With thousands upon thousands of films released and enjoyed by millions, Bollywood is unparalleled in its magnitude. Whether you are a longtime fan of Bollywood or are just now hearing about it, it's difficult to narrow the mass of movies down and choose the best ones for your viewing enjoyment. We made things easy and compiled a list of the 10 best Bollywood movies on Netflix that are sure to peak your interest and inspire your imagination.
Bollywood Movies on Netflix FAQ
1. What Are Bollywood Movies?
Bollywood movies are synonymous with the Indian Hindi cinema, originating from Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), India. A clever combination of the names Bombay and Hollywood, Bollywood is one sector of the entire Indian film industry known as Indywood.
When someone mentions the term Bollywood, the first images that may come to mind are fascinating cinematic portrayals of life in India, rich with drama, color, romance, and adventure. This cinematic giant not only outshines Hollywood in scale and film production magnitude but has skyrocketed to popularity for audiences worldwide with its engrossing storylines and a plethora of film stars.
Bollywood films are distinct for their primary use of the dialect known as Hindi-Urdu, with a combination of Hindi and English known as "Hinglish" thrown in for good measure. Bollywood films are influenced by a distinctive combination of epic Indian tales, dramas, folklore, fantasy, old Hollywood musicals, and Western cultural themes.
2. What Genre Are They?
Bollywood movies are primarily musicals, usually with one lyric theme or another embedded into the storyline and script. The standard Bollywood film is a minimum of 3 hours long with an intermission. They most popular ones include a mixture of singing and dancing, comedic and daring acts, love woes and triangles, adventure, and dramatic characters. Many modern Bollywood films now include more Westernized ideals when it comes to love, dating, and fashion.
3. Why Are They So Popular?
Bollywood films are popular all over the world outside their native India, including Asia, Africa, The Middle East, Western and Eastern Europe, North America, and beyond. They are highly accessible, with everything from light-hearted romances, to musicals rich with color and fantasy, to tales of dramatic betrayal and deep passion.
Bollywood films use thousands of actors and singers from all over the country, using everyone from established movie actors, foreign extras, and common citizens, to hopeful new actors and models. Most Bollywood movie stars are Indian, but a few non-Indian stars have found success. Audiences not only love the storylines and music but the compelling portrayals and aesthetics.
4. Where Can You Access Them?
Bollywood movies are found online via free videos, streaming services, downloads, and sometimes require purchase. You can also buy DVDs of your favorite Bollywood films, but all the Bollywood movies on Netflix we highlighted can be accessed with a streaming subscription.
How We Reviewed
Each of the following Bollywood movies on Netflix was reviewed based on their storyline, production quality, pros, cons, and ease of access. We made sure that our list included films that appealed to fans of an array of genres and storyline types so that there would be something for everyone to choose from. Whether you are a fan of in-depth musicals, dramatic fantasies, gripping romances, high-octane adventure, or a mix of all, our list will make the cut for your next Netflix binge-watching extravaganza.
What We Reviewed
• Dear Zindagi
• Baahubali: The Beginning
• Jab We Met
• Black Friday
• Special 26
• Andaz Apna Apna
• Chennai Express
Released in 2016, Dear Zindagi is a coming-of-age film about Kaira, a young cinematographer who is trying to find meaning in her life. She is jaded on life, especially after the man she is in love with and left her childhood sweetheart for, becomes engaged to another woman. She is cast out of her apartment because that landlord prefers married tenants, so she is forced to return home to live with her parents.
This causes her angst and insomnia. Her life takes a turn, however, when she meets the handsome psychologist Dr. Jehangir, who she goes to see to treat her sleeplessness. He is a free spirit with a zest for life, and as she confides in him and they become friends, life takes a turn for the better.
Plenty of original music
Baahubali: The Beginning
This next on our list of best Bollywood movies on Netflix is perfect for viewers looking for a grand, historical epic. Released in 2015, the film is to date one of the most expensive films in the history of Indian cinema. It centers on two brothers who are battling for supremacy to the throne in a land called the Mahishmathi Kingdom. The film used graphics and effects previously unseen in Bollywood movies and features many rich, gripping action sequences. Filled with love, betrayal, adventure, and war, it has all the makings of a classic epic saga.
Riveting plot with highly developed characters
It's a period piece with impressive costumes
Jab We Met
Jab We Met is one of the less recent Bollywood movies on Netflix, released in 2007. It is a classic romantic comedy about a spirited young woman who bumps into a melancholy businessman on an overnight train bound for Delhi.
The train stops at one station along its route, and while the woman is trying to the businessman to get back on board so as not to be left behind, they both end up being helplessly stranded. The businessman had recently quit his job after having his heart broken by a girlfriend and is quickly headed nowhere. The girl decides that the best thing is for him to go with her back home and accompany her as she plans to elope with her boyfriend. Mayhem ensues.
Witty and engaging plot
Another one of the Bollywood movies on Netflix released in the early 2000s; this film is of the Indian crime genre. The plot centers on the real-life bombings in Mumbai back in 1993, and the terror and loss that ensued. It goes behind the scenes into the lives of the criminals who perpetrated the acts and provides a grisly look at the whole affair. In fact, the film hit home so hard upon its initial production, that the Indian Censor Board did not allow its release until 2007 after the Supreme Court of India released its verdict for the real-life case.
Interesting plot based on real-life events
Excellent actor performances
This next selection on our list of the top Bollywood movies on Netflix has distinctively feminist themes woven throughout the storyline, a phenomenon when compared to other works of Indian cinema. It provides an outright challenge to the strictly male dominant, traditional Indian hierarchy, breaking many barriers for the concept of Indian womanhood along the way. The plot follows a feisty woman, her elderly father, and their fellow traveler, a young man who is caught in the middle, as they travel from Delhi to Kolkata.
Groundbreaking feminist themes
Interesting plot with developed characters
This next selection is one of the riveting thrillers on our list of Bollywood movies on Netflix. Released in 2013, the plot is based on a real-life event that took place in 1987. The storyline centers on a group of individuals who pretended to be officers for the Central Bureau of Investigation. They carried out income tax raids on multiple businesses and locales, including the Opera House branch of renowned Indian jewelry chain called Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaver.
Based on real-life occurrences
Great heist flick
Andaz Apna Apna
Released over 20 years ago, this is one of the most popular Indian comedies among the Bollywood movies on Netflix. It did not impress at the box office at the time of its release but has since attained cult status for its hilarity and lovable characters. The plot follows two young men whose main ambition is to get rich quick by marrying a lovely, unsuspecting heiress. The men meet inadvertently and come to realize they are both after the same young lady. Multiple, unsuccessful attempts ensue to win the heiress’s heart.
Funny, witty plot
Chennai Express is popular among lovers of the romance genre of Bollywood movies on Netflix. The story follows a man who boards a train by accident and travels from Mumbai to Rameswaram. Along the way, he meets and falls in love with the daughter of a powerful mafia leader. As you might imagine, drama ensues.
Engrossing love story
Interesting, well-developed characters
One of the more dramatic offerings on our list of the best Bollywood movies on Netflix, Talvar is a biographical film about a double murder that took place in 2008. A teenage girl and her family’s servant were murdered in cold blood, and her parents were accused and convicted of the crime. The movie allows the audience to draw some of its own conclusions regarding the state of their guilt or innocence, showing three opposing accounts of what happened.
Well-made, engrossing biographical drama
It shows various views of what may have happened
For any wrestling fans out there, our last selection of the best Bollywood movies on Netflix might be just for you. Dangal tells the story of an amateur wrestler named Mahavir Singh Phogat, who trains and grooms his daughters to become India’s first ever female world-class wrestling champions. With an interesting story that diverges from focusing on the typical Bollywood female roles, Dangal offers a real-world look at the challenges and victories of women wrestlers.
Plot is unlike most Bollywood films
Focuses on strong young women working to achieve their goals
As you might have gathered by now, Bollywood films cover a whole spectrum of plot lines and characters. While music is almost always a key component of any classic Bollywood movie, this does not hinder the film’s ability to capture storylines filled with elements of every other genre.
If you are brand new to Indian cinema and want to choose your first viewing experience among the Bollywood movies on Netflix carefully, consider watching Dear Zindagi, Jab We Met, Special 26, or Andaz Apna Apna. This classically varied mix of films will be sure to introduce you to some of the best that Bollywood has to offer.
Alternatively, if you are more in the mood for a dramatic epic, true crime stories, or an action flick, consider watching Baahubali: The Beginning, Black Friday, or Talvaar. Whichever film peaks your interest, our list of the top 10 best Bollywood movies on Netflix are sure to appeal to anyone looking for drama, tragedy, romance, comedy, or a fascinating combination of each. We hope this article has helped you better understand the selection of Bollywood movies available to you on Netflix.