Let’s take a look at some recent films that have integrated a social message into the narrative. We present the 12 most Socially Impactful Bollywood Movies of all the time.
1: PK : 2014
The plot is straightforward: Aamir Khan plays PK, an alien who arrives on Earth and misplaces the gadget that will enable him to return to his home planet. In his quest for the unit, Aamir Khan (PK) encounters a slew of preachers.
A thought-provoking film that seeks to remind viewers that God’s universal message is one and those con artists have attempted to commercialize religions in order to deceive the common man. The film takes a comedic and realistic approach to convey the social message that many elements in culture have managed to make a man forget that ideals, regardless of religion, are not convoluted and were never meant to be.
2: Mardaani : 2014
The film explores a variety of social issues while defying gender stereotypes; the protagonist (Rani Mukherjee) is an informed and empowered woman who makes no apologies for working in a male-dominated sector and feels completely at ease.
The film may not have made a lot of money, but it did a decent job of portraying two critical issues: child abuse and child sex rackets. With hard-hitting truth, the film sends a social message about how vulnerable children, especially those on the street, are and how easily their innocence is stolen by ruthless procurers.
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3: OMG! Oh My God : 2012
Every now and then, a film comes along that makes us break out of our cocoon, stop slouching, and smell the coffee. No one expected Akshay Kumar to release a film that would trigger religious divisions.
The film, set against the amusing backdrop of the protagonist’s (Paresh Rawal) decision to sue God, calls into question all we’ve come to believe in the last few years. It exposes those who have commercialised God and faith and play with the emotions of ordinary Indians, many of whom are poor.
4: Peepli Live : 2010
Farmer suicides, government policies, corruption, and vote bank politics are all featured in this offbeat film. The movie takes place in Peepli, where Natha and Budhia are facing the loss of their land due to an unpaid bank loan. In search of some relief, they approach a local politician, who mocks them. He says they commit suicide because the government provides financial aid to the families of farmers who commit suicide. Add media craziness to the mix. Everyone rushes in to get a piece of the plot, but Natha continues to ponder her suicide.
Our farmers are the hardest working and yet most underappreciated workers in our country. A farmer no longer wishes for his child to be a farmer. What a shame for a nation that bragged of the green and white revolution at one point. Not only that, but we’ve come to associate farming with prosperity. The recent increase in farmer suicides exemplifies their precarious situation. The film also highlights the fact that merely enacting new policies and schemes is insufficient to alleviate the existing situation. Although much has been said about the farmers’ plight, nothing has been done to help them.
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5: Well Done Abba! : 2009
In 2009, Abba! received the National Award in the category of “social cause.” The film follows Armaan Ali, a driver who takes time off to search for a husband for his daughter. From anyone stealing his “ok” to being arrested, a sequence of events transpire that transform his leave into a two-month ordeal.
It’s a socio-political satire about a common man’s struggle for justice against an all-pervasive corrupt system, wrapped in powerful social messages. Corruption has afflicted our entire system, and the film depicts how people must leap through hoops to get what is legitimately theirs. Individuals who want their hands greased are still at the mercy of the common man.
6: 3 Idiots : 2009
This blockbuster is a case study on how to make a commercially successful film that also provokes thought. The film has several layers of social commentary.
The film shows how our educational system is riddled with flaws. It also demonstrates how parental pressure can be excessive at times, leading to a child attempting suicide. One of the most significant messages in the film is that what a child requires is the ability to receive a successful education. Rancho, the protagonist, who is the son of a housekeeper and is given the opportunity to learn, exemplifies this. The film also poses an important question: is schooling solely for the purpose of launching oneself into ‘Corporate America?’ Rancho, who finishes first in his class, takes the road less travelled, demonstrating that there are other ways to give back to society while still making a decent living.
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7: Taare Zameen Par : 2007
The film may have been a documentary, but it was turned into a feature film beautifully. The script is tight, and all of the characters are used to represent various types of people that make up our culture.
The film looks at the needs of “unique” children and what society can do to help them. It encourages viewers (who may be familiar with a differently-abled child) to be patient and empathic toward someone who requires special attention. Every person is gifted, and following their natural passion can only lead to success.
8: Rang De Basanti : 2006
The film has received a lot of praise and critical acclaim, so everybody knows about it.
In terms of social effects, ‘Rang De Basanti’ is undoubtedly one of the most well-known films. The film succeeded in reawakening the sleeping giant of youth, which many others had attempted but struggled to do. Our youth realised the power they had in their hands, which sparked a youth mass movement that has only grown stronger since then. Because of the perpetrator, Manu Sharma’s father’s political clout, the 1999 Jessica Lall murder case sat in court collecting dust. Following the release of the film, the youth’s rage grew, and they were motivated and ready to take on the system. Since true power rests in the hands of the people, the murder case resulted in the conviction of the perpetrators. Similar protests were held in India in the aftermath of the rape and murder of Priyadarshini Mattoo.
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9: Chakde India : 2007
When Shahrukh Khan switches gears from his regular candy floss romantic hero image, he always creates magic. Some media outlets made the link between the protagonist and the well-known athlete Mir Ranjan Negi.
The film depicts the hardships of an athlete whose image has been tarnished as a result of a loss in a hockey game. He is a victim of bias as a result of religious prejudice and the psychological harm caused by the partition. Throughout the film’s narrative, religious bigotry, the legacy of India’s Partition, ethnic and regional prejudice, and misogyny in contemporary India are all addressed through field hockey. The women’s team overcomes all obstacles in their path, including gender inequality, ego issues, and complex team dynamics. The film also emphasises the fact that you are just as good as your weakest link when it comes to a team.
10: Antardwand : 2007
At the 2009 National Film Awards, the movie won the National Film Award for Best Film on Social Issues.
PVR Pictures agreed to release the film commercially only after winning the award. The film was inspired by the groom’s kidnappings that occur in Bihar. Eligible bachelors are kidnapped and forced to marry by the bride’s family in order to avoid paying a large dowry to the groom’s family. After a time marked by an unprecedented rise in cases of women being mistreated by their in-laws and husbands because of their ever-increasing hunger for monetary donations from the bride’s family after marriage, groom kidnapping cases have increased. Dowry is an unfortunate aspect of Indian weddings that has remarkably persisted in modern times. And educated families participate in this scheme, setting a price based on the family’s status; dowry is often disguised as “gifts.”
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11: Dor : 2006
A beautiful and heartbreaking tale about two very different women from different parts of the world who are brought together by an event that binds their fates.
The film depicts the pitiful treatment of widowed women in rural India by some orthodox parts of society, ranging from requiring widowed women to wear a specific outfit of a specific color to foregoing even the most basic luxuries, such as sleeping in a bed. These women have no power over their lives and have had all of their colors snatched from them, both physically and metaphorically. Some of these women are ‘sold’ to powerful men as well. The film lets the audience realize that these are very “real” issues, and that while we have advanced as a society, there are still people who are being denied basic rights, and that we are still far from feeling accomplished.
12: My Brother Nikhil : 2005
When a family member announces he has AIDS, the film explores how family and society respond. It’s a tale about how his life changes dramatically after his announcement, from being a promising swimmer to a social outcast.
The films focus on the stigma that culture has attached to AIDS. The real culprits in the lack of recognition and free flow of knowledge have been self-stigma and social stigma. Families with an AIDS-affected member are often shunned by society, with no support groups to turn to. While there are groups advocating for the cause and assisting in every way they can, what we really need is a social thread that wraps itself around a family that is already struggling.
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