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Ten Greatest Hindi Movies

Updated on September 14, 2014

The Best Ever Hindi Movies

Bollywood is arguably the second most popular film industry in the world. Since the 1930s, it has produced classics that continue to regale and entertain millions even today. Here is a list of ten of the best it has produced till date.

Deewar 1975
Deewar 1975

DEEWAR (1975)

The Angry Young Man becomes the Reflection of the Young Country

Released in 1975, when India was reeling under the onslaught of Oil Shock, it reflected the mood of the whole country, in its third decade after independence and consisting mostly of young Indians, who were just beginning to rebel against every traditional norm and order of the age old social order. Surrounded by injustices, drowned in poverty and still loyal to his family, the young protagonist, Vijay (played by Amitabh Bachan) is a rebel from the days when some goons forcefully make a tatto on his hand that read, "My father is a thief" as a revenge. He grows up only to find that it is only brute power and courage that wins the day. His frustration is against the whole universe including god. Amidst the melodrama expected from a Bollywood movie, Amitabh Bachchan finds a unique style that catapults him to super-stardom for the next decade. It is his acting as the angry young man that stands out over everything else. The movie was directed by Yash Chopra, and written by Saleem-Javed. Shashi Kapoor, Neetu Singh, Nirupama Roy and Parveen Babi form the rest of the cast.

Amar Prem 1971
Amar Prem 1971

AMAR PREM (1971)

An Immortal Tale of Immortal Love of Two Soulmates

If there is a Bollywood movie that remains with you for the rest of your life, it is Amar Prem. Released in 1970, it is a tale of a young and married Anand Babu (Rajesh Khanna) who is starved of love and understanding and the beautiful Pushpa (Sharmila Tagore) who has been ousted by his drunkard husband after he married another woman, and finds herself in the red light area of Kolkata. They develop a bond that transgresses beyond known relationships. It is not physical, has an intensity that touches the audience and gives way to accommodate the society. The title 'Amar Prem' literally means 'Immortal Love'. Pushpa's motherly love for Nandu, son of her village neighbor is another beautiful depiction of typical Indian mother. Based on the story written by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay, and directed by Shakti Samantha, it has great music composed by R D Burman.

A great song from the movie AMAR PREM

Mother India 1957
Mother India 1957

MOTHER INDIA (1957)

A Great Depiction of Mother and her Central Role in Indian Society

Perhaps the most universally acclaimed Bollywood Movie. It is a tale of a woman in a typical Indian village and her struggle to raise her two kids after her husband loses both his hands in an accident. The protagonist, played by Nargis, is the mother that one could see in every family in terms of her unflinching devotion to the family, an unsurpassable resolve to struggle for her children and an incredible bottomless pit of patience that lets her absorb everything that society, nature and destiny can do to uproot and upset her, and yet, in the face of all adversities, she neither compromises her mission to raise her kids honorably, nor gives up her Indian family values. A very realistic narration, in spite of all the drama, it also introduced the angry young man on Indian stage for the first time in the form of Birju (Sunil Datt). Written and produced by Mehboob Khan, this is one of the most critically acclaimed Bollywood movies outside India.

Do Ankhein Baarah Haath 1957
Do Ankhein Baarah Haath 1957

DO ANKHEIN BARAH HAATH (1957)

A Story of a Revolutionary Reformist Jail Warden

A Great Movie Made by V Shantaram, in his own unique style, the greatest assets of which are simplicity, innocence, idealism and realism. It is a story of a revolutionary Jail Warden (played by V Shantaram) who wants to reform six hardcore criminals on parole, convicted for murder, in an extraordinary experiment for which he has got permission by staking his own job and freedom. He tries to reform their ways, using his moral authority and ideals to control them, without any physical force and ends up achieving considerable success, before he succumbs and dies in an accident while trying to protect them. His staring eyes cannot be forgotten by the six convicts whose twelve praying hands make the title of this story. This movie won many awards in its time, including National Film Award, Golden Globe Award and Awards in Berlin Film Festival.

Pyaasa 1957
Pyaasa 1957

PYAASA (1956)

The Spiritual Philosophical Saaga of a Film Genius

Pyaasa is not just a movie, it is a very sophisticated philosophy, that spreads itself in the form of a story that takes its course through a multitude of trivial and not so trivial events. It is the story of a poet, Vijay (played by Guru Dutt), who finds no taker for his poetry, and is discarded by his own brothers for his inability to earn a decent livelihood. Shunned by his love, Meena, who in his words, "...is a modern society woman, who loves for fun and trades it for comfort". Vijay finds true love in the form of a prostitute (played by Waheeda Rahman), who spends all her belongings to get Vijay's poems printed when it is presumed that he is dead. His poems become a rage and Vijay finds that people are more interested in his legacy after his death than him as a living individual. The movie is one of the great classics made by Guru Dutt, the unparalleled genius of Bollywood. His Genius was complemented in his movies, by all other aspects from photography, dialogues, acting and lyrics, to dancing and choreography. The songs of this movie are sheer poetry, written by Kaifi Azmi, with music composed by the legendary S D Burman.

A great Song from the movie PYAASA

Awaara 1951
Awaara 1951

AWAARA (1951)

The Story of A Vagabond in Free India

This movie can be considered the earliest of the great Movies produced in Bollywood, and it remains immortal, thanks largely to its subject, its treatment of characters and the great direction of Raj Kapoor, perhaps the greatest ever Showman of Bollywood. The protagonist is Raj (played by Raj Kapoor) who is actually the son of a Judge, but doesn't know it, as he was born after his mother who was kidnapped by some goons, was discarded by her husband. The story of Raj who grows up in poverty and is influenced by the ways of his circumstances to become a vagabond, falls in love with Rita (played by Nargis) a young lawyer, whose guardian is his own father who doesn't like him. Finally accused of murder, he is tried in the court of his father, when son and father confront each other with reality. The typical Bollywood melodrama finds its peak in this movie, under the great direction of an original Raj Kapoor. It has great songs too.

Sholay 1975
Sholay 1975

SHOLAY (1975)

A Perfect Combination of Everything that makes a Bollywood Film

Sholay can be considered the Game Changer when it comes to the history of Bollywood. It combined a Hollywood style action with the nuances, sensitivities and colourful melodrama that characterises a Bollywood movie. What makes it great is the perfection with which it was able to achieve them. Two Cowboy looking petty criminals in Jai and Viroo (played by Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachchan) are hired by an ex-cop Thakur (played by Sanjeev Kumar, arguably the best ever actor in the history of Bollywood) to avenge the killing of his family by Gabbar Singh, a Chambal GangLord, who was once nabbed by him. Gabbar has also cut off both his arms and left him to suffer as a revenge for nabbing him. This simple unsophisticated story attains greatness largely by the multitude of sub-plots that go on along with it, in the process, making each and every character and the actors who played them virtually immortal in Bollywood History. Never before or afterwards have the dialogues of a movie been repeated in so many forms and stages as is the case with Sholay. The contrast between the two female protagonists Radha and Basanti (played by Jaya Bhaduri and Hema Malini) adds just enough color to it. The movie was made by Ramesh Sippy and written by Saleem-Javed.

A scene from SHOLAY

Saheb Bibi Aur Ghulam 1962
Saheb Bibi Aur Ghulam 1962

SAHEB, BIBI AUR GHULAM (1962)

A tale of a Strange Relationship between a Neglected Wife and a Domestic Assistant

Another Guru Dutt classic, this movie is a tale set in early twentieth century, of Chhoti Baahu (meaning younger Bride of the household, played by Meena Kumari) who is married to a landlord.Neglected by her husband, she starves for his attention, and is even ready to compete with the courtroom dancers and prostitutes whom he is addicted to. She is even ready to drink alcohol with him, something unthinkable for an honorable Indian lady of those times. In spite of all her efforts, she still fails and tries to drown her frustration in alcohol. A witness to all these happenings is his confidante, Bhootnath, a young domestic assistant (played by Guru Dutt) in whom she confides her voes and with whom she develops a strange bond - a relationship that is difficult to label or describe, but which is just too intense. It is the nature of this relationship between two human beings, and the story of a typical high class bride that gives the movie its extraordinary dimensions. The characterization of Chhoti Baahu leaves a haunting memory that is sweet, extraordinary beautiful and yet tragic. It has the signatures of a maverick genius and his emotional stamp that is lasting, and yet, not melodramatic. It is based on a story written by Bimal Mitra and directed by Abrar Alvi, but the signatures of Guru Dutt is all too apparent.

Guide 1965
Guide 1965

GUIDE (1965)

The Tale of Spiritual Rise of a Common Man to Immortality

This movie, based on a classic by R K Narayan, is the tale of a guide Raju (played by Dev Anand), who falls in love with a young dancer, Rosie (played by Waheeda Rahman) who has a short lived marriage. In the Indian society where divorce is yet to be accepted, Raju's support of Rosie makes him a social outcaste, but he continues to support her as she begins to climb the steps of success and becomes very famous. In a misunderstanding, Raju is accused of forgery and ends up in jail, with even Rosie blaming him. On his release, while wandering through a village,Raju is mistaken as a Saint, and the village folk begin to rely on him for ending the drought. They want him to fast, and so he does to satisfy them, but the argument that he keeps having with himself is the one that ascends the plot to a spiritual plane. It is an extraordinary story of human nature, its obsessions, its weaknesses and the strange ways in which human destiny is often rearranged. Great acting, great direction and great music seal its greatness.

Do Beegha Zameen 1953
Do Beegha Zameen 1953

DO BEEGHA ZAMEEN (1953)

A Saga of a Farmer Losing His Land

This immortal tale, literally meaning 'two acres of land' depicts the plight of farmers who have to suffer from the vagaries of nature and the local moneylenders once they get indebted. It is story of Shambhu Mehto (played by Balraaj Sahni) and his family consisting of wife Paro (played by Nirupama Roy) and son Kanhaiya, who survive by tilling their land, till they are faced with eviction by a scheming landlord who wants to buy their land for bringing up a mill. The Landlord manipulates and exaggerates the debts of Shambhoo, who is illiterate to evict him. To save his land, Shambhoo goes to Calcutta where he works as Rikshaw puller, while his son tries to help by doing boot polish. This tale of the desperate family clinging on to its hope amidst all adversities was written by Salil Chaudhary and has been immortalized by the direction of one of the all time greats of Bollywood, Bimal Roy as well as great acting by Balraaj Saahni. It was nominated for the Grand Prize for the best film in 7th Cannes Film Festival, where it eventually won the best International Film award, apart from several other awards elsewhere.

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    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      I love Bollywood films. Thank you for introducing me to more classics. I am always looking for great movies.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 5 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      wonderful collection. all of them are my favs. particularly the sholay and kabbar singh's dialogue. love this page.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      wow. never saw these movies but Im sure they are great

    • Andy-Po profile image

      Andy 5 years ago from London, England

      Great collection of movies.

    • TLRaghavan profile image

      TLRaghavan 5 years ago

      I can recollect many of these from my younger days. Nice that you could highlight good films from the fifties.

    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 5 years ago

      I'd love to see one of these with subtitles so I could understand what was going on.

    • profile image

      Arc4life 5 years ago

      another great movie is Pakeeza

    • profile image

      sheezie77 5 years ago

      Great lens! Well done!

    • JohnTannahill profile image

      John Tannahill 4 years ago from Somewhere in England

      For anyone, like me, who is fascinated by Bollywood films but knows nothing about them, you have given us a great starting point. Thanks.

    • profile image

      chat2vishakha 4 years ago

      Great collection of movies.All of them are my favorite.Thanks for sharing this awesome collection.

    • indianreel profile image

      HK 2 years ago from London

      Very good list. Now. I have got some movies to watch.

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