When I watched “The Stoning of Soraya M.” yesterday, I thought to come up with another 9 movies to create a list of movies that you may not have watched, but might want to hunt down.

You will notice a strong Indian theme in my selection. When I lived in Munich, it was very easy to get a hold of Indian movies and thus, I watched quite a few of them. Not all tear-jerkers, but also critical and thought-provoking. 😉

Rang de Basanti

This 2006 movie by Rakesh Omprakash Mehra tells the story of a group of young people who participate in a docudrama to realize that there are many parallels between their lives and that of revolutionaries in India in the 1920s.

The drama was well noticed around the world for its critical portrayal of issues in contemporary Indian society. I added this movie to my list because it let’s young people who have been more or less happy-go-lucky discover history on their own, become aware of their political and historical surroundings, and take a stance. It is also a frightful example of how similar situations in a country’s present can be to its past.

Elements Trilogy

Deepa Metha’s trilogy of the movies Fire (1996), Earth (1998), and Water (2005) deals with controversial topics in Indian history: homosexuality, the partition of India, and the treatment of widows.

Fire was the first Indian movie I ever watched. It was not a typical Bollywood movie at all, and an Indian friend was very surprised that I had seen that movie as it had received a very critical reception in India. I guess, the more critical Indian movies are more acclaimed abroad while Bollywood produces musical fantasies that let people escape from reality.

My friend had suggested I watch “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ)” because that was an Indian movie that was and still is very popular in India (has been running continuously since 1995 in Mumbai theaters!).

Bride and Prejudice

Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” in contemporary India and the U.S.A. The movie was released in 2004 and adds a cross-cultural dimension to Jane Austen’s original.


This 2006 Indian movie centers around forgiveness, traditions, the strengths of women and the will to overcome obstacles.

(Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a clip with English subtitles.)

Inside Man

A movie with Denzel Washington has to be on my list as well. 😉 This one by Spike Lee from 2006 is a great movie because of its clever storyline.

In addition, I will always remember it because it starts out with the very popular “Chaiyya Chaiyya” from the movie “Dil Se“. While sitting in the movie theater we discussed how a friend could not be made to watch an Indian movie even if it were a critically acclaimed one. We just had to laugh heartily when the movie started with a song from a Bollywood movie, and he liked it.

August Rush

Kirsten Sheridan’s 2007 movie stars Robin Williams in a serious role. I was most fascinated by the sincerity of the movie along with the great guitar playing / slapping. It’s a modern fairy tale.

Pirates of Silicon Valley

This docudrama is a must for everybody interested in the birth of the personal computer and the rivalry between Apple and Microsoft.

Children of Heaven

The adventures of two Iranian siblings are told in this moving film by Majid Majidi from 1997. The brother accidentally lost his sister’s shoes and tries to get them back while they share one pair of shoes trying to hide the fact from their parents.

The Stoning of Soraya M.

This movie by Cyrus Nowrasteh from 2008 is based on a true and horrific story about a woman who was wrongfully accused of adultery by her husband and stoned to death. However, it is not just the story of this woman, but more the story of a remote village in Iran where traditions, conspiracy, and hypocrisy rule.



Diane Lane features in this thriller from 2008. She is set to find the serial killer who streams the killing of his victims live on the Internet in a perverted way because the more people watch the quicker the victims die. It is a critique of online voyeurism. This movie is nothing for light-hearted people.

CC BY-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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