The studios of Bollywood are particularly prolific, so there are so many outstanding films to consider when ranking the best flicks to come out of the much-loved Indian movie industry.
While the task may be tough, it is always worth looking back and ranking the contenders, if only to help highlight the best Bollywood movies for those who might not have seen them.
Hailing from the early 1970s, this movie tells a classic tale of an orphaned boy named Raja who is taken under the wing of a mysterious benefactor, learning the art of gambling to make ends meet and ultimately attempting to flee the criminal lifestyle while clearing his name for a murder he did not commit.
As well as featuring a compelling dramatic narrative, the soundtrack to Gambler is also a treat, even after all these years. Dev Anand is electric in the lead role and the era-appropriate aesthetic is seriously charming from a modern perspective. Of course, if you are looking to play casino games from India, try games for Indian casino players rather than following in Raja’s footsteps.
With an Oscar nomination to its name and an important message to get across, this 1957 movie is all about the importance of self-sacrifice and the key role that mothers can play in shaping the fate of their families and the wider community.
Great costumes, immersive music, and well-judged performances help to make this an enduring entry into the Bollywood canon.
While some of the themes and events may seem tame today, back in the mid-1960s when Guide originally released it was a truly boundary-pushing film, tackling everything from affairs to blasphemy and beyond.
In spite of this, at its heart, it is a very spiritual film which seeks to scrutinise the idea that people can live on after their physical form reaches the end of the road.
The most recent entry in the list so far, Lagaan is a sports movie with a difference, showing how a village of eager amateur cricketers are able to fight back against their oppressive rulers through the game they love.
Lagaan stood out when it was released back in 2001 because it dealt with quite a different subject matter compared with many other big Bollywood hits. It ultimately paved the way for other sports movies in the years following.
Hollywood was not the only movie industry that had an obsession with westerns in the mid 20th century, with Bollywood also borrowing some of the themes and plot points from this internationally appealing genre.
Sholay is the pinnacle of this trend, arriving in 1975 and bringing with it a plot revolving around bandit-based drama in a rural village where the only people that the locals can call upon to help them out are a pair of criminals who are on the lamb after a jailbreak.
Amjad Khan’s performance as bandit leader Gabbar Singh is one of the most memorable in all of Bollywood, mixing electric charisma with psychopathic intimidation to great effect.
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge
Romantic comedies are a staple of Bollywood, although few releases have managed to top the cult appreciation for this globe-trotting 1995 film.
The European scenery used throughout creates a very different feel to Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, even if the core story of a young couple falling head over heels in love and having to overcome the social barriers that should keep them apart is pretty familiar territory. After running for almost a quarter of a century in a Mumbai cinema, it is still clearly a favourite with audiences old and young.