This year we saw a number of powerful Indian films come to the silver screen offering great stories, exceptional soundtracks, and beautiful cinematography.
Whether you are new to Bollywood or you just haven't gotten around to watching these, here's our pick for the top films from 2015 that you should be sure to see.
Description: Spy action thriller. An elite counter-intelligence unit headed by Feroz Khan (Danny Denzongpa) whose job is to find and eliminate terrorists who are planning attacks in India. After one of their agents turns rogue, agent Ajay Singh Rajput (Akshay Kumar) learns of a plot to attack multiple cities. With the clock ticking, Ajay works with a variety of teams and agents - including Jai Singh "The Hulk" Rathore (Rana Daggubati), Priya Suryavanshi (Tapsee Pannu) and Om Prakash Shukla (Anupam Kher) - to track down the terrorist masterminds and prevent them from striking at the heart of India.
Why I Love This Film: This no-nonsense espionage thriller offers a smart and contemporary story. As the counter-intelligence unit members try to unravel the terrorist plot, they identify the members of a powerful international network of political extremists. From the start, you understand the threat the team is trying to avert and why they must carry out their mission quietly and secretly. You also see the human side of agents through the personal life of Ajay Singh Rajput.
Description: Comedy drama. On a cruise with family and friends to celebrate Kamal (Anil Kapoor) and Neelam (Shefali Shah) Mehra's 30th wedding anniversary, the Mehra children Ayesha (Priyanka Chopra) and Kabir (Ranveer Singh) deal with the impact of family expectations and responsibilities on their lives.
Why I Love This Film: One of the most accessible Indian films for non-Indian audiences, the story line offers a unique perspective on the dysfunctional modern family. While all outward appearances indicate members of this family are happy and successful, the truth is quite the opposite. The film offers joyful, entertaining, and sometimes painful moments as members of the Mehra family confront the hidden realities of their lives. Despite all the challenges faced, the power of family remains strong.
Description: Comedy drama. Pawan Kumar Chaturvedi (Salman Khan), an Indian man with a benevolent spirit, tries to take a six-year-old mute Pakistani girl "Munni" (Harshaali Malhotra) back to her homeland to reunite her with her family. Along the way they meet Pakistani reporter Chand Nawab (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) who documents their journey.
Why I Love This Film: Getting separated from your family as a young child is a scary situation. Getting separated in a different country is potentially dangerous. When the young Munni discovers she is alone and lost, she finds an honest man who she can trust to protect her and take her home. As he takes the perilous journey from India to Pakistan, he discovers that despite cultural and religious differences there is more that unites than separates us. We cheer him on as he maintains his honesty and integrity despite the challenges of the journey. This beautiful family film highlights what it means to be human.
Description: Sports drama. Two estranged, street-fighting brothers - Monty (Sidharth Malhotra) and David (Akshay Kumar) - square off against each other in a mixed martial arts tournament while their father Gary Fernandes (Jackie Shroff) tries to heal the rift among the three of them that he created years before.
Why I Love This Film: The lead-up to the battle of these brothers highlights a family torn apart by infidelity and alcoholism that leads to tragedy. As the remnants of the Fernandes family try to pull themselves together, they must fight their own personal demons as well as opponents in the ring. Building off the lullaby "Gaaye Jaa", the "Brothers Anthem" lends power to the film. An official remake of the 2011 film Warriors, this version provides a moving backstory that makes the Monty-David face-off even more compelling.
Release Date: 18 December 2015
Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Written by: Prakash Kapadia
Music by: Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Shreyas Puranik, Sanchit Balhara
Produced by: Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Kishore Lulla
Description: Epic historical drama. Set India during the years 1720-1740, the film highlights the real-life tragic romance between the Indian Marathi General Peshwa Baji Rao I and his second wife, Mastani.
Why I Love This Film: This love story never gets mushy - an important element for those who don't normally go for love stories. The characters are strong, the action intense, and the settings breathtaking. A beautifully filmed masterpiece, each frame is a work of art. The musical numbers bring in traditional Indian music and dance yet the soundtrack has a power all it's own. The musical number "Malhari", which features Baji Rao and his soldiers celebrating a successful negotiation with Nizam of Deccan, is one of the notable performances for it's energy and bravado.
- A Sweeping Saga of Love, War and Politics: Bajirao Mastani
- Filming India: The Brilliant Peshwa Baji Rao I and the Rise of the Maratha Empire (Bajirao Mastani)
Description: Mystery thriller. The film follows the first adventure of Byomkesh Bakshy (Sushant Singh Rajput) and sidekick Ajit Banerjee (Anand Tiwari) as they seek to find and stop an evil genius who is out to destroy the world. Along the way, the detective duo solve several murders in a world of international political intrigue and seduction.
Why I Love This Film: If you are a fan of detective series - especially Sherlock Holmes stories - you will enjoy this period detective drama. Though the story is set 1940s Calcutta, the story is told with modern sensibilities and it doesn't shy away from the brutality of the evildoer. While Bakshy's intellectual prowess and deductive reasoning is not always on track, he does manage to track down the clues to identify the criminal. Just as in all good detective stories, the conclusion is not what you think - and the conclusion leaves you wanting to see the next in the series of Bakshy stories. The film is based on the Satyanweshi and Arthamanartham novels by the Bengali writer Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay.
Description: Epic historical fiction. In ancient India, an adventurous and daring man becomes involved in a decades old feud between two warring people.
Why I Love This Film: Though a Telugu film originating from Tollywood rather than Bollywood, we would be remiss if we didn't include this film in the best-of list. By the same team that brought us the Telugu film Magadheera, this is the first of a two-parter about a legendary warrior king. Rich with larger-than-life action, this hero's journey is presented with a flourish of fantastic folklore, ardent romance, and incredible battle sequences. Unfortunately, only the Hindi-dubbed version is currently available, but don't let that stop you for viewing this magnum opus.
The following playlist features the video trailers for each of these films.
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