In the past year, Netflix has made big strides on the movie front in India: it signed a long-term deal with Karan Johar, and it has a bunch of upcoming projects from the likes of Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma, Ajay Devgn, Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane, and Dibakar Banerjee. But those are still to come, and so far, apart from Soni, none has been a clear winner. For now, the best Hindi movies on Netflix belong to other studios. And thankfully, the world’s biggest streaming service has some great partnerships in place, even if it’s still too reliant on stuff from the present century.
To pick the best Hindi-language movies on Netflix, we relied on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb ratings, and other critics reviews, to create a shortlist. The latter two were preferred because RT doesn’t provide a complete representation of reviews for Indian films. 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 Hindi films currently available on Netflix in India, sorted alphabetically.
3 Idiots (2009)
In this satire of the Indian education system’s social pressures, two friends recount their college days and how their third long-lost musketeer (Aamir Khan) inspired them to think creatively and independently in a heavily-conformist world. Co-written and directed by Rajkumar Hirani, who stands accused in the #MeToo movement.
Adapted from the 2006 Filipino film Cavite, a young Muslim NRI doctor (Rajeev Khandelwal) returning from the UK to India is forced to comply with terrorists’ demands to carry out a bombing in Mumbai after they threaten his family.
Andaz Apna Apna (1994)
Two slackers (Aamir Khan and Salman Khan) who belong to middle-class families vie for the affections of an heiress, and inadvertently become her protectors from a local gangster in Rajkumar Santoshi’s cult comedy favourite.
Inspired by the French short film L’Accordeur, this black comedy thriller is the story of a piano player (Ayushmann Khurrana) who pretends to be visually impaired and is caught in a web of twists and lies after he walks into a murder scene. Tabu, Radhika Apte star alongside.
Article 15 (2019)
Ayushmann Khurrana plays a cop in this exploration of casteism, religious discrimination, and the current socio-political situation in India, which tracks a missing persons’ case involving three teenage girls of a small village. A hard-hitting, well-made movie, though ironically, it was criticised for being casteist itself, and providing an outsider’s perspective.
Bareilly Ki Barfi (2017)
After a free-spirited, young woman (Kriti Sanon) in small-town Uttar Pradesh chances upon an eponymous book whose protagonist reads exactly like her, she sets out about trying to find the author (Rajkummar Rao) with the help of the printing-press owner and novel publisher (Ayushmann Khurrana). Many critics loved Rao’s work, while some found issue with its unsubtle script.
Set in the 1970s amidst the hills of Darjeeling, writer-director Anurag Basu tells the tale of three people (Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, and Ileana D’Cruz) as they learn to love while battling the notions held by society.
This remake of the 1966 Bengali film Galpa Holeo Satyi reunited the Anand trio of Rajesh Khanna, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, and Amitabh Bachchan, though the latter has a voice-only role. It’s about a cook (Khanna) who offers to work in a household known for its ill-treatment of domestic help, only to become the apple of everyone’s eye before disappearing with the family jewels.
The Blue Umbrella (2005)
Based on Ruskin Bond’s 1980 eponymous novella, the story of a young girl in rural Himachal Pradesh whose blue umbrella becomes the object of fascination for the entire village, driving a shopkeeper (Pankaj Kapur) to desperation. A National Award winner directed by Vishal Bhardwaj.
Budhia Singh: Born to Run (2016)
Before he directed Jamtara for Netflix, writer-director Soumendra Padhi gave us this based-on-a-true-story tale of the world’s youngest marathon runner, the titular 5-year-old (Mayur Patole), who ran nearly 50 marathons under the tutelage of his coach (Manoj Bajpayee). Padhi auditioned over 1,200 kids before picking Patole.
The extraordinary true story of amateur wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan) who trains his two daughters to become India’s first world-class female wrestlers, who went on to win gold medals at the Commonwealth Games.
Delhi Belly (2011)
Three struggling friends and flatmates (Imran Khan, Kunaal Roy Kapur, and Vir Das) are unwillingly caught in the trap of a deadly crime syndicate in India’s capital. Praised for its comedy, pacing, imagination, and goofiness, though some took issue with its overreliance on scatological humour. It’s largely in English, and though a Hindi dub exists, it’s not on Netflix.
Anurag Kashyap offers a modern-day reimagining of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s Bengali romance classic Devdas, in which a man (Abhay Deol), having broken up with his childhood sweetheart, finds refuge in alcohol and drugs, before falling for a prostitute (Kalki Koechlin).
This National Award-winning film from writer-director Nagesh Kukunoor is the story of two siblings — a 10-year-old girl and her visually-impaired, eight-year-old brother — who set out on a 300-km journey across the desert of Rajasthan to find actor and goodwill ambassador Shah Rukh Khan, believing he can help with a cornea transplant.
Dil Chahta Hai (2001)
Farhan Akhtar’s directorial debut about three inseparable childhood friends whose wildly different approach to relationships creates a strain on their friendship remains a cult favourite. Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan, and Preity Zinta star.
Dil Se.. (1998)
Shah Rukh Khan plays a radio journalist who falls for a mysterious revolutionary (Manisha Koirala) in this third and final instalment of writer-director Mani Ratnam’s thematic trilogy that depicted a love story against a political backdrop. Here, it’s the insurgency of Northeast India. Also known for A.R. Rahman’s work, especially the title track and “Chaiyya Chaiyya”.
Ajay Devgn and Tabu star in this remake of the 2013 critically-acclaimed Malayalam original, about a local cable operator (Devgn) who does everything he can to protect his family, suspected in the missing-persons case of a high-ranking police officer’s (Tabu) son, who had blackmailed his daughter with a nude video. It’s overlong and simplistic, watch the original — on Hotstar — if you’re okay with subtitles.
Gol Maal (1979)
A chartered accountant (Amol Palekar), with a knack for singing and acting, falls deep down the rabbit hole after lying to his boss that he has a twin, in this Hrishikesh Mukherjee comedy.
Set in the titular Haryana city, this neo-noir thriller explores gender inequality and the dark underbelly of the suburban wastelands through a story of a real estate tycoon’s (Pankaj Tripathi) undisciplined son who kidnaps his own sister to pay off a gambling loss. Its grittiness didn’t particularly suit audiences, but critics were more appreciative.
Mani Ratnam wrote and directed this rags-to-riches story of a ruthless and ambitious businessman (Abhishek Bachchan) who doesn’t let anything stand in his way as he turns into India’s biggest tycoon. Loosely inspired by the life of Dhirubhai Ambani.
Vishal Bhardwaj’s Shakespearean trilogy concluded with this modern-day adaptation of Hamlet, that is also based on Basharat Peer’s 1990s-Kashmir memoir Curfewed Night. Follows a young man (Shahid Kapoor) who returns home to investigate his father’s disappearance and finds himself embroiled in the ongoing violent insurgency.
Set amidst the most militarised zone in the world, a young Kashmiri boy tries to contact his father, who he’s told is with Allah, by dialling a number that he somehow learns. Based on Mohd. Amin Bhat’s play “Phone No. 786”. Won a National Award, though some critics found it to be slightly simplistic.
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.
I Am Kalam (2010)
Nila Madhab Panda’s feature directorial debut is the story of an intelligent and impoverished boy (Harsh Mayar), who befriends the son of a once noble family, and is inspired by the life of India’s late President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam — whose family was also poor in his childhood — to pursue an education. Mayar won a National Award.
Inspired by the 1969 Yash Chopra film of the same name, which itself was a remake of the 1965 film Signpost to Murder, an acclaimed writer (Sidharth Malhotra) and a young homemaker (Sonakshi Sinha), the only witnesses and suspects in a double murder, present different versions of events to the investigating officer (Akshaye Khanna).
Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na (2008)
Imran Khan made his acting debut — in writer Abbas Tyrewala’s directorial debut — as Jai, a mild-mannered, peace-loving young man, who’s the opposite of his best friend Aditi (Genelia D’Souza). The two begin to search for a partner post-college, oblivious and ignorant of how perfect they are for each other, as their friends and family know very well.
Jodhaa Akbar (2008)
Definitely overlong at three and a half hours, this 16th-century epic is the story of the eponymous Mughal emperor (Hrithik Roshan) and the Rajput princess (Aishwarya Rai), whose political marriage turns into true love, as he realises she’s every bit his equal. Simply told yet effective, its message is increasingly important in an increasingly intolerant India. Ashutosh Gowariker directs.
A pregnant woman (Vidya Balan) travels from London to Kolkata to search for her missing husband in writer-director Sujoy Ghosh’s National Award-winning mystery thriller, battling sexism and a cover-up along the way.
Kapoor & Sons (2016)
After their grandfather (Rishi Kapoor) suffers a cardiac arrest, two estranged brothers return to their childhood home where they must deal with several more family problems. Alia Bhatt, Ratna Pathak Shah also star.
Khosla Ka Ghosla! (2006)
After a powerful property dealer (Boman Irani) holds a middle-class, middle-aged man’s (Anupam Kher) newly-purchased property to ransom, his son and his son’s friends devise a plot to dupe the swindling squatter and pay him back with his own money. Dibakar Banerjee’s directorial debut.
Gulzar remade the 1961 Japanese film Happiness of Us Alone with Sanjeev Kumar and Jaya Bhaduri (now Bachchan) as a deaf and mute couple, charting their lives across two decades from their courtship through the birth of their two children. Praised for its restraint and its landmark depiction of disability on Indian screen, both Gulzar and Kumar won National Awards.
Set in a small drought-wrecked Indian town during the height of the British Raj, a village farmer (Aamir Khan) stakes everyone’s future on a game of cricket with the well-equipped colonisers, in exchange for a tax reprieve for three years. From director Ashutosh Gowariker, it was nominated at the Oscars.
Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006)
In this sequel to the 2003 original (also on the list), the eponymous Mumbai underworld don (Sanjay Dutt) starts to live by the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi to impress a radio jockey (Vidya Balan) he’s smitten with. Noted for its ability to balance the message with entertainment, even as some felt it dumbed down Gandhism. Co-written and directed by Rajkumar Hirani, who stands accused in the #MeToo movement.
Set in early 1950s West Bengal as the zamindari system is abolished, an aspiring writer and daughter of a zamindar (Sonakshi Sinha) falls for a conman posing as an archaeologist (Ranveer Singh). Vikramaditya Motwane directs this drama inspired by O. Henry’s 1907 short story “The Last Leaf”. Heavily praised for its visuals, but the love story wobbles.
The Lunchbox (2013)
An unlikely mistake by Mumbai’s famously efficient lunchbox carrier system results in an unusual friendship between a young housewife (Nimrat Kaur) and an older widower (Irrfan Khan) about to retire from his job.
Lust Stories (2018)
Four directors — Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee, and Karan Johar — helm four different parts of this anthology drama that focuses on the romantic lives of four women, delving into love, power, status, and naturally, lust. Noted for its authenticity and portraying real women on screen. A Netflix Original.
The life of Pakistani author Saadat Hasan Manto (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) — one of the finest Urdu writers of the 20th century — before and after the Partition of British India, whose acclaimed life in then-Bombay is uprooted and finds his work being challenged in Lahore. Nandita Das directs.
Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (2018)
Born with a rare condition that doesn’t allow him to feel physical pain, a boy who grew up watching martial arts films trains to protect the vulnerable and longs to meet the one-legged man who won a 100-men fight. Praised for being a fun ride that trades on film nostalgia, though it doesn’t aspire to be more than a crowd-pleaser.
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.
Shekhar Kapur’s directorial debut was an uncredited adaptation of Erich Segal’s 1983 novel “Man, Woman and Child”, in which the blissful life of a family is disrupted after an orphan boy — born of the husband’s (Naseeruddin Shah) affair with another woman — comes to live with them. It’s a real tear-jerker, mind you, and problematic in a few places.
Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. (2003)
After his parents find out their son has been pretending to be a doctor, a good-natured Mumbai underworld don (Sanjay Dutt) tries to redeem himself by enrolling in a medical college, where his compassion brushes up against the authoritarian dean (Boman Irani). Co-written and directed by Rajkumar Hirani, who stands accused in the #MeToo movement.
No One Killed Jessica (2011)
Based on the 1999 Jessica Lal murder case, an activist-journalist (Rani Mukerji) teams up with the victim’s sister (Vidya Balan) to bring the entitled son of a prominent politician to justice. Praised by most critics, though some took issue with its heavy-handedness.
OMG: Oh My God! (2012)
A remake of the 2001 Australian film The Man Who Sued God, and also based on the Gujarati play Kanji Virudh Kanji, this satirical comedy-drama follows a small-time shopkeeper (Paresh Rawal) who files a lawsuit against God after a low-intensity earthquake — legally dubbed as an “act of God” — leads to financial ruin. Akshay Kumar also stars.
Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! (2008)
Dibakar Banerjee’s second directorial venture is about the charismatic eponymous thief (Abhay Deol), who after being arrested, recounts his life that began in a poor, suburban West Delhi household and how he became a media sensation with a spree of burglaries.
Paan Singh Tomar (2012)
A true story of the eponymous soldier and athlete (Irrfan Khan) who won gold at the National Games, and later turned into a dacoit to resolve a land dispute. Won top honours for film and actor (Khan) at National Awards.
Peepli [Live] (2010)
With elections around the corner, a farmer about to lose his land due to an unpaid government loan seeks help from an apathetic politician, who suggests he commit suicide to benefit from a government programme that helps families of deceased farmers. An incisive satire of farmers’ suicides in India, and the media and political circus surrounding it. Produced by Aamir Khan and wife Kiran Rao.
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.
A satirical comedy-drama that probes religious dogmas and superstitions, through the lens of an alien (Aamir Khan) who is stranded on Earth after he loses his personal communicator and befriends a TV journalist (Anushka Sharma) as he attempts to retrieve it.
A 24-year-old shy woman (Kangana Ranaut) sets off on her honeymoon alone to Europe after her fiancé calls off the wedding a day prior. There, freed from the traditional trappings and with the help of new friends, she gains a newfound perspective on life. Won two National Awards. Co-written and directed by Vikas Bahl, who stands accused in the #MeToo movement.
Rang De Basanti (2006)
Aamir Khan leads the ensemble cast of this award-winning film that focuses on four young New Delhi men who turn into revolutionary heroes themselves while playacting as five Indian freedom fighters from the 1920s for a docudrama.
Balu Mahendra remade his own 1982 Tamil film Moondram Pirai with Kamal Haasan, Sridevi, and Silk Smitha reprising their roles from the original. It’s the story of a young woman (Sridevi) with retrograde amnesia who regresses to a child’s mental state and ends up in a brothel, where she’s rescued by a lonely school teacher (Haasan).
Secret Superstar (2017)
Though frequently melodramatic, this coming-of-age story — produced by Aamir Khan and wife Kiran Rao — of a Muslim girl from Vadodara who dreams of being a singer dealt with important social issues and broke several box office records during its theatrical run.
Blackmailed by a Mumbai cop after a hit-and-run, five friends (Kalki Koechlin among them) stage a fake kidnapping with a plan to collect the ransom in this black comedy. While some found it spell-binding, others were put off by its attempts to come across as ‘hip’ and ‘cool’. Produced by Anurag Kashyap.
A short-tempered young policewoman and her cool-headed female boss must contend with ingrained misogyny in their daily lives and even at work, where it impacts their coordinated attempts to tackle the rise of crimes against women in Delhi. A Netflix Original.
Special 26 (2013)
Inspired by the 1987 Opera House heist in then-Bombay, Akshay Kumar stars as one of several conmen posing as government agents working for the CBI — India’s equivalent of the FBI — who execute a fake income tax raid on a prominent jeweller. Neeraj Pandey (A Wednesday!) writes and directs.
Based on a Karnataka urban legend — though transported to small-town Madhya Pradesh in the film — this Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K.-written comedy horror follows a women’s clothing tailor (Rajkummar Rao) who falls for a mysterious woman (Shraddha Kapoor), who frequently disappears.
Shah Rukh Khan stars a successful NASA scientist in this based on a true story drama, who returns home to India to take his nanny to the US, rediscovers his roots and connects with the local village community in the process.
Taare Zameen Par (2007)
Sent to boarding school against his will, a dyslexic eight-year-old is helped by an unconventional art teacher (Aamir Khan) to overcome his disability and discover his true potential.
Aamir Khan, Rani Mukerji, and Kareena Kapoor lead the cast of this psychological crime thriller, in which a police officer (Khan) must confront his past to solve a high-profile murder, which involves a sex worker (Kapoor) and his grieving wife (Mukerji). Co-written by Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti, also director. Largely praised, though some think it tries to do too much.
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.
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.
Vikramaditya Motwane made his directorial debut with this coming-of-age story of a teenager who is expelled from boarding school and returns home to the industrial town of Jamshedpur, where he must work at his oppressive father’s factory.
Udta Punjab (2016)
With the eponymous Indian state’s drug crisis as the backdrop, this black comedy crime film depicts the interwoven lives of a junior policeman (Diljit Dosanjh), an activist doctor (Kareena Kapoor), a migrant worker (Alia Bhatt), and a rock star (Shahid Kapoor).
Wake Up Sid (2009)
A wealthy Mumbai businessman’s carefree, spoiled son (Ranbir Kapoor) experiences a rude awakening after he fails his college final exams, and then begins to take on more responsibility and be more independent with the help of an aspiring writer friend (Konkona Sen Sharma) who moved from Kolkata. Ayan Mukerji’s directorial debut.
A Wednesday! (2008)
Neeraj Pandey’s film is set between 2 pm and 6 pm on a Wednesday, naturally, when a common man (Naseeruddin Shah) threatens to detonate five bombs in Mumbai unless four terrorists accused in the 2006 Mumbai train bombings case are released.
Can Netflix force Bollywood to reinvent itself? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS. You can also download the episode or just hit the play button below.