The history of Indian cinema dates back to the early 2oth century. From the first talkie in Hindi, Alam Ara to the era of OTT now, many delightful stories have been told and retold to cast a spell on the audiences across the country and beyond. Some minted money at the box office, others could win the hearts only. Here is a year-wise selection of some of the finest Hindi films since 1947 that have left an indelible mark.
Jugnu (Dilip Kumar, Noor Jehan)
Do Bhai, Shehnai and Parwana were released in the year India attained freedom but Jugnu hogged the limelight. The film was criticised for showing song and dance sequences on a college campus and 28 minutes of the film were censored. The fact that the director and the heroine were Pakistanis added fuel to the fire in the post-partition era.
Shaheed (Dilip Kumar, Kamini Kaushal)
Shaheed pipped Chandralekha, Mela and Ziddi to the post. The year also saw the debut of Raj Kapoor as director in Aag.
Barsaat (Nargis, Raj Kapoor)
Barsaat overtook Mehboob Khan's Andaz, becoming the highest grossing film of the year. A still of the film showing the heroine Nargis on the hero's arm later became the famous logo of R.K. Studios.
Samadhi (Ashok Kumar, Nalini Jaywant)
A patriotic espionage thriller. Samadhi became the highest earner of the year. The pair of Suraiya-Raj Kapoor in Dastaan and Nargis-Dilip Kumar in Jogan lagged behind the winners.
Awara (Raj Kapoor, Nargis)
Bhagwan Dada's Albela earned plaudits. Dev Anand, Geeta Bali and Kalpana Karthik also got a pat for Baazi but Raj-Nargis deliverd a cult hit.
Aan (Dilip Kumar, Nimmi, Nadira)
Baiju Bawra's music was pure magic. Dev Anand-Geeta Bali's Jaal also drew the audience, and so did Geeta Bali-Pradeep Kumar's patriotic Anand Math but Aan was way ahead of others.
Do Bigha Zamin ( Balraj Sahni, Nirupa Roy)
Raj-Nargis pair returned with Aah but Balraj Sahni's Do Bigha Zamin proved to be an all-time classic. The audience also loved Dilip-Meena Kumari's Footpath, Ashok Kumar-Meena Kumari's Parineeta and Bina Roy- Pradeep Kumar's Anarkali.
Nagin (Vyjayanthimala, Pradeep Kumar)
Despite facing competition from Aar Paar, Mirza Ghalib, Boot Polish and Taxi Driver, Nagin bagged the top honours. Its story, songs and dances picturised on Vyjayanthimala kept the audience hooked for a long time.
Shree 420 (Raj Kapoor, Nargis)
Guru Dutt appeared in a different avatar in Mr. & Mrs 55 while Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje's music mesmerised people. Dilip Kumar’s Devdas was a class act but the crowd kept on thronging theatres to watch Raj kapoor’s Shree 420 over and over again.
CID (Dev Anand, Shakeela, Waheeda Rehman)
Ashok Kumar, Meena Kumari starrer, Ek Hi Raasta and Chori Chori of Raj Kapoor-Nargis were among the popular films but Dev Anand's suave act in CID won the day.
Mother India (Nargis, Sunil Dutt, Raj Kumar, Rajendra Kumar)
Nargis stole the limelight by shooting her own son Birju on the screen in Mother India. The year also saw other classics such as Naya Daur, Pyasa and Do Ankhen Barah Haath.
Madhumati (Dilip Kumar, Vyjayanthimala)
Kishore Kumar pulled off a laugh riot with Madhubala in Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi while Kala Pani and Howrah Bridge provd to be samsh hits but the reincarnation tale of Madhumati proved to be a magnet for the audiences.
Anari (Raj Kapoor, Nutan)
Mahipal-Sandhya's Navrang, Mala Sinha-Rajendra Kumar's Dhool Ka Phool released this year but Sujata and Anari vied for top honours. Raj Kapoor-Nutan starrer proved to be the winner.
Mughal-e-Azam (Dilip Kumar, Madhubala, Prithviraj Kapoor)
Chaudhvin ka Chaand , Barsaat Ki Raat, Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai, Love in Shimla and Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai were the top draws but none of them came close to the classic love story of Mughal Prince Salim and a commoner called Anarkali.
Ganga Jamna (Dilip Kumar, Vyjayanthimala)
Shammi Kapoor's iconic yahoo act in Junglee was phenomenal. Kabuliwala and Maya were also applauded, but the year belonged to Ganga Jamna, the story of two brothers - a dacoit and a policeman.
Bees Saal Baad (Bishwajit, Waheeda Rehman)
Ek Musafir Ek Haseena , Hariyali Aur Raasta, Anpadh, Samrat Tansen, Asli Naqli were all popular movies but the cult classic of the year was Sahib Biwi aur Ghulam. And yet, a mystery thriller with melodious songs starring Bishwajit and Waheeda kept the audiences on the edge of the seats.
Mere Mehboob (Rajendra Kumar, Sadhna)
Bandini emerged as a timeless classic, but Mere Mehboob earned the top honours. Dil Ek Mandir, Taj Mahal, Phir Wahi Dil Laya Hoon too impressed the viewers too.
Sangam (Vyjayanthimala, Raj Kapoor, Rajendra Kumar)
Kashmir ki Kali, Haqeeqat, and Woh Kaun Thi drew the audiences to theatres but a love triangle in Sangam with breathtaking visuals stole the show.
Guide (Dev Anand, Waheeda Rehman)
Directed by Vijay Anand, Guide became one of the classic films of Hindi cinema. The multistarrer Waqt and Manoj Kumar’s also vied for top honours.
Teesri Manzil (Shammi Kapoor, Asha Parekh)
The murder mystery kept the audiences guessing but Raj Kapoor’s Heeraman in Teesri Kasam was one of his finest performances in a film based on Phanishwarnath Renu’s story.
Jewel Thief (Dev Anand, Vyjayanthimala, Ashok Kumar)
Jewel thief was an unusual spy thriller. Dilip Kumar's Ram and Shyam and Manoj Kumar’s Upkar were both lapped up. Nargis did her swan song in Raat Aur Din.
Padosan (Sunil Dutt, Saira Banu, Kishore Kumar, Mehmood)
One of the best comedies in Hindi cinema. Sunil Dutt's innocent act won hearts. Mala Sinha and Dharmendra starrer Aankhen broke box-office records.
Aradhana (Sharmila Tagore, Rajesh Khanna)
Aradhana heralded the first superstar Rajesh Khanna with superhit songs. Satyakam, Bhuvan Shome and Uski Roti tried to avoid the beaten track of commercial cinema.
Johny Mera Naam (Dev Anand, Hema Malini)
Dev Anand’s humongous hit which was remade in in Kannada, Telugu and Tamil. Purab aur Pashcim evoked patriotism. Dastak and Chetna explored the uncharted territories of Hindi cinema.
Anand (Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan)
“Babu Moshai… life should be big, not long” … Rajesh Khanna’s superlative performance in Anand established him as a versatile actor. The year saw him in huge hits such as Hathi Mere Saathi and Kati Patang. Dev Anand’s Hare Rama Hare Krishna and Jeetendra’s Caravan were also big hits.
Pakeezah (Meena Kumari, Raj Kumar, Ashok Kumar)
Rajesh Khanna continued to rule the industry with one superhit after another. This year, his dialogue, “Pushpa, I hate tears!” in Amar Prem became a rage but the year belonged to Meena Kumari who delivered a stunning performance in Pakeezah co-starring Raj Kumar.,
Zanjeer (Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bhaduri, Pran)
Teenage love story Bobby brought Raj Kapoor back with a bang after the Mera Naam Joker fiasco but it was Amitabh Bachchan as an ‘angry young man’ in Zanjeer that heralded the new superstar. Bachchan also gave a fine performances in Abhimaan and Namak Haraam.
Ankur (Shabana Azmi, Anant Nag, Sadhu Mehar)
Apart from three National Film Awards, Shyam Benegal’s Ankur won altogether 43 awards. The film gave a fillip to the parallel cinema movement in a year that saw another masterpiece in 27 Down, directed by debutant Avatar Krishna Kaul. Rajnigandha too won hearts.
Sholay (Sanjeev Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Hema Malini, Jaya Bhaduri, Amjad Khan)
Sholay and Deewar, the two great movies written by Salim-Javed established them as the star scriptwriters. Julie and Jai Santoshi Maa too made it big at the box office while Feroz Khan’s Hindi version of Godfather, Dharmatma established him as a filmmaker with panache.
Nagin (Reena Roy, Sunil Dutt, Jitendra, Feroz Khan)
Manthan and Mrigayaa turned out to classics while Laila Majnu, Charas, Kalicharan and Kabhi Kabhie were box office winners. Amol Palekar and Zarina Wahab's Chitchor won hearts but the year belonged to Rajkumar Kohli’s multistarrer on a snake’s revenge.
Amar Akbar Anthony (Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor, Vinod Khanna, Parveen Babi, Neetu Singh, Shabana Azmi)
Smita Patil’s Bhumika stunned the critics and the audiences alike. Dulhan Wahi Jo Piya Man Bhaye brought Rameshwari into limelight but Manmohan Desai’s lost-and-found drama propelled Bachchan to another level of stardom.
Don (Amitabh Bachchan, Zeenat Aman, Pran)
Bachchan’s Mukaddar ka Sikandar , Raj Kapoor’s Satyam Shivam Sundaram and Raj Khosla’s Main Tulsi Tere Aangan Ki all grabbed headlines. Arvind Desai Ki Ajeeb Dastan was another gem from parallel cinema but Big B’s Don was good enough to be remade by Shah rukh Khan many years later.
Golmaal (Amol Palekar, Utpal Dutt, Bindiya Goswami)
Bachchan had a field day with Suhaag, Mr. Natwarlal, Kala Patthar and The Great Gambler during the year but it was the hilarious Amol Palekar-Utpal Dutt duo that put everyone else in the shade.
Qurbani (Feroz Khan, Vinod Khanna, Zeenat Aman)
Aakrosh won several awards at film festival while Sparsh, Kalyug and Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Aaata Hai earned rave reviews. Karz, Dostana, Shaan, and The Burning Train were other notable movies but the year truly belonged to Feroz Khan’s smash hit, Qurbani.
Ek Duuje Ke Liye (Kamal Haasan, Rati Agnihotri)
Kamal Haasan’s debut bridged the north-south divide long before Pushpa and KGF came. Kumar Gaurav’s Love Story and Sanjay Dutt’s Rocky ushered in the era of star sons. Deepti Naval's Chashme Baddoor and Smita Patil’s Chakra won many awards. Bachchan as usual was ruling the roost with Naseeb, Laawaris, Kaalia and Yaarana.
Arth (Smita Patil, Shabana Azmi, Kulbhushan Kharbanda)
Shabana Azmi won both the National and Filmfare Awards for Best Actress for Arth. Disco Dancer, Bazaar, Shakti, Namak Halal, Khuddar, Satte Pe Satta, Angoor dominated the year which also saw the release of Prem Rog on widow marriage and Nikaah raised on the halala issue.
Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (Naseeruddin Shah, Ravi Vaswani)
Betaab and Hero brought Sunny Deol and Jackie Shroff respetively. Mandi and Ardha Satya were on the bitter reality of society. Kamal Haasan’s Sadma underlined his versatility yet again. But Kundan Shah's Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro became a 'cult' film, though it was not a box office at the time of its release.
Paar (Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah)
Guatam Ghosh’s classic swept awards in a year which saw the debut of 35-year-old Anupam Kheras a 75-year-old in Saaransh. Party too earned plaudits from critics.
Ram Teri Ganga Maili (Rajiv Kapoor, Mandakini)
Raj Kapoor's last directorial film was talked more about its bold scenes than its interrsting story. Pyaar Jhukta Nahi, Arjun and Meri Jung rocked the box office. Elsewhere, Khamosh and Trikaal received praise too.
New Delhi Times (Shashi Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore)
A political-media thriller impressed the critics with a realistic portrayal of the media. Sridevi’s Nagina, Big B’s Aakhri Raasta, Sanjay dutt’s Naam and Feroz Khan’s Janbaaz were commercial successes. Ankush and Ek Ruka Hua Faisal were the gems from the parallel cinema. Chameli ki Shaadi was a laugh riot.
Mr. India (Anil Kapoor, Sridevi, Amrish Puri)
Ijazat, Mirch Masala, Susman were the saving grace in a year whgen Rakesh Roshan’s Khudgarj stormed the box office. Otherwise it was the year of films like Daku Haseena, Insaniyat ke Dushman and Kudrat ka Kanoon. Shekhar Kapoor’s invisible man called Mr India was a delight.
Tezaab (Anil Kapoor, Madhuri Dixit, Chunky Pandey)
Anil kappor and Madhuri Dikshit struck gold with Tezaab in a year which saw the debut of Aamir Khan in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak. Bachcan gave up politics to return with Shahenshah while Rekha's Khoon Bhari Maang brought her back in the reckoning.
Maine Pyar Kiya (Salman Khan, Bhagyashree)
Bachchan's Toofan flopped but Ram Lakhan and Tridev of younger stars did well. Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Parinda was a hard-hitting gangster saga. Chalbaaz and Elan-e-Jung passed muster with the audiences while Kamala Ki Maut drew attention.
Aashiqui (Rahul Rai, Anu Aggarwal)
Aashiqui with two newcomers raced ahead of others because of its evergreen music. Dil and Ghayal clashed at the box office but both emerged winners. Baaghi earned more money than Agneepath. Ek Doctor Ki Maut was like a slap on the system.
Saudagar (Dilip Kumar, Raj Kumar, Manisha Koirala)
Dilip Kumar-Raj Kumar duo came together on screen after 32 years. Saajan, Sanam Bewafa and Sadak turned out to be money spinners. Phool and Kante introduced a young intense actor called Ajay Devgn.
Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (Aamir Khan, Ayesha Julka, Pooja Bedi)
A lively film on sports by Mansoor Khan. Shah Rukh arrived with Deewana. Beta and Shola and Shabnam were superhits. Amitabh decided to take a break after Khuda Gawah.
Baazigar (Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol)
Shahrukh struck a purple patch in a role with negative shades. David Dhawan continued his winning streak with Aankhen. Khalnayak hit the headlines because of Sanjay Dutt’s incarceration and the Choli song. Damini is still remembered as Meenakshi Seshadri's most memorable film.
Hum Aapke Hain Koun (Madhuri Dixit, Salman Khan)
A metro version of Nadiya Ke Paar! Mohra, Raja Babu and Vijaypath all hit the jackpot while the National Award for Best Hindi film went to Mammo.
Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol)
Karan Arjun and Rangeela won hearts. But Taqdeerwala, Takkar, Papi Devta, Jallad, Gunda Raj sent the audience scampering for cover, However, DDLJ made it a golden year for Bollywood.
Bandit Queen (Seema Biswas, Manoj Bajpayee, Nirmal Pandey)
Shekhar Kapur proved his mettle yet again with a biopic of Phoolan Devi while the makers of Raja Hindustani laughed all the way to bank. Fire was embroiled in controversies over its same-sex love theme. Manisha Koirala sizzled in Agnisakshi, Akshay Kumar consolidated his position as Khiladi. But it was Sardari Begum that left a lasting impression.
Border (Sunny Deol, Suniel Shetty, Akshay Kumar)
India's victory against Pakistan in the 1971 war thrilled the audience in Border. Dil To Pagal Hai and Pardes propelled Shahrukh to the top. Kajol showed a different avatar in Gupt while Aamir and Ajay Devgn clicked together in Ishq.
Satya (Manoj Bajpayee, Shefali Shah)
Karan Johar’s Kuch Kuch Hota hai was a visual delight with Shahrukh, Kajol and Rani exuding magic on the screen, but Bhiku Mhatre of Satya proved to be the king of Mumbai.
Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (Ajay Devgn, Salman Khan, Aishwarya Rai)
Aishwarya made the most of her role in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam opposite Salman and Devgn. Hum Saath Saath Hain failed to replicate the success of Hum Aapke Hain Koun but Aamir Khan delivered Sarfarosh like a true perfectionist.
Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai (Hrithik Roshan, Ameesha Patel)
Papa Roshan's launching pad for son proved to be perfect. Every youth bunked college to see Hrithik. Bachchan returned on big screen after a long hiatus as an upright patriarch in Mohabbatein. Elsewhere, his son Abhishek made his debut in Refugee opposite Kareena
Lagaan (Aamir Khan, Gracy Singh)
A memorable year which witnessed a fierce competition between Gadar and Lagaan. Like a breath of fresh air, Dil Chahta Hai also changed the look and feel of a Bollywood film. Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Chandni Bar and Zubaida made their presence felt for different reasons.
Devdas (Shahrukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Madhuri Dixit)
Bhansali told a universally-loved story again. Company was great but it was no patch on Satya. Makdee may have been a children's film, but the elders also liked it too. Revathi made Mitra My Friend.
Munna Bhai MBBS (Sanjay Dutt, Gracy Singh)
Even today the impersonators in exams are called 'Munna Bhai'. Sunjay Dutt pulled off a class act. Ajay Devgn gave a fiery performance in Gangaajal and so did Big B in Baghban, a moving story of elderly parents.
Maqbool (Irrfan, Tabu, Pankaj Kapoor)
Vishal Bharadwaj’s tribute to Shakespeare's Macbeth. The film did not work like Chameli and Raincoat, but all the three films made the Indian film industry richer in content. Main Hoon Naa and Dhoom were the crowd favourites.
No Entry (Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor, Fardeen Khan, Bipasha Basu)
Movies like Black, Iqbal, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, My Brother Nikhil, Maine Gandhi Ko Nahi Mara indicated the winds of change in Bollywood, but No Entry made entry into the blockbuster club. Apaharan earned encomiums too.
Rang De Basanti (Aamir Khan, Kunal Kapoor, Soha Ali Khan)
Kajol's comeback in Fanaa was appreciated. Dor and Khosla Ka Ghosla were excelent while Saif gave an unforgettable performance in Omkara. But it was Aamir who ruled the roost with Rang De Basanti.
Welcome (Anil Kapoor, Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif)
Om Shanti Om and Chak De India proved SRK’s prowess while Taare Zameen Par underlined Aamir’s power. Guru, Bhool Bhulaiya and Jab We Met proved to be smash hits. Cheeni Kum and the experimental Dus grabbed eyeballs.
A Wednesday (Naseeruddin Shah, Anupam Kher, Jimmy Shergill)
A Wednesday had a great story in the background of Mumbai blasts. Ghajini was abig hit. Oye Lucky Oye brought Dibakar Banerjee to the fore as a force to reckon with in the new-age Bollywood.
3 Idiots (Aamir Khan, Madhavan, Sharman Joshi, Kareena Kapoor)
Based on a Chetan Bhagat novel, it was a roaring success. Salman staged a comeback of sorts with Wanted. Dev D , the Gen X version of Devdas, had no dearth of takers.
Love, Sex Aur Dhokha (Anshuman Jha, Nushrat Bharucha, Rajkummar Rao)
Amazing use of camer. Salman became Dabangg at the box office. King Khan’s My Name is Khan wowed the NRI audiences but received a tepid response back home. Udaan was the much-loved story about relationships.
No One Killed Jessica (Vidya Balan, Rani Mukerji)
A film on Jessica Lal murder case hit the right notes. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara became a youth favourite. Vidya Balan beautifully portrayed Silk Smitha's life in The Dirty Picture. The Girl in Yellow Boots stormed the international festival circuit.
Gangs of Wasseypur (Manoj Bajpayee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Richa Chadha)
A British newspaper 'The Guardian' picked GoW up as the only entry from India among the 100 best films of the world in the 21st century. Paan Singh Tomar, Ek Tha Tiger, Jab Tak Hai Jaan. Vicky Donor fought for the rest of honours. .
The Lunch Box (Irrfan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Nimrat Kaur)
A love story of a lonely man with a lonely woman with an exchange of a lunch box! B. A. Pass was the story of a young man forced to become a sex worker. Sanjay Mishra arrived with Ankhon Dekhi.
Queen (Kangana Ranaut, Rajkummar Rao)
Kangana proved to be an acting queen before turning into into Panga Queen. She gave woman empowerment a new dimension on the screen. Vishal Bharawaj’s Shakespearean Haider worked too.
Bajrangi Bhaijaan (Salman Khan, Kareena Kapoor)
Piku and Bajirao Mastani flew high but it was Salman’s best-ever performance in Bajrangi Bhaijaan that consolidated his position. Dum Laga Ke Haisha said everything in a simple way. Masaan gave a talented lot of actors, including Vicky Kaushal.
Dangal (Aamir Khan, Fatima Sana Shaikh)
Aamir gave a perfect shot as an aging wrestler, leaving Salman’s similar act in Sultan struggling in the ring. The story of Captain Cool Dhoni was lapped up by the audiences. Pink is still remembered as a key film on women's empowerment.
Hindi Medium (Irrfan, Saba Qamar)
A delightful movie. Salman’s Tiger came back alive. Secret Superstar garnered praise and Toilet: Ek Prem Katha picked up an unsual subject. Lipstick Under My Burqa caused a row but could not deprive it of its due.
Badhaai Ho (Ayushmann Khurrana, Neena Gupta, Gajraj Singh)
The audience took a fancy to the story of a middle-aged woman who gets pregnant. Padmavati turned into Padmavat but the controversies kept dogging it. Andhadhun, Pad Man, Manto, Tumbbad, Stree all proved to be hat-ke films. Alia proved herself once and for all in Raazi.
Gully Boy (Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt)
Everyone enjoyed the journey from a slum to the rap studios. Kabir Singh. Uri: The Surgical Strike, Good News had good strike rates. Chhichhore was an enjoyable ride.
Tanhaji (Ajay Devgan, Kajol)
Shortly the pandemic struck, Tanhaji minted gold. Chhapaak, Baaghi 3, Thappad followed. Gulabo Sitabo and Shakuntala Devi had to be shifted to OTT as theatres remained closed for a long time.
83 (Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone)
It celebrated India's first Cricket World Cup victory and theatrical re-release of films after the lockdown. Even though it did not become another Dhoni, it had its moments. Sooryavanshi, Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, Roohi, Sardar Udham Singh and Sher Shah proved to be notable films of the year.