Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Texas chapter.

If you are not prepared for three hours movies full of songs, culture, and beautiful stories that will make you feel every emotion under the Sun, this industry of movies is not for you. The essence of Bollywood cannot be captured by any set of words I use here, so all I can do is highly encourage these seven movies if you are looking for something new and exciting to watch.

“Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” 

– Bong Joon-Ho, director of Parasite 
3 Idiots

If you are looking to cry, laugh, mourn, and celebrate over three hours, this is the movie for it. It follows Farhan and Raju as they drop all their responsibilities in the middle of their life to go on a road trip to find their college friend, Rancho. The movie alternates between flashbacks to their college days of when they met Rancho, and how they all slowly became friends. Rancho was different from everyone else in their engineering class, as he boldly questioned everything, chased fun, and taught those around him that “All Izz Well”. Farhan and Raju weren’t as smart as him, but more importantly, they weren’t as good at engineering, and Rancho encouraged them to follow their passions. I could write three more pages describing the plot of this movie, but I’ll spare you. Let’s just say it involves: an adorable love story with a yellow scooter, a vengeful principal and even more vengeful classmate, an exciting birth, and a very important pen. After graduation, Rancho disappears without a trace, and Farhan and Raju go on to lead very successful lives but they jump at the chance to find their old friend; when they do find them, it’s in the most unlikely place. This movie is not one that you should put at the bottom of your To-Watch list and forget about, put it at the top of your list and watch it ASAP. It has taught me so much about what I should prioritize and what kind of person I want to be. I hope it’ll leave a mark on you too. 

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

I may be biased here because this has been my favorite movie since I first saw it in theaters in 2011. The movie follows Imraan, Arjun, and Kabir, who were best friends in high school before Imraan and Arjun had a falling out. Now reunited for Kabir’s bachelor trip, they explore the beautiful country of Spain as each friend takes the others on a surprise adventure, like scuba diving. This trip proves to be more than a simple boy’s trip as they slowly open up emotionally and face their demons. The trip changes them all, teaching them the value of love and friendship as they all move past traumas that have been haunting them for years. I love this movie for how it beautifully describes friendship and the overall message that your friends are the people you grow with, suffer with, and celebrate with. 

Taare zameen par

This movie is not just a tear-jerker, it makes even the coldest hearts bawl like a baby. It follows a boy named Ishaan who is sent away to boarding school by his parents after he continues to not perform to his parent’s expectations. What they don’t realize is that he has a learning disability that makes reading and writing incredibly difficult for him, but it hasn’t stopped him from being an incredible artist. At his new school, his art teacher, played by the incredible Aamir Khan, realizes that Ishaan has dyslexia and decides to tutor him. This movie was influential in changing the way that India thought of learning disabilities, and also was highly relatable to anyone who has ever felt abandoned or left behind. The wide range of amazing songs couple beautifully with the intense emotional performance by the actors. This movie is a testament of how powerful Indian cinema can be and incredibly relatable to people of all backgrounds. 

Yeh jawani hai deewani

As I am writing this, I am in the middle of my yearly rewatch of this absolutely iconic movie. It stars Ranbir Kapoor, Aditya Roy, and Kalki Koechlin as old friends who are going to Nepal for a trekking adventure when Deepika Padukone as Naina joins them at the last minute. The first half of this movie follows Naina becoming friends with these people and slowly coming out of her shell over the course of the trip, but ends with a devastating realization and all the friends now have to go their separate ways with Bunny suddenly deciding to move to America. In the second half, they are reunited many years later at Aditi’s wedding, and they are forced to remedy the awkward ways that they left things. This movie beautifully balances themes of friendship, love, compromise, and the pains of growing. Every exhilarating high is followed by a painful low, as this movie makes you feel everything from the pain of leaving home, the exciting promise of adventure, the struggle of compromise, and the safety of friends. The perfect soundtrack is paired with a beautiful story that perfectly balances exploring a variety of themes. This is the perfect fall movie to get lost in under some blankets with a warm cup of tea.

Dil dhadakne do

No movie better encompasses the struggles of family while staying fun and light-hearted, and reminding you that at the end of the day, your family will have you back. The movie is about a dysfunctional family with a cheating father, superficial wife, abandoned daughter, and conflicted son as they go on a cruise with all their friends for the parents’ marriage anniversary. The father is hoping that his son will take over the family business even though he would rather fly planes and has stopped considering his daughter as part of the family since her marriage, despite her being perfectly suited to take over the business. As the parents try to set up their son with their friend’s daughter, they face struggles with family politics, miscommunication, and budding love. The movie is narrated by the family dog, Pluto, as he watches Priyanka Chopra, the daughter, and Ranveer Singh, the son, try to pull their family back together. 

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge

This movie is the definition of an Indian classic. It is the second highest-grossing Indian movie of the 90s and is recognized worldwide as an absolutely iconic film. In this two-part movie, Simran, played by Kajol, has been raised in London in a very conservative household who have arranged her marriage to a friend in India so she decides to go on a trip across Europe as a last Hurrah. Raj, played by Shah Rukh Khan, is also planning a trip but before the trip, he tries to buy beer from Simran’s dad and runs off with it when he is refused. Simran and Raj meet on the trip and are separated from their friends when they miss the train to Zurich. They are forced to rely on each other to find their way back and thanks to Raj’s flirting, they slowly fall in love. Upon reaching London, they are separated and Simran is whisked away to India for her wedding, but Raj knows their connection is worth something and goes after her. Her father doesn’t approve because of their initial negative meeting, but that doesn’t stop Raj from vying for her parent’s approval at their wedding. The climax of this movie is an emotional one, but it doesn’t stop it from being a fun ride full of highs and lows. The image of Shah Rukh Khan standing in a field of flowers after showing up to Simran’s wedding is burned into every viewer’s mind. This is a movie about a beautiful love story, but on a deeper level it’s about the importance of family and respect. 

Gangubai Kathiawadi

Gangubai was a prostitute in India who became a political activist in the 60s as she worked for the rights of sex workers and orphans. In the bibliographical movie, she is played by Alia Bhatt who watches her get sold into prostitution as a teenager. After being attacked by a client, she leverages her position to get the protection of a mafia leader and she moves up the ranks to become the madame or leader of the brothel she works at. She gives up everything, including her love and her life, to protect her sisters and advocate for respect. This is a powerful movie that shows how Gangubai advanced women’s rights in India at a time when people were not ready to show respect to sex workers. She was an incredible woman, and this movie has helped illustrate her story for a new generation. This movie contains depictions of sexual assault and violence. 

Bollywood movies are almost all I watch, and these seven are constantly on my rewatch list as they take me on a wild ride every time I start one. To me, there is no better relaxation than getting lost in these characters’ worlds for a little while and pretending my biggest struggles are trying to find my way home from Switzerland or convincing my parents that I am not fit to run a business. I hope that, if you also choose to embark on this exciting journey, you fall in love with the world of Bollywood.

Hi there! I am a sophomore Biology major at UT Austin. I am super interested in research and science, but I also love writing about my life and what I see around me. I love cat videos, weird science facts, and cooking new food. Thanks for reading!