Best Indian Movies Ever Made: Top Picks and What Sets Them Apart

Indian cinema has a rich tapestry that captures hearts worldwide. From stirring dramas to epic romances, Indian movies have made a significant impact on global audiences. This blog will explore some of the best Indian movies ever made and why they continue to resonate. We’ll look at storytelling, acting, direction, and cultural influence that make these films stand out. So, get ready to dive into the world of Indian cinema and discover what makes these movies truly unforgettable.

The Golden Age of Indian Cinema

The Golden Age of Indian Cinema, spanning from the late 1940s to the 1960s, gave birth to extraordinary films that continue to captivate audiences. This era was shaped by revolutionary storytelling, innovative direction, and memorable performances. Let’s explore two masterpieces from this period.

Pather Panchali (1955)

Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali is a cornerstone of Indian cinema. The narrative is simple but powerful, following the life of a young boy named Apu and his family in a small Bengal village. Ray’s direction brings the story to life with intimate, realistic scenes that resonate deeply with viewers.

What sets Pather Panchali apart?

  • Narrative Style: The film uses a neorealistic approach, focusing on the everyday struggles and joys of its characters. This style brings authenticity and emotional depth.
  • Direction: Ray’s meticulous attention to detail, from the sounds of nature to the expressions of his cast, creates an immersive experience.
  • Global Influence: Pather Panchali influenced filmmakers worldwide. It won the Best Human Document at the Cannes Film Festival, showcasing Indian cinema to a global audience.

Ray’s film is not just a movie; it’s a timeless piece of art that continues to inspire.

Mother India (1957)

Mehboob Khan’s Mother India is a cultural landmark in Indian cinema. The film tells the tale of Radha, a resilient woman facing tremendous hardships to raise her sons in a rural village. This epic drama is a vibrant portrayal of Indian society and values.

Why is Mother India so impactful?

  • Cultural Impact: The film reflects India’s post-independence spirit. Radha symbolizes strength and perseverance, resonating with audiences across generations.
  • Storytelling: Mother India combines emotional storytelling with dynamic cinematography, making it a visual and emotional treat.
  • Performances: Nargis, who plays Radha, delivers a powerful performance. Her portrayal of a loving yet firm mother adds immense depth to the film.

Mother India set a high bar for storytelling and production in Indian cinema. It was even nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, marking a significant achievement.

These films from the Golden Age of Indian Cinema aren’t just important for their time—they continue to be relevant, teaching us about the power of human spirit and storytelling.

Bollywood Blockbusters

Bollywood blockbusters have redefined Indian cinema with their captivating stories, vibrant music, and unforgettable performances. These films have left a lasting impact on audiences and continue to be celebrated worldwide.

Sholay (1975)

“Sholay” remains one of Bollywood’s most iconic films. Directed by Ramesh Sippy, this film blends action, drama, and comedy to create a cinematic masterpiece.

What makes “Sholay” so successful?

  • Genre-blending narrative: The story of two criminals hired to capture a notorious bandit is thrilling and heartwarming. The mix of action, drama, and humor kept audiences on the edge of their seats.
  • Iconic characters: Characters like Veeru, Jai, and Gabbar Singh have become cultural legends. Their distinct personalities and memorable dialogues are etched in the minds of fans.
  • Memorable dialogues: Dialogues like “Kitne aadmi they?” (How many men were there?) have become part of everyday conversation. These lines are quoted and referenced even decades after the film’s release.

“Sholay” not only set new standards for storytelling but also became a cultural phenomenon, influencing generations of filmmakers and audiences alike.

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995)

“Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge” (DDLJ) is a film that showcases the essence of romance and tradition. Directed by Aditya Chopra, this film struck a chord with audiences and became a timeless romantic saga.

Why has DDLJ remained a favorite?

  • Romantic elements: The love story between Raj and Simran is both relatable and aspirational. Their journey from strangers to soulmates resonates with anyone who believes in love.
  • Cultural significance: DDLJ highlights the clash and blend of traditional Indian values with modern aspirations. It portrays the struggles of an Indian family living abroad, keeping their roots while adapting to a new culture.
  • Long-running success: The film’s unprecedented run in theaters is a testament to its enduring popularity. It has been playing continuously in Mumbai’s Maratha Mandir theater since its release, making it the longest-running film in Indian cinema history.

The charm and magic of DDLJ continue to captivate new generations, proving its lasting legacy in Bollywood.

Modern Indian Cinema

Modern Indian cinema has pushed boundaries, exploring fresh themes and innovative storytelling techniques. Two films that have made significant contributions to contemporary Indian cinema are “Lagaan” and “Gully Boy.”

Lagaan (2001): Analyze how ‘Lagaan’ brought international attention to Indian cinema, its unique storyline, and its critical acclaim

“Lagaan” is a standout film that broke new ground for Indian cinema. Directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, this epic sports drama is set in the late 19th century during the British Raj. The story follows a group of villagers who challenge their British rulers to a game of cricket to avoid paying oppressive taxes.

What makes “Lagaan” exceptional?

  • Unique Storyline: The blend of historical drama and sports was a fresh concept. It tackled colonial oppression while engaging audiences with the thrill of cricket.
  • Cultural Elements: It showcased Indian culture, traditions, and the resilience of common folk. The characters, costuming, and setting added authenticity.
  • International Acclaim: “Lagaan” was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. This nomination brought significant international attention to Indian cinema, highlighting its storytelling prowess.

“Lagaan” is not just a film; it’s an experience that captivated both Indian and global audiences. It set a precedent for quality and creativity in modern Indian cinema.

Gully Boy (2019): Discuss the modern themes, representation of the Indian hip-hop scene, and the film’s reception both domestically and internationally

“Gully Boy,” directed by Zoya Akhtar, dives deep into the underground hip-hop scene in India. Inspired by the lives of Mumbai street rappers Divine and Naezy, the film tells the story of Murad, a young man from the slums who dreams of making it big in the world of hip-hop.

Why is “Gully Boy” a modern masterpiece?

  • Modern Themes: The film addresses issues like class struggle, socio-economic challenges, and the pursuit of dreams in a realistic, relatable manner. It reflects the aspirations and hardships of today’s youth.
  • Authentic Representation: “Gully Boy” introduces audiences to the Indian hip-hop scene, highlighting its raw energy and creativity. The music, language, and style used are true to the culture it portrays.
  • Reception: Domestically, the film was a box office hit, resonating with a wide audience. Internationally, it gained acclaim at various film festivals, including the Berlin International Film Festival, where it premiered. It also reached the Oscars 2020 longlist for Best International Feature.

“Gully Boy” is more than just a story; it’s a voice for a generation. It portrays the grit and talent found in the most unexpected places, showing that dreams are within reach, no matter where you come from.

Modern Indian cinema continues to evolve, bringing fresh narratives and diverse perspectives to the forefront. “Lagaan” and “Gully Boy” are prime examples of how new themes and styles are shaping the industry’s future.

Regional Gems

Indian cinema is not just Bollywood. Various regional industries produce incredible films that tell unique stories and capture the local culture beautifully. Here are two regional films that have left a lasting impact.

Drishyam (Malayalam, 2013)

“Drishyam,” directed by Jeethu Joseph, is a thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The story revolves around Georgekutty, a cable TV operator, who goes to great lengths to protect his family after they become involved in a crime.

What makes “Drishyam” stand out?

  • Intricate Plot: The film weaves a complex narrative that reveals new layers as the story unfolds. It’s like peeling an onion, with each layer revealing something unexpected.
  • Suspenseful Storytelling: From start to finish, the suspense never drops. Every scene adds to the tension, making the audience question what’s next.
  • Impact on Indian Thriller Genre: “Drishyam” changed the game for thrillers in Indian cinema. Its success led to remakes in multiple languages, each retaining the essence of the original while reaching new audiences.

“Drishyam” is not just any thriller; it’s a masterclass in creating suspense and delivering a story that keeps you guessing until the very end.

Sairat (Marathi, 2016)

“Sairat,” directed by Nagraj Manjule, offers a powerful take on young love amidst socio-political challenges. The story focuses on the romance between Parshya, a lower-caste boy, and Archie, an upper-caste girl, in a small village.

Why is “Sairat” a revolutionary film?

  • Socio-Political Themes: The film tackles issues like caste discrimination and social inequality head-on. It doesn’t shy away from showing the harsh realities that many face.
  • Revolutionary Approach to Romance: Unlike typical love stories, “Sairat” portrays a raw and realistic relationship. The chemistry between the lead characters feels genuine and relatable.
  • Success: “Sairat” was a massive hit, breaking box office records for Marathi cinema. It received widespread acclaim and even inspired a Hindi remake, “Dhadak.”

“Sairat” isn’t just a film; it’s a social commentary wrapped in a love story that pushes boundaries and challenges societal norms.

These regional gems prove that Indian cinema’s richness lies in its diversity. From the suspense-filled world of “Drishyam” to the socially conscious romance of “Sairat,” these films showcase the depth and variety of stories waiting to be discovered.

Animation and Experimental Films

Indian cinema isn’t just about grand dramas and musical extravaganzas. It also includes unique animated and experimental films that push the envelope of storytelling and visual art. Let’s explore two exceptional films that stand out in these categories.

Taare Zameen Par (2007)

Taare Zameen Par is a heartfelt film that shines a light on children with special needs and offers a critique of the rigid education system. Directed by Aamir Khan, the movie tells the story of Ishaan, a young boy struggling with dyslexia.

What makes Taare Zameen Par unforgettable?

  • Education and Special Needs: The film brings attention to learning disabilities and emphasizes the importance of understanding and supporting children with unique challenges. Ishaan’s journey showcases how empathy and alternative teaching methods can unlock a child’s potential.
  • Emotional Depth: This movie connects with viewers on an emotional level. Ishaan’s struggles, his transformation, and the support he receives from his art teacher, played by Aamir Khan, tug at the heartstrings.
  • Critical Reception: Taare Zameen Par was highly acclaimed by critics and audiences alike. It won numerous awards, including the Filmfare Award for Best Film and the National Film Award for Best Film on Family Welfare.

This film isn’t just a story; it’s an important message about inclusivity and the power of understanding in education.

Ship of Theseus (2012)

Ship of Theseus is an experimental film that challenges conventional storytelling. Directed by Anand Gandhi, the film explores profound philosophical questions through its narrative and structure.

Why is Ship of Theseus a landmark in experimental cinema?

  • Philosophical Themes: The film delves into deep philosophical inquiries about identity, ethics, and the nature of existence. It’s inspired by the paradox of the Ship of Theseus, which questions whether an object remains the same if all its components are replaced.
  • Narrative Structure: The movie is divided into three interconnected stories. Each story focuses on a different character—an experimental photographer, a monk, and a stockbroker—grappling with questions of identity and change.
  • Place in Experimental Cinema: Ship of Theseus is celebrated for its innovative approach and thought-provoking content. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film.

This film isn’t just entertainment; it’s an intellectual journey that pushes viewers to reflect on complex issues.

By blending emotional storytelling with thought-provoking questions, Taare Zameen Par and Ship of Theseus demonstrate the diverse and rich landscape of Indian cinema. These films prove that Indian filmmakers continue to innovate and experiment, creating works that not only entertain but also inspire and challenge audiences.


Indian cinema offers a rich tapestry of storytelling that spans across genres, languages, and eras. From the neorealistic charm of Pather Panchali to the socio-political commentary in Sairat, these films highlight the diversity and depth of Indian filmmaking.

These movies have set benchmarks in narrative style, direction, and cultural impact. They show how Indian filmmakers weave complex issues into engaging stories that resonate globally.

Don’t miss the chance to explore these remarkable films. They not only entertain but also challenge and inspire. Dive into the world of Indian cinema and see for yourself what makes these movies so special.