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21 Top Hindi Art Movies You Must Watch

Since the 1970s, Hindi art films, also known as Parallel Cinema, have become an integral part of Bollywood. Bollywood art movies are the alternative to mainstream media-especially for those who use their brain while watching a movie. There’s a far difference between Hindi art movies and mainstream cinema as the art movies come with serious content, naturalism, and realism. 

So, are you one of those who love to watch the best art movies of Bollywood? If so, then thoroughly check out the guide till the end. 

Hindi Art Movies list

  1. 27 Down ( 1974)
  2. The Householder (1963)
  3. Gaman (1978)
  4. Garm Hava ( 1974)
  5. Ankur (1974)
  6. Water (2005)
  7. Chokher Bali (2003)
  8. Pinjar (2003)
  9. Bandit Queen (1996)
  10. Chandni Bar (2001)
  11. Arvind Desai Ki Ajeeb Dastaan (1978)
  12. Bazaar (1982)
  13. Ardh Satya (1983)
  14. Mandi (1983)
  15. Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho (1984)
  16. Zubeidaa (2001)
  17. Udaan (2010)
  18. Massey Sahib (1985)
  19. Mirch Masala (1987)
  20. Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda (1992)
  21. Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai (1980)

#1. 27 Down (1974)

Top hindi art movie

Rating: 6.9/10 IMDb

Directed By: Awtar Krishna Kaul

Writer(s): Awtar Krishna Kaul, Ramesh Bakshi

Produced By: Awtar Krishna Kaul

Music By: Bhubaneshwar Misra, Hari Bhuban, Hariprasad Chaurasia

This is one of the best Bollywood art movies based on the Hindi novel Athara Sooraj Ke Parade. The story revolves around a railway staff who meets a young lady on the train. To support his family, Sanjay (M.K.Raina) decides to take up his father’s profession as a railways employee. He works as a railway ticket checker and one day he meets Shalini ( Rakhee)- a Life Insurance Corporation employee. After some days, they fall in love with each other but when Sanjay’s father knows about their relationship he fixes Sanjay’s marriage with another girl. 

Cast: Rakhee Gulzar, Sudhir Dalvi, Rekha Sabnis, Sadhu Meher

#2. The Householder (1963)

hindi art movies

Rating: 6.8/10 IMDb

Directed By: James Ivory

Writer(s): Ruth Prawer Jhabvala(novel)

Produced By: Ismail Merchant

Music By: Ali Akbar Khan

The Householder art film is based upon the 1960 novel of the same name written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. The story shows the life story of a private college teacher Prem Sagar (Shashi Kapoor). Prem is getting married to Indu ( Leela Naidu) but when Indu arrives at Prem’s house she can’t tolerate Prem’s mother and soon leave his house and return to her family. After she leaves, Prem asks many people about the secret of successful marriage life, including a Swami (Pahari Sanyal). He then follows Swami’s instruction and in the end, the married couple lives happily. 

Cast: Shashi Kapoor, Achala Sachdev, Leela Naidu,  Durga Khote, Harindranath Chattopadhyay

#3. Gaman (1978)


Rating: 7.2/10 IMDb

Directed By: Muzaffar Ali

Writer(s): Asghar Wajahat(story development), Muzaffar Ali, Hriday Lani(dialogue)

Produced By: Vilas Sawant, Muzaffar Ali

Music By: Jaidev Verma

This art film deals with the problems of the futility of urban migration. Farooq Sheikh and Smita Patil play the lead character in the movie. Also, this is the first movie of the versatile actor Nana Patekar. It’s the debut directorial movie of Muzaffar Ali who made Umrao Jaan in 1981. Gaman is one of the best Hindi art movies of all time. 

Cast: Farooq Shaikh, Jalal Agha, Smita Patil, Geeta Kak, Hira Devi Mishra

#4. Garm Hava ( 1974)

hindi art film

Rating: 8.1/10 IMDb

Directed By: M.S. Sathyu

Writer(s): Ismat Chughtai(based on a short story by), Kaifi Azmi(story and screenplay), Shama Zaidi(story and screenplay)

Produced By: Prema Kannan, J.K. Mathur, Ishan Arya, Hari Verma

Music By: Aziz Ahmed Khan Warsi, Aziz Ahmed, Ustad Bahadur Khan   

This art movie is based on an unpublished short story written by Ismat Chughtai. The art film revealed the story of a North Indian Muslim businessman and his family after the 1947 partition of India. The film is composed by the classical musician Ustad Bahadur Khan with the lyrics of Kaifi Azmi. 

Cast: Balraj Sahni, Jamal Hashmi, A.K. Hangal, Geeta Kak, Yunus Parvez

#5. Ankur (1974)


Rating: 8.1/10 IMDb

Directed By: Shyam Benegal

Writer(s): Satyadev Dubey(dialogue), Shyam Benegal(story and scenario)

Produced By: Freni Variava, Lalit M. Bijlani, Mohan J. Bijlani

Music By: Vanraj Bhatia

Ankur movie has received three National Film Awards along with 43 other prizes- both in India and abroad. It was the 1st feature movie directed by Shyam Benegal as well as the debut film of Indian actors Shabana Azmi and Ananth Nag. Ankur movie was nominated for the 24th Berlin International Film Festival. This movie analyzes human behavior in stressful situations. Ankur movie tells the story of two characters Surya ( Anant Nag), and Lakshmi ( Shabana Azami). We include Ankur in the list of top Hindi art movies. 

Cast: Sadhu Meher, Shabana Azmi,     Priya Tendulkar, Anant Nag, Aga Mohamed Hussain

#6. Water (2005)

bollywood art movie Water

Rating: 7.7/10 IMDb

Directed By: Deepa Mehta

Writer(s): Deepa Mehta, Anurag Kashyap(dialogue)

Produced By: David Hamilton, Doug Mankoff, Mark Burton, Claire Welland

Music By: A.R. Rahman, Mychael Danna

The Water art film shows the importance of widow remarriage, raises questions about child marriage and the social status of women. The story shows the life of an 8-year widow Chuyia ( Sarala) who left her husband’s house and stayed in a widow ashram. The situation of all widows in the ashram is the same. Most of them got married at an early age and lost their husbands. The movie exhibits the struggle of the Indian widows and has been nominated for many awards. 

Cast: Buddhi Wickrama, Sarala Kariyawasam, Hermantha Gamage, Rinsly Weerarathne, Iranganie Serasinghe

#7. Chokher Bali (2003)



Rating: 7.1/10 IMDb

Directed By: Rituparno Ghosh

Writer(s): Rabindranath Tagore(novel), Rituparno Ghosh(screenplay)

Produced By: Mahendra Soni, Shrikant Mohta

Music By: Debajyoti Mishra

This Bengali art film is based on the 1903’s Bengali novel Chokher Bali, written by Rabindranath Tagore. The movie starts with Binodini ( Aishwarya Rai) who is a young widow. Later Mahendra (Prosenjit Chatterjee) lusts over Binodini and cheats his pregnant wife Ashalata ( Raima Sen). 

Cast: Prasenjit Chatterjee, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Tota Roy Chowdhury, Raima Sen, Lily Chakravarty

#8. Pinjar (2003)

best art movies of bollywood

Rating: 8/10 IMDb

Director: Chandraprakash Dwivedi

Writer(s): Amrita Pritam(dialogue), Chandra Prakash Dwivedi(additional dialogue)

Produced By: Farahjaan Sheikh

Music By: Uttam Singh

This Hindi art film is based on the Pinjar novel written by Amrita Pritam. This movie dwells deep into the tragedies of the partition of India. The movie tells us the story of a Hindu Punjabi girl ( Urmila Matondkar) who lives with her parents and siblings Rajjo ( Isha Kopilar) and Trilok ( Priyanshu Chatterjee) in Pakistan. Now, the twist begins when she becomes engaged with a Hindu boy Ramchandra ( Sanjay Suri). The film won many awards including the National Award for the Best Feature Film on National Integration. 

Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Urmila Matondkar, Priyanshu Chatterjee, Sanjay Suri, Isha Koppikar

#9. Bandit Queen (1996)


Rating: 7.6/10 IMDb

Directed By: Shekhar Kapur

Writer(s): Mala Sen(book “India’s Bandit Queen”), Ranjit Kapoor(dialogue)

Produced By: Varsha Bedi, Bobby Bedi

Music By: Roger White, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Bandit Queen shows the life of Phoolan Devi. Seema Biswas plays the character of Phoolan Devi who is getting married to an older man who sexually abuses her. Frustrated Phoolan returned to her house but her parents didn’t accept her due to the custom that the daughter shouldn’t return to her father’s house after marriage. 

Phoolan faces numerous sexual abuses throughout her early adulthood and decides to take her revenge. Bandit Queen is one of the best Hindi art movies of all time and has won many awards. 

Cast: Seema Biswas, Raghuvir Yadav, Nirmal Pandey, Rajesh Vivek

 #10. Chandni Bar (2001)


Rating: 7.6/10 IMDb

Directed By: Madhur Bhandarkar

Writer(s): Masud Mirza(dialogue), Mohan Azaad(dialogue), Madhur Bhandarkar

Produced By: R. Mohan, Lata Mohan

Music By: Raju Singh

This Hindi art film starts with Mumtaz ( Tabu). Her uncle forces her to dance in a dancing bar and lives off her earnings. Mumtaz wants to keep her children away from this tough world but she knows that the situation would bring her daughter to where she began. The movie received many awards, including the National Film Award for Best Film. Tabu’s acting was much appreciated and she won many awards for this movie. 

Cast: Tabu, Shri Vallabh Vyas, Rajpal Yadav, Vinay Apte, Atul Kulkarni

#11. Arvind Desai Ki Ajeeb Dastaan (1978)

hindi art movie

Rating: 7.0/10 IMDb

Directed By: Saeed Akhtar Mirza

Writer(s): Vijay Tendulkar(dialogue), Saeed Akhtar Mirza(story), Cyrus Mistry(story)

Music By: Bhaskar Chandavarkar

The movie is directed by Saeed Akhtar Mirza. It shows the story of Arvind Desai ( Dilip Dhawan), the only child of a rich businessman who leads a luxury lifestyle. Arvind has no talent like his businessman father. But he takes interest in politics and art. Against his wishes, Arvind has to marry a high-class family girl who has just returned from Paris. This Hindi art film shows the rough lifestyle of a rich son; however, the end is quite emotional and full of suspense. 

Cast: Anjali Paigankar, Sudha Shivpuri, Dilip Dhawan, Om Puri, Sudha Shivpuri

#13. Bazaar (1982)


Rating: 7.3/10 IMDb

Directed by: Sagar Sarhadi

Writer(s): Sagar Sarhadi

Produced By: Vijay Talwar, S.S. Broca

Music By: Khayyam

We include Bazaar in our Hindi art movies list. The art film is set in Hyderabad, India, and shows the problems of bride buying in India. It’s directed by Sagar Sarhadi and starts with Supriya Pathak, Naseeruddin Shah, Smita Patil, and Farooq Shaikh. This film gifts us with some of the best songs in the history of Indian film music. Like,  ‘Chale Aao Saiyan’, ‘Dekh Lo Aaj Humko Jee Bharke’, ‘ Dikhayee Diye Yun’, and ‘ Karoge Yaad To Har Baat’. 

Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Farooq Shaikh, Bharat Kapoor, Smita Patil, Javed Khan Amrohi

#14. Mandi (1983)

best bollywood art movie Mandi

Rating: 7.5/10 IMDb

Directed By: Shyam Benegal

Writer(s): Shama Zaidi(screenplay), Satyadev Dubey, Ghulam Abbas

Produced By: Silloo F. Variava, Bhisham M. Bijlani, Freni Variava, Lalit M. Bijlani

Music By: Vanraj Bhatia

Mandi is a comedy art film on politics as well as prostitution. Smita Patil, Shabana Azmi, and Naseeruddin Shah play the lead character in this movie. The story of this movie is based on the classic Urdu short film Aanadi written by Ghulam Abbas. The movie is all about a prostitute who lives in a red-light area. Many heavy-weight politicians spend time with her. 

Mandi is the first Indian film that won the maximum number of Filmfare Awards. 

Cast: Smita Patil, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Shabana Azmi, Amrish Puri, Naseeruddin Shah

#15. Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho (1984)

Bollywood art film

Rating: 7.2/10 IMDb

Directed By:  Saeed Akhtar Mirza, 

Writers: Sudhir Mishra, Yusuf Mehta, Saeed Akhtar Mirza

Produced By: Saeed Akhtar Mirza

This is another top Hindi art film directed by Saeed Akhtar Mirza. The movie shows the Indian judicial system. The movie shows our judicial systems for drug cases where the corrupted lawyers protect the drug-addicted people. On the other hand, Innocent people get punished. The movie starts with Mohan Joshi and his wife. Their landlord asks them to leave the apartment as the couple doesn’t maintain society’s rules. The couple hires two lawyers and on the other hand, Rohini Hattangadi is the opposite lawyer. The case continues for several years and in the end, the couple wins as they are so rich. 

Cast: Mohan Gokhale, Deepti Naval, Bhisham Sahni, Dina Pathak

#16. Zubeidaa (2001)


Rating: 6.2/10 IMDb

Directed By: Shyam Benegal

Writer(s): Javed Siddiqui(dialogue), Khalid Mohamed(original story and screenplay)

Produced By: Farouq Rattonsey, Raj Pius

Music By: A.R. Rahman

Zubeidaa shows the love story of the versatile actress Zubeidaa Begum. Karishma Kapoor plays the role of Zubeidaa Begum. Zubeidaa Begum married Mehboob Alam and they have a son named Riyaz. But due to some family issues, Zubeidaa and Mehboob start living separately. Later she meets Maharaja Vijayendra Singh of Fatehpur and starts loving him. They married and Zubeidaa Begum became ‘Rani Meenakshi Devi’. However, after marriage, they face many problems as both of them belong to a different religion. They overcome all of the challenges and live happily with their two children. 

Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Karisma Kapoor, Surekha Sikri, Rekha

#17. Udaan (2010)


Rating: 8.2/10 IMDb

Directed By: Vikramaditya Motwane

Writer(s): Satyanshu Singh, Vikramaditya Motwane, Devanshu Singh, Anurag Kashyap

Produced By: Siddharth Roy Kapur, Dipa De Motwane, Vikas Bahl, Ronnie Screwvala

Music By: Amit Trivedi   

Udaan revolves around the journey of a young writer Rohan, who is forced to study engineering by his father Bhairav (Ronit Roy). After completing engineering, his father forces him to work in a factory and earn money to support his family. One day his alcoholic father Bhairav beats Rohan’s stepbrother Arjun badly. His father also burns his poem notebook. Fortunately, Rohan gets full support from his uncle Jimmy. Bhairav decided to send both of his sons to the factory for full-time work. Udaan is one of the best Hindi art movies and it received many National awards. 

Cast: Manjot Singh, Rajat Barmecha, Ram Kapoor, Varun Khettry

#18. Massey Sahib (1985)


Rating: 7.3/10 IMDb

Directed By: Pradip Krishen

Writer(s): Pradip Krishen(story)

Produced By: Nfdc India

Music By: Vanraj Bhatia

Pradip Krishen is the director of the Massey Sahib movie. The movie shows the story of Francis Massey, a clerk in the colonial administration of British India. He doesn’t want to follow the colony’s rules and mark himself as different from his Indian competitors. Over time, he falls in love with Saila, a tribal girl and they decide to marry. 

Massey adopts some irregular methods to help District Collector Charles Adam. Adam’s dream project was stuck because of a lack of funds and that’s why Massey wants to help him. This is an amazing Hindi art film and we recommend you to watch it. 

Cast: Jacqueline Garewal, Raghuvir Yadav, Arundhati Roy, Barry John, Sudhir Kulkarni

#19. Mirch Masala (1987)


Rating: 7.8/10 IMDb

Directed By: Ketan Mehta

Writer(s): Tripurari Sharma, Shafi Hakim, Ketan Mehta, Hriday Lani

Music By: Rajat Dholakia

It’s a psychological thriller movie and Ketan Mehta is the director of this film. The film tells us about the 1940s colony’s conditions. An arrogant subedar visits a village along with his henchmen. The subedar finds Sonbai on the river bank and wants to make her bed partner. Things become complex when the subedar strongly asks Sonbai to come to his villa but she slaps him. 

Cast: Om Puri, Smita Patil, Ratna Pathak Shah, Naseeruddin Shah

#20. Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda (1992)

Rating: 8.0/10 IMDb

Directed By: Shyam Benegal

Writer(s): Shama Zaidi(dialogue), Dharmvir Bharati(story)

Music By: Vanraj Bhatia

This movie is based on the famous novel The Sun’s Seventh Horse written by Dharmavir Bharati. Manek Mulla, the storyteller, tells his friends about the character of three women he meets in his life. Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda is one of the top Hindi art movies and it received the 1993 National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi. 

Cast: Raghuvir Yadav, Rajeshwari Sachdev, Rajit Kapoor, Siraj Ahmed

 #21. Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai (1980)



Rating: 7.5/10 IMDb

Directed By: Saeed Akhtar Mirza

Writer(s): Kundan Shah(script), Hriday Lani(lyrics), Saeed Akhtar Mirza(script)

Produced By: Saeed Akhtar Mirza

Music By: Manas Mukherjee, Bhaskar Chandavarkar

The movie shows the anger of a car mechanic in Mumbai. Albert the car mechanic works hard and dreams that one day he will be a rich man. To become rich he tries to be friendly with his customers but his anger destroys everything. 

Cast : Smita Patil, Naseeruddin Shah, Dilip Dhawan, Shabana Azmi


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Bottom Lines

As said earlier, Hindi art films are an integral part of the Indian cinema industry and it’s different from mainstream movies. Do you love to watch Hindi art movies? Then have a glance at these top 21 art films. 



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