The Hindi cinema, better known as Bollywood, the term derived from 2 words–Bombay and Hollywood, is one of the biggest movie industries in the world. The industry has seen many talented actors from the 90s to the current generation. We’ve seen some top-rated, popular movies leaving an impact for years, be it Shahrukh and Kajol’s sizzling chemistry in DDLJ or the iconic ‘Poo’ from ‘Kabhie Khushi Kabhi Gham.’ While these films surely deserved the hype and popularity, some movies might have gone unnoticed and did not gain the remark they deserved.
If you’re a Bollywood fanatic, here are the 50 underrated Bollywood movies you must watch:
1. The Lunchbox
Released in 2013, The Lunchbox is a heartwarming and sweet movie. The story revolves around a young housewife, Ila, and Saajan Fernandez. To spice up her marriage, Ila decides to win her husband back by cooking delicious lunch for him every day. On a lack of response from her husband, Ila realizes there has been a misplacement of the lunchbox. It brews an innocent friendship between Ila and the recipient of the misplaced lunchbox (Saajan). The excellent portrayal of the characters by Nimrat Kaur, Irrfan Khan, and Nawazuddin Siddiqui makes this movie extremely special.
This movie went almost unheard of when it hit the theatres in 2010. The film revolves around Rohan, who got expelled from his boarding school and returns to his oppressive father, who forces him to pursue engineering as a career. Rohan tries hard to break through the shackles created by his father to pursue his true passion for writing. On this journey, he also brews a great bond with his stepbrother, Arjun. The movie is going to fill your heart with warmth.
3. Chalo Dilli
It is yet another underrated film. The story is about Mihika (Lara Dutta), an affluent and successful investment banker, who misses her flight to Delhi and needs to reach there anyhow to meet her husband. She then comes across Manu (Vinay Pathak), a middle-class, talkative man who takes responsibility for helping her reach Delhi on time. The duo then embarks together on a very chaotic journey.
4. Qarib Qarib Single
Qarib Qarib Single is a light-hearted movie by Irrfan Khan and Parvathy Thirovothu. The story revolves around Jaya, a widow, and Vyogi, a funny and talkative guy. They both meet on an online dating site. They both embark on a journey to meet three of Yogi’s ex-girlfriends. During this journey, they both fall in love with each other.
Though the film bombed at the box office, it is truly an underrated film. The movie shows the journey of two lovers and how war, misapprehensions, and religious conflicts keep them apart for many years. Also, the songs of this movie are equally underrated. I mean, who would disapprove of a Rahat Fateh Ali Khan song?
Dev.D is hands down the most underrated film in Bollywood. The story revolves around Dev (Abhay Deol), who, after breaking up with his childhood girlfriend, hits rock bottom and starts consuming drugs and alcohol. But he later meets a prostitute named Chanda and soon falls in love with her.
7. Paan Singh Tomar
This is a biographical film based on the life of an athlete of the same name. He was an Indian Army soldier who had also won a gold medal at the national games before being compelled to turn into a notorious bandit. You need to watch this film for Irrfan Khan’s spectacular performance!
8. A Wednesday
Despite being a work of fiction, the Mumbai train bombings of July 11, 2006, served as inspiration for the script of this film. The story revolves around a retired police commissioner named Prakash Rathod, who recalls one of his most memorable cases, in which a regular citizen alerted him to a bomb scare in Mumbai.
This is again based on a true story. The story revolves around the life of assassinated lawyer and human rights advocate Shahid Azmi. The lead role is played by actor Rajkummar Rao.
10. Raman Raghav 2.0
Yet another underrated movie with Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the lead. The story revolves around Raghavan, a police officer who investigates Ramanna’s murder cases and becomes his soul mate and confidante. He makes an effort to show Raghavan how comparable they are.
11. Bheja Fry
Bheja Fry is a series of Indian comedy films starring Vinay Pathak in the lead role. The first part was released in 2007, followed by part two in 2011, and the final part was released in 2013. It is a light-hearted series that will surely tickle your funny bone.
Company is an action crime thriller starring Ajay Devgn and Vivek Oberoi in the lead roles. The story revolves around a local hothead named Mallik and a henchman named Chandu, who team up to start a gang. As their gang’s reputation grows, tension develops, and eventually, the group disintegrates.
Titli is a 2014 crime drama film starring Shashank Arora in the lead role. The plot centers on Titli’s desire to leave his gangster family and establish himself as a law-abiding citizen. He finds an unexpected confidant in his spouse after his enraged family forces him to marry a girl named Neelu.
Rajkummar Rao and actress Patralekha co-star in Hansal Mehta’s film Citylights, which is a remake of the British movie Metro Manila. The protagonist of the story is Deepak Singh, a former soldier from Rajasthan who relocates to Mumbai with his family in search of a better way of life. But when he gets there, he realizes that nothing is as simple as it seems.
15. Nil Battey Sannata
Nil Battey Sannata is a heartwarming story that revolves around the bittersweet relationship between a mother and daughter. Apeksha despises education because she believes it is pointless, given their financial situation. Her mother, Chanda, comes up with a creative plan to encourage her daughter to study.
16. I am Kalam
The film emphasizes the importance of educating underprivileged children while also celebrating the triumph of the human spirit over insurmountable obstacles. The protagonist of the tale is a poor kid named Chotu who draws inspiration from APJ Abdul Kalam, a former Indian president. He then makes the decision to adopt the name Kalam and harbors a wish to meet the visionary.
Aligarh is based on the true story of Ramchandra Siras, a Marathi professor and the dean of the renowned Aligarh Muslim University’s faculty of Classical Modern Indian Languages, who was expelled for moral reasons. A sting operation was performed on him to determine his sexual orientation. During the course of his journey, he forms a special bond with the journalist who covers his story.
Ugly is a 2013 thriller movie directed by Anurag Kashyap. Rahul, a poor actor, is at the center of the narrative as he looks for his missing daughter Kali. He soon begins accusing Bose, her stepfather, and a police officer of abducting her.
19. Black Friday
The 2004 crime drama Black Friday was written and directed by Anurag Kashyap. It details the events leading up to the bombings and the ensuing police investigation and is based on Hussain Zaidi’s book Black Friday: The True Story of the Bombay Bomb Blasts.
Masaan is a highly accoladed Hindi film released in 2015. It stars Vicky Kaushal and Richa Chadha in the lead roles. The plot centers on four characters who experience personal catastrophes while contending with prejudice, a rigid moral code, and a harsh caste structure.
Aarakshan spreads the message of how important education is and how casteism restricts this necessity to certain sections of society. Dr. Anand, the principal of STM College, and his followers are at the center of the narrative as they struggle to uphold the Supreme Court’s ruling on the OBC reservation.
Kites is indeed a beautiful movie starring Hrithik Roshan and Barbara Mori. The story revolves around Jay, a dancing instructor from Las Vegas, who marries undocumented ladies to aid in their application for green cards. For the same reason, he marries Natasha, but after their second encounter, he falls in love with her.
Ajay Devgan and Leena Yadav collaborated to create the 2015 Indian drama film Parched. Four women in Gujarat chat about men, sex, and life as they each battle their own demons in the movie.
24. Shootout at Wadala
Shootout at Wadala is a crime-based film released in 2013. The film stars some prominent actors like Anil Kapoor, Kangana Ranaut, and John Abraham. The story revolves around a hardworking student named Manya, who ends up in jail for shooting a criminal who attacked his brother, Bhargav, who later passes away. Soon after breaking out of prison, Manya starts his own gang to seek payback.
Sarkar is a political film starring the father-son duo Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan. Sarkar, a strong man, is falsely charged with the murder of a respectable politician. When he is put behind bars, his son Shankar comes forward as a leader to defend him and their legacy.
Phantom is an action-thriller directed by Kabir Khan. The film stars Saif Ali Khan and Katrina Kaif in the lead roles. The story revolves around Daniyal, a discredited Indian soldier, and Nawaz, a security agent for an American company, who encounter several difficulties while undertaking a risky operation to assassinate 26/11 suspects.
This film is based on a real-life incident that occurred decades ago. The story revolves around Raghu (Varun Dhawan), who loses both his wife and son when two bank robbers attempt to flee by stealing their car. Raghu is devastated by this incident and proceeds to seek revenge on Liak and Harman for the loss of his family.
Kaminey is an action film starring Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra. The story revolves around Guddu and Charlie, who are identical twins and want to put an end to their suffering and live prosperous lives. However, when they are compelled into the corrupt realm, things do not go as expected.
29. Mere Brother Ki Dulhan
Mere Brother Ki Dulhan is a rom-com starring Katrina Kaif, Imran Khan, and Ali Zafar. The story revolves around two brothers – Luv and Kush. When Luv requests that his brother Kush find him a bride, he chooses Dimple because he believes that she is ideal for Luv. However, days before the wedding, Kush and Dimple confess their feelings for one another.
30. Mrs. Serial Killer
Mrs. Serial Killer is a psychological thriller starring Jacqueline Fernandez. It was aired on Netflix in 2020. A doctor’s devoted wife decides to commit a copycat crime to establish his innocence after he is sentenced to prison for a series of horrifying killings.
Roy is a romantic drama film starring Ranbir Kapoor, Jacqueline Fernandez, and Arjun Rampal. The story revolves around Kabir, a cavalier filmmaker, who meets and falls in love with Ayesha, a London-based director. Another story involves an international art thief who changes his ways after falling for a woman.
Guilty is a 2020 Netflix film starring Kiara Advani. In this film, a less-liked student accuses a campus heartthrob of sexual assault, and the victim’s girlfriend is forced to investigate the claim.
33. Aankhon Dekhi
Aankhon Dekhi is a 2013 drama film starring Rajat Kapoor and Sanjay Mishra. As the villagers relentlessly ridicule him, Bauji refuses to grant his daughter’s desire to wed the man she loves. After meeting him, though, he chooses to change his mind and his perspective.
34. Margarita with a Straw
Margarita with a Straw is a drama film starring Kalki Koechlin. In this film, a cerebral palsy-afflicted teen with a rebellious attitude travels to New York to attend school. She unintentionally falls in love while on her path to self-discovery.
35. The Blue Umbrella
This is a 2005 Indian drama film based on Ruskin Bond’s 1980 book of the same name. In this film, a couple of Japanese tourists give Biniya a blue umbrella, and she immediately becomes quite popular in her village. Nandakishore, the sole shopkeeper in their village, then tries to steal her umbrella.
36. Salaam Bombay!
Salaam Bombay is a film that stands out from typical Bollywood movies. Unlike other typical films, Salaam Bombay doesn’t have any musical numbers or big-name movie stars, and its documentary-like filmmaking style is contrary to the prevailing trends in Hindi cinema at that time. The story revolves around Krishna, whose mother orders him to return home only once he has earned INR 500 to fix his brother’s motorbike, which he breaks in a fit of rage. He unexpectedly finds himself in a slum in Bombay.
37. Shor in the City
Shor in the City is an amazing film. With its captivating storyline and talented actors, you surely won’t regret watching this film. During the tumultuous Ganesh Chaturthi festival time in the city of Mumbai, an NRI businessman, a small criminal, and an ambitious cricket player struggle with decisions that could change their lives.
38. Do Dooni Chaar
Do Dooni Chaar is a light-hearted comedy film starring the late actor Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Kapoor. The plot centers on the Duggal family’s desire to improve their standard of living. Now it is up to the family’s head, a schoolteacher, to take advantage of the chance that knocks on his door.
39. Rocket Singh
Despite Ranbir giving one of his best performances and a brilliant script, this project failed at the box office, and there goes another addition to the underrated movies’ list. The protagonist of the tale is commerce graduate Harpreet Singh Bedi, who is a salesman. He proceeds to run a side business after being made fun of by his coworkers and employer.
40. No One Killed Jessica
This movie is based on April 29, 1999, murder of Jessica Lall and the numerous protests that contributed to the subsequent delivery of justice years later.
41. Chillar Party
Chillar Party is a light-hearted movie for both kids and adults. The protagonists of the story are a group of young kids who become close friends with an orphan and his dog Bhidu. But when a cunning politician decides to put down stray dogs, they devise a strategy to protect their canine companion.
42. Stanley ka Dabba
This movie examines concepts like friendship, self-worth, and sharing. The story revolves around Stanley, who is forbidden to enter school by one of his school teachers because he does not bring his own tiffin/lunchbox. The teacher also forces students to share their lunch with him.
43. The Last Color
Indian-American chef Vikas Khanna is the producer and director of the Indian feature film The Last Color. In Varanasi and Vrindavan, India, widows are subject to a long-standing taboo that is addressed in the film. It explains how a little tightrope walker, who is just 9 years old, befriends one such widow and makes a promise to brighten her life.
44. Manorama Six Feet Under
This film is about an amateur investigator (Abhay Deol) who is caught up in a web of lies, betrayal, and murder. This is his story. Despite the film’s poor box office performance, critics praised the dialogue for being brilliantly constructed.
45. Ship of Theseus
Anand Gandhi examines issues of identity, justice, beauty, purpose, and death in this movie. The movie’s title alludes to Theseus’ conundrum, which asks if a ship that has been completely rebuilt with new pieces is still the same ship. The movie took home the National Award for the year’s Best Feature Film.
46. Ek Hasina Thi
In this Sriram Raghavan-directed neo-noir movie, Urmila Matondkar plays a woman who falls in love with a man (Saif Ali Khan) who frames her for a murder she didn’t commit. She then sets him up in an effort to exact revenge.
47. Liar’s Dice
Geetanjali Thapa and Nawazuddin Siddiqui play the key characters in this road movie. The film addresses the topic of migrant workers’ exploitation as well as the human cost of migration to cities. In total, the movie won two National Awards.
The lives of many people who were riot victims in Gujarat in 2002 are followed in Firaaq. Actress Nandita Das made her directorial debut with this movie, which took home two National Awards.
The cases of groom kidnapping in Bihar are the inspiration for this movie. It was well-received by critics as well as commercial directors like Imtiaz Ali and Rajkumar Hirani, winning a National Award for Best Film on Social Issues.
The Chittagong rebellion in British India is the inspiration for Bedabrata Pain’s film Chittagong. Manoj Bajpai plays the lead in the movie. It received favorable reviews from reviewers and was named the Best Debut Film by a Director.
It is quite unfortunate how the industry and audience fail to recognize these gems in the form of a movie. After all, a lot of effort, money, and time is put into making a film, and when it does not get the recognition it deserves, it must be heartbreaking for the makers and actors of the film. Nevertheless, now that you know you missed these films, you should hit the couch with popcorn and your movie buddy!