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Top 10 Indian Movies That Won Over the World

Updated February 24, 2017
7 min read

As the world’s largest producer of films, India has had its fair share of excellent films. Every year, we get some good ones as well as some really bad ones. Only a few manage to become appreciated around the world, and not just by Indians. These are the films that have stood the test of time to become classics of Indian cinema. While some films on this list were released very recently, their impact shouldn’t be dismissed. It has been argued that one of the reasons why Indian films don’t get the recognition they deserve is due to a lack of exposure. This is true in many cases. A lot of wonderful films made in India never really get the love and admiration they deserve. But for these ten films, the exposure they received was a key factor in their success. These films have been studied and celebrated, not just in India but across the world as well. So, here is the list of 10 Indian movies that won over the world and received international acclaim.

10. Nayakan

A film that was chosen by TIME magazine as one of the 100 best films of all-time, ‘Nayakan’ was inspired by ‘The Godfather’. Taking the basic premise of that film, Mani Ratnam manages to weave magic on the screen. By combining certain real-life elements that gave the film a degree of authenticity. The film features one of Kamal Haasan’s best performances as he completely dives in to the role of the don. The film impressed a lot of foreign critics who liked the atmosphere the film managed to create. It manages to tug at your heartstrings without any of the emotions feeling forced. It remains a true milestone for Indian cinema.

 

9. Apur Sansar

The films of Satyajit Ray have always been a source of pride for Indian cinema. One of the highlights of his career is undoubtedly The Apu Trilogy. With the final part ‘Apu Sansar’, Ray managed to successfully conclude one of the all-time great trilogies. The film focuses on Apu as an adult and deals with the various trials and tribulations of the protagonist. Almost the entire film feels like a flawless work of art, be it the directing, acting etc. The film cemented Ray’s reputation as one of the leading filmmakers of the world. Apart from winning a lot of awards, the film continues to influence directors today.

 

8. Gangs Of Wasseypur


One of the best Indian films of the 21st century, Anurag Kashyap’s magnum opus is a frenetic, violent and highly entertaining film. The film is filled with memorable characters, that are bound to stay with you, long after the film is over. What also worked in the film’s favor are the elements of black comedy spread throughout the film. It also impressed at film festivals around the world and captured the imagination of the foreign audience. The films represent an exciting director working with a zest and energy that is captured in every frame. The film was also lauded for showing us real life stories that we didn’t know too well. It is to Kashyap and his crew’s credit that we got two absolutely pulsating films out of it.

 

7. The Lunchbox

From first-time director, Ritesh Batra came a film that won over everyone who saw it. The key to the film’s success and appeal is the balance that the director found in the story. It was sweet without becoming mushy and so on. The sensitive handling of this unique love story impressed people all over the world. This was evidenced by the sheer number of awards that the film won at prestigious film festivals. And when it wasn’t sent as India’s official entry to the Oscars, there was a huge uproar. That showed the love that people had towards the film. It a story that is universal and that’s what made people connect with it.

 

6. Monsoon Wedding

The film directed by Mira Nair, managed to properly capture the energy, tension and excitement surrounding an Indian wedding. A realistic depiction of modern day India, helped the film become a box-office as well as critical success. The film won the prestigious Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival. It became only the second instance where an Indian director’s film had won this award. The film continues to impress people with the way it held the intertwining stories together. This is not an easy task given the number of characters involved. The film is an example of how great films can be made from simple settings.

 

5. Mother India

The film’s success lies in the worldwide appeal it possessed. The most expensive film at the time of its making, went on to become the most successful. The strong sense of nationalism and patriotism that the film created helped its cause immensely. It is an example of what India cinema and Bollywood in particular was capable of. The influence of the film has increased over the years and it has cemented its legacy as one of India’s most iconic films. While we have many similar stories by now, the impact that the film created at that time was truly something else.

 

4. Lagaan

The last Indian film to be nominated for an Oscar, the film is a high point for the song and dance formula perfected by Bollywood. Another film with a broad appeal, the story is one that anybody can understand and appreciate. The film was recognized at many film festivals around the world. Despite the long length of the film, it never has a dull moment in it. It has splashes of romance, comedy and above all, a generous helping of heroism. The true triumph of the film was that it made you care for these people, think of the cricket match like YOUR life depended on it. When a film manages to do this, its bound to capture the imagination of the viewer and become a memorable experience.

 

3. Salaam Bombay!

Arguably Mira Nair’s best film in her career, the film is amazing in every department. Her decision to use first-time actors paid rich dividends as their performances are startlingly natural and realistic. Since they are portraying their everyday lives, the impact is so much greater. A film that explores difficult themes with maturity and a real earnestness, the effect is a powerful punch to the gut. The images shown in the film are bound to stay with you and it leaves the viewer with a heavy heart. The film’s realism was applauded and it went on to win a ton of awards all over, including at the Cannes film festival.

 

2. Pyaasa

The best film from one of India’s master directors, Guru Dutt. While the film was not a huge success when it released, its reputation over the years has improved tremendously. It is now considered to be one of the finest and most romantic films ever made. The soulful nature of the film made it resonate with a lot of people. The story of the film never gets old and it remains relevant even today. Not only did the film have some amazing performances, it also has some of the most memorable songs in Indian cinema. Today, ‘Pyaasa’ is a film that is revered around the world not just by filmmakers but by movie buffs in general.

 

1. Pather Panchali

One of the most famous films in the world and also considered to be one of the greatest ever, this is the film that made the world take notice of Satyajit Ray. It also made others look at Indian cinema in a different light. The key ingredients to the film’s success is the realism in the story and the way it is depicted. The treatment of the characters, the natural setting and the authenticity of it all went on to hugely influence the parallel cinema movement in India. The film is very touching as it creates an emotional bond with the viewer. It is one of THE landmark films of Indian cinema. It has also gone on to influence many directors all over the world ranging from Scorsese to Coppola.

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