a word at all. It's amazing. He's a darling in real life too so it's not hard to like him! He'll feature in many of the films below.

Before you settle in for your official starter pack to Bollywood, here are two things to know:

1) As you watch, you'll start recognizing many of the actors. And yes, the films in the Classics section all star the same couple but you'll see why!

2) Many of the films listed below were the highest-grossing films in India at the time of their release and have been the recipients of tons of awards both domestically and internationally.

OK, ready? Let's begin!

Classics:

1. Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... ("Sometimes Happiness, Sometimes Sorrow...," 2001)

Yash Raj Films

Also known as K3G, this film is the definition of Bollywood. You won't find a single Bollywood fan who doesn't know this film. Brown kids grew up with this movie's songs playing in our living rooms and cars during trips. It brings together six of Bollywood's biggest stars, pairs together Shahrukh Khan and Kajol (Bollywood's most legendary couple), and everything about it is grand and beautiful with timeless songs and a moving story about family, pride, love, and social prejudice. You’d be hard-pressed to find something more Bollywood and better than this.

Plot: Yash is a wealthy businessman for whom legacy and tradition is everything. So when his son, Rahul, falls in love and marries Anjali, a woman of lower status, Yash disowns him. Ten years later, Rahul's little brother, Rohan, returns from boarding school to find his brother gone. Thus begins Rohan's mission to reunite their broken family (I always tear up at the scene when Rohan sees Rahul for the first time as an adult but Rahul doesn't recognize him. The acting there is superb).

My Favorite Songs: Suraj Hua Maddham (Egypt! Those pyramids! The romantic intensity!), Bole Chudiyan (it has a whopping 540+ million views. We aren't kidding around here), and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (Sad Version).

Watch it on Amazon Prime, Netflix, and YouTube.

2. Kuch Kuch Hota Hai ("Something Happens," 1998)

Dharma Productions

Shahrukh and Kajol are THE OG couple and no one has been able to replicate their chemistry to date. Bollywood knows that because they've starred in seven successful movies together! They're just so natural and the fact that they're friends in real life helps too. Our hearts were broken when we found out they're married to different people in real life. I grew up with this movie so it'll always have a special place in my heart. It's also directed by Karan Johar, the same man behind Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham!

Plot: Rahul's 8-year-old daughter learns the dying wish of her mother, Tina — to reunite Rahul with Anjali, his college best friend whom he has not seen for nine years: a pair who would've fallen in love had Tina not come between them. Except Anjali is now engaged. We see Rahul and Anjali in their immature college days, then years later in adulthood, making their love story resonate with a sweet maturity. Also, just watch the scene when Rahul and Anjali see each other for the first time after nine years, and tell me their reaction (which was improvised btw) isn't the sweetest and most natural thing ever!

My Favorite Song: Ladki Badi Anjani Hai (it shows the two friends together after so many years and the nostalgia and love and yearning is palpable 🥺) and Tujhe Yaad Na Meri Aayi (because angst).

Watch it on Amazon Prime, Netflix, and YouTube.

3. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge ("The Big-Hearted Will Take The Bride Away," 1995)

Yash Raj Films

I'd probably be sinning if I didn't include this. Also known as DDLJ, this movie is so famous it's still played in Indian theaters 25 years after its release, (making it the longest-running film ever), and its songs are regularly played at weddings. It's raised the expectations of every brown girl around the world: basically, if he doesn’t serenade you in the middle of a mustard flower field, drop him sis. And that train scene (please reference GIF) is such a well-known scene that even now, it's imitated, referenced, spoofed, and the like in other films. But nothing captures the magic of the OG scene!

Plot: Simran and Raj fall in love on a vacation through Europe with their friends. Just one problem: Simran is engaged to someone else. Raj follows her to India, where her wedding celebrations are in full swing, determined to win over her disapproving family, and take Simran away as his bride. Forbidden love, sweeping sequences in Europe and India, and a couple you can't help but root for — it just makes you believe in love again.

My Favorite Songs: Tujhe Dekha Toh, Zara Sa Jhoom, and Ho Gaya Hai Tujhko

Watch it on Amazon Prime and YouTube.

Romantic Comedies:

4. Chennai Express (2013)

Red Chillies Entertainment

This is a fun, silly film with slapstick comedy, car chases, a big finish, and a heart underneath it all. It's one of the movies that hilariously spoofs the famous train scene from DDLJ, using the original actor, Shahrukh himself, which makes it even funnier. The locations look like paintings and it speaks on the differences in culture, as our heroine is South-Indian and our hero North-Indian. But instead of being heroic, Rahul has no idea how to deal with the mess he's in, making us laugh because his reactions would probably be ours too.

Plot: Rahul boards the Chennai Express to fulfill his grandfather's last wish of scattering his ashes into the sea. Sadly, he never even makes it off the train. When he helps Meenamma get on, he discovers that she's the daughter of a don who is fleeing from an arranged marriage and being chased by her goon cousins. Thus, he unwillingly gets pulled into an adventure with her, in which the two run from the bad guys, bicker, banter, and fall in love.

My Favorite Songs: Titli (Those colors! Look at that amazing scenery!), and Tera Rastaa Chhodoon Na (the lyrics are lovely and it gives you hope in love).

Watch it on Netflix.

5. Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi ("A Match Made By God," 2008)

Yash Raj Films

You don't need to be a hero in order to have an extraordinary love story. This romcom unabashedly celebrates the simple things in life, the ordinary in "extraordinary." I love that it promotes that you shouldn't change yourself to be loved by someone. The songs are engaging and you relate to the characters' sorrows and joys. It's a feel-good film that makes you happy to just be as you are. (Also, that quote in the GIF gives me all the feels).

Plot: Suri is your average office worker with a clean heart and a mundane life. In contrast, Taani is loud and carefree. Tragedy strikes when Taani's fiancée and her father both die. Upon her father's last request, Suri, who loves her, marries her. When she enters a dance competition, Suri's desire to make her laugh again makes him disguise himself as "Raj," who is bold and brash — Suri's opposite. "Raj" hopes to befriend her and help her fall for Suri. Suri ends up in amusing situations, switching between himself and "Raj," until Taani, unaware that "Raj" is her husband, begins falling for his alter-ego. Big yikes?

My Favorite Songs: Tujh Mein Rab Dikhta Hai (plus the female version), Haule Haule, and Dance Pe Chance

Watch it on Amazon Prime and YouTube.

6. 2 States (2014)

Dharma Productions

This movie is one of my favorites for realistically showing the obstacles two people with different cultures face from their families when they fall in love. It's a contemporary look at intercultural love that's still light-hearted. It's also notable for deviating from most Bollywood romances, as they usually end with the couple getting together — in this one, the couple getting together is just the beginning. They face challenges and struggle with sacrifice, compromise, and heartbreak, choosing to fight and make it work because they love each other. What happens when that's not enough though?

Plot: Krish and Ananya are graduate students who fall in love. Krish is North-Indian while Ananya is South-Indian. After graduation and two years of dating, they decide to get married but their families immediately clash due to the cultural and language differences. However, Krish and Ananya want a beautiful wedding with their parents present rather than eloping, and so begins their challenge.

My Favorite Songs: Locha-e-Ulfat, Mast Magan (such a sweet song) and Chaandaniya (more angst 😞).

Watch it on Netflix.

7. Jab We Met ("When We Met," 2007)

UTV Motion Pictures

Not only is this one of the most popular romcoms to date, but the lead heroine, Geet, has become one of Bollywood's most beloved heroines (much kudos to Kareena Kapoor, who played her!). Even now, there are a lot of rom-coms that try to emulate her but no one is quite as charming as Geet herself! This is a refreshing and genuinely funny rom-com that takes on mental health and feminism, and Geet's line, "I'm my own favorite" is one to live by. Love yourself, people. You'll be glad you met this film!

Plot: Aditya, a businessman, is depressed and suicidal after his girlfriend marries someone else. He boards an overnight train, where he meets Geet, an optimistic woman who talks way too much. When they both end up stranded, the misadventures begin. Watching his straight man opposite her goofy nature never gets old, and by the time they've reached their destination, his annoyance has turned into love. However, Geet already has a boyfriend so Aditya leaves, a changed man. Months later, he learns that she has been missing since they parted ways, and sets out to find her.

My Favorite Song: Yeh Ishq Hai (it exemplifies Geet perfectly and just cheers you up!), and Aao Milo Chalen

Watch it on Amazon Prime.

Dramedies:

8. Main Hoon Na ("I'm Here, Aren't I," 2004)

Red Chillies Entertainment

Main Hoon Na is the complete package: it has action, romance, comedy, great music, and a heartfelt story. There's political commentary on the never-ending tensions between India and Pakistan, and it's satirical, making fun of Bollywood's tropes, and never taking itself too seriously.

Plot: Major Ram Sharma is assigned to a project that aims to establish peace between India and Pakistan. As part of this mission, he has to protect Sanjana, his boss's daughter, at her college, St. Paul's School in Darjeeling (a real school — it was filmed on location!). Ram also discovers that he is an illegitimate child and has a half-brother who studies at the same college. He goes undercover as a mature student and immediately becomes a misfit with the cool and younger college students. His missteps make for some hilarious laughs, and when he finally wins over his brother, they discover his true identity — and the people he has come to care about come under fire from his enemies.

My Favorite Songs: Tumse Milke Dil Ka (tell me that opening scene isn't the best lmao) and Main Hoon Na

Watch it on Netflix and YouTube.

9. Bodyguard (2011)

Reel Life Productions

This is another film that, like the one above, has everything, but it also has something else — a jarring climax that'll genuinely make your jaw drop. It still makes my jaw drop! Before we get there however, there's plenty of comedy to tide us over and the characters' warmth and mischief is fun to watch.

Plot: Lovely Singh is the best bodyguard there is so he's assigned to guard Divya, the daughter of a politician. He's a little too devoted to his job though, and annoys her by following her everywhere. Tired of his overprotectiveness, Divya decides to distract him with a fake love affair: she calls him anonymously, pretending to be an admirer of his. It takes a while to break Lovely's hard exterior but once she does, she learns that he is soft and naive underneath. When she realizes her pretend love for Lovely may have become real, it unleashes a whole new set of complications. Oops?

My Favorite Song: Teri Meri (SO epic, you guys! And the tint of sadness pulls at your heart).

Watch the trailer here.

10. Barfi! (2012)

UTV Motion Pictures

Do you like your films with Charlie Chaplin–esque comedy? A little fanciful perhaps? Try Barfi!, a funny, heartwarming story that brings to mind the era of silent films. Drenched in an atmosphere of whimsy, Barfi! shows that love goes beyond the conventions of "normal" and the lead pair is nothing short of endearing.

Plot: It follows the eponymous "Barfi" — a deaf and mute boy. He's a troublemaker but he's charming, and you can't help but laugh at the winded police officer always chasing him. Barfi falls in love with a city girl, Shruti, but her mother dissuades her from marrying a man who cannot hear or speak, and Shruti leaves him. A dejected Barfi moves on, followed by his autistic childhood friend, Jhilmil, whom he assumes responsibility of and comes to love. Due to Barfi's speech impairment and Jhilmil's autism, there is minimal dialogue throughout and you never get tired of watching the unlikely pair on their misadventures — until an unhappily-married Shruti returns six months later.

My Favorite Songs: Kyon and Ala Barfi (they perfectly captures the film's charm).

Watch it on Netflix.

11. 3 Idiots (2009)

Vinod Chopra Films

3 Idiots is a classic, hands down. This film is the kind that's always relevant, no matter the time and place. It's a comedy that also dishes out some scathing commentary on the Indian education system and the unbelievable pressure it places on students to achieve perfection. Plus, Rancho's life advice of patting your heart and telling yourself "All is well" when things are hard isn't that bad, actually. Try it next time.

Plot: We follow three engineering students at the best college in the country. Farhan and Raju are led by Rancho, whose quirky outlook on life encourages them to go after what they truly want, despite Rancho getting them into all sorts of trouble. However, Rancho disappears after graduation, and years later, Farhan and Raju, now successful in the very fields he encouraged them to pursue, set out to find him, uncovering secrets about his true identity along the way.

My Favorite Song: Aal Izz Well

Watch it on Amazon Prime and Netflix.

Dramas:

12. Veer-Zaara (2004)

Yash Raj Films

Are you a fan of Romeo and Juliet? OK, so you clearly haven't seen this film. Veer and Zaara completely blow them out of the water, because sometimes, life is crueler than death. This is one of the most touching romances to have come out of Bollywood — and that's saying something because Bollywood's full of love stories. Shakespeare can go home!

Plot: Veer, an Indian Air Force pilot, saves Zaara, a Pakistani Muslim, in India, and just like that, their lives are entwined forever. Twenty-two years later, Saamiya, a budding Pakistani lawyer, is assigned Prisoner 786's defense as her first case. It is a now-aged Veer, who has been imprisoned in a Pakistani jail for 22 years, and has not spoken to anyone in that time. When he opens up to Saamiya, we learn his story — a story of forbidden love, sacrifice, separation, and courage that spans more than a decade. You might cry btw.

My Favorite Song: Main Yahaan Hoon (So. Freaking. Romantic), Do Pal (angst, angst, angst), and Hum To Bhai Jaise Hain

Watch it on Amazon Prime and YouTube.

13. Bajrangi Bhaijaan ("Beloved Brother Bajrangi," 2015)

Salman Khan Films

This is, no lie, one of the most wholesome Bollywood films I have seen in the last 10 years. Even if you have a heart of stone, this movie will melt it. It's funny, provides social commentary on prejudice in India, and pushes a story of selfless love and love without borders. The songs support the story and move you until you get a tear or two in your eye. If this film doesn't touch your heart, you probably don't have one.

Plot: A mute 6-year-old Pakistani Muslim girl gets separated from her mother in India while on a train to Pakistan. She meets Pawan, a sweet and benevolent Indian man who is lovingly called "Bajrangi." Not trusting the authorities, Pawan decides to take the girl back to her home in Pakistan himself — without a passport or visa — and faces numerous challenges, including his own religious and social prejudices. Kudos to the child actress, Harshaali Malhotra, who is incredible, expressing everything without saying a single word!

My Favorite Songs: Tu Jo Mila, Zindagi Kuch Toh Bata (they make you want to live life to the fullest!), and Selfie Le Re

Watch it on Amazon Prime.

14. My Name is Khan (2010)

Dharma Productions

This is one of the more recent films of the seven that pairs together our golden couple, Shahrukh and Kajol. While funny and sweet, it's also important. It tells the story of an autistic Muslim man who defies adversity in an America fraught with tension after 9/11. Seeing life for Muslims post 9/11 through his eyes is gripping. The grandeur of Bollywood is there but the escapism isn't. These characters could be your neighbors, and Shahrukh is absolutely lovable as his character, Rizwan. In the end, you come away with the message that race and religion are only factors that separate us; the real distinguisher is our kindness.

Plot: Rizwan Khan is a high-functioning Indian Muslim with Aspergers syndrome. He falls in love with Mandira, a Hindu single mother, and marries her. After the September 11 attacks, the family experiences post 9/11 prejudice until a tragedy tears Mandira and Rizwan apart. She blames his religion and to win her back, Rizwan embarks on a heart-wrenching mission across America to tell the President that his name is Khan and he is not a terrorist.

My Favorite Song: Sajdaa

Watch it on Amazon Prime, Vudu, and Youtube.

Action/Thrillers:

15. Ek Villain (2014)

Balaji Motion Pictures

This film is the reason I'm afraid to talk rudely to strangers. Spilled coffee on me? Go ahead, I won't say a thing 😬. Based on the Korean thriller, I Saw The Devil (though less graphic and more Bollywood-ified), this is an intense and tragic watch that keeps you on your toes, supported by stylish cinematography and lovely songs. The characters all have depth. This was also Riteish Deshmukh's first time playing a villain — previously, he was only known for comedy. People lost their minds; he was that good! Sometimes, people have hidden talents that just aren't used until the right moment.

Plot: Guru is a merciless hitman with a good heart. He meets Aisha, a woman who is ill and wishes to complete her bucket list before she dies. Guru helps her, and they fall in love and get married, with Guru leaving behind his old life and Aisha getting treatment. Everything is perfect until Aisha is murdered by a serial killer. Broken, Guru goes on a rampage, blurring the line between good and evil in his hunt for the killer. He is startled to find that the killer has no connection to Guru's past. Then who is the man and why did he target Aisha?

My Favorite Songs: Galliyan (plus the female version. Both sound so sad yet romantic and happy at the same time? The yearning!), Banjaara (the lyrics are gorgeous), and Awara (this whole thing is a masterpiece).

Watch it on Amazon Prime and YouTube.

16. Raazi ("Willing", 2018)

Junglee Pictures

This film was one of the highest-grossing films of 2018 featuring a female protagonist and also directed by a woman, Meghna Gulzar (a rarity in Bollywood). Based on a true story, it's riveting, dark, and has a level of intensity that'll steal your breath. It shows an ordinary girl's love for one's country and the price you pay for it. Though Sehmat is good at heart, you are still appalled at the choices she must make for her country's welfare. There is no black and white here; only gray.

Plot: Set in 1971 just before the Indo-Pakistani War, Sehmat, a sweet college student and Indian Muslim, is called home to her father, who is a spy for Indian intelligence. He is dying and wants Sehmat to take his place. Sehmat is willing so she is trained and married into a Pakistani army family, moving to Pakistan. Her real mission: to source out as much information as she can on Pakistan's war strategy. It turns out that she may not be ready after all for what it takes to keep her cover, and the toll it takes on her is tough to watch.

My Favorite Song: Dilbaro

Watch it on Amazon Prime and YouTube.

17. Don (2006)

Excel Entertainment

This was the gritty and edgy film that made middle school me crush on Shahrukh for months (and let's be honest, who doesn't have a crush on him even now?). He steals the screen as the eponymous underworld crime lord, Don. It's full of tense moments and there are so many plot twists that it demands a rewatch just so you can pick out all the clues you missed. Still, I bet you all your streaming passwords that you'll never guess the ending. The soundtrack was one of the best-selling soundtracks of the year so you know the songs are good!

Plot: After Don is captured by authorities, DCP DeSilva recruits a simple man, Vijay, to impersonate Don and infiltrate his gang, as Vijay unfortunately looks exactly like the crime boss. This leads to a treacherous balancing act that keeps you almost falling off the edge of your seat in suspense until DeSilva — the only one who knows Vijay's true identity — is killed, leaving Vijay with no way to prove who he really is. Not sure that'll end well.

My Favorite Songs: Main Hoon Don (Priyanka Chopra's entrance is everything) and Yeh Mera Dil

Watch it on Amazon Prime and Netflix.

18. Holiday: A Soldier Is Never Off Duty (2014)

Hari Om Entertainment

Holiday has bite-your-nails suspense, fast-paced action, a lighthearted romance, and an engrossing story that keeps your eyes rooted to the screen. It also pays tribute to the soldiers that tirelessly protect the country by putting themselves at risk. Akshay Kumar, who plays the protagonist, is charming to watch!

Plot: Virat, an army captain, is home in Mumbai on holiday, where he falls in love with Saiba, a cheeky, energetic woman. However, when he witnesses a bomb blast killing innocent people right in front of him and discovers a plot to bomb different areas of the city via sleeper cells, he forgoes his vacation to hunt down the terrorist in command. You'll have fun with this one!

My Favorite Songs: Blame The Night and Tu Hi Toh Hai

Watch the trailer here.

Social Issues/Feel-Good Films:

19. Thappad ("Slap," 2020)

Benaras Media Works

This brave and empowering film takes on a tough subject: is it ever OK to hit your spouse? Even if it's just one slap? Is that enough to question your entire relationship? I would say this is a must-watch even for non-Bollywood fans. The subject is global, the dialogue is hard-hitting, the acting is natural, and it made me cry at the end. We need more films like this, not just in Bollywood, but everywhere!

Plot: Amrita has been happily married to Vikram for several years. She is a housewife; her entire life is devoted to him. Until one day, Vikram heatedly slaps her in the face at a party, in front of a whole bunch of people. Amrita is completely shaken, her self-respect shattered. She subsequently files for divorce, causing an outcry among her parents and relatives. It was just one slap. Such a little thing. Can't she get over it?

My Favorite Song: Ek Tukda Dhoop (it complements the movie so well and does a good job of sounding both sad and hopeful at the same time).

Watch it on Amazon Prime.

20. English Vinglish (2012)

Hope Productions

This film won global acclaim and rightfully so! It was also directed by a woman, Gauri Shinde, and is a gentle story about self-respect and the transformative journey of a woman looked down upon to a woman confident and self-assured. Shot in New York, it's funny, engaging, realistic, and does a good job of tugging at your heart.

Plot: Shashi is a kind middle-aged housewife devoted to her family, though they ridicule her for her lack of English language skills. When she travels to New York City to help with her niece's wedding, she is intimidated by the language barrier. Thus, defying her traditional role and age, Shashi secretly takes up English classes and in the process, makes friends, discovers her own identity, and teaches her family a well-deserved lesson. And that scene, when you see her strutting down Manhattan with a smile on her face and a coffee in her hand — no doubt it'll make you smile real wide too.

My Favorite Songs: Navrai Majhi and English Vinglish

Watch it on Amazon Prime and YouTube.

21. Dear Zindagi ("Dear Life," 2016)

Red Chillies Entertainment

Dear Zindagi, a slice-of-life tale, puts Alia Bhatt (from Raazi) and Shahrukh Khan together for the first time, in a therapist-patient relationship that's insightful, eye-opening, and wholly resonates with you. The film feels like a breath of fresh air, all breezy and inspiring. It's also directed by Gauri Shinde, the same director of English Vinglish! Kaira, our protagonist, is a flawed character who makes mistakes just like the rest of us. She is good-hearted but not always likable, which makes her real.

Plot: Kaira, a cinematographer, is a cynical woman struggling with love, breakups, work, and family. Unable to release her pent-up emotions, she finds herself depressed to the point where she can't sleep. Jug, a therapist who is free-spirited and unconventional, helps Kaira get to the root of her problems, face her past, and learn how to see life in a new perspective. I feel like she is someone many of us can see ourselves in, making both her and the film all the more relatable to us.

My Favorite Songs: Love You Zindagi and Ae Zindagi Gale Laga

Watch it on Netflix and YouTube

22. Queen (2013)

Phantom Films

Queen shines thanks to its lead, a 24-year-old woman named Rani (which means "Queen" in Hindi). It touches you because we don't get a powerful, bold woman right off the bat. Instead, we get a meek, relatable middle-class girl who could easily be your friend; someone who finds herself in a difficult situation and uses it to empower herself. It's strong, feminist, and leaves you feeling full of life.

Plot: Rani is a sheltered woman from a conservative family. When her fiancée walks out on her a day before their wedding, stating that she doesn't fit into his modern lifestyle, she is left heartbroken and subsequently shocks her family by deciding to go on their pre-booked honeymoon to Europe by herself, despite never having traveled alone ever. And so we follow her on her entertaining journey of self-discovery as Rani navigates Europe on her own, makes friends from different backgrounds, and finds independence that she didn't know she had.

My Favorite Song: O Gujariya

Watch it on Netflix and YouTube.

Comedy:

23. Golmaal Again ("Jumbled Again," 2017)

Rohit Shetty Productions

This film is full of laughter, amusement, and a sweet, wholesome story with the drama cranked up high. The colors and locations are bright and cheerful, and oh yeah, there are ghosts!

Plot: It follows a gang of friends who grew up at an orphanage together but now, as adults, can't stand each other. When they are called back to the orphanage 25 years later, they learn it is to be demolished. We're in for a ride of thrills and surprises as they discover the truth about what happened at the orphanage and encounter its ghosts while struggling to get along and stop the demolition with hilarious consequences.

My Favorite Song: Maine Tujhko Dekha

Watch it on Amazon Prime.

24. Welcome (2007)

Base Industries Group

Plot: A fun lighthearted film filled with gags, giggles, and a preposterously funny climax, this one tells the story of Rajiv, a normal man whose uncle is trying to marry him to a woman from a decent family. Rajiv does fall in love with a sweet, kind woman named Sanjana — only to discover that her brothers are gangsters. Meanwhile, Sanjana's brothers want to see Sanjana get married into a good family as well but no one wants to be associated with criminals. So when Sanjana's brothers finally meet Rajiv's family, needless to say, they aren't very welcome!

My Favorite Song: Kiya Kiya

Watch the trailer here.

Horror:

25. Pari ("Fairy," 2018)

Clean Slate Films

Pari is creepy, the kind of creepy that crawls up on you and makes you all jittery and alert, like someone's behind you. The scares are genuine, the atmosphere unsettling, and the story creative. Bollywood was short on good horror until this came along — Pari definitely set a new (and high) standard for horror in the industry.

Plot: The story revolves around a mysterious satanic cult and a demon so, you know, fun stuff. One day, a kind man named Arnab accidentally hits and kills an old woman. Police discover the woman's daughter, Rukhsana, who is strangely chained up in her hut and seems to have been abused. Feeling guilty, Arnab takes her in. At first, Rukhsana seems sweet and childlike but her odd behavior soon points to something darker. What is she, really?

My Favorite Song: Meri Khamoshi Hai (you get to see Pari's cute side before things go to hell!).

Watch it on Amazon Prime.

Note: The film on Netflix is not this one; it's a different film from Pakistan called Pari that was also released the same year. Not sure why they had two horror films with the same title release together in 2018, though?

26. Stree (2018)

Maddock Films

A horror comedy based on an Indian folktale, Stree has great scares, a story with originality, and amusing moments, while also making a feminist statement.

Plot: The town of Chanderi is haunted by a spirit, referred to as "Stree," who abducts men during the annual festival. Men are advised not to go out alone after 10 p.m. and to move in groups for safety — something women are usually instructed to do. One day, Vicky, a ladies' tailor, meets a mysterious woman who only comes to Chanderi every year during the festival. When he falls for her, his friends become suspicious, realizing that nobody except Vicky has ever seen the woman. Wondering if she could be Stree, they attempt to dig deeper into the stories and end up finding something none of them are prepared for.

My Favorite Songs: Kamariya and Milegi Milegi (both so fun!).

Watch it on Netflix and YouTube.

27. Bhool Bhulaiyya ("Maze," 2007)

Eros International

A cult classic that never gets old, this film's perfect for audiences that like haunted palaces and ghosts.

Plot: Siddharth and Avni, a married couple, come to India from the US for a visit and decide to stay in Siddharth's ancestral palace. Siddharth doesn't believe in the rumors that the palace is haunted by ghosts. However, inexplicable events begin taking place, though everyone thinks the culprit is Radha, his adopted cousin. Siddharth calls his friend, psychiatrist Aditya Shrivastav, to diagnose Radha. Once Aditya arrives, plenty of comic moments ensue, as the family thinks he's a clown though he is, in fact, intelligent. As Aditya slowly uncovers the mystery behind the ghosts, Siddharth is forced to reconsider his belief in the supernatural.

My Favorite Songs: Labon Ko and Bhool Bhulaiyya

Watch it on Netflix.

Sci-Fi

28. Koi...Mil Gaya ("I've Found...Someone," 2003)

Filmkraft Productions Pvt. Ltd

Bollywood doesn't often take on sci-fi so this film was a surprise and one of the more original films to come out during the ’00s. It's endearing and has the cutest darn alien you've ever seen. Hrithik Roshan puts in an amazing performance in his role as a man who is college-aged but has the mind of a child due to a mental disability. The alien is adorable; he's blue, childlike, and doesn't speak but has such a distinct personality you don't need the other characters around to understand him. This film's success also spawned sequels!

Plot: Rohit discovers his late father's computer but doesn't know that his father, a scientist, had actually created it to make contact with extraterrestrials. As such, Rohit accidentally summons one to Earth. He befriends the alien and names him Jadoo (“Magic” in Hindi). Jadoo uses his powers to heal Rohit's brain damage and give him superhuman strength, allowing him to overtake his bullies. Things take on a darker tone, however, when police discover Jadoo.

My Favorite Song: Koi Mil Gaya

Watch the trailer here.

Period/Historical:

29. Bajirao Mastani (2015)

Bhansali Productions

One of the most expensive Bollywood films ever made, Bajirao Mastani is a true visual treat, with elaborate costumes, grand sets, and rich colors. Priyanka Chopra is brilliant as Kashibai and fun fact: Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone, who play Bajirao and Mastani respectively, actually got married in real life in 2018!

Plot: It recounts the romance between Peshwa Bajirao, a Marathi general, and Mastani, a Muslim princess, who get married despite Bajirao already being married to Kashibai. Not only do they deal with opposition from Bajirao's conservative family but also a love triangle. Though the film is about Bajirao and Mastani, I, much like many of the viewers, empathized with Kashibai and found her a much more gripping character. Her pain in the face of betrayal and humiliation, and her strength and dignity, the way she carried herself so gracefully despite her husband's unfaithfulness, truly moves you. I am team Kashibai! She deserved more 😞.

My Favorite Song: Deewani Mastani (wow, those visuals).

Watch it on Amazon Prime and YouTube.

30. Lootera ("Robber", 2013)

Balaji Motion Pictures

Partly based on author O. Henry's 1907 short story, The Last Leaf, this underrated film is for those who are romantic at heart. It has a quiet aura and there's love, heartbreak, betrayal, and redemption, all in a period setting that's gorgeous, especially the winter scenes.

Plot: In West Bengal in 1953, lives a landlord and his feisty daughter, Pakhi. A charming archaeologist, Varun, arrives, hoping to excavate the temple grounds. He is invited to stay at their mansion while he digs. Varun and Pakhi fall in love but Varun has his secrets and when he's forced to choose between them and her, he betrays her, leaving Pakhi struggling to move on. When her father dies and she eventually becomes ill, Varun returns.

My Favorite Songs: Ankahee and Manmarziyan (the kind of songs you listen to while taking a walk in the park with the autumn leaves falling all around you)

Watch it on Amazon Prime and YouTube.

Me watching as you finally fall in love with Bollywood:

Dharma Productions

And if you think there's any I missed, let me know in the comments below!

Check out how BuzzFeed is celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month!

Ellie Sunakawa / BuzzFeed

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