Movies for Thinking about Indian History

by RRHowell41 | created - 22 Sep 2010 | updated - 02 Apr 2011 | Public

My purpose here is to create a list of movies that would help to give a gist of some Indian history. I do not recommend that you rely on these movies for absolute accuracy, though some are better than others. (Gandhi for instance, is much more closely documented than Ashoka the Great, which is a song and dance extravaganza that loosely relates to the life of the subject). I do believe that these movies are useful for introductory purposes. Before accepting anything in these sorts of movies as fact, I recommend doing some background checking. But these movies might motivate you (as over the years they have motivated me) to care enough to do some serious research and reading.

 Refine See titles to watch instantly, titles you haven't rated, etc
  • Instant Watch Options
  • Genres
  • Movies or TV
  • IMDb Rating
  • In Theaters
  • On TV
  • Release Year
  • Keywords


IMDb user rating (average) to
Number of votes to »




Reset



Reset
Release year or range to »




































































































1. Ashoka the Great (2001)

R | 176 min | Action, Biography, Drama

6.7
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

The epic tale of King Asoka's life is recounted here.

Director: Santosh Sivan | Stars: Shah Rukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Danny Denzongpa, Rahul Dev

Votes: 11,724 | Gross: $0.70M

A grand scale epic movie about one of India's early great emperors. Historical accuracy was not one of the movie-makers prime concerns (and many details are not available). But it works as an introduction to the broad outlines of the story.

2. Jodhaa Akbar (2008)

Not Rated | 213 min | Action, Adventure, Biography

7.6
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
69 Metascore

A sixteenth century love story about a marriage of alliance that gave birth to true love between a great Mughal emperor, Akbar, and a Rajput princess, Jodha.

Director: Ashutosh Gowariker | Stars: Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sonu Sood, Poonam Sinha

Votes: 24,040 | Gross: $3.44M

There are problems with historicity on this one, but the broad outlines that there was this guy named Akbar who cared about religious tolerance at some level are valid.

3. Mughal-E-Azam (1960)

Not Rated | 197 min | Drama, Romance, War

8.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

A 16th century prince falls in love with a court dancer and battles with his emperor father.

Director: K. Asif | Stars: Prithviraj Kapoor, Madhubala, Dilip Kumar, Durga Khote

Votes: 4,923 | Gross: $0.16M

Romance of one of the early Mughal emperors.

4. Tulsidas (1954)

Drama, History, Romance

6.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

Sage Tulsidas faces challenges when he attempts to translate the Holy Ramayan.

Directors: Harsukh Jagneshwar Bhatt, Bhalchandra Shukla | Stars: Mahipal, Shyama, Raj Kumar, Dulari

Votes: 11

This is an old black and white movie that tells the story of Tulsidas, who wrote the Awadhi (accessible to Hindi speakers) version of the Ramayana.

5. Mangal Pandey: The Rising (2005)

150 min | Biography, Drama, History

6.7
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

This is a film about the leader of the 1857 mutiny and his fight against the British rule.

Director: Ketan Mehta | Stars: Aamir Khan, Rani Mukerji, Toby Stephens, Coral Beed

Votes: 8,143 | Gross: $0.87M

Very nice epic historical romance.

6. Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey (2010)

168 min | Action, Drama, History

6.0
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Children who are not allowed by the oppressive British colonists to play football decide to join a group of freedom fighters.

Director: Ashutosh Gowariker | Stars: Abhishek Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Sikander Kher, Maninder Singh

Votes: 1,038

About the Chitagong Rebellion in 1930. A patriotic look at a violent part of the Indian struggle for independence. A well-done and thoughtful movie, though it was a box office flop.

7. The Legend of Bhagat Singh (2002)

Not Rated | 155 min | Biography, Drama, History

8.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

The story of a young revolutionary who raised an armed resistance against the British rule in India.

Director: Rajkumar Santoshi | Stars: Ajay Devgn, Sushant Singh, D. Santosh, Akhilendra Mishra

Votes: 11,224

Of the three recent movies that deal with this, this one is the best.

8. Gandhi (1982)

PG | 191 min | Biography, Drama, History

8.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
79 Metascore

Gandhi's character is fully explained as a man of nonviolence. Through his patience, he is able to drive the British out of the subcontinent. And the stubborn nature of Jinnah and his commitment towards Pakistan is portrayed.

Director: Richard Attenborough | Stars: Ben Kingsley, John Gielgud, Candice Bergen, Edward Fox

Votes: 190,785 | Gross: $52.77M

This one is obvious. If you will only watch one movie on Indian history, this is the one to see.

9. Water (I) (2005)

PG-13 | 117 min | Drama, Romance

7.8
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
77 Metascore

A thesis picture. In 1938, Gandhi's party is making inroads in women's rights. Chuyia, a child already married but living with her parents, becomes a widow. By tradition, she is ... See full summary »

Director: Deepa Mehta | Stars: Lisa Ray, John Abraham, Seema Biswas, Sarala Kariyawasam

Votes: 13,192 | Gross: $3.22M

Widows in Varanasi during the time of Gandhi.

10. Sardar (1993)

175 min | Biography, Drama, History

7.9
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

An account of Vallbhbhai Patel's political life while India was taking first steps as an independent country.

Director: Ketan Mehta | Stars: Paresh Rawal, Tom Alter, Riju Bajaj, Elisa D'Souza

Votes: 537

Sardar Patel, focusing on 1945-1950.

11. Gandhi, My Father (2007)

136 min | Biography, Drama, History

7.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
57 Metascore

The account of troubled relationship between Mahatma Gandhi and his eldest son.

Director: Feroz Abbas Khan | Stars: Akshaye Khanna, Darshan Jariwala, Shefali Shah, Bhoomika Chawla

Votes: 1,402 | Gross: $0.24M

About Gandhi's oldest son.

12. Earth (1998)

Unrated | 110 min | Drama, Romance, War

7.8
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
71 Metascore

It's 1947 and the borderlines between India and Pakistan are being drawn. A young girl bears witnesses to tragedy as her ayah is caught between the love of two men and the rising tide of political and religious violence.

Director: Deepa Mehta | Stars: Aamir Khan, Nandita Das, Rahul Khanna, Maia Sethna

Votes: 6,424 | Gross: $0.53M

Set in Lahore at the time of Partition.

13. Pinjar (2003)

188 min | Drama

8.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

In the days leading up to Partition, a Hindu woman is abducted by a Muslim man. Soon, she finds herself not only forced into marriage, but living in a new country as the borders between India and Pakistan are drawn.

Director: Chandra Prakash Dwivedi | Stars: Urmila Matondkar, Manoj Bajpayee, Sanjay Suri, Sandali Sinha

Votes: 2,195

A movie about partition, but particularly about the women who got trapped on one side or the other of the border and the difficulties and issues of repatriation.

14. Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa (1998)

186 min | Drama

7.2
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Dibyanath Chatterji, his bank-employed wife, Sujata, and only child, a son, Brati, live a middle-class existence in Calcutta, West Bengal, India, circa early 1970s. Sujata is a quiet, ... See full summary »

Director: Govind Nihalani | Stars: Jaya Bhaduri, Anupam Kher, Seema Biswas, Milind Gunaji

Votes: 240

A mother learns about her son's involvement with the Naxalites.

15. Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (2003)

120 min | Drama

8.0
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Geeta Rao has two admirers - one is Siddharth Tyabji and the other is Vikram Malhotra circa 1969 West Bengal that is witnessing it's struggle against the ruling Congress party, joining ... See full summary »

Director: Sudhir Mishra | Stars: Kay Kay Menon, Shiney Ahuja, Chitrangda Singh, Ram Kapoor

Votes: 4,135

Powerful story set against political activism (including Naxalites) of the 1970's.

16. Amu (2005)

Not Rated | 102 min | Drama

7.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
54 Metascore

Amu is the story of an Indian American woman who returns to India. The film takes a dark turn as Kaju learns that a horrifying genocide that took place twenty years ago turns out to hold the key to her mysterious origins.

Director: Shonali Bose | Stars: Konkona Sen Sharma, Yashpal Sharma, Brinda Karat, Ankur Khanna

Votes: 722 | Gross: $0.01M

A college-aged girl returns to India, where she was born, to reconnect with her roots. In the process, she learns history about Delhi that she never knew. (The Sikh Massacres)

17. Firaaq (2008)

Not Rated | 101 min | Drama, History

7.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Chronicles the devastating impact on vulnerable Muslims in Gujarat after riots.

Director: Nandita Das | Stars: Inaamulhaq, Nassar, Shahana Goswami, Nawazuddin Siddiqui

Votes: 1,516

Focuses on the aftermath of the Gujarati Riots.