Bollywood Movies

12 Bollywood Movies for Beginners

September 3, 20238 Mins Read

Bollywood movies, or movies that are made in Hindi, have become a broader representation of Indian culture and society in recent years. Of course, these are only small snapshots of India, especially considering that South Asia is one of the most linguistically and culturally diverse countries in the world. India alone is said to have around 121 local languages, meaning that Hindi isn’t the native tongue for many Indians — nor is Bollywood the only film industry in the country. Regardless, Bollywood has become one of the biggest entertainment industries out the country, and stars like Shah Rukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra have been able to appeal to domestic and international fans alike.

Those unfamiliar with Bollywood movies might find themselves intimidated not only by the language barrier, but the specific tropes that seem to appear in every Bollywood movie these days. It’s important to note that Bollywood encompasses a wide genre of movies and is an umbrella term for Hindi movies, so not every single Bollywood movie is a corny romance or have outlandish jokes that seem to go too far — which makes them funnier than they actually are. Subject and content is diverse in Bollywood, too. Here are 12 movies that are beginner-friendly.

12 Om Shanti Om

Deepika Padukone
Eros International

Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone star in the classic Om Shanti Om, which came out in theaters back in 2007. Khan portrays Om, an aspiring actor in the 70s who’s enamored with an actress named Shanti (Padukone). When he finally gets the chance to meet her, it’s going to change the course of their lives forever. When both are accidentally killed by her husband, they’re reincarnated and Om wants to get revenge for the woman he once lost. Om Shanti Om cycles through all the Bollywood tropes and is theatrical in nature, making it pretty entertaining throughout its running time.

11 Queen

Viacom18 Motion Pictures

A 2014 film, Queen is a movie all about finding yourself after a life-changing event. Rani is about to get married when her fiancé calls everything off only days before the wedding, leaving her devastated with the circumstances. In a moment of brilliance, Rani decides to go off on her honeymoon whether she has a husband or not, despite the reservations of her family to go by herself. But in Europe, Rani discovers the perfect opportunity to not only grow as a person, but as a woman as well — even when her ex-fiance comes to Europe begging for her to come back.

10 Kal Ho Naa Ho

kal ho naa ho - shah rukh khan
Dharma Productions

2003’s Kal Ho Naa Ho takes place in New York City, where a group of overseas Indians finds themselves with a new neighbor: Aman (Shah Rukh Khan). MBA student Naina (Jaya Bachchan) ends up spending a lot of time with him in the days to come, especially as he lives next door and helps her family out. Eventually, she falls in love with him. But in true Bollywood fashion, this movie isn’t going to make it easy for the protagonists, and a series of dramatic twists are to come throughout the film. The movie was the highest-grossing Indian film that year.

Related: Best Bollywood Movies to Watch in the Summer

9 Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge

dilwale dulhania le jayenge
Yash Raj Films

Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan star in the 1995 movie Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, which some consider to be a modern classic of Bollywood. Two Indians are living overseas in London. The girl, Simran, is from a conservative household and receives notice that her father’s old friend remembers his promise that he would marry Simran off to his son. Enter: Raj (Khan). The two end up meeting while on separate trips, but when they end up separated from the parties they’re traveling with, they decide to travel together. Romance then sparks between the two with a flair for drama throughout the rest of the movie.

8 3 Idiots

3 Idiots
Reliance BIG Pictures

3 Idiots came out in theaters in 2009, and depicts three engineering students in India attending a prestigious university in the country’s capital. They end up going through many phases of their college experience, as there are many challenges to come. Whether it’s schoolwork and projects, or a college romance in the air, an event will change their friendship forever.

10 years later, the impacts of this can be seen in their lives and how they ended up pursuing their careers. A comedic satire about Indian education and life within it, 3 Idiots is worth watching at least once.

7 Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham…

Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…
Dharma Productions

2001’s Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham… focuses on one family. Traditional in nature and its patriarch a multimillionaire due to his business prowess; he expects his two sons to follow after him and continue on the family legacy. However, when one of the brothers falls in love with a girl that’s from a lower socioeconomic status than him, his father would never approve. This leads to conflict, especially as other variables come into the equation within the family’s and brothers’ lives. At the time of its release, it was the highest grossing Indian film.

6 Pathaan

Pathaan release date
Yash Raj Films

One of the most anticipated releases in 2023, Pathaan blends together elements of Bollywood with the action genre. Shah Rukh Khan portrays Pathaan, an agent for the Indian government who finds himself tangled in a new adventure. When India announces they’re revoking Article 370 for Jammu and Kashmir, it angers a Pakistani general. He then hires a former Indian agent to do his dirty work, putting their paths together with Pathaan’s and his team. Pathaan truly is a rollercoaster of emotions throughout.

5 Rocky aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani

Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani
Dharma Productions

Rocky aur Rani Kii Pem Kahaani is a beautiful love story in the making — Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh portray a Bengali girl and Punjabi boy who discover their grandparents were once briefly in love. While they reunite the two and let them go on dates in their old age, they end up falling in love with each other along the way. But their romance has one big barrier: their families. With cultural differences to overcome, they decide to swap families for several months to win them over.

4 Ram-Leela

Padukone and Singh in Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela
Bhansali Productions

Ram-Leela, which is fully titled Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, stars Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone — a couple that is married in real life. Set in a village in Gujarat, two rival clans have been fighting for centuries. In this generation, more conflict is ripe among members of the clans, but when a young son of one clan and the daughter of another fall in love, it can either be a bridge to peace, or end up destroying them all. The movie is based on the Shakespeare playRomeo and Juliet.

Related: These are the Highest-Grossing Indian Movies of the Past 10 Years

3 PK

Rajkumar Hirani Films

In PK, Aamir Khan portrays an alien who finds himself on Earth. He’s supposed to conduct research, but when he ends up losing his communication device, he’s stranded on Earth. A woman named Jaggu ends up crossing paths with him, and she, a reporter, comes across the alien and is amused at his stories of coming from another planet. Together, the two end up trying to find his device, but end up questioning the nature of humans throughout their journeys together. The film became the highest-grossing Indian film of all time when it was released, but has since been surpassed by more recent movies.

2 Gully Boy

Young adult sits with a bunch of younger boys and two girls in the slums of Mumbai.
Excel Entertainment

Gully Boy is a classic story audiences around the world have been eating up for a while now. Its protagonist, Murad (Ranveer Singh), is a poor Muslim boy from the slums of Mumbai. He attends school, studies, and has a girlfriend (Alia Bhatt), but Murad has a deep love and talent for rap. He writes his own lyrics about the injustices he witnesses in the world, but when he starts to hit it big, he finally has the chance to represent his community. Gully Boy is a delight to watch, and is the true example of an underdog story.

1 Monsoon Wedding

Monsoon Wedding by Mira Nair
IFC Productions

Mira Nair came out with Monsoon Wedding in 2001, giving a glimpse into the anxieties and preparations it takes to make a Desi wedding happen. A family is preparing for a grand wedding, as they had their daughter get an arranged marriage to a man who lives in the United States. With the family arriving from all over the world, issues from everyone are going to be aired out in the days leading up to the wedding. The film has continued to be highly successful throughout the years, but it’s a look into South Asian wedding culture as well.

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