Historical movies in Indian Cinema are rare as the commercial films dominate the market just like any film Industry. But there are few instances where directors and producers have dared to show the history of India in films and some did get box office appreciation. Here are the top 10 historical moves in Indian Cinema, according to our knowledge.
Top 10 Historical Movies from Indian Cinema
Even if it is made by Sir David Fredrick Attenborough in English, the movie inspired many Indian filmmakers to take up such large production values and close to reality approach while making historical movies.
The movie is made in an autobiographical style, introducing Gandhi to the world and after this film, many started reading about Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and his deeds, that made him Mahatma.
As even the famous Black Leader and humanist, Nelson Mandela said that his inspiration over the years to fight for peace with non-violence as his weapon is Gandhi, the movie became more important for people to watch and learn about the leader of Indian Independence movement.
Ben Kinsley, the English actor who performed as Gandhi in the film won an Oscar and he is respected heavily due to his performance in this film. For the movie, many pre-Independence era sets were built in India by Hollywood production house and hence revolutionising Indian filmmaking culture too. Movie is sadly not a box office hit in India.
Not many know this movie at Pan-Indian level but if you ask them to watch it, they will be surprised by the huge production values in the war scenes. Director Seetharam did not produce and make many films after this one but this stands out as one of the best ever war films in Indian Cinema and Telugu Cinema.
You may find it as a tall claim but watch it to know, why we said so. NTR, Bhanumathi Ramakrishna, Jamuna, Seetharam, Mukkamala, Rajanala and SV Ranga Rao acted in the film in important roles and the performance of SVR as Thandrapaparayudu is a lesson for aspirants in playing a Bheesbhatsa and Bhayanaka Rasams in Navarasalu. NTR, Bhanumathi too look like characters in the film and that is the best part of it, as well.
Staying in the Telugu Film zone, Mahamantri Timmarasu even though has some historical inaccuracies, delivers a very compelling story with Gummadi Venkateswara Rao and NTR in the lead roles of Timmarasu & Sri Krishna Devaraya, respectively.
The tale of the closely-knit guru and shisya who later became Minister and King of a highly fruitful and successful period of Vijayanagara Empire gives you a pleasure of travelling through time. You feel like you’re with the characters for the most part of the film and that is due to the performances of the ensemble cast and writing by Pingali Nagendra Rao. The direction of Kamalakara Kameswara Rao should be highly appreciated too.
This film is made in recent times, in 2012 and the movie talks about the history of an uprising in Chittagong, Bangladesh which was part of British India in the 1930’s. The movie tries to explore the event from the eyes for a 14-year-old youngster as lead and it makes good use of the story-telling tools.
Like manu historical films, it did not become a box office hit but it told the story of an event that the Indian history books don’t really talk about much. The film made by Bedabrata Pain won National award for Best Debut Film by a Director. Watch it for sure to know about the event and it’s a cinematic quality, as well.
Many know about this film and it became a surprise blockbuster at the box office. No one expected a movie made on a shoe-string budget with less known leads will cross 250 crores Nett at the box office. It showed the power of a good film and strategically right release time, as well. Uri talks about the surgical strikes conducted by the Indian Government on Pakisthan army as retaliation to their terrorist friendly activities. Vicky Kaushal won National Award for his acting and Aditya Dhar won Best Director award too. The film won a total of 4 National awards and 4 Filmfare awards.
Palanati Yuddham (1947)
Coming back to Telugu Cinema, in 1948, a historical film made an actor a star. Yes, Palanati Yuddham, a historical film based on Palnadu history and war in Guntur region made lead actor an young Akkineni Nageswara Rao, a star. People used to run for his autograph post this film and Keelugurram, Balaraju.
He became first folklore hero and historical war film hero too of Telugu Cinema. Before him, Chittoor Nagayya acted in films like Bhakta Pothana, which is also an historical film but about a Telugu poet, Pothana. He wrote Bhagavatham in Telugu.
Coming back to this movie, it has best performances by ANR, Govindarajula Subba Rao, S. Varalakshmi, Kannamba. ANR won hearts of viewers as Balachandrudu who is highly inflammable. Later, with same story NTR acted as Brahmanaidu and Bhanumati acted as Nagamma in the film by same name in 1966.
Gudavalli Ramabrahmam and LV Prasad directed in 1947 film and Gutha Ramaneedu made 1966 one. Best one anong the two is 1947 one even though it is not as technical sound as the later one.
Veerapandya Kattabomman (Tamil)
Going into Tamil Industry, the best among the historical films produced by Tamil Cinema is Veerapandya Kattabomman. BR Pantulu produced the movie on a large scale and even directed it brilliantly. He found Sivaji Ganesan best suited for the role of Kattabomman and with this film, Shivaji walk became highly famous. His style, his dialogue delivery, his aggressive acting style, his royal attitude, his body language even inspired NTR to produce a film on the same story.
But he couldn’t do so. He just appeared in the role of Kattabomman in the song, Punyabhoomi Naa desam from Major Chandrakanth. You can see his getup and scene being inspired from the 1959 film even in that song. Such is the impact of the film and mainly, performance of Sivaji.
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar
Jabbar Patel dared to make an historical Biography with Babasaheb Ambedkar’s life story. He took Malayalam legend and Megastar, Mammotty to play the role of Ambedkar. The movie stays true to the life of the scholar who performed the duty of being Chairman of the Drafting Committee that wrote the Constitution of India. Movie won National award for Acting, Film as well. It doesn’t have too many songs to hinder the flow of the story and it is not made with any commercial elements. It feels like a documentary re-enacted by a film star but it has many unknown elements of the life of Ambedkar. For people who are interested to know about how he could be the man to head drafting committee even though he belonged to an economically down trodden community and family, you should watch the film.
Jhansi Ki Raani (1953)
Sorry to any Manikarnika fans and television series fans. But 1953 film about Jhansi Ki Rani, Laxmi Bai is the best among the historical biography films that were made on her story. This film was made by Sohrab Modi and it did not become a box office hit. The movie was true to the life of the Rani and it did not cast any stars like Dilip Kumar or Dev Anand or Raj Kapoor or Guru Dutt, who were ruling the roost by that time. You have to watch the film, to know why it found a place in the list.
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero
This is a film with runtime of 208 minutes. The uncut version clocks 5h 5 mins. The best way to enjoy it is to see the uncut version that is not widely available. Shyam Benegal, the director revered for his filmmaking sense and storytelling vision, made this film. He took Sachin Khedkar to play the role the Nethaji and AR Rahman scored the music. Whatever you can find in history books and the stories that you don’t are all present in this film. It is rarely found on online platforms but it is a movie that deserves your time, patience and keen eye, if you love watching historicals. Movie won National Award for best film in promoting National Integration.