Do you know about the website accesbollywood.net? It’s run by a very nice woman who reviewed my book, and is a friend of a friend through moviemavengal (moviemavengal=most socially competent and adventurous person I know!). Anyway, one of the greatest things on the accessbollywood website is her updates of the Indian films available through Netflix. I am going to steal her current list, because joyomama asked what I know about each film. But please keep checking her site just in general, and specifically if you want to see a monthly update to this list! Oh, and this is today’s Hindi Film 101 post, because it will give you basically a “watching list” of films to stream, which is an important part of learning about Hindi film.
I am giving information on every film. The ones I actually recommend will be labeled either COULD WATCH”, “SHOULD WATCH”, or “MUST WATCH”.
All Bollywood Movies Currently Streaming on Netflix
- 99 (2009)
Watch if you want to see real life couple Soha Ali Khan and hot Kunal Khemu onscreen together. Otherwise, it was a forgettable movie about betting scandals.
- 1920 London (2016)
Modest budget horror film. If you’ve ever been curious about Indian horror, this is a painless way of checking it out.
- Aarakshan (2011)
Movie about the “reservation” system (India’s version of affirmative action), with a reliably good performance from Amitabh, but a pretty superficial take on the issue.
- Airlift (2016)
Legitimately great movie. If you want to see a well-made film about life in a war zone, this is it. COULD WATCH
- Akira, aka “Naam Hai Akira” (2016)
I liked it! Good directing, good central performance, interesting script. And Amit Sadh, my new crush! COULD WATCH
- Amal (2007)
Canadian film set in Delhi, does not really belong on this list.
- Amu (2005)
Konkona Sen Sharma! Woot-woot! Otherwise, doesn’t really belong here, it’s an American made English language film that happens to be set in India.
- Andaz Apna Apna (1994)
- Angry Indian Goddesses (2015)
Eh. Another film that’s half Indian style and half artsy. Really interesting cast though, and gives you a chance to see these actresses in bigger roles than they would usually be offered.
- Asoka (2001)
Shahrukh’s failed historic epic. MUST WATCH FOR SRK FANS. For others, it’s a COULD WATCH. It isn’t quite as epic looking as it could be, and the plot is a big confused. But the performances are good and it teaches you about Indian history painlessly.
- Autohead (2016)
Another one of those films set in India which is really more of an American indie film in style. But it looks like an interesting thriller mockumentary type thing, if you are in the mood for that.
- Azhar (2016)
Terrible terrible movie. Terrible terrible. Nargis Fakhri is a blackhole of charismalessness, and they put so much make-up on Emraan he stopped being hot. Also, it’s just bad. My review here.
- B.A. Pass (2013)
High concept scary thriller.
- Baabul (2006)
Glossy Salman Khan-Rani Mukherjee-John Abraham-Amitabh Bachchan-Hema Malini movie. Good songs, great costumes, decent plot and performances. COULD WATCH.
- Baghban (2003)
Has a slow start, but turns into a real tear jerker. And the rare film that lets older actresses be the romantic leads. SHOULD WATCH.
- Bajatey Raho (2013)
So-so comedy, with Tusshar Kapoor as the lead (always a bad sign).
- Besharam (2013)
Similar to Bombay Velvet (below), this is also a Ranbir Kapoor movie that makes me want to gauge my eyes out and slit my wrists rather than continuing to watch. It is the only film to feature Ranbir with his mother and father, but even that is not enough to save it from being the epitome of suck.
- Bhoothnath (2008)
A good movie to watch with kids, might be a little slow and repetitive for adults. But very cute Amitabh performance, cute Juhi performance, and sort of cute SRK performance. COULD WATCH
- Bittoo Boss (2012)
Low budget comedy, could be cute, could be dull
- Black Friday (2004)
Serious Drama. Anurag Kashyap’s big break, if you are interested in that. Otherwise, very depressing movie about terrorism.
- Blood Money (2012)
Just, no. Kunal Khemu is cute, but not enough to save this.
- Bodyguard (2011)
The movie that helped turn Salman back into the biggest of the Khans. Silly plot, great songs and action scenes. COULD WATCH
- Bombay Talkies (2013)
Really great collection of 4 short films in honor of the 100 year anniversary of Indian film. Plus two bonus song sequences, a tribute to Amitabh and a massive every-star-ever-joint-song. But what makes it a MUST WATCH for me is the Karan Johar section, which reveals both his realistic filmmaking abilities and his burning anger at Indian society. His is the first section, really, MUST WATCH.
- Bombay Velvet (2015)
Worst movie ever, like pray-for-death-rather-than-keep-watching bad. But Karan Johar’s performance is amusing, and there are a couple of really great songs. Might be worth watching for the curiosity factor, so long as you keep your finger on the fastforward button.
- Boss (2013)
Silly Akshay Kumar comedy. If you like Akshay, it might be worth watching, high production values and so on. But not his greatest. COULD WATCH
- Brahman Naman (2016)
Not really an Indian-Indian movie, but if you feel like seeing a sex comedy that is also kind of realistic for being a nerdy horny Indian boy.
- Budia Singh: Born to Run (2016)
Artsy movie, not your standard songs-love story-crazy stunts thing. If you are in the mood for that.
- Chaahat (1996)
Silly young SRK romance, good cast, good directing, workmanlike. Also, has the Queen Mother from Bahubaali in a completely different kind of role. COULD WATCH
- Chandni Bar (2001)
Groundbreaking art film from the early 2000s, great performance by Tabu. COULD WATCH.
- Chashme Baddoor (2013)
A travesty, took one of the great human comedies of Indian film and turned it into a sex farce. You shouldn’t watch it ever in protest of its very existence.
- Chauranga (2014)
Art movie about cast. Another one of those that is only Indian in setting and artists, not in style.
- Chittagong (2012)
Historical drama about a forgotten rebellion of the Quit India movement. Well made, good performances, COULD WATCH.
- Darr @ the Mall (2014)
If you feel the need for another low budget Indian horror movie.
- Dear Zindagi (2016)
Great script, great cast, Shahrukh at his hottest (review here). MUST WATCH.
Another Western-style art film. But with Shabana Azmi!
- Delhi in a Day (2012)
Another indie style Western type film. But with Lillette Dubey! (although if you have to watch a Lillette Dubey movie, check out Baghban above)
- Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! (2015)
Really clever mystery that mixes homages to the Indian tradition of film noir, and the often filmed Byomkesh Bakshi stories. Plus, Sushant Singh puts in a great performances. MUST WATCH
- Dhanak (2015)
The winner of my Best Film of 2016 award. MUST WATCH
- Dharam Sankat Mein (2015)
Comedy with no stars and a high concept. Got mixed reviews. Might be worth trying, but if you don’t like it after ten minutes, turn it off.
- Dilwale (2015)
Not a great movie. But very enjoyable if you leave the room or fastforward through the slow bits. COULD WATCH
- Drishyam (2015)
Great script, lifted from Malayalam film of the same name (my review here). I have some problems with the presentation of women in it, but if you are looking for a twisty clever plot, this is the one. COULD WATCH
- Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015)
Low budget rom-com, possibly the future of YRF, giving us a good script, a small story, and relatable characters. SHOULD WATCH.
Not a very notable old film, but one of only two 1970s option currently on streaming. COULD WATCH
- English Babu Desi Mem (1996)
Not a good early SRK film, plot lifted from a Rishi Kapoor movie (Zamane Ko Dikhane Hai). Some good songs, a ridiculously over the top ending sequence, Shahrukh has a mustache for a bit, but generally more confusing and dull than fun. COULD WATCH
- Filmistaan (2012)
Interesting and aware comedy about film and South Asia. Not as good as Tere Bin Laden, but that’s not available any more, so you might as well watch this. COULD WATCH.
- Finding Fanny (2014)
Eh. Feels like an Italian farce that somehow lost its way and ended up set in Goa.
Really good, really searing film. Watch if you want to get really upset.
- Force 2 (2016)
Not a good movie. Decent action scenes and John Abraham performance, otherwise not worth it. COULD WATCH
- Gangs of Wasseypur (2012)
One of those movies that I am dubious about because of the people who like it. It seems beloved by male critics and male directors, the same ones who love The Godfather and The Dark Knight. And it’s Anurag Kashyap, who I have a bit of a hate-grudgingly respect relationship with. COULD WATCH
- Ghayal Once Again (2016)
Not a good movie. Picking up on nostalgia for a superior much earlier film, but with nothing new to say.
- Gollu Aur Pappu (2014)
Solid group of mid-level famous actors, starting with Dimple Kapadia. And yet I have never heard of this film and it got minimal promotion, which makes me thing it is terrible and they were sneaking it in and out of theaters before anyone noticed.
- Good Night Good Morning (2010)
Artsy love story, played great at the Transylvania film festival! But not really “Indian”
- Greater Elephant (2012)
Another artsy indie film! Netflix really went all out on these.
- Happy New Year (2014)
Is this better or worse than Dilwale? I think maybe tied. The SRK romance is less good, but the plot and comedy is better. And the songs are great, it is a Farah Khan film after all. COULD WATCH
- Haraamkhor (2015)
Thriller type thing with Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Worth watching if you like thrillers, and Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
- Hate Story (2012)
Yet another low budget horror film!
- Hate Story 2 (2014)
- Hate Story 3 (2015)
- Heropanti (2014)
Tiger Shroff’s big break film. And Kriti Sanam’s first Hindi film. Big silly action, good dancing (because Tiger), so-so acting (because Tiger). COULD WATCH.
- Holiday (2014)
Akshay Kumar southern remake. Surprisingly great soundtrack and cute romance with a couple of twists in the plot. COULD WATCH.
- Horror Story (2013)
Well, the title says it all.
- Hum Aapke Hain Koun (1994)
MUST WATCH!!!! One of the 5 most important films in Hindi cinema. Very slow start, but give it a chance to grow on you and you will learn to love it. Most of all, it is important for showing where the “Family Romance” genre came from in Indian film, and what created the NRI audience.
- Hum Saath-Saath Hain (1999)
Follow up to Hum Aapke Hain Koun. A little more over the top and less boring, but a lot less touching. COULD WATCH.
- I, Me, aur Main (2013)
You can watch it if you really really really like John Abraham. COULD WATCH
- I.D. (2012)
Another indie festival type thing.
- Inkaar (2013)
If you want to see Arjun Rampal be sexy, I guess you could watch it? But otherwise not much point. Prakash Jha, king of high profile artsy political issues films, directed it. It was supposed to be a deep look at sexual harassment, but it managed to be neither deep nor fun. If you really need to see an Indian take on sexual harassment, I recommend Aitraaz, which is terrible, but also super fun.
- Jugni (2016)
Kind of an interesting mixture of a more art-film sensibility with traditional Indian film narrative techniques. COULD WATCH.
- Kaanchi (2014)
Poor Subhash Ghai! I assume he sold them Ram-Lakhan and threw this one in for free. It is not good, it did not do well at the box office, there is no real reason to watch it. Probably pretty, because Ghai is always pretty, but otherwise not worth it.
- Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (2006)
MUST WATCH. Not a pleasant film to see, but with some amazingly beautiful song sequences and a good soundtrack, and the casting and performances are totally worth it. What makes it important is seeing the progression of Karan Johar as a producer and director and overall artist. He is one of the top people in the industry today, and this film is vital in understanding where he came from.
- Kahaani (2012)
Absolutely brilliant movie. Prepare to pay close attention and be on the edge of your seat. It’s also gorgeous, makes you feel like you are right on the streets of Calcutta. And it has amazing performances. MUST WATCH
- Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai (2000)
The film that made Hrithik Roshan a star! Big silly over the top romance, with amazing songs. But most, THE FILM THAT MADE HRITHIK ROSHAN A STAR!!! I cannot possibly convey what a big deal this was when it released. MUST WATCH.
- Kajarya (2013)
Another depressing art film, this time about female feoticide.
- Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003)
Another Karan-Johar’s-Journey movie, and also just a straight up good film. Really clever script, really clever filming techniques, great songs (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy! My favorites!), and an amazing performance from Shahrukh and an even more amazing performance from Saif Ali Khan. MUST WATCH
- Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996)
Eh. Another arty movie, but with more sex.
- Koi… Mil Gaya (2003)
Possibly Hrithik Roshan’s greatest performance, a surprisingly touching Alien superhero movie. Also decent songs, and a really great latter day Rekha performance. SHOULD WATCH.
- Krrish (2006)
Not a good movie. Terribly filmed (like, the light saturation is off in half the scenes), and crazy plot but not in an entertaining way. Also, a waste of Hrithik’s dancing abilities. But if it’s a rainy day and there’s nothing else available, you might as well. COULD WATCH
- Krrish 3 (2013)
Such a bad movie! So bad!!! But amusingly bad, COULD WATCH.
- Kshay (2011)
Wikipedia says it is a black and white psychological drama. Blech, is what I say!
- Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998)
MUST WATCH!!!!!!!!! Incredibly important film for Indian film history, really great performances, great songs, all around enjoyable, and also INDUSTRY CHANGING.
- Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3 (2016)
Yet another sex comedy. Who at Netflix is picking all of these? And I really hope he isn’t sharing a cubicle with the guy who buys all the indie Indian art films. Or if they are sharing a cubicle, I really hope Netflix makes a sitcom about that.
- Loev (2015)
Artsy movie technically set and made in India, but really fits more with the American indie art scene. But if you want an indie male-male romance with an Indian setting, check it out!
- Loins of Punjab (2007)
Very very good. Ignore the title, it is very very good. And touching and teaches you about immigrants and being caught between two identities and all kinds of things. MUST WATCH.
- The Lovers (2015)
OMG I DID NOT REALIZE THIS WAS HERE!!!!!! MUST WATCH!!!!! Because it looks TERRIBLE!!!!
- M Cream (2014)
Oh boy, another arty indie movie! But with Barry John (guy who taught Shahrukh Khan, Varun Dhawan, and dozens of other young actors), so might be worth a watch for that. COULD WATCH
- M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story (2016)
Surprisingly good biopic, very straight forward in presentation, but high quality performances and mise-en-scene and all of that. COULD WATCH.
- Madaari (2016)
Another thriller! With Jimmy Shergill and Irrfan Khan. But otherwise not very notable.
- Maine Pyar Kiya (1989)
MUST WATCH!!!!!! A legitimately fun film, plus made Salman Khan a star, plus introduced Sooraj Barjatya as a director and showed the early seeds of what would turn into Hum Aapke Hain Koun.
- Margarita with a Straw (2014)
Arty film, got good reviews and a slightly wider release than usual. About queer issues and disability rights issues. COULD WATCH
- Maroon (2016)
Another thriller! And this time I don’t recognize anyone on the cast list.
- Mary Kom (2014)
Inspirational sports biopic starring Priyanka. Not too good, not too bad, just okay. If you are a huge Priyanka fan, or really want to see a sports biopic, you can check it out. COULD WATCH.
- Masaan (2015)
Art film which got great reviews and has a good cast. Don’t watch it if you are in the mood for something light, but worth watching if you want to see something really good. COULD WATCH
- Midnight’s Children (2013)
Terrible terrible movie. Worth watching for the train wreck of it all, but otherwise not. COULD WATCH
- Mirzya (2016)
Not very imaginative plot, not very good acting, incredibly good music and visuals. COULD WATCH
- Miss Lovely (2012)
Arty movie that also gives you a bit of a backstage look at Indian filmmaking. Got really good reviews. COULD WATCH.
- Moh Maya Money (2016)
High class social statement comedy movie starring Ranvir Shorey, or as I think of him, “Mr. Konkona Sen Sharma”. Did not get very good reviews.
- Mujhse Shaadi Karogi (2004)
Silly remake of Meet the Parents, but with a lot of heart. Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar play joint leads, and both of them are at the top of their comic games. Plus, great songs and an early Priyanka Chopra. COULD WATCH.
- Mumbai Cha Raja (2012)
Another arty film, supposed to have a cameo from Salman maybe? If you watch it, tell me about that.
- Mumbai Delhi Mumbai (2014)
Another one of those sweet low budget rom-coms with no stars and no publicity. Could be good, could be bad, watch the first ten minutes and decide.
- Neerja (2016)
SHOULD WATCH. I would say “must watch”, except this is so seeringly emotional, I don’t know if I want to force anyone to go through that. It’s just a fantastic film, integrating Indian sensibilities with songs and families with realism and naturalistic acting. Just, an amazingly good film.
- OMG: Oh My God (2012)
Brilliant brilliant comedy. Based on a stage play, Akshay Kumar snapped up the film rights and brought in the main cast (including Pawesh Rawal) and cameoed himself in an important part. Oh, and Sonakshi and Prabhudeva do an item dance. Just a lot of great stuff. SHOULD WATCH.
- One 2 Ka 4 (2001)
A lessor SRK film. On the one hand, the plot makes no sense, on the other hand AR Rahman did the songs. And on the third hand, SRK and Juhi have some of the sexiest scenes of all time together. COULD WATCH.
- One By Two (2014)
Yet another sweet low budget rom-coms. But it sort of has a star, Abhay Deol. And it got a little publicity because of some complicated lawsuit by the composers related to how their credits were listed. But mostly just another sweet low budget rom-com.
- Parched (2015)
Artsy depressing movie about being a woman in India.
- Patang, aka “The Kite” (2011)
Another arty movie! But slightly less depressing.
- Piku (2015)
Great performances from all 3 leads, Irrfan Khan, Deepika Padukone, and Amitabh. More than that, heralded a new age of hit film, with a movie based around a female character and realistic settings, but still with a bit of romance and songs. SHOULD WATCH.
- Pink (2016)
Brilliant movie, great performances, important story. Not the best songs. And the story line is a bit harsh (attempted rape and the persecution by court trial of the victims). So like Neerja I won’t say “must watch”, but I will say SHOULD WATCH.
If you want to see a seriocomedy about queer issues in the desi community, this is it!
- Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (2015)
Fun fun fun! And pretty pretty pretty! Very much a fairy tale come to life. Don’t expect anything too deep, or which will make you think. But definitely a COULD WATCH.
- Pyaar Ka Punchnama (2011)
Lower budget ripoff of the Masti film series. Which is already pretty low budget and raunchy, so you can imagine how bad the ripoff is!
- Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 (2015)
Sequel to a low budget ripoff of an already terrible movie. So, like, negatively bad.
- Q (2014)
Very odd sounding low-budget movie, of the western-style.
- Queen (2014)
Brilliant movie all around. Just, amazing. Shows you why Kangana gets so much rope in the industry. MUST WATCH
- Raja Hindustani (1996)
MUST WATCH!!!!!!!! Hugely hugely important film, helped change the 90s film landscape to rural romances, includes the first major onscreen kiss (and its a hot one!), made Karisma Kapoor into a major actress (deservedly!), amazing comic relief characters, Kunal Khemu as a little boy before he got hot, and a just amazingly amusing plot start to finish. Oh, and great songs.
- Raman Raghav 2.0 (2016)
Thriller with Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Got good reviews for his performance, but everything else was more on the “okay” side of things. If you like thrillers, this is probably the best of the bunch available.
- Rangrezz (2013)
If you want to see what happens when “Daddy” is a film producer who buys you an action film and hires a top director and then forces everyone to try to make you look like you actually know what you are doing, Watch This! Jackky Bhagnani is just the worst, is what I am saying, and his father needs to stop indulging him.
- Rebellious Flower (2016)
Remember my Osho post? This is propaganda made by one of his followers about his early life.
- Rocky Handsome (2016)
Almost shot for shot remake of a Korean film. But with John Abraham, who is very handsome. COULD WATCH
- Rustom (2016)
Akshay Kumar in a white navy uniform. That’s it, that’s the draw. COULD WATCH
- Saala Khadoos (2016)
Watch this instead of Mary Kom. Very good sports drama, great central performances, will make you fall in love with Madhavan all over again. SHOULD WATCH.
- Salaakhen (1975)
Okay, if between the two 1970s movies available you can only pick one, watch this one. COULD WATCH.
- Shaitan (2011)
Yet another thriller! Kalki Koechlin is in it and gives a great performance. COULD WATCH.
- Singh Is Kinng (2008)
Ridiculous action film remake of Pocketful of Miracles by way of Hong Kong (Jackie Chan’s Miracles). Super fun performance by Akshay Kumar, amazing title song that will stick in your head for days, just over all good times. COULD WATCH.
- Singham (2011)
Possibly my favorite action film. Certainly my favorite Ajay Devgan film, and my second favorite Rohit Shetty film (after Chennai Express). SHOULD WATCH.
- Special 26 (2013)
A heist movie, very different from the usual, shows you the whole process of it all. An interesting experiment for a mainstream Indian film. COULD WATCH.
A low-budget comedy. I have a warm feeling for it because a friend of a friend was involved (I think as an actor? Or else writer/director). So, I guess, SHOULD WATCH so that my friend of a friend has a better career.
- Talvar, aka “Guilty” (2015)
Very well made movie based on a real life murder mystery that still fascinates India. Irrfan Khan does his usual great performance. If you want to learn more about the actual case, Saavn has a podcast you can download. COULD WATCH.
- Tanu Weds Manu (2011)
A different kind of romance, with earthier characters and flavorful settings. Like Queen, it is important for showing why Kangana is so beloved. Like Saala Khadoos, it is important for showing why Madhavan is hot. COULD WATCH.
- Te3n (2016)
Vidya Balan and Amitabh Bachchan play off each other, but otherwise it is nothing special. If you are only going to watch one Avenging Amitabh film from 2016, watch Pink. But if you want to watch two, this is a COULD WATCH.
- Total Siyapaa (2014)
Another low budget under promoted rom-com! If you have a massive crush on Ali Zafar (I know you people are out there! Some of you may be my friends! And this same anonymous person might also own all his albums which is just super weird!), then this is a “must watch”. Otherwise, no.
- Udta Punjab (2016)
SHOULD WATCH. Really good film, very real, very hard to watch. With some moments of pure beauty. I would say “must watch” except, again, it is hard enough to see that I don’t want to force anyone.
COULD WATCH. Again, very hard to watch, very gritty. But if you only have so much patience for a gritty film that starts with “U”, make it Udta Punjab.
- Umrika (2015)
Eh. Another art film. But with Pratiek Babbar, so interesting if you want to see what he is up to these days.
- The Violin Player (2016)
Art film, maybe interesting for some backstage stuff since it shows what a session violinist who works on soundtracks lives like.
- What the Fish (2013)
Madcap comedy, think A Fish Called Wanda. But with Dimple Kapadia.
- X: Past Is Present (2015)
Artsy multi-director collaboration. Featuring a short film by my favorite reviewer, Raja Sen. But still, if you are going to watch a multi-director collaboration, make it Bombay Talkies.
- Yamla Pagla Deewana (2011)
All the Deols in one film! Dharmendra, Bobby, and Sunny. Okay, not “all” the Deols, no Esha or Abhay. But most of the Deols! And it was surprisingly fun and funny as well. COULD WATCH.
- Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 (2013)
This also had all the Deols, but was surprisingly unfun and unfunny.
- Youngistaan (2014)
NO! Nonononononono!!!! I had to watch this for a talk I gave a few years back and it is TERRIBLE!!! Jackki Bhagnani is a scourge on the earth only rivaled by Nargis Farkhri. Only watch if you are so blindingly attracted to Neha Sharma that you are willing to see anything if she is on screen.
Bonus extra credit work: