Top 15 hindi art movies you should watch in 2023

Naturalistic Style and Realistic Portrayals in Hindi Art Films

hindi art movies

Starting from the 1970s, Hindi art films, commonly referred to as Parallel Cinema, have been integrated into Bollywood, serving as an alternative to mainstream media. These art movies cater to viewers who engage intellectually while watching a film. Unlike mainstream cinema, Hindi art films are distinguished by their serious subject matter, naturalistic style, and realistic portrayal.

Are you among those who enjoy watching the finest art films produced by Bollywood? If your answer is yes, then be sure to review the guide in its e

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) 

#1. 27 Down (1974)


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

Adapted from the Hindi novel Athara Sooraj Ke Parade, this is considered one of the top art films in Bollywood. The narrative centers around Sanjay (M.K.Raina), a railway staff who encounters a young woman named Shalini (Rakhee) while working as a railway ticket checker to support his family. As their acquaintance deepens, they develop feelings for each other. However, when Sanjay's father learns of their relationship, he arranges for Sanjay to marry someone else.

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

#2. The Householder (1963)


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, an art film, is an adaptation of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's 1960 novel of the same title. It portrays the life of Prem Sagar (Shashi Kapoor), a private college teacher, who is set to marry Indu (Leela Naidu). However, upon her arrival at Prem's house, Indu finds it difficult to get along with his mother and eventually decides to return to her family. In search of the key to a successful marriage, Prem consults various people, including a Swami (Pahari Sanyal). He follows the Swami's advice, and the couple ultimately lives happily ever after.

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

The central theme of this art film centers around the struggles of urban migration and its futility. Farooq Sheikh and Smita Patil assume the lead roles, and the film also marks the acting debut of the versatile Nana Patekar. Muzaffar Ali, who directed the iconic Umrao Jaan in 1981, helms this movie, which serves as his directorial debut. Regarded as one of the greatest Hindi art films ever made, Gaman is a must-watch.

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

#4. Garm Hava ( 1974)


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   

An unpublished short story by Ismat Chughtai serves as the foundation for this art film. The narrative depicts the life of a North Indian Muslim businessman and his family in the aftermath of India's partition in 1947. The classical musician Ustad Bahadur Khan composes the film's score, while the lyrics are penned by 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, the debut feature film directed by Shyam Benegal, earned three National Film Awards and an additional 43 accolades both domestically and internationally. It also marked the first screen appearance of Indian actors Shabana Azmi and Anant Nag. The movie was selected for nomination at the 24th Berlin International Film Festival. Anchored by the characters Surya (Anant Nag) and Lakshmi (Shabana Azmi), Ankur examines human behavior in trying circumstances. It is rightfully counted among the finest Hindi art films ever produced.

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

#6. Water (2005)


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 emphasizes the significance of widow remarriage and prompts queries about child marriage and the societal status of women. The narrative chronicles the life of Chuyia (Sarala), an 8-year-old widow who departs from her husband's home to reside in a widow ashram. All of the widows at the ashram find themselves in similar situations, having wedded at a young age and subsequently lost their husbands. The movie portrays the plight of Indian widows and has garnered numerous award nominations.

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

Based on Rabindranath Tagore's 1903 Bengali novel Chokher Bali, this Bengali art film centers around Binodini (Aishwarya Rai), a young widow. Mahendra (Prosenjit Chatterjee), who is married to a pregnant Ashalata (Raima Sen), develops a strong attraction towards Binodini and ultimately betrays his wife.

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

#8. Pinjar (2003)


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

Based on Amrita Pritam's novel Pinjar, this Hindi art film explores the heartbreaking realities of the partition of India. The movie follows the story of a Hindu Punjabi girl (Urmila Matondkar), who lives with her family in Pakistan along with her siblings Rajjo (Isha Kopilar) and Trilok (Priyanshu Chatterjee). The plot takes a dramatic turn when she becomes engaged to a Hindu boy named Ramchandra (Sanjay Suri). The film was a recipient of numerous accolades, 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

The portrayal of Phoolan Devi's life is depicted in the art film Bandit Queen, with Seema Biswas portraying the titular character. The film depicts Phoolan's marriage to an older man who sexually assaults her, causing her to return home, only to be rejected by her parents due to social customs forbidding a daughter's return after marriage.

The film Bandit Queen, which has received numerous awards, portrays Phoolan's experiences of enduring multiple sexual abuses during her early years and her subsequent decision to seek revenge.

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

The plot of this Hindi art film centers around Mumtaz (Tabu), who is coerced by her uncle to work in a dance bar and provide him with her earnings. Despite her efforts to keep her children away from this harsh environment, she is aware that her daughter may end up in the same situation. The movie has received multiple accolades, including the National Film Award for Best Film, and Tabu's performance has been widely praised, earning her several awards.

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

#11. Arvind Desai Ki Ajeeb Dastaan (1978)


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

Directed by Saeed Akhtar Mirza, this Hindi art film depicts the life of Arvind Desai (played by Dilip Dhawan), the privileged and aimless only child of a wealthy businessman. Although he lacks his father's business acumen, Arvind develops an interest in politics and art. He is compelled to marry a girl from an affluent family who has recently returned from Paris, against his wishes. The film portrays the opulent lifestyle of a rich son, but it concludes with an emotional and suspenseful ending.

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

Bazaar, directed by Sagar Sarhadi, is included in our list of top Hindi art films. The movie is set in Hyderabad, India and delves into the issue of bride buying prevalent in India. It features Supriya Pathak, Naseeruddin Shah, Smita Patil, and Farooq Shaikh. This film boasts some of the best songs in Indian film music history, such as ‘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)


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 humorous Hindi art film that sheds light on politics and prostitution. Starring Smita Patil, Shabana Azmi, and Naseeruddin Shah in lead roles, the film is an adaptation of the classic Urdu short story "Aanadi" written by Ghulam Abbas. It tells the story of a prostitute who resides in a red-light district and attracts the attention of powerful politicians.

Mandi holds the distinction of being the first Indian film to win the maximum number of Filmfare Awards.

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

#15. Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho (1984)


Rating: 7.2/10 IMDb

Directed By:  Saeed Akhtar Mirza, 

Writers: Sudhir Mishra, Yusuf Mehta, Saeed Akhtar Mirza

Produced By: Saeed Akhtar Mirza

Directed by Saeed Akhtar Mirza, this Hindi art film delves into the Indian judicial system and highlights the issue of corruption in drug cases. The film sheds light on how unscrupulous lawyers defend drug addicts while innocent people are punished. The story begins with Mohan Joshi and his wife, who are asked to vacate their apartment by their landlord due to their disregard for societal rules. The couple hires two lawyers, and Rohini Hattangadi is appointed as the opposing lawyer. The case drags on for several years, and the couple ultimately wins due to their wealth.

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





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