If you had to pick only one Bollywood film over the holiday, we recommend this one!
The holidays are a chance to relax, spend time with family and friends, and most importantly, catch up on your favourite Bollywood films!
With such a massive selection of Indian films now available on Netflix UK, it can be hard to decide on what to watch next.
DESIblitz narrows down the list using critics scores and fan ratings to bring you some of the best Bollywood and Indian films available to watch on the popular streaming platform!
Below is a definitive guide categorised by popular genres, from crime thrillers to laugh-out-loud comedies!
Oldies but Goodies
Starring: Madhubala, Dilip Kumar, Prithviraj Kapoor
Director: K. Asif
IMDB Rating: 8.4/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
When we speak of iconic Indian films, Mughal-e-Azam will certainly get a mention. The epic period drama featuring the star-crossed lovers Madhubala and Dilip Kumar is largely recognised as one of the shining jewels of Indian cinema.
Based on the legendary tale of Anarkali, the film is set in the Mughal period. After returning home from war, Prince Salim (played by Dilip Kumar) falls in love with a court dancer Anarkali (played by Madhubala) and the two have an illicit affair.
Starring: Shammi Kapoor, Kalpana, Lalita Pawar
Director: Lekh Tandon
IMDB Rating: 7.1/10
This 60s blockbuster hit stars the charming Shammi Kapoor in one of his finest acting roles. The classic comedy follows the young Pritam (played by Shammi) who is on the hunt for a job.
He comes across a position to tutor two young women, but their strict aunt (played by Lalita Pawar) refuses to hire a young man for the job.
So, Pritam decides to dress up as an old man and begins to woo both the strict aunt and his student (played by Kalpana Mohan).
Starring: Shammi Kapoor, Vyjayanthimala, Rajendra Nath, Helen
Director: Lekh Tandon
IMDB Rating: 7.4/10
Shammi Kapoor stars as the spoilt and womanising Prince Shamsher Singh, the only son of a local Maharaja. Finding himself disillusioned with his luxurious lifestyle, a priest advises him to give up his wealth and repent.
Shamsher agrees to live as an ordinary man and fakes his own death. He adopts a new avatar, Sajjan Singh, and begins on a journey of self-discovery.
Best of the Khans
Andaz Apna Apna (1994)
Starring: Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Raveena Tandon
Director: Rajkumar Santoshi
IMDB Rating: 8.2/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
You can’t really go wrong with two Khan’s in one film. And Aamir and Salman are hilarious as two rivals looking to woo an heiress and get rich quickly.
Loud, full of 90’s cheese and starring a very youthful-looking cast that includes Raveena Tandon and Karisma Kapoor, this is a fun film to keep you entertained.
Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! (1994)
Starring: Madhuri Dixit, Salman Khan, Mohnish Bahl
Director: Sooraj R. Barjatya
IMDB Rating: 7.6/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Following Salman’s break out role in Maine Pyaar Kiya (also on Netflix UK), Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! was the next in line of big blockbusters alongside filmmaker Sooraj R. Barjatya.
The film, which also stars Madhuri Dixit, was one of the highest grossing Bollywood films in history. It was thought to have transformed the business of film in India and won numerous National Film Awards, Filmfare and Screen Awards.
Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1994)
Starring: Shahrukh Khan, Suchitra Krishnamoorthi, Deepak Tijori
Director: Kundan Shah
IMDB Rating: 8/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
This coming-of-age romantic comedy is considered to be one of SRK’s best performances on screen. Shahrukh plays Sunil, who starts a band with his friends, Anna (played by Suchitra Krishnamurthy) and Chris (played by Deepak Tijori).
Sunil is in love with Anna, but sadly she only has eyes for Chris. He decides instead to cause a rift between the two but this backfires spectacularly. Look out for a special cameo from the stunning Juhi Chawla!
Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001)
Starring: Aamir Khan, Raghuvir Yadav, Gracy Singh
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
IMDB Rating: 8.2/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
This Oscar-nominated film truly put Bollywood and Indian cinema on the map. Aamir plays a young man who is fed up with the British asking for unjust taxes from his village during the British Raj.
He strikes up a bet with Captain Andrew Russell to forgo all tax under one condition – they must beat the British in a game of cricket.
Although the majority of the film focuses on a cricket match, the incredible direction by Ashutosh Gowariker and Aamir’s superb acting make Lagaan a nail-biting watch! A true holiday classic!
Starring: Aamir Khan, Sakshi Tanwar, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Zaira Wasim
Director: Nitesh Tiwari
IMDB Rating: 8.6/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Dangal is possibly the best Indian film of recent years, and certainly, one that is sure to rank highly in Bollywood’s all-time greats.
The story is based on a true story of a man (played by Aamir) who has to give up his wrestling dream to provide for his family. Aamir hopes to have a son one day who can rise to glory in his place, but instead he and his wife keeping having daughters.
The film has done spectacularly well overseas, with a huge box office intake from China. If you had to pick only one Bollywood film to watch over the holiday period, we recommend this one!
Dear Zindagi (2016)
Starring: Alia Bhatt, Shahrukh Khan, Kunal Kapoor
Director: Gauri Shinde
IMDB Rating: 7.7/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
While we’re used to seeing SRK take the spotlight in films, it’s great to see him take a backseat and make way for the young talent, Alia Bhatt.
Alia plays a young girl who is in search of a perfect life. Suffering from unshakeable insomnia she takes advice from psychologist Jug (played by SRK), who makes it his mission to give her a new perspective on life.
Not your average Bollywood watch, the film subtly touches on issues with mental health.
Women in the Spotlight
Chandni Bar (2001)
Starring: Tabu, Atul Kulkarni, Rajpal Yadav
Director: Madhur Bhandarkar
IMDB Rating: 7.7/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Tabu plays Mumtaz, a naive young girl who moves to Mumbai with her uncle after her family all perish. Plagued with poverty, her uncle encourages her to become a dancer at a bar to make some money.
The film touches on issues of domestic rape and gang culture. The film also stars Atul Kulkarni who plays a gangster. Tabu won a National Film Award and IIFA Award for ‘Best Actress’ for her role.
Starring: Vidya Balan, Parambrata Chatterjee, Dhritiman Chatterjee
Director: Sujoy Ghosh
IMDB Rating: 8.2/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Kahaani touches on themes of feminism and being a mother in India’s patriarchal society. The film follows Vidya, a pregnant software engineer who comes to Kolkata from London in search of her missing husband.
Her husband, who arrived weeks before on a job assignment, seems to be unknown to anyone at the Indian office or guest house. Despite the threat of danger and her impending motherhood, Vidya will go to any length to uncover this mystery.
Starring: Kangana Ranaut, Rajkummar Rao, Lisa Haydon
Director: Vikas Bahl
IMDB Rating: 8.3/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
One of the defining roles of Kangana Ranaut’s career, Queen follows a young Indian woman who is stood up at her own wedding. Deciding to forgo all cultural sensibilities, she goes on her honeymoon by herself.
During her trip to Europe, she meets many new faces and rediscovers her sense of self-worth. Kangana is a true delight to watch on screen.
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Irrfan Khan
Director: Shoojit Sircar
IMDB Rating: 7.6/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
With a stellar cast of Deepika, Irrfan and veteran legend Amitabh Bachchan, Piku is a comedy film about the relationship between a successful career woman and her ageing, yet eccentric, father.
Bhaskor (played by Amitabh) is obsessed with his bowel movements, much to the angst of Piku (played by Deepika) who has to drop everything to look after him.
Piku decides to take a road trip to Kolkata to see their ancestral home, and by taking her father with her, they encounter many hilarious incidents along the way!
Starring: Tapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari, Andrea Tariang, Amitabh Bachchan
Director: Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury
IMDB Rating: 8.2/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
Pink is a brutally honest take on India’s rape culture. One night, Tapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari, Andrea Tariang are molested by a drunk group of men.
As they attempt to defend themselves, an accident occurs resulting in one of the men being rushed to the hospital. The influential men later accuse the women of being prostitutes and of attempted murder.
Jab We Met (2007)
Starring: Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Tarun Arora
Director: Imtiaz Ali
IMDB Rating: 8/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
One of Kareena Kapoor’s stand out roles of her career, Jab We Met is a brilliant film from Imtiaz Ali. The film follows Shahid Kapoor who, following a brutal break-up and family issues, leaves his office and boards a train to nowhere.
Along the way, he comes across the infectiously chirpy Kareena who is hoping to someday run away from home her sweetheart. While Shahid finds her irritating to begin with, he soon warms to her unwavering optimism.
Bhool Bhulaiya (2007)
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Vidya Balan, Ameesha Patel
IMDB Rating: 7.3/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Horror meets comedy in Bhool Bhulaiya. Siddharth (played by Shiney Ahuja) and Avni (played by Vidya) return to live at their ancestral home in India, despite warnings of it being haunted by a ghost called Manjulika, who was once a Bengali classical dancer.
Akshay plays a psychiatrist Dr Aditya Shrivastav from New York, who is invited after some in the household start behaving unusually. The actor excels in playing a comic character. A film with lots of laughs and a few frights too!
Delhi Belly (2011)
Starring: Imran Khan, Vir Das, Kunaal Roy Kapur
Director: Abhinay Deo, Akshat Verma
IMDB Rating: 7.6/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
The Indian take on the Hangover films, Delhi Belly is a hilarious comedy-farce that will have you rolling around the floor.
With its youthful urban direction, there is a lot of toilet humour, explicit innuendo and raunchiness for you to enjoy.
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Kay Kay Menon
Director: Ram Gopal Varma
IMDB Rating: 7.7/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
India’s take on The Godfather series, Amitabh Bachchan plays a wealthy and influential man who lives in Mumbai.
A powerful gangster, Amitabh disowns his son for murdering a movie star. It prompts the son (played by Kay Kay Menon) to seek revenge.
Madras Cafe (2013)
Starring: Nargis Fakhri, John Abraham, Raashi Khanna
Director: Shoojit Sircar
IMDB Rating: 7.7/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
This spy thriller follows an Indian intelligence agent as he travels to a war-torn area to break up a rebel group.
Along the way, he meets a passionate war correspondence played by Nargis Fakhri.
Starring: Ajay Devgn, Shriya Saran, Tabu
Director: Nishikant Kamat
IMDB Rating: 8.4/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
This suspense thriller follows Ajay Devgn and his family who get caught up on the dark side of the law after one of them commits an unexpected crime.
The film is a remake of the 2013 Malayalam film of the same name.
Udta Punjab (2016)
Starring: Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Alia Bhatt
Director: Abhishek Chaubey
IMDB Rating: 7.8/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Delving into drug addiction among youth culture and corruption in affluent Punjab, Udta Punjab features a brilliant cast.
Stand-out performances include Alia Bhatt as a farm worker and Shahid Kapoor as a Punjabi musician.
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini, Aman Verma
Director: Ravi Chopra
IMDB Rating: 7.5/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
A favourite among Desi parents everywhere, Baghban follows an elderly couple who look to their grown-up children to take care of them after retirement.
Their children, however, are less than enthusiastic and see them as a burden. Salman Khan plays the adopted son of Amitabh and Hema.
Koi… Mil Gaya (2003)
Starring: Rekha, Hrithik Roshan, Preity Zinta
Director: Rakesh Roshan
IMDB Rating: 7.1/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
This science fiction film sees Hrithik Roshan play the role of a developmentally disabled young man with a desire to find extraterrestrials in outer space.
Hrithik Roshan excels in his role, and the film also stars the legendary Rekha.
Taare Zameen Par (2007)
Starring: Darsheel Safary, Aamir Khan, Tanay Chheda
Director: Aamir Khan, Amole Gupte
IMDB Rating: 8.5/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Aamir’s golden touch continues with this heart-warming tale of a young boy who struggles to pay attention in class.
He is carted off to a boarding school where he meets the fun and optimistic Aamir, his new art teacher.
Based on Real Life
The Legend of Bhagat Singh (2002)
Starring: Ajay Devgn, Sushant Singh, D. Santosh
Director: Rajkumar Santoshi
IMDB Rating: 8.1/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Based on the famous Punjabi freedom fighter who fought for Indian independence during British colonial rule.
Ajay plays the young revolutionary who is witness to many atrocities as a child. He decides to take fate into his own hands and fight back against his oppressors.
Mary Kom (2014)
Starring: Robin Das, Rajni Basumatary, Priyanka Chopra
Director: Omung Kumar
IMDB Rating: 6.8/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 62%
This Indian biographical sports film is based on the true story of five-time World Amateur Boxing champion, Mary Kom.
Priyanka Chopra delivers a powerful performance as the female boxer. This is a must-watch heartwarming drama!
Special 26 (2013)
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Anupam Kher, Manoj Bajpayee
Director: Neeraj Pandey
IMDB Rating: 8/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
A gang of con artists carry out a heist on a well-known jeweller posing as government officials.
The thriller is actually based on real-life incidents that took place in India in the late 1980s and stars Akshay Kumar in the lead.
Starring: Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma, Neeraj Kabi
Director: Meghna Gulzar
IMDB Rating: 8.3/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Irrfan takes the lead in this mystery murder case of a 14-year-old girl and family servant. The story is based on the real-life 2008 Noida Double Murder Case.
The parents of the teenager were believed to be the prime suspects in the case. The film, however, chooses to show the film through three separate perspectives.
The Lunchbox (2013)
Starring: Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Director: Ritesh Batra
IMDB Rating: 7.8/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
The Lunchbox is a wonderfully simple film about a frustrated housewife who inadvertently sends a tiffin to a random office worker instead of her husband.
The stranger responds with a letter to say thank you, and what ensues is a heart-warming correspondence via a tiffin box between the two.
Punjab 1984 (2014)
Starring: Diljit Dosanjh, Kirron Kher, Pavan Malhotra
Director: Anurag Singh
IMDB Rating: 8.5/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
A highlight of Punjabi cinema, this historical drama is set in the backdrop of 1984 Punjab, as a mother searches for her son, who has been labelled a terrorist.
Diljit Dosanjh delivers a spectacular performance.
Baahubali: The Beginning (2015) and Baahubali 2: The Conclusion (2017)
Starring: Prabhas, Rana Daggubati, Anushka Shetty
Director: S.S. Rajamouli
IMDB Rating: 8.2/10 and 8.5/10; Rotten Tomatoes: 92% and 100%
Although not strictly Bollywood, these two South Indian blockbusters are a must watch over the holiday period.
Taking Indian cinema to new and far-reaching heights, the epic drama Baahubali stunned critics with its story, cinematography and incredible cast. A true film experience for the holiday period!
So, there you have it, a selection of key Bollywood and Indian films to watch over the holidays. Enjoy!