Sometimes when you live in a country like the United States, you get so caught up in Hollywood here that you forget about the amazing films that are a part of the rest of the world. An industry that I’ve come to learn more about is the wonderful world of Bollywood, India’s filmmaking industry.
While we could spend time talking about the upcoming 2022 movies, let’s take some time out of our schedules to take a glance at some of the best Bollywood movies that are available streaming on Netflix right now, from excellent adventures to love stories, to comedies that will have you laughing for hours.
Love Aaj Kal (2020)
First up, we have one of many romantic movies, Love Aaj Kal. Starring Kartik Aaryan and Sara Ali Khan, this drama follows a young couple named Zoe and Veer. They met at a bar not that long ago and have an instant connection, but now they struggle to move forward in their relationship as their careers and plans for the rest of their lives pull them apart.
To me, this sounds like the perfect romantic drama for you to settle down with your significant other and watch on a chilly winter night. It’s a classic love story that we’ve seen a thousand times before, of life just getting in the way of a romantic relationship. But, Love Aaj Kal really captures that love that we all hold so dear for that one person in our lives, and how we would do anything for the relationship to succeed in the end. How fitting that it was released on Valentine's Day.
Mrs. Serial Killer (2020)
This Netflix original is thrilling and will capture your attention from the start. Mrs. Serial Killer, starring Jacqueline Fernandez, tells the story of a man who is arrested for a series of brutal murders. His pregnant wife now takes it upon herself to prove he is innocent by committing a copycat crime while he’s in custody.
I mean, already that premise sounds like something ridiculously cool. A wife believes that her husband has to be innocent, so she instead starts her own crime spree to try and take the blame off of him. It’s a story full of twists and turns, and a thriller movie that fans of the genre will find enjoyment in.
Dil Chahta Hai (2001)
If you’re looking for a Bollywood movie that will probably take you back and make you feel things, Dil Chahta Hai is the answer. This film follows the story of three recent college grads, who are trying to navigate their lives, friendships, and love after their graduation.
As someone who isn’t that far out of college (class of 2020), this sort of idea hits me personally. Dil Chahta Hai is a great combination of many genres. It’s a fun romantic comedy, it’s a great coming-of-age story, and it’s a drama at the same time. It’s all the ingredients for a film that will probably make you laugh or make you cry. Regardless, you’ll have a fun time. It won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi, so you know it’s good.
Next up, if you’re looking for a movie musical that also involves sports, Lagaan is your pick. This Bollywood film, set during the late Victorian era of India, follows a small village, whose inhabitants are burdened by taxes and drought. But, when a British army officer challenges them to a game of cricket as a way to avoid paying taxes they owe, the villagers take it upon themselves to try and learn the game.
Lagaan roughly translates to “Agricultural tax,” but only the minds behind the brilliant people working in Bollywood could create a movie that not only has some catchy music, but a heartfelt story of underdogs trying to succeed. Lagaan became the third Indian film to be nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards, so you know this is a great choice.
Lust Stories (2018)
When I told you we have genres for everything from Bollywood, we meant every genre. Lust Stories is a steamy anthology film, focused on four vastly different sexual situations - an inappropriate student-teacher interaction, a maid’s desire, the broken trust between a married couple, and a woman's weird experience with a vibrator.
I’ll admit first-hand, this Netflix original isn’t for everyone. You really need to not get embarrassed easily to watch something like this that will either make you blush hard or laugh at the silliness. But, once you get past some of the steamy situations, Lust Stories provides great comedic fun for some of their stories, and dramatic moments for others.
Set in the 1970s, Barfi! follows the story of the titular character, a deaf-mute boy from Darjeeling, and his relationships with two women, one of whom is on the autism spectrum and the other who is not.
As one of the few Bollywood films I watched before really diving deep into the industry, I can say that Barfi! is one of those films that will make you cry, laugh, and then cry some more. The acting is fantastic, with stellar performances from Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra-Jonas especially. But, the story itself will make anyone’s heart clench. It’s an all-around great dramedy, and something that anyone could enjoy.
Mary Kom (2014)
Priyanka Chopra-Jonas is arguably one of the most popular Indian actresses in America, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that she’s the star of Mary Kom. In this biographical sports film, Chopra stars as the real-life Mary Kom, and her journey of becoming a boxer, all the way up to her victory at the 2008 World Boxing Championships in Ningbo.
Mary Kom is such a great sports film from the start. Chopra-Jonas rocks it in the lead role, showing just how much of a talented actress she really is. What really makes Mary Kom stand out from the rest of these great films is that it’s a true story. While we could spend hours getting lost in some of the best horror movies or watching fantasy movies, sometimes, we just want something that tells an inspirational story about an awesome boxer, and Mary Kom delivers on that and more.
3 Idiots (2009)
Next up, we have this coming-of-age dramedy, called 3 Idiots. In this Bollywood film, we follow three engineering students, and the trials and tribulations that their major puts them through.
3 Idiots is a fantastic film for students right now, because it offers satire about the social pressures that students face on a daily basis when it comes to the Indian educational system. It shows that even if someone is very smart, depending on what field of study they pick, the pressure they feel to succeed may make them feel like the dumbest person alive. 3 Idiots won six Filmfare Awards when it was released, so you know it’s a great pick.
Kapoor & Sons (2016)
Moving on, we have a family dramedy, called Kapoor & Sons. In this movie, two estranged brothers return to their dysfunctional family, after their grandfather has a heart attack. Because of this, hijinks begin and hilarity ensues.
I mean, dysfunctional families are some of the most relatable things to watch sometimes. Look at TV shows like the one made up of the Shameless cast, or even Succession. Instead of adding a crazy amount of drama, Kapoor & Sons is a much more light-hearted affair, and focuses more on the dynamics of a family rather than the issues that come along with one.
The White Tiger (2021)
Netflix created another great original with this movie. The White Tiger, starring Adarsh Gourac, Priyanka Chopra-Jonas, and Rajkummar Rao, follows the story of Balram, a resident of a poor Indian village, who finds a way to escape his poverty through his own wit.
While The White Tiger has some awesome moments in it, from it’s beautiful cinematography to it’s great acting from its lead players, what really makes this movie is its screenplay. The story is so fantastically written that from start to finish, you will be engrossed in the story of Balram. The White Tiger was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at the 93rd Academy Awards, so you just know the story is super interesting. Give this Netflix original a watch - truly one of the best movies on Netflix.
Last up, we have Queen. In this Bollywood film, a young woman who was left at the altar takes it upon herself to turn her two-person honeymoon trip into a solo adventure, surprising her conservative family.
To me, I sort of look at Queen as the Bollywood version of Eat, Pray, Love except without an actual divorce. It’s all about a woman’s acceptance and trying to move on with her own life and find herself, rather than focusing on what other people want from her. If you want a protagonist to root for, Queen is your answer.
Bollywood has been around for a long time, so these picks are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to amazing Bollywood movies. However, if you’re on Netflix and looking for something new to watch, why not give these picks a shot? I promise, you won’t regret it.
Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!
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