Best Bollywood movies on historical events | Top 10 historical movies in India

India is one of the most diverse countries in the world; so is her history and culture, and these factors are reflected well in Bollywood movies. Some of the most praised and successful Bollywood movies belong to the historical genre.

With that being said, here we have presented a list of 10 must-watch Bollywood historical movies, including Jodhaa Akbar, Asoka, etc. So join us on the cinematic journey through India’s rich history, exploring the best Bollywood movies on history.

Top 10 historical movies in India:

1. Mangal Pandey: The Rising (2005)

Best Bollywood movies on history

Star cast: Aamir Khan, Toby Stephens, Rani Mukerji, Kirron Kher, Ameesha Patel

Director: Ketan Mehta

This movie is based on Mangal Pandey – a soldier in army of British East India Company. He was responsible for igniting the ‘Revolt of 1857’ also known as the ‘Sepoy Mutiny of 1857’ which gradually turned into a widespread rebellion against the British across the country.

‘Mangal Pandey: The Rising’ aptly portrayed the life of the titular hero and his rebellious actions. This film received praise from not only the audience but also from the critics. This movie is one of the few Bollywood movies to be premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.

2. Jodhaa Akbar (2008)

Best Bollywood movies on history

Star cast: Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai, Sonu Sood, Kulbhushan Kharbanda

Director: Asutosh Gowarikar

‘Jodhaa Akbar’ is an epic historical movie based on the Mughal Emperor Akbar and his wife Jodhaa Bai. Though this movie has a lengthy runtime (3 hours 33 minutes), spectacular visuals and costumes, fantastic performances by the cast, ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ is epic in every aspect.

This also vividly portrays various historical events, so it’s a must-watch for all the history geeks.

3. Ashoka (2001)

Best Bollywood movies on history

Star cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Ajith Kumar, Danny Denzongpa 

Director: Santosh Sivan

Ashoka was an Emperor of the Maurya dynasty in the 3rd century BCE. This legendary ruler is best known for renouncing war and embracing Buddhism, after winning and witnessing the large-scale destruction due to the ‘Battle of Kalinga’. 

Though the movie takes some artistic liberties, the dramatization of the Mauryan Emperor’s life is excellent. This film was well received by critics and audiences alike for its presentation, action sequences of battle, and performances by the cast.

4. Lagaan (2001)

Best Bollywood movies on history

Star cast: Aamir Khan, Gracy Singh, Rachel Shelley, Paul Blackthorne, Yashpal Sharma

Director: Asutosh Gowariker

Though this movie is a fictional sports drama, it represents the actual situation of the Indians during the British era. The story of ‘Lagaan’ is about a group of oppressed villagers who agree to a cricket match against a British team as a wager to quash their ‘lagaan’ which means taxes.

Despite being a work of fiction, ‘Lagaan’ certainly evokes a sense of patriotism among all Indians.

This movie is well-received by critics not only in India but also worldwide. ‘Lagaan’ is Bollywood’s only Oscar-nominated movie of this century. 

5. The Legend of Bhagat Singh (2002)

Best Bollywood movies on historical events

Star cast: Ajay Devgn, Amrita Rao, Sushant Singh, Akhilendra Mishra, Raj Babbar

Director: Rajkumar Santoshi

‘The Legend of Bhagat Singh’ is based on an Indian revolutionary named Bhagat Singh. He is well known for the bombing of the Central Legislative Assembly in Delhi during the British era. He and his fellow revolutionaries Rajguru and Chandra Shekhar Azad were complicit in the murder of a British police officer. For their acts of defiance, the were arrested and executed. However, Bhagat Singh became a symbol of resistance since then.

There are many movies and serials on Bhagat Singh. But, ‘The Legend of Bhagat Singh’ most accurately portrays the life and deeds of the titular hero. This film has impressed both the audience as well as the critics. This movie won two National Film Awards.

6. Kesari (2019)

Best Bollywood movies on historical events

Star cast: Akshay Kumar, Parineeti Chopra, Mir Sarwar, Vikram Kochhar

Director: Anuraj Singh

‘Kesari’ is a war drama based on the ‘Battle of Saragarhi’ in 1897. Here, the main character Ishar Singh can be seen fighting for the British, unlike Mangal Pandey or Bhagat Singh who fought against the British Raj. The conflict was more of a last stand than a battle. This movie depicts how 21 Sikh soldiers tried to defend the Saragarhi Fort against more than 10,000 Afghan invaders.

7. Parmanu : The Story of Pokhran (2018)

Best Bollywood movies on historical events

Star cast: John Abraham, Diana Penty, Boman Irani

Director: Abhishek Sharma

This movie aptly portrays the 1998 covert and successful nuclear tests by the administration of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. This movie delves into the challenges encountered during the discreet execution of India’s nuclear tests, evading the American and Pakistani spy agencies. It is certainly one of the best Bollywood movies on historical events.

8. LOC: Kargil (2003)

Best Bollywood movies on historical events

Star cast: Sanjay Dutt, Ajay Devgn, Nagarjuna, Saif Ali Khan, Abhishek Bachchan

Director: J. P. Dutta

This movie is based on the ‘War at Kargil’ in 1999. Here, in this movie, Indian soldiers learn that the Pakistani troops are crossing the LOC (Line of Control) at Kargil. Then, a fierce battle ensues between the two nations.

There are a lot of Bollywood movies on the conflicts between India and Pakistan. However, ‘LOC: Kargil’ is perhaps the most notable among all.

9. Airlift (2016)

Best Bollywood movies on historical events

Star cast: Akshay Kumar, Nimrat Kaur, Kumud Mishra, Prakash Belawadi

Director: Raja Menon

This movie is based on Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Here, in this movie, when Iraq invades Kuwait, a callous Indian businessman becomes the messiah for the stranded Indians. He, eventually, plays a key role in evacuating more than 170,000 stranded Indians.

10. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero (2004)

Best Bollywood movies on historical events

Star cast: Sachin Khedekar, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Rajit Kapur, Arif Zakaria, and Divya Dutta

Director: Shyam Benegal

‘Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero’ is a biographical war movie, written and directed by Shyam Benegal. The movie depicts the life of the Indian Independence leader Subhas Chandra Bose in Nazi Germany: 1941–1943, and in Japanese-occupied Asia 1943–1945, and the events leading to the formation of Azad Hind Fauj. 

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