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)
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)
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)
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.
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.
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.
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)
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)
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)
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 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)
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)
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.
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 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)
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 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)
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)
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)
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 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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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 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)
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)
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)
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 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)
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)
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)
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 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 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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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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