How do you really rank the top 10 Bollywood films? Do you do it by popularity, cinematography, their much-loved quotient, or which movies grossed the most money? I’ll be totally honest, I’m a new fan of Bollywood movies, but I’ve quickly become an avid one. The drama, the passion, the talent, the stories, the costumes, the sets – whether you’re watching a comedy, a drama, or an action flick, all of those aspects are amazing across the board. Since I’m a newer fan, I’ve been seeking out lists of the top films in several places and working my way through them. So here’s a list of the top Bollywood films based on gross, since they’re a large part of the ones I’ve watched so far – and believe you me, I greatly await more recommendations!
1. 3 Idiots (2009)
3 Idiots is currently tops the list of the top 10 Bollywood films with a net gross of 202,57,00,000 INR or about $40,204,425. It’s a fantastic comedy, somewhat based on Chetan Bhagat’s novel Five Point Someone, and focuses on three guys who live together while studying engineering. The story concludes everything you would expect from three madcap college students – drama, love, peeing on an enemy’s house… The setup is fantastic, with the story being told in flashbacks. Just pay close attention because the flashbacks aren’t the only confusing bits.
2. Ghajini (2008)
Ghajini held the record as one of the most popular Bollywood movies for a year, and after seeing the first ten minutes of it, I totally understood why. So far it’s earned 114,67,00,000 INR, which equals out to $22,758,757. If you like lots of action alongside plenty of romance, you’ll love this one. It’s got some mystery in it, too, and some medical goodness, since Sunita is in medical school. She turns into a little sleuth while trying to get information about a once-important businessman, Sanjay, who loses his memory at regular intervals. The movie was inspired by Memento, as a matter of fact, but if anything, I enjoyed this version even more.
3. Dhoom 2 (2006)
Even though the first Dhoom didn’t make it onto the official list of the top 10 Bollywood films, you’ll definitely want to see it before seeing this one. It’s action packed like you wouldn’t believe, right from the beginning where Mr. A exhibits the cajones necessary to actually impersonate the British Queen. Mr. A himself is a highly skilled thief, who keeps outsmarting the people hired to anticipate his patterns and catch him – as well as his accomplice.
4. Gadar: Ek Prem Katha (2001)
This film, which translates to Mutiny: A Love Story, held the record for five years, and again, it’s easy to understand why. It’s an absolutely beautiful love story which takes place during the Partition of India. The plot itself is classic, with Tara Singh, a Jatt Sikh who drives a truck for a living, falling in love with Sakeena, a Muslim from an incredibly wealthy family. The two meet during the ensuing riots, which reveals a lot about what they ultimately have to endure.
5. Hum Aapke Hain Koun…! (1994)
Called Who Am I to You…! in English, this is one of the most enduring top Bollywood films; with a net gross of 69,75,00,000 INR, or approximately $13,843,406, it held the record as the top grossing film for 6 years. It’s a remake of Nadiya Ke Paar, made in 1982, and it’s a wonderful story about family, friends, and their relationships. It’s also a beautiful look at the culture with a gorgeous soundtrack. The film stands alone on its own, in a way, simply because of the way it interweaves different relationships and their dynamics. What I mean is, it doesn’t require any action or special effects or anything to tell a really fantastic story.
6. Sholay (1975)
Sholay is arguably one of the biggest hits and most popular films to ever come out of Bollywood, owing to 19 years as the top grossing film ever. There’s a good reason for that, too: it’s an absolutely fantastic movie. It has a definite Western vibe and borrows from the general theme of another awesome film, Seven Samurai. It’s hugely quotable, gorgeously done, and just … it’s just incredible!
7. Mughal-e-Azam (1960)
Mughal-e-Azam, or The Greatest of Mughals, is positively epic – I mean, it took nine years to make it! Plus, it kept the top slot for fifteen years, second only to Sholay. It’s lavish and lush, beautifully narrated, and wonderfully acted. It’s a take on a popular story, as well as a re-telling of two other movies: Loves of a Mughal Prince, made in 1928, and Anarkali, made in 1953. The character of Prince Salim is elegant and subtle, Akbar the Great is absolutely amazing, and the soundtrack is crazy gorgeous. To date, this movie has earned 5,50,00,000 INR, or about $10,91,595, and there’s no doubt those numbers will continue to increase.
8. Mother India (1957)
This is a classic Bollywood movie for a number of reasons, as well as being another epic movie. It was actually the first Bollywood film to earn an Oscar nomination in the category for a Best Foreign Language Film. It takes an in depth look at the culture, especially the way debt affected both Russian and Indian farmers at the time. As the name suggests, it also focuses heavily on female power, which is one of the reasons it’s such a groundbreaking film.
9. Shree 420 (1955)
Known in English as Mr. 420, this Bollywood flick stars Raj Kapoor, an orphan who doesn’t have a lot of money at all but manages to get an education and works hard for his success. There’s a lot of Chaplin-esque inspiration in this film, specifically concerning the Little Tramp. It’s a moving movie that focuses on the success you can achieve through hard work and determination, and Raj’s character really touches your heart.
10. Aan (1952)
Finally, we have this amazing musical, known alternatively as The Savage Princess. Filled with Technicolor vibrance, it revolves around an emperor, his brother, and his sister. There’s love, action, sadness – everything you want out of a movie, especially one out of Bollywood. It was a huge grosser, to the point where it’s still incredibly popular today.
And there you have it, the top 10 Bollywood films based on gross! Judging by the amount of time many of these films held their respective records, you can understand why they’re still so popular. Now, like I said, I’m new to these movies, so please, let me know your favorite Bollywood movie as well. Which films do you love best? I’m dying for some recommendations!
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