The 10 Bollywood Films You Must See Before You Die
Generating more ticket sales than Hollywood each year, the Indian Hindi language film industry (known as Bollywood) is the most prolific in the world. Although Bollywood films have been a staple on Netflix since it debuted in 2010, they represent an ever-increasing slice of box office revenue in urban cinemas across Canada, where you’ll find them being screened alongside North American blockbusters—often with subtitles for those not fluent in Hindi.
According to filmwriter Gazal Dhaliwal, a rising star in the Hindi film industry, and co-writer of the critically-acclaimed Wajir, Qarib Qarib Singlle and Lipstick Under My Burkha, Bollywood films often pack surprises for new audiences. “They’re not all about song-and-dance, punctuated by over-the-top drama—although we totally relish that, if it’s done well!” she says. “There are also simpler, more nuanced films which are nothing short of classics.”
To give Canada’s ever-growing appetite for Hindi film some context—and to demystify its appeal for the uninitiated—we challenged Dhaliwal to create a list of must-watch Bollywood films.
“It’s beyond impossible to contain the magnitude of Bollywood’s magic in just 10 movies,” she warns, “But it should be able to give you a fair idea of what to expect if you’re venturing into the wonderland that is Bollywood.”
1. Mughal-e-Azam (1960)
“Probably the most iconic and grand period drama to ever come out of India. A film which took more than 10 years to be completed, Mughal-e-Azam tells the tale of a Mughal prince’s romance with a court dancer, which invites the wrath of the emperor, Akbar. The film’s dialogue, music, and the breathtaking chemistry of the leading couple have been etched in the minds of generations.”
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2. Sholay (1975)
“When you mix a classic Western with the vibrancy, drama, comedy and popular song-and-dance routine of Bollywood, you get the heady cocktail that is Sholay. With the biggest stars of India in the mid-’70s playing some of the most unforgettable characters of Hindi cinema, Sholay, even after four decades, remains completely relevant and an out-and-out entertainer.”
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