2015 offered up a satisfying mix of sweet, intimate stories and dark thrills and chills. Here are my picks for the best Bollywood movies of 2015. (Click on the title of each movie to read my original review.)
The year ended on a triumphant note with the release of the historical epic romance Bajirao Mastani. Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s colorful, lavish style demands to be seen on the big screen.
Two smaller Hindi films that played at the Chicago South Asian Film Festival prove that big budgets aren’t necessary to make a great movie. Haraamkhor and Dhanak depict the struggles of childhood in very different ways, with Dhanak being easily the sweetest film of the year.
Early 2015 saw the release of two great revenge thrillers: Badlapur and NH10. While Badlapur explores the toll that a lingering desire for vengeance takes on a grieving husband (Varun Dhawan), NH10 is a race against the clock for a woman (Anushka Sharma) trying to defeat the men out to kill her.
In contrast to such dark fare, Piku lovingly and humorously explores the tense relationship between an adult daughter (Deepika Padukone) who hits the road with her ailing father (Amitabh Bachchan).
A pair of top-notch crime thrillers also made the list. Talvar‘s unique story structure sets apart this real-life murder mystery. Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! put a modern, stylish twist on a classic Indian literary detective.
Dum Laga Ke Haisha is as charming as can be, telling the tale of a loser (Ayushmann Khurrana) rebelling against his marriage to an accomplished woman (Bhumi Pednekar) who fails to fit his beauty standards. So much care went into the story that it is impossible not to fall in love with these young adults trying to grow under enormous family pressure.
My favorite movie of 2015 is a big budget, multi-starrer that nevertheless tells a smart, contemporary family story. Too often, Bollywood spectacle films are “check your brain at the door” affairs, full of bombast but devoid of substance. Director Zoya Akhtar brings together an A-list cast — including Priyanka Chopra, Anushka Sharma, Ranveer Singh, Farhan Akhtar, and Anil Kapoor — for a film that is fun and romantic, but also contains insightful critiques of the respect (or lack thereof) accorded women in modern Indian society. Director Akhtar takes the opportunity this big-budget blockbuster affords her and uses the platform to inform as well as entertain. For that reason, my favorite Hindi film of 2015 is Dil Dhadakne Do.
(Update: I watched Masaan after posting this list. Were I to re-do my rankings, I’d place Masaan in 9th place, between Dhanak and Haraamkhor.)
Kathy’s Top Ten Bollywood Movies of 2015
- Dil Dhadakne Do — Buy/rent at iTunes or Amazon
- Dum Laga Ke Haisha — Buy/rent at iTunes or Amazon
- Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! — Buy/rent at iTunes or Amazon
- Talvar — Buy at Amazon
- Piku — Buy/rent at iTunes or Amazon
- NH10 — Buy at Amazon
- Badlapur — Buy at Amazon
- Bajirao Mastani
Previous Best Movies Lists