The past decade has seen the release of a number of path-breaking, unconventional Bollywood movies. The Bollywood industry brought us new talents like Vicky Kaushal and Ayushmann Khurrana who showcased extraordinary promise. Actors like Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, and Ranbir Kapoor, on the other hand, continued to rock the Box Office. Meanwhile, legends like Amitabh Bachchan, Irrfan Khan, and Tabu are still solid with their script selection and continue to show their mettle.

Here’s our list of some of the best Bollywood movies of the decade. Catch up on the ones you haven’t watched and revisit the ones you really enjoyed:

1. Udaan (Flight) (2010)

A young man wearing a red sweater is laughing as he runs in Bollywood's 'Udaan'.
[Image description: A young man in a red sweater is laughing as he runs.] Via Scroll.in

This Bollywood movie takes the unconventional route about teenage angst. Vikramaditya Motwane’s directorial debut, this film is moody, introspective, and captivating as it shows a young teenager breaking away from his abusive father and leading his own life.

2. Dhobi Ghat (The Washerman’s Ghat) (2010)

A dark-haired man, stares into the oblivion in deep thought.
[Image description: A dark-haired man, stares into the oblivion in deep thought.] Via Hamara Photos

The lives of four people intersect in the backdrop of Mumbai, India. The movie received critical acclaim for the brilliantly written plot, cinematography, and the nuances of each character that unfolds in every scene. The movie revolves around four characters – an artist who moves into a new apartment, where he finds video recordings, the previous tenant who leaves these video recordings about her life, an investment banker, and a dhobiwala (washerman) who aspires to become an actor.

3. Karthik Calling Karthik (2010)

A woman sitting on the lap of a man. The couple looks lovingly into each other's eyes.
[Image description: A woman sitting on the lap of a man. The couple looks lovingly into each other’s eyes.] Via Baradwaj Rangan

Bollywood has truly come a long way by taking this plunge into the psychological thrillers’ genre such as Farhan Akhtar’s rendition of Karthik. This is a guy who, feeling trapped in an endless circle of loneliness, finds himself on the brink of suicide. However, just as he is about to, he is ‘saved by the bell’ by a caller who claims to be ‘Karthik’ as well.

4. Love Sex Aur Dhoka (Love, Sex, and Betrayal) (2010)

A man resting his upper body on a table and looking down and a young woman looking over at him in the background.
[Image description: A man resting his upper body on a table and looking down and a young woman looking over at him in the background.] Via FilmiBeat

The protagonists of this movie are the hidden cameras and handheld recorders that expose Bollywood’s fanaticism, the reality of the society, and the cut-throat dark side of the media. Three stories interlink at a single point and leave you with an after-thought; a newer perspective of things around us. Split into three parts, the stories explore three different aspects of a relationship.

5. Band Baaja Baaraat (Band, Music, and Revelry) (2010)

Bollywood Actress Anushka Sharma and Actor Ranveer Singh holding each other sideways during their dance number.
[Image description: A man and woman hold each other sideways during their dance number.] Via YashRaj Films

Starring Ranveer Singh and Anushka Sharma as the unstoppable duo, you shall become hooked as they step into their roles of heading a wedding planning agency. Together they build this business in hopes of attaining their respective needs, all the while falling prey to each others’ charms.

6. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (You Won’t Get A Second Chance At Life) (2011)

Three men standing in the sun and looking ahead.
[Image description: Three men standing in the sun and looking ahead.] Via Hindustan Times

If you are up for some real talk, while absorbing the glorious sun as you cruise through the sights Spain offers, this rendition starring Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar, and Abhay Deol is perfect for the occasion. Following the reunion of three childhood friends, this journey grants them the opportunity to not just bond but grow as people.

7. Desi Boyz (Local Boys) (2011)

Two men standing together with one having his hand up in thumbs up and the other looking mischievously.
[Image description: Two men standing together with one having his hand up in a thumbs up and the other looking mischievously.] Via Hindustan Times

A hilarious romantic comedy where two best friends find themselves caught up in an unwavering tide of recession. Unable to land work, the duo finds itself with an alluring, albeit indecent, offer to work as strippers. The journey inevitably tests the strength of their friendship.

8. Rockstar (2011)

Ranbir Kapoor and Actress Nargis in the still from movie Rockstar.
[Image description: A man and a woman sit against each other in an embrace.] Via Hamara Photos
This is a romantic drama film starring Ranbir Kapoor and Nargis Fakhri where he plays the role of JJ, a rising artist who is hell-bent on reaching fame and glory. He reaches his goal… at the cost of something much bigger.

9. English Vinglish (2012)

Bollywood Actress Sridevi wearing a traditionale Sari and looking serious in film 'English Vinglish'.
[Image description: A stoic woman in a saree in the kitchen.] Via ScoopWhoop

The film walks you through the life of Shashi, played by the beloved late Sridevi, who is a homemaker tired of being endlessly teased for falling short on her ‘English’ skills. An honest portrayal of the struggles faced by a domesticated woman who is hindered from being deemed ‘respectable’ for not being able to communicate.

10. Kahaani (Story) (2012)

A pregnant Indian woman looking down as a man in white uniform approaches her in Bollywood film 'Kahaani'.
[Image description: A pregnant woman looks away as a man in a white uniform approaches her.] Via Satyamshot

A mystery thriller film starring Vidya Balan as the protagonist who is heavily pregnant and in search of her missing husband. She is assisted by a kind police officer who sympathizes with her cause.

11. Barfi! (2012)

A dark-haired man wearing a yellow and green shirt and looking confused.
[Image description: A dark-haired man wearing a yellow and green shirt and looking confused.] Via Youtube

Shot against the backdrop of the 1970s, this comedy-drama stars a deaf-mute character and an autistic one, exploring the delicacy with which those retaining special needs balance their relationships.

12. Gangs of Wasseypur (2012)

A bunch of men sitting around and having an intense discussion.
[Image description: A bunch of men sitting around and having an intense discussion.] Via Dailymotion

This two-part movie is a gangster crime drama set in the backdrop of Dhanbad, Jharkhand. Hunger for power, overpowering the rich and affluent, the corruption in the system, and objectifying women – these are just some of the issues addressed in the movie.

13. Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (This Youth Is Crazy) (2013)

A dark-haired woman buttoning the shirt of a dark-haired man
[Image description: A dark-haired woman buttoning the shirt of a dark-haired man.] Via Urban Asian

There’s more to this film than meets the eye in the overly-glammed wedding festivities. Kabir and Naina get to know each other during a trekking trip but different priorities take them down different paths. Several years pass before they meet again.

14. The Lunchbox, 2013

A couple sitting side by side with lunchboxes laid out in front of them as they read a written note.
[Image description: A couple sitting side by side with lunchboxes laid out in front of them as they read a written note.] Via Cinecelluloid

A romance about an unusual friendship that develops because of an unlikely mistake made by a tiffin carrier service. Ila’s tiffin, which was made for her husband, gets delivered to Saajan, which starts an exchange of letters that blossoms into something more.

15. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (Run Milkha Run) (2013)

A Sikh athlete is running on the tracks
[Image description: A male athlete is running on the tracks in a white running ensemble.] Via Variety

This emotional drama revolves around the journey of track and field sprinter, Milkha Singh. It also portrays the emotional distress he goes through because of the India-Pakistan partition. The movie bagged several awards that year for this Bollywood sports drama.

16. 2 States (2014)

A couple wearing wedding clothes and smiling at each other.
[Image description: A couple in wedding attire smiles at each other.] Via Edtimes.in

A romantic comedy, starring Alia Bhatt and Arjun Kapoor, affectionately paints the couple’s love story against the broader strokes of cultural disparity and prejudices. The film beautifully sheds light on India’s regional spectrum where pragmatic issues emanate from striving to marry your “across-the-state” love interest.

17. PK (2014)

A dark haired man wearing a patterned shirt is sitting on a sofa and looking intently ahead.
[Image description: A dark-haired man in a patterned shirt is sitting on a sofa and looking intently ahead.] Via FilmiBeat

Aamir Khan plays as an alien in this comedy-drama. Having lost his transmitter device at the hands of a thief, he embarks upon this journey with Anushka Sharma and together, they find answers to not just his personal quandary, but to religious and superstitious dogmas prevalent in Indian society.

18. Children of War (2014)

A couple smiling at each other as the woman has her hand on the wall.
[Image description: A couple smiling at each other as the woman has her hand on the wall.] Via Bollywoodmantra

The three stories intertwine with one another in this movie based on real events that took place in Bangladesh in 1971. Coiled in controversy, this movie speaks about how rape and religion were used as war weaponry.

19. Highway (2014)

A couple sharing a blanket with the woman's head in the man's lap as he pats her on her head protectively.
[Image description: A couple sharing a blanket with the woman’s head in the man’s lap as he pats her on her head protectively.] Via Hollywood Reporter

Despite the problematic overtones, the movie takes you on a girl’s journey to finding inner peace and newfound liberation amid the chaotic setting of being plucked from the ‘comfort’ she is accustomed to.

20. Ishqiya (Passionate) (2014)

A brown woman is holding a classical instrument with anguish on her face.
[Image description: A brown woman is holding a classical instrument with anguish on her face.] Via JustWatch

A black comedy that can easily be Bollywood’s benchmark for future directors and movie lovers, Ishqiya is about Khalujan and Babban – two rogues who fall for Krishna, their friend’s widow – but Krishna manipulates them into for her own selfish needs.

21. Haider (2014)

Bollywood Actor Shahid Kapoor has a manic expression on his face as he gestures to his head in the shape of a gun in film 'Haider'.
[Image description: A man with a manic expression on his face gestures to his head with a finger gun.] Via Pakistan Today

Another magnum opus by Vishal Bhardwaj, the plot revolves around Shahid Kapoor who returns to Kashmir after the disappearance of his father. He arrives at a time when the state is undergoing violent insurgency. He confronts his uncle who he thinks is involved in his father’s fate.

22. Tamasha (Spectacle) (2015)

A man and a woman high fiving as they sit cross-legged in the fields.
[Image description: A man and a woman high fiving as they sit cross-legged in the fields.] Via Sacnilk

The story follows the journey of fun-loving Ved who meets Tara while holidaying, only to part ways until their adult lives begin. This film authentically depicts the stark comparison between our visionary carefree side that, in time, slowly gets molded into society’s predictable robotic existence.

23. Parched (2015)

Four female friends wearing ethnic attire are happily riding a tractor in the fields in Bollywood film 'Parched'.
[Image description: Four female friends in ethnic attire are happily riding a tractor in a field.] Via the New York Times

The story of four women in a desert village of Rajasthan has the viewer rooting for their freedom till the end of the movie as they face mental and sexual abuse. The movie questions age-old traditions such as dowry and marital rape and takes one through disturbing and thought-provoking territory.

24. Talvar (Sword) (2015)

An Indian man and woman inspecting evidence in Bollywood's 'Talvar'.
[Image description: A man and woman inspecting a sword.] Via Livemint

Based on a real-life murder case in India, Talvar is the story around a teenage girl, her family, and their servant. Hard-hitting facts, emotional turmoil, courtroom drama, and a lot of investigation – that’s this movie in a crux. But it is Irrfan Khan’s performance that takes away everything. The attention to detail and his portrayal of a world-weary detective is top-notch.

25. Masaan (Crematorium) (2015)

A young girl and guy relaxing on a boat and smiling at each other in Bollywood film 'Masaan'.
[Image description: A young girl and guy relaxing on a boat and smiling at each other.] Via Variety

This tragic drama is set in the ancient town of Varanasi. The movie is based on four people who face prejudice, are pulled down by the caste system, and have no choice but to abide by the moral code of conduct. The movie gives the viewers a little tour of the burial ghats in Varanasi.

26. Aligarh (2015)

A brown man with graying hair and beard is looking out the window of a bus in Bollywood film 'Aligarh'.
[Image description: A man with graying hair and beard is looking out the window of a bus.] Via The Indian Express

Aligarh opens up a debate about LGBTQ+ issues in the country. After a sting operation, the entire nation gets to know about a gay, linguistic professor living in a small orthodox city. How he deals with this situation and his relationship with the journalist who comes to interview him is the story of this Bollywood drama. 

27. Piku (2015)

A girl is leaning against the open trunk of a parked car with an old man and a young boy sitting in the background.
[Image description: A girl is leaning against the open trunk of a parked car with an old man and a young boy sitting in the background.] Via FilmiBeat

Piku is a Bengali architect residing in Delhi with her aging father, who is obsessed with his bowel moments and his eccentricities drive everyone around him nuts. This quirky comedy takes them from Delhi to Kolkata via taxi. Amidst all the drama is the taxi driver. The off-beat comedy is delightful, cinematic, and leaves you with a joyful heart.

28. Dear Zindagi (Dear Life) (2016)

A man and a young woman cycling together in Bollywood Film 'Dear Zindagi'.
[Image description: A man and a young woman cycling together.] Via Bollywood Hungama

Feeling lost and no longer in control? This is the state Kaira finds herself in when everything she cared for or aspired to be is suddenly beyond her reach. She comes to interact with a “dimaag ka doctor” (therapist) played by Shah Rukh Khan who helps her find her way back to normalcy. In contrast to the glamor usually sported by Bollywood, this manages to shed much-needed light on the relevance of seeking therapy.

29. Kapoor & Sons (2016)

A man sitting on a chair and woman sitting on the floor and stroking his face affectionately.
[Image description: A man sitting on a chair and woman sitting on the floor and stroking his face affectionately.] Via IMDb

The story unfolds the dynamics between two estranged brothers where Rahul is the ‘perfect’ older child in juxtaposition to Arjun being the spoiled baby of the family. Together, they find themselves back in their troubled household amid their parents suffering through an abusive marriage. A powerful tale that explores the struggle of coming out in adulthood.

30. Pink (2016)

An old white-haired man wearing a lawyers suit.
[Image description: An old white-haired man wearing a lawyer’s suit.] Via FilmiBeat

Three young women are framed and caught in a crime, only to get saved when a retired lawyer steps in. This one portrays the perception of Indian society towards women who don’t fit into a box and don’t oblige to societal standards of culture and morality.

31. Neerja (2016)

A mother kissing her daughter on the forehead with Indian flag in the background.
[Image description: A mother kissing her daughter on the forehead with the Indian flag in the background.] Via India Today

A biological thriller starring Sonam Kapoor is based on a real-life event of 1986 where the Abu Nidal’s Organization’s hijacked Pan Am flight 73 in Karachi, Pakistan as witnessed by the head purser, Neerja Bhanot. The story takes you through the horrors of being aboard a flight with non-negotiable terrorists and the bravery exhibited by Sonam’s character in the face of deathly apprehension.

32. Udta Punjab (Punjab is High) (2016)

A dark-haired man wearing sleeveless black shirt and sunglasses is sitting around dancing women in a night club.
[Image description: A dark-haired man wearing sleeveless black shirt and sunglasses is sitting around dancing women in a night club.] Via FilmiBeat

The story throws light on the plight of Punjab that is plagued by drugs. This black comedy crime drama revolves around four characters – a rockstar, a migrant laborer, a policeman, and a doctor.

33. Dangal (Wrestling) (2016)

Three young children are walking in the street with a father figure whose head is almost shaved.
[Image description: Three young children are walking purposefully in the street with an older man behind them.] Via The Times of India

Amongst several patriotic films is this film that also encapsulates the relationship between a father and her daughters. How an ambitious father trains his girls from a young age into wrestling forms the crux of the story.

34. Saala Khadoos (The Snob) (2016)

A ruggedly built Indian man is leaning against his motorbike out in the fields and gazing thoughtfully.
[Image description: A man is leaning against his motorbike out in the fields and gazing thoughtfully.] Via IMDb

This bilingual movie is about a lower strata fisher girl who is trained to become a national champion by a boxing coach who is looking for redemption himself. The heartfelt sports drama leaves you rooting for the main characters despite the loopholes in the Indian system. Outstanding performances and a catchy background score give this Bollywood sports film a five star.

35. Newton (2017)

A brown man is wearing an army vest and helmet and looking solemn in Bollywood Film Newton.
[Image description: A brown man is wearing an army vest and helmet and looking solemn.] Via Scroll.in

A black comedy-drama, this political satire is about a bureaucrat whose mission is to conduct free and fair elections in a tribal area in India. This riveting, poignant, and hilarious movie will also leave you with some food for thought.

36. A Death in The Gunj (2016)

A little girl and a young man sitting in an empty tub outside in the woods.
[Image description: A little girl and a young man sitting in an empty tub outside in the woods. ] Via Mediaindia

Set in 1979, A Death in the Gunj is a coming-of-age story about a shy student Shutu who uses a family trip to hide about his results in his exam. Shutu is constantly ignored by his family members and things soon reach a boiling point.

37. Padman (2018)

A still from Bollywood film Padman where the married couple are enjoying food and company.
[Image description: A married couple consisting of a man and woman are enjoying food and company.] Via Entertainment.ie

We are immediately introduced to the protagonist, played by Akshay Kumar, who is being married in the conventional setting of a bordering impoverished village to his love. At the outset, the restrictive mindset and unwarranted taboo revolving around feminine hygiene become apparent. In his sympathetic attempt to provide comfort to his wife’s monthly discomfort, he is detested and forced to be separated from her.

38. Andhadhun (The Blind Melody) (2018)

A woman looking at the blind man sitting next to her in the car in shock.
[Image description: A woman looking at the blind man sitting next to her in the car in shock.] Via Youtube

This comedy-thriller explores the story of Akash, a blind pianist who, unwillingly becomes mired in the murder of a famous actor. A chilling tale that makes you whip up of ways to help the lead come out of the jarring situation alive while also bringing the guilty to justice somehow.

39. Tumbbad (2018)

A man with a mustache had his arms hanging out of a train's window as it pours rain in Bollywood film 'Tumbadd'.
[Image description: A man with a mustache stares out of a train’s window as it pours rain. ] Via Fantastic Fest

A young boy is affected by a personal tragedy and he sets out on a mission to find a buried treasure out of pure greed. He grows up to explore the local legend of a monster named Hastar and his gold medallions. This psychological horror film is the kind that plays with your mind.

40. Badhaai Ho (Congratulations) (2018)

A happy couple in traditional wedding attire with the man's arm around the woman.
[Image description: A happy couple in traditional Indian wedding attire.] Via Charmboard

A topic never touched upon by Bollywood before, this comedy follows Nakul, a 25-year-old who finds out one fine day about his mother’s pregnancy. How he deals with the news, his changing relationship with his girlfriend, and supporting his parents form the gist of the story. If you need something powerful to push you onto the next level of Bollywood, this is the perfect introduction to do so.

41. Raazi (Willing) (2018)

A young Indian couple looking sideways and smiling lovingly at each other in Bollywood Film Raazi.
[Image description: A young couple looking sideways and smiling lovingly at each other.] Via Indiatvnews

What extent would you go to for your country? Sehmat Khan, an Indian, undercover RAW agent marries into a Pakistani family to spy on the enemy and gain valuable intel. Based on true events, the movie directed by Meghna Gulzar flies high on emotional tension.

42. Gully Boy (2019)

Two men wearing blue jackets and looking sideways.
[Image description: Two men wearing blue jackets and looking sideways.] Via Liveenhanced

This musical enterprise, starring Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt, explores the downtrodden themes of underprivileged slums of Mumbai where our male protagonist resides and combats an abusive- and poverty-riddled life on a daily basis. The film takes you through his journey to discover his natural knack for artistry.

43. The Sky is Pink (2019)

Bollywood Actress Priyanka Chopra and Actor Farhan Akhtar locked in a loving embrace.
[Image description: A man stares lovingly into the eyes of the woman he is carrying.] Via Santa Banta

A romance spanning 25 years with a twist where the self-proclaimed antagonist is none other than their sickly daughter. A beautiful heart-wrenching account of a family’s struggle to cling to hope in perhaps the darkest of times.

44. Article 15 (2019)

A dark-haired man with a mustache is sitting behind a desk which bears tiny Indian flags
[Image description: A dark-haired man with a mustache is sitting behind a desk which bears tiny Indian flags.] Via Koimoi

In reference to Article 15 in the Indian constitution, this movie focuses on Ayan Ranjan, an IPS officer who’s recent case brings to light the issues with caste division and discrimination.

45. Uri (2019)

Three Indian army officers standing straight in Bollywood fil 'Uri.
[Image description: Three Indian army officers.] Via Scroll.in

The tale follows Major Vihaan Singh Shergill of the Indian Army as he leads a covert operation against a group of militants who attacked a base in Uri, Kashmir, in 2016 and killed many soldiers. The movie was rated as one of the top patriotic movies in recent times.

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Mrinalini Sundar

By Mrinalini Sundar

Editor

Mishal Nawaz

By Mishal Nawaz

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