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India's Best Films

Last updated on: July 06, 2005 17:43 IST

Recently, Time magazine announced its list of the 100 greatest films of all time, and the eclectic selection includes five Indian films.

While none would question the brilliance of the selected Indian classics like Satyajit Ray's Apu Trilogy, Guru Dutt's Pyaasa and Mani Ratnam's Nayagan, decided to ask Indian filmmakers, artistes, technicians and critics what they felt were the best Indian films of all time.

Today, rediff's self-professed movie know-it-all Raja Sen hands in his list.

"First of all, it seems preposterous for someone like me to even dare give in my list alongside these great filmmakers, but hey - this is what editors force you to do!"

"Now, my list comprises only Bengali and Hindi films. This is simply because one can connect a lot more intimately with a film when it's in a known language. Subtitled classics, while incredible, do not find a place on my list because I relate to them lesser in relation to something in Hindi or Bangla. Also, I think all great Indian regional cinema suffer from a deplorable quality of subtitling. Not just are the nuances lost, but the meaning is often greatly misinterpreted."

"Rating this eclectic selection is impossible, so I've taken the easy way out and given them to you alphabetically."

Check out what our top moviemakers say about India's Best Films


A pathbreaking film, this is one of the most powerful cinematic works to ever emerge from the country. Ritwik's work is furious and brilliant, dazzling in its lack of mercy.

Director: Ritwik Ghatak

Chupke Chupke

The best pure comedy Indian cinema has seen, this classic gets better each time you watch it. Amitabh Bachchan, in a supporting role, gives the performance of his career in this innocent, Wodehousean story.

Director: Hrishikesh Mukherjee

Ek Din Pratidin

Wow! Set in a twelve hour timeframe, this is a remarkable human drama. The shot composition and use of body language is stunning. And, there's Pink Floyd on the soundtrack.

Director: Mrinal Sen

Goopy Gyne, Bagha Byne

The most innovative Indian film ever made, bar none! Ray did it all in this marvellous fantasy adventure, using special effects aeons before they were invented.

Director: Satyajit Ray

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro

The blackest of comedies, this film introduced India to a brilliant ensemble cast. Ingenuously plotted and very well scripted, Shah even tossed in a homage to Michelangelo Antonioni (for borrowing from his Blow-Up.)

Director: Kundan Shah

Jagte Raho

A chillingly honest and stark Raj Kapoor film, Jagte Raho despairingly addressed the issue of social apathy.

Director: Amit Mitra, Sombhu Mitra


My personal favourite of Ray's works, The Music Room is an enchanting portrayal of wistfulness. Life is not what it is, but what you dream it should be. A poignant, powerful classic.

Director: Satyajit Ray

Jukti, Takko Aar Gappo

An essay; A documentary; A work of fiction; A commentary on life; An autobiography. In this terrific, idiosyncratic experiment, all the lines magnificently blur into one another.

Director: Ritwik Ghatak

Kaagaz Ke Phool

An incredibly shot film, Dutt lit his sets awesomely and created cinema at it's most poetic.

Director: Guru Dutt


Shekhar's first, and finest. This superb reworking of Man, Woman and Child scores over the original with unbelievable performances and one of the greatest soundtracks in the history of Hindi cinema.

Director: Shekhar Kapur

Raja Sen