With over 300 million monthly active users, Hotstar is undoubtedly India’s leading streaming service. But that’s thanks to its endless supply of soap operas from Star India’s bouquet of channels and its heavy investment in sports rights. In the world of movies, Hotstar can’t touch Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. (It still doesn’t offer surround sound.) For what it’s worth though, it’s expected to get a boost with the upcoming launch of Disney+ — it will be called Disney+ Hotstar after. Moreover, unlike the aforementioned two, Hotstar is a freemium platform (for now). And that means a lot of the films below are free to watch, albeit with advertisements. We’ve explicitly marked those.
To pick the best movies on Hotstar, we relied on Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic, and IMDb ratings to create a shortlist. The last of them was preferred for Indian films given the shortfalls of reviews aggregators in that department. Additionally, we used our own editorial judgement to add or remove a few. This list will be updated once every few months if there are any worthy additions or if some movies are removed from the service, so bookmark this page and keep checking in. Here are the best films currently available on Hotstar in India, sorted alphabetically.
Disney puts its animation flavour onto the famous folk tale of a street urchin who disguises himself as a wealthy prince after finding a genie in a magic lamp, in an attempt to impress the Sultan’s daughter.
All the Way (2016)
Bryan Cranston and Anthony Mackie lead this drama that follows US President Lyndon B. Johnson’s (Cranston) first year in office after the JFK assassination, which included pressure from Martin Luther King Jr. (Mackie) to pass the Civil Rights Act.
Writer-director Gulzar’s Shakespearean comedy, loosely based on the latter’s famous play The Comedy of Errors, was also a remake of the 1968 film Do Dooni Char, itself a remake of the 1963 Bengali film Bhranti Bilas, penned by Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar. Free to watch.
Ankhon Dekhi (2014)
After an eye-opening experience involving his daughter’s marriage, a man in his late 50s (Sanjay Mishra) resolves that he won’t believe anything he can’t see, which naturally leads to some dramatic complications. Free to watch.
In writer-director Shyam Benegal’s feature-length directorial debut, a child-desiring Dalit woman (Shabana Azmi) married to a deaf-mute alcoholic potter is seduced by the village landlord’s son (Anant Nag), which causes personal and societal problems. Free to watch.
The Avengers (2012)
Earth’s mightiest heroes – including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and the Hulk – come together in this groundbreaking Marvel team-up from writer-director Joss Whedon to stop Thor’s adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his alien army from subjugating mankind.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
In this mega get-together, all Marvel superheroes introduced across over a dozen movies — from Guardians of the Galaxy to Doctor Strange — come together to thwart the mighty Thanos, who is on a quest to collect all-powerful elements that would make him unstoppable.
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
In this direct follow-up to Infinity War, the remaining superheroes must reunite and gather strength to discover a way to undo the universe-shattering actions of an intergalactic supervillain. The highest-grossing movie of all time.
Badhaai Ho (2018)
Upon learning that his middle-aged mother (Neena Gupta) is pregnant, a twenty-something man (Ayushmann Khurrana) struggles to come to terms with the new development, which also affects his relationship with his girlfriend (Sanya Malhotra). Free to watch.
Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015)
The heavily controversial Salman Khan stars as a devout Hindu Brahmin and an ardent devotee of Hanuman, who embarks on a journey to reunite a mute six-year-old Muslim girl, lost in India, with her parents in Pakistan. Kareena Kapoor co-stars. Salman is a convicted poacher, out on bail, and accused of culpable homicide, pending appeal.
Bangalore Days (2014)
National Award-winning writer-director Anjali Menon continues her exploration of family relationships with this lengthy — running at 172 minutes — Malayalam-language look at three cousins who fulfill their childhood dream of moving to Bangalore, but face challenges as they adapt to the new city. Free to watch.
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013)
Inspired by the autobiography of the renowned athlete Milkha Singh (Farhan Akhtar), a look at his life from the Partition of India in 1947 to the 1960 Summer Olympic Games in Rome. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra directs. Free to watch.
Black Swan (2010)
Natalie Portman stars as a committed ballerina in Darren Aronofsky’s psychological horror that plays as a metaphor for artistic perfection, as she starts to lose her grip on reality after winning the lead part.
Sacha Baron Cohen took his comedic character, a Kazakh journalist, mainstream with this controversial mockumentary in which he travels to the USA to make a documentary. Features unscripted vignettes of Cohen interviewing and interacting with Americans in character.
Mel Gibson starred in and directed this epic war film about a 13th-century Scottish warrior who leads a revolt against King Edward I of England, after his wife is killed a day after their marriage.
After she’s dumped by her fiancé, a woman (Ranjini) pays a con artist (Mohanlal) to replace him in the role in front of her visiting, ailing father in this Malayalam-language screwball comedy. Priyadarshan writes and directs. Free to watch.
A young Mexican boy’s pursuit of music, in defiance of a family ban, transports him to the literal Land of the Dead, where he seeks his great-great-grandfather, a legendary singer, to return home to the living. A Pixar film.
The Dark Knight (2008)
In the second part of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, regarded as the greatest comic book movie ever, Batman (Christian Bale) faces a villain, the Joker (Heath Ledger), he doesn’t understand, and must go through hell to save Gotham and its people.
Bestowed with accelerated healing powers at the cost of heavy disfiguration thanks to an experiment, a fast-talking mercenary (Ryan Reynolds) with a fourth wall-breaking sense of humour goes on a revenge quest.
The Departed (2006)
Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon star as an undercover cop and a mole in the Boston police, respectively, trying to identify each other in Martin Scorsese’s remake of the 2002 Hong Kongese original called Infernal Affairs. Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, and Martin Sheen also star.
The Descendants (2011)
Based on Kaui Hart Hemmings’ 2007 novel of the same, a Hawaii land baron (George Clooney) and his two daughters (Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller) try to deal with problems in the wake of his wife and their mother falling into a coma after a boating accident.
In this Malayalam film that was later remade in Hindi, a local cable operator named Georgekutty (Mohanlal) does everything he can to protect his family, suspected in the missing-persons case of a high-ranking police officer’s son, who had blackmailed Georgekutty’s daughter with a nude video. Free to watch.
A stuntman moonlighting as a getaway driver (Ryan Gosling) grows fond of his neighbour and her young son, and then takes part in a botched heist to protect them from the debt-ridden husband.
The Fault in Our Stars (2014)
Based on John Green’s novel of the same name, the story of a sixteen-year-old cancer patient (Shailene Woodley) who’s forced to attend a support group, falls in love with another cancer patient (Ansel Elgort), and the life-changing journey they embark on.
The Favourite (2018)
Olivia Colman swept best actress awards for her work in this early 18th-century black comedy about two cousins (Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz) who vie for the affections of Great Britain’s queen (Colman).
Finding Nemo (2003)
After his son gets abducted in the Great Barrier Reef, a meek overprotective clownfish sets out to rescue him from Sydney, learning to take risks along the way with the help of a regal blue tang named Dory.
Force Majeure (2014)
Hearing about an avalanche during their holiday in the French Alps, a husband and father-of-two makes a decision that puts his marriage in jeopardy in this comedy-drama. Features four languages, including Swedish and Norwegian. Palme d’Or winner Ruben Östlund directs.
Godhi Banna Sadharna Mykattu (2016)
In this Kannada-language film, an Alzheimer’s-afflicted widower (Anant Nag) goes missing from the old-age home, prompting his career-driven son to hit pause, as he finds out about his dad’s past as he tries to find him. Free to watch.
Considered as one of the best gangster films of all time, it brought Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro together for the sixth time. Based on Nicholas Pilegg’s 1985 non-fiction book Wiseguy, it tells the rise and fall story of mob associate Henry Hill, his friends and family between 1955 and 1980.
Gran Torino (2008)
A Korean War veteran (Clint Eastwood) decides to help reform his Hmong neighbour (Bee Vang), who was pressured into attempting to steal the former’s most prized possession, a 1972 Ford Gran Torino, as the gateway into a local gang.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
A concierge (Ralph Fiennes) at a famous European hotel between the first and second World Wars strikes up a friendship with a lobby boy to prove his innocence after he is framed for murder. Wes Anderson directs.
Grey Gardens (2009)
The life of socialite and fashion model Edith Bouvier Beale (Drew Barrymore) and her mother (Jessica Lange) — cousin and aunt to future US First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy — from her 1936 debut to the filming of the 1975 eponymous documentary. Won six Emmys, including one for Lange.
The Hate U Give (2018)
A black teenager’s world — belonging to a poor neighbourhood but attending a prestigious school — crumbles after she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend at the hands of a police officer.
Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (2003)
Set against the politically-charged backdrop of the Emergency in the 1970s, writer-director Sudhir Mishra’s film revolves around three friends (Kay Kay Menon, Chitrangada Singh, and Shiney Ahuja) whose lives are transformed in the wake of the turbulent period.
Hidden Figures (2016)
The real-life story of a team of gifted and talented female African-American mathematicians at NASA who played a vital role in the early years of the Space Race while dealing with the cruelty of their co-workers.
A History of Violence (2005)
The mild-mannered owner (Viggo Mortensen) of a small-town diner sets off waves after he confronts two robbers to defend a waitress. David Cronenberg directs.
The Imitation Game (2014)
Though historically inaccurate in various aspects, Benedict Cumberbatch’s turn as British mathematician Alan Turing who helps the Allies decrypt the Nazi intelligence codes, Morten Tyldum’s direction, and the work of its strong supporting cast brought it much success and acclaim.
Incredibles 2 (2018)
Arriving 14 years after the original, this Pixar sequel from writer-director Brad Bird puts the focus on the ultra-flexible mother (Holly Hunter) as she sets out to restore faith in superheroes, while the heavyweight father (Craig T. Nelson) must take care of their three kids.
Iron Man (2008), Iron Man 3 (2013)
In these two entertaining chapters of the trilogy set either side of The Avengers, a wealthy industrialist and inventor (Robert Downey Jr.) constructs a high-tech suit for himself (Iron Man), and battles PTSD while investigating a series of terrorist attacks (Iron Man 3).
Isle of Dogs (2018)
Wes Anderson’s ode to canine friendship was this stop-motion feature set in a dystopian near-future Japan where dogs have been quarantined following a canine flu outbreak, and follows a young boy looking for his dog. Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, others lend their voices.
Karthik Subbaraj delivers an excellent meta-conceit with this Tamil-language crime comedy about a budding filmmaker (Siddharth) who is caught researching a gangster to make a movie about organised crime. Free to watch.
Kaaka Muttai (2014)
Two kids from the slums of Chennai do everything to get their hands on a slice of pizza after being tempted by a television commercial in this Tamil-language comedy-drama. Debutante M. Manikandan writes, directs, and shoots. Free to watch.
Priyadarshan’s look at the inhumane treatment of Indian freedom fighters imprisoned by the British Raj at the infamous titular jail on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the early 20th century won three National Awards. Mohanlal, Prabhu, Amrish Puri, and Tabu star in the Malayalam film. Free to watch.
Centred on the eponymous slum in the Indian city of Kochi, a Malayalam-language look at how urbanisation and real estate mafias have compounded the problems faced by the Dalit community from ‘80s to present day. Free to watch.
An honest cop’s son (Mohanlal) finds himself on a slippery slope after defending his father (Thilakan) from a local mobster in this Malayalam-language drama. Sibi Malayil directs. Free to watch.
The Last King of Scotland (2006)
Based on Giles Foden’s novel of the same name, which weaves in a fictitious young Scottish doctor (James McAvoy) as a personal physician to depict life under brutal Ugandan dictator Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker) during the 1970s.
The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
Batman must work together with a teenage orphan Robin he accidentally adopted and the new police commissioner, Barbara Gordon, in this frenetic animated comedy, to stop the Joker from taking over Gotham City.
Life of Pi (2012)
Yann Martel’s novel of the same name gets a big-budgeted adaptation from Ang Lee, about an Indian man recounting surviving a tragic shipwreck in his teenage years, and being adrift in the ocean with a Bengal tiger on a lifeboat.
The Lion King (1994)
Tricked into thinking he caused his father’s death, a lion cub runs away from home and grows up with a pair of carefree wastrels, only to be reminded of his rightful place later in life and why he must return.
The Little Mermaid (1989)
Hans Christian Andersen’s 19th-century tale about a young mermaid Ariel who makes a bargain with the sea witch Ursula and gives up her life in the sea to meet a human prince got the Disney animation treatment, which signalled the studio’s return.
In a near future devoid of new mutants, a weary aged Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and an extremely ill Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) are forced to go on the run to escort a young mutant to a safe place, while being pursued by an evil corporation.
Love, Simon (2018)
A closeted gay high school teenager (Nick Robinson) must balance friends, family, and the blackmailer threatening to out him, all while he falls for an anonymous classmate over email. Katherine Langford stars alongside, and Greg Berlanti directs.
In this Malayalam-language psychological thriller, a young wife (Shobana) is possessed by the spirit of a vengeful dancer after she opens a locked room in their new haunted mansion. To help get rid of it, a psychiatrist friend (Mohanlal) of the husband suggests an unusual cure. Free to watch.
Shakespeare’s Macbeth is transported to the Mumbai underworld by Vishal Bhardwaj, who wrote, directed, and even composed both background score and songs. An ensemble cast of Irrfan Khan, Tabu, Pankaj Kapur, and Naseeruddin Shah. Free to watch.
The Martian (2015)
Stranded on Mars with his crew assuming him to be dead, an astronaut and botanist (Matt Damon) must rely on his ingenuity to signal to Earth he is alive, and then struggle to survive while they figure out how to rescue him.
Neeraj Ghaywan ventures into the heartland of India to explore the life of four people in his directorial debut, all of whom must battle issues of caste, culture and norms. Winner of a National Award and the FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes. Free to watch.
A 16th-century Mughal prince clashes with his father, Emperor Akbar, after he falls in love with a court dancer in this epic drama, which stands as a milestone in Indian cinema and is called by some as the best Hindi film ever made. Free to watch.
Mukti Bhawan (2016)
This National Award-winning film follows a son forced to set aside his job and accompany his elderly father to the ghats of Varanasi, where the latter hopes to attain salvation.
To save her weak father from conscription and death in a war, a young Chinese maiden disguises herself as a man in this Disney animated musical, with comedic relief provided by a small dragon.
Namukku Parkkan Munthirithoppukal (1986)
Based on K. K. Sudhakaran’s 1986 Malayalam novel Nammukku Gramangalil Chennu Rapparkkam and with several biblical allusions, a man (Mohanlal) falls in love with the girl next door (Shari) and learns about the despicable home she’s stuck in. Free to watch.
The true story of the youngest recipient of India’s highest peacetime honour Ashok Chakra, 22-year-old Neerja Bhanot who thwarted the hijacking of a Pan Am flight in 1986, and died trying to get passengers to safety. Free to watch.
The Normal Heart (2014)
Mark Ruffalo plays an openly gay New York writer who is pulled into the early fear-mongering days of the HIV-AIDS crisis in the early eighties, and whose fearless activism faces pushback from his close ones.
Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
In this first of Steven Soderbergh’s trilogy, which features an ensemble cast including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon, Danny Ocean (Clooney) and his eleven associates plan to rob three Las Vegas casinos at the same time.
Spanning several decades from the sixties to present day, a man (Mammootty) illegally migrates to Dubai to build a better life but vows to return one day to his Kerala home. Noted for the lead’s performance. Free to watch.
A lawyer (Amitabh Bachchan) comes out of retirement to help three women (Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari, and Andrea Tariang) clear their names in a crime involving a politician’s nephew (Angad Bedi). Won a National Award. Free to watch.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
In the first instalment of this swashbuckling high-seas adventure, a blacksmith joins forces with an off-kilter pirate captain (Johnny Depp) currently without a ship thanks to a mutiny, in order to free the love of his life.
Planet of the Apes: Rise, Dawn, and War (2011-2017)
Andy Serkis plays an ape named Caesar in this gripping origin story that takes place years before the 1968 original. The three films – Rise, Dawn, and War – cover his life from becoming more intelligent thanks to a new drug that killed humans, to being involved in armed conflict with what’s left of mankind.
Reese Witherspoon and Tobey Maguire play two siblings who are transported to the titular black-and-white 1950s sitcom set in the American Midwest, where they are stuck with new names and new parents, but old-fashioned clothes.
Set in Kerala, a Malayalam-language coming-of-age drama that spans fourteen years and multiple love interests in a man’s (Nivin Pauly) life, from falling for a girl (Anupama Parameswaran) at high school to a new lecturer (Sai Pallavi) in college. Free to watch.
Two brothers become leaders of local rival political parties and cause much worry for their parents in this Malayalam-language socio-political satire classic. Sathyan Anthikad directs off a Sreenivasan script. Free to watch.
In this dark, gripping thriller from David Fincher, two detectives — one new (Brad Pitt) and one about to retire (Morgan Freeman) — hunt a serial killer (Kevin Spacey) who uses the seven deadly sins as his motives.
Shatranj Ke Khilari (1977)
On the eve of the Indian rebellion of 1857, writer-director Satyajit Ray presents two stories in parallel: two noblemen obsessed with an ancient form of chess, against the background of scheming enemy officials and an inept ruler. Free to watch.
The Shape of Water (2017)
Winner of Oscar for Best Picture, Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy romantic drama follows a lonely and mute janitor (Sally Hawkins), who falls in love with a humanoid amphibian being held in captivity at a classified, high-security government facility in the 1960s.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Considered one of the greatest films of its decade, a banker (Tim Robbins) sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering his wife and her lover bonds with contraband smuggler (Morgan Freeman), helping him in his business and others at the prison.
Star Wars: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi (1977–83)
A civil war grips the galaxy far, far away in George Lucas’ original trilogy, as the Rebels — a budding Jedi, a princess, a maverick pilot, and their friends — battle the evil Empire led by Darth Vader.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
Rey learns the ways of the Force and the Jedi under a reluctant Luke in this middle chapter of the sequel trilogy, hoping to convince him to lend his support to the Resistance cause in the fight against the rising threat of the First Order.
The true story of the 2009 emergency plane landing on New York’s Hudson River gets the everyday-hero treatment from Clint Eastwood, focusing on the pilot’s (Tom Hanks) heroics and the subsequent investigation that tried to paint him otherwise.
Take Off (2017)
Inspired by the same real life events as Tiger Zinda Hai — though this is infinitely better — a nurse (Parvathy Thiruvothu) living in Iraq struggles with internal and external forces after over a dozen of her colleagues and she are captured by pro-ISIS forces. Mahesh Narayanan’s directorial debut. Free to watch.
The Tale (2018)
A documentary filmmaker (Laura Dern) starts to question her pre-teen relationship with two adults — her horse-riding instructor (Elizabeth Debicki) and running coach (Jason Ritter) — after coming across an essay she wrote back then.
Meghna Gulzar and Vishal Bhardwaj combine forces to tell the story of the 2008 Noida double murder case, in which a teenage girl and the family’s hired servant were killed, and the inept police bungled the investigation. Uses the Rashomon effect for a three-pronged take. Free to watch.
Locked up by her overly protective mother, a young long-haired girl finally gets her wish to escape into the world outside thanks to a good-hearted thief, and discovers her true self.
Temple Grandin (2010)
The eponymous autistic girl (Claire Danes) rises above the medical restrictions imposed on her and improves the world of animal husbandry through her humane innovations in this biopic.
The son (Mohanlal) of an aristocratic family struggles to choose between his two loves, a distant relative (Parvathy) and a sex worker (Sumalatha), in this Malayalam-language romantic drama. Free to watch.
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Taika Waititi rescued the standalone Thor trilogy and made the character fun with this uber-colourful and boisterous chapter in which the Asgardian god of thunder loses his famed hammer and must figure out how to save his home from the goddess of death, Hela (Cate Blanchett).
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
Angry over the lack of progress in her daughter’s murder investigation, the mother (Frances McDormand) rents out three billboards to accuse the revered chief of police (Woody Harrelson) of failure, which creates a furore in the little town.
A poor artist (Leonardo DiCaprio) and a rich aristocrat (Kate Winslet) fall in love in this fictionalised account of the sinking of the RMS Titanic from writer-director James Cameron.
The Town (2010)
While a group of lifelong Boston friends plan a major final heist at Fenway Park, one of them (Ben Affleck) falls in love with the hostage from an earlier robbery, complicating matters.
Toy Story trilogy (1995-2010)
Some of Pixar’s best work is set in a world where anthropomorphic toys pretend to be lifeless around humans, and follows a group of toys as they are faced by challenges on their unexpected adventures. Gave birth to “To infinity and beyond!”
Tu Hai Mera Sunday (2016)
Five thirty-something friends struggle to find a place in Mumbai where they can play football in peace in this light-hearted rom-com tale, which explores gender divides and social mores along the way.
To keep a promise to his late wife, an elderly widower ties thousands of balloons to his house to carry him to the wilds of South America, unknowingly taking a young and earnest stowaway. From Pixar.
Ustad Hotel (2012)
Winner of three National Awards, this Malayalam-language drama looks at class, privilege, and food through the story of a chef from a well-off family who returns to his hometown to work with his grandfather, after being disowned by his father. Free to watch.
Vada Chennai (2018)
Meant to serve as the first in a trilogy, a skilled carrom player (Dhanush) is reluctantly pulled into a local gang war in north Chennai. Multi-National Award winner Vetrimaaran directs this Tamil-language film.
In a far-off future where humans have long abandoned Earth and reside on starliners, a small trash compactor robot living on the surface falls in love with a visiting probe, and embarks on a space journey that will determine the fate of mankind.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Aware of a catastrophic event that leads to doom for humans and mutants, the X-Men send Wolverine to the past in this sequel set mostly in the 1970s, in a desperate attempt to alter the course of history.
X-Men: First Class (2011)
The mutant saga jumps back to the Cold War to explore the origins of X-Men, focusing on a central brotherly relationship (James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender), as they try to stop a dictator from starting World War III.