This article presents a compilation of the top 10 most underrated Bollywood movies of all time. These films have been selected based on their critical acclaim, artistic merit, and commercial success.
The term ‘underrated’ refers to movies that did not receive the recognition they deserved in terms of box office numbers or popular appeal.
The list includes films from different eras spanning over six decades, showcasing the diverse range of talent and storytelling in the Bollywood industry.
By examining these films, this article aims to shed light on the cinematic works that may have been overlooked by mainstream audiences but are considered significant contributions to Indian cinema.
It is important to note that this selection does not imply any hierarchy or superiority among these movies; rather, it seeks to highlight their cultural and artistic value within the realm of Bollywood filmography.
Awaara (1951) is a significant example of an underrated Bollywood film that explores themes of social inequality, moral dilemmas, and the struggle for justice in a visually captivating manner.
Despite being one of the Bollywood classics, Awaara remains relatively unrecognized as one of the industry’s underrated gems.
Directed by Raj Kapoor, this film tells the story of Raj (played by Kapoor himself), an orphan who grows up to become a petty criminal.
The movie delves into societal issues such as poverty and crime while also questioning the notions of good and evil.
With its melodious songs, memorable performances, and impactful storytelling, Awaara deserves more recognition for its contribution to Indian cinema.
It presents a thought-provoking narrative that challenges conventional norms and highlights the complexities of human nature within a socially stratified society.
Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959)
Regarded as a classic in Indian cinema, Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959) has often been overlooked by mainstream audiences despite its innovative storytelling and striking visual aesthetics.
This film, directed by Guru Dutt, explores the tragic life of a successful film director who falls from grace due to personal and professional struggles.
Despite its lackluster reception upon release, Kaagaz Ke Phool had a significant impact on future Bollywood films.
Cinematic influences can be seen in the way this film challenged traditional narrative structures and experimented with nonlinear storytelling techniques. The use of flashbacks and dream sequences became more prevalent in later Bollywood films, thanks to Kaagaz Ke Phool’s pioneering approach.
Additionally, the film showcased technological advancements that were ahead of its time. The use of Cinemascope and Technicolor added depth and vibrancy to the visuals, elevating the overall cinematic experience. These innovations paved the way for future advancements in Indian cinema.
Overall, Kaagaz Ke Phool remains an underrated gem that deserves recognition for its artistic achievements and lasting contributions to Bollywood filmmaking.
One notable film from the late 1950s that captured the hearts of audiences with its poignant storyline and memorable songs is Pyaasa (1957).
Directed by Guru Dutt, this black-and-white masterpiece explores the themes of love and despair in a society plagued by materialistic values.
The protagonist, Vijay, played by Guru Dutt himself, is a struggling poet who finds solace in his art while being rejected and misunderstood by society.
The film delves deep into his emotional journey as he navigates through personal and societal pressures.
Pyaasa also sheds light on the exploitation of artists and their struggle for recognition in a world driven by commercial success.
With its soulful music composed by S.D. Burman, Pyaasa remains an underrated gem that continues to resonate with audiences even today.
Another notable film from the 1960s that evokes a strong emotional response is Guide (1965), directed by Vijay Anand. It tells the captivating story of a tour guide named Raju who becomes entangled in a complex web of love, self-discovery, and spiritual enlightenment.
Impact on the Indian film industry:
Guide broke conventional norms of storytelling and challenged societal taboos. It was one of the first films to address themes such as adultery and spirituality openly. The movie showcased unconventional characters and narrative techniques that pushed boundaries, inspiring future filmmakers to experiment with different storytelling styles.
Social and political commentary:
Guide explores various social issues prevalent in Indian society at that time including gender roles, religious hypocrisy, and societal expectations. It delves into the conflict between tradition and individual freedom while questioning established norms. The film’s nuanced portrayal of these themes made it an important work in terms of social commentary, sparking discussions on cultural values and personal choices.
Guide remains an underrated gem in Bollywood’s history, contributing significantly to both artistic expression and critical discourse within the Indian film industry.
Masoom (1983), directed by Shekhar Kapur, presents a poignant exploration of the complexities of family dynamics and the impact of infidelity on children. The film delves into the theme of innocence lost through the eyes of child actors, showcasing their ability to convey complex emotions.
Analyzing societal themes, ‘Masoom’ highlights the repercussions of extramarital affairs on family structures and questions societal norms regarding forgiveness and acceptance. The movie’s sensitive portrayal emphasizes the emotional turmoil experienced by both parents and children in such situations.
‘Masoom’ also sheds light on the importance of communication within families, emphasizing how lack thereof can lead to misunderstandings and alienation. Furthermore, it explores the resilience and adaptability displayed by children when faced with challenging circumstances.
Through its compelling narrative and powerful performances, ‘Masoom’ serves as an underrated gem that provokes contemplation on timeless familial conflicts and societal expectations.
Directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, Swades (2004) is a thought-provoking film that delves into the journey of an Indian expatriate who returns to his homeland and becomes deeply invested in uplifting the lives of rural villagers through sustainable development initiatives. The movie explores societal themes such as the divide between urban and rural India, caste discrimination, and the importance of community empowerment. It highlights how individuals can make a difference by taking responsibility for their communities and working towards positive change.
One important aspect emphasized in Swades is the impact of globalization on Indian society. The protagonist’s experiences abroad expose him to advanced technology and modern amenities, making him question why these advancements are not reaching his own countrymen. This raises questions about economic inequality and the need for inclusive development that benefits all sections of society.
To further emphasize these ideas, Swades incorporates two sub-lists:
Challenges faced by rural communities:
Lack of access to basic infrastructure like electricity and clean water.
Limited educational opportunities leading to limited social mobility.
Importance of community involvement:
Encouraging local participation in decision-making processes.
Empowering individuals to take charge of their own development.
Overall, Swades offers a powerful commentary on societal issues while highlighting the potential for positive change through individual action and community engagement.
Black Friday (2004)
Black Friday (2004) is a gripping and intense film that examines the events surrounding the 1993 Bombay bombings, providing a raw and unflinching portrayal of the investigative process and its impact on society.
The movie delves into the flaws of the Indian justice system, highlighting the challenges faced by law enforcement agencies during high-profile cases. It critiques the delay in delivering justice, corruption within the system, and manipulation of evidence to suit political agendas.
Moreover, Black Friday showcases how true story adaptations can have a profound impact on Bollywood movies. By bringing real-life events to light, such films not only entertain but also educate audiences about significant historical incidents.
Black Friday’s realistic depiction of one of India’s most devastating terrorist attacks serves as a reminder of the need for an unbiased and efficient justice system in our society.
Lootera (2013) is a visually stunning period drama that transports viewers to 1950s rural Bengal with its meticulous attention to detail and exquisite cinematography, capturing the essence of the era.
The brilliance of the lead performances in ‘Lootera’ significantly contributes to its storytelling prowess. Ranveer Singh delivers a powerful performance as Varun Shrivastav, a conman disguised as an archaeologist who falls in love with Pakhi, played by Sonakshi Sinha. Their chemistry on screen is palpable, adding depth and emotion to their characters.
Additionally, Lootera delves into profound thematic explorations of love, loss, and redemption. It showcases the complexity of relationships and the human capacity for transformation and forgiveness in the face of adversity. This exploration resonates deeply within Indian cinema and elevates ‘Lootera’ beyond being just another romantic drama.
Set in the backdrop of Varanasi, ‘Masaan’ (2015) intricately weaves together the lives of four individuals, exploring themes of caste, morality, and the pursuit of dreams against a hauntingly beautiful riverfront setting. This critically acclaimed film offers a powerful social commentary on various societal issues prevalent in India. It sheds light on the oppressive caste system and its impact on individual lives, as well as the struggles faced by women to break free from societal expectations. The film also delves into the moral complexities faced by its characters and highlights how their actions are shaped by their circumstances.
What sets ‘Masaan’ apart is its exceptional performances and storytelling. The cast delivers compelling portrayals that resonate with authenticity and emotional depth. Director Neeraj Ghaywan masterfully captures the nuances of human emotions through his skillful storytelling technique. The film’s narrative structure seamlessly intertwines multiple storylines while maintaining a cohesive flow. Its poignant screenplay explores universal themes that transcend cultural boundaries, making ‘Masaan’ a standout film not only in Bollywood but also within international cinema.
One of the notable films in recent Indian cinema is ‘Tumbbad’ (2018), which skillfully combines elements of horror, fantasy, and folklore to create a visually stunning and thematically rich cinematic experience.
Exploring the themes of greed and morality, ‘Tumbbad’ delves into the dark recesses of human nature, presenting a cautionary tale about the destructive consequences of unchecked desires. The film revolves around the story of Vinayak Rao, who becomes embroiled in a relentless pursuit for hidden treasure buried within an ancestral mansion.
Through Vinayak’s journey, the film raises thought-provoking questions about the ethical implications of one’s actions driven by greed.
In addition to its compelling narrative, ‘Tumbbad’ stands out for its innovative visual storytelling techniques. The filmmakers employ intricate production design and atmospheric cinematography to create a hauntingly beautiful world that captures both the allure and horrors lurking within Tumbbad.
The attention to detail in each frame enhances the immersive experience for viewers, effectively conveying emotions and heightening suspense throughout the film.
Overall, ‘Tumbbad’ deserves recognition as one of Bollywood’s most underrated movies due to its captivating exploration of greed and morality, as well as its masterful use of visual storytelling techniques.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the box office collection of Awaara (1951)?
The box office collection of Awaara (1951) is not available. However, the film had a significant impact on Indian cinema, exploring themes of social inequality and showcasing the talents of its lead actor Raj Kapoor.
Who are the lead actors in Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959)?
The lead actors in Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959) are Guru Dutt and Waheeda Rehman. This film explores unexplored themes in classic Bollywood films and had a significant impact on Indian cinema.
What is the runtime of Pyaasa (1957)?
Pyaasa (1957) has a runtime of 146 minutes. Known for its impact on Indian cinema, Pyaasa tackles societal issues and is considered a significant portrayal of the struggles faced by individuals in society.
Who directed Guide (1965)?
Guide (1965) was directed by Vijay Anand. It is one of the top 10 Bollywood movies that were ahead of their time and had a significant impact on Indian cinema.
What is the IMDb rating of Masoom (1983)?
The IMDb rating of Masoom (1983) is 8.4/10. Some other highly-rated Bollywood movies from the 80s according to IMDb include Sholay, Deewaar, and Anand. These films are widely acclaimed for their storytelling and performances. Additionally, some underrated Bollywood movies from the 80s that deserve recognition are Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro and Saaransh.
In conclusion, the Bollywood industry has produced several underrated movies over the years. Films like Awaara (1951), Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959), and Pyaasa (1957) showcase the talent and creativity of Indian cinema.
Guide (1965), Masoom (1983), and Black Friday (2004) also deserve recognition for their impactful storytelling.
More recent releases like Lootera (2013), Masaan (2015), and Tumbbad (2018) have further proven that there are hidden gems in Bollywood that often go unnoticed by mainstream audiences.
These films serve as a reminder of the diverse range of narratives and artistic excellence present in Indian cinema.