The Bollywood films of the 2000s were iconic and featured powerful storylines, perfect casting and the twist of Bollywood music and choreography.
Films like Main Hoon Na, Jab We Met, Dil Chahta Hai and Hera Pheri were some of the best Bollywood films of the 2000s that received global acclaim.
These films explored a range of genres, from romance to comedy to sports drama, leaving a lasting impression on audiences with their raw emotions and thought-provoking narratives.
The 2000s were a screen era like no other – unlike today, where every piece of entertainment is a monthly subscription away. In those bygone days, especially for Bollywood, viewers would queue for hours to catch a glimpse of the Khan trio: King Khan (Shah Rukh Khan), Salman Khan and Mr. Perfectionist (Aamir Khan, star of “The Indian”) Forrest Gump New edition Laal Singh Chaddha). Those were also the times when only fame ruled in Bollywood and nothing from the plot to the acting was enough to attract the audience to the theaters. But as times changed and entertainment media grew exponentially, Indian cinema too witnessed a shift in this landscape and did everything it could to fill the gaps in attracting viewers.
However, the 2000s were also the era that saw the birth of legendary Bollywood evergreens that gained global recognition and put a clearer picture of Indian cinema on the map. The films impressed with the powerful storyline that captured Indian culture in every sequence, the perfect casting and the twist on Bollywood music and choreography. Here are the best Bollywood films of the 2000s, ranked.
Updated on September 7, 2023 by Gargi Chatterjee: This article has been updated with additional content to keep the discussion fresh and relevant with even more information and new entries.
12 Main Hoon Na (2004)
Starring Shah Rukh Khan (as Major Ram) and Miss Universe 1994 Sushmita Sen (as Chandni), Main Hoon Na explores the narrative of peace between two feuding neighbors, a subtle nod to India and Pakistan.
However, Raghavan, the main antagonist, has conflicting plans for this operation and decides to jeopardize these plans by threatening the life of the general’s daughter. Ram saves the day and goes undercover to protect her while fulfilling his mission to reunite his family. The mega hit Bollywood film is winning its place in the hearts of the audience due to its perfect cast, action thriller plot and aesthetic music and dance sequences.
11 Jab We Met (2007)
Bollywood was big on sweet romantic comedies in the 2000s, and one of the gems of that era was Yep, we met. The sweet story of a depressed Aditya (Shahid Kapoor) and a very lively Geet (Kareena Kapoor) who meet at the train station.
The film shows how their lives intertwined over the next few days and captured the hearts of the audience. Although Geet is initially in love with someone else, everything ends in a very happy ending at the end of the film. The acting in the film is phenomenal and some songs in the film are still popular today.
10 Dil Chahta Hai (2001)
Dil Chahta Hai initially represents a bromance story between the three main protagonists Akash (Aamir Khan), Siddharta (Akshaye Khanna) and Sameer (Saif Ali Khan). But slowly the paths of life diverge and the plot is divided into three separate love stories.
In each story, the audience witnesses the characters’ approach to their relationships with their partners. While some are in line with the thoughts of Sameer, others are found like Siddhartha. This romantic film became an instant cult classic and aesthetically depicts the journey of inseparable friends. Even 20 years after its release, the Bollywood film doesn’t feel out of place and conveys raw emotions and thoughts that the audience is left to ponder by the end of the film.
9 Hera Pheri (2000)
Bollywood has produced a number of really great comedies over the years. But if someone were to make a list of the best Hindi comedies of all time, Hera Pheri would certainly be one of them.
This 2000 comedy stars three main characters, Shyam (Suniel Shetty), Raju (Akshay Kumar) and Baburao (Paresh Rawal), whose lives are turned upside down when they get caught up in a devious kidnapping plan and nothing works out . The film is full of hilarious scenes that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The second installation in the film Phir Hera Pheri has the same three main characters and is equally hilarious.
8th Chak De! India (2007)
Chak De! Indiaa sports-oriented film, shows Kabir Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) who, after being accused of anti-nationalism, turns his life into coaching the Indian women’s hockey team to prove his loyalty to the nation.
Through its narrative, the film uniquely and subtly delivers a sermon about patriotism, the love of hockey, and the status of women in sports. It also expresses the idea of not judging a man based on his ethnicity. Chak De! India is a visual treat for all ice hockey lovers out there.
7 Taare Zameen Par (2007)
There are not many films in Bollywood about the struggles of children with learning disabilities and the kind of problems they face in their daily lives. The very heartwarming film Taare Zameen Par The film starred child actor Darsheel Safari as 8-year-old Ishaan Awasthi, who struggles in class but is artistically talented. His parents send him to a boarding school, where Ishaan also has difficulty learning anything.
A new art teacher named Ram Shankar Nikumbh (Aamir Khan) joins their faculty and takes an interest in Ishaan. He understands that the little boy suffers from dyslexia and that this is the reason why he cannot perform well in school. The rest of the film is also very sweet as we see Ishaan slowly learning with the help of his teacher and continuing to pursue his passion of painting. The film was very well received by both critics and audiences and remains one of the best films of this decade.
6 One Wednesday (2008)
In A Wednesday, a citizen takes justice into his own hands and hatches a conspiracy to spread bomb scares in Mumbai. The film is a work of fiction but was inspired by July 2006 Mumbai bombing.
With a down-to-earth yet unique narrative, with versatile actors like Naseeruddin Shah (as The Common Man) and Anupam Kherr (as Prakash Pramod) in the lead roles, the film delivers the most impressive performance of the 2000s, per India Times. It deviated from the typical glitz of Bollywood and delivered a refreshing narrative that reinstates the idea of a commoner having the power of higher stature.
5 Omkara (2006)
Vishal Bhardwaj is one of the most talented filmmakers of our time and that is evident when you watch his 2006 film Omkara. The film is an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s classic play ‘Othello’ and gives a very Indian touch to the story so that even the average person can enjoy the true essence of the story.
The actors also did a great job portraying the various characters. It is one of the rare successful Shakespeare adaptations in Bollywood. Bhardwaj did it too Maqbool in 2003, an adaptation of Macbeth, and Haidar in 2014, an adaptation of Hamlet.
4 Lagaan (2001)
Staged in the period before India’s independence, Lagaan Aamir Khan plays the lead role. This sports drama explores the plot of farmer Bhuvan, who challenges captain Andrew Russell to a cricket match, and his journey to ultimate victory in these uncharted territories of the sport.
The film presents the light-hearted narrative in the most entertaining format while shedding light on Indian history. Of the many themes of unity, love and sport that the film revolves around, it is colonial oppression that strikes a chord with audiences. It allows them to re-explore the ways of the British Raj period and feel a sense of pride that they have come far in this journey of national progress.
3 Black (2005)
One of the most heartfelt films of the decade, Black tells the story of Michelle (Rani Mukerji), a girl who lost her eyesight and hearing in her childhood, and her alcoholic teacher Debraj (Amitabh Bachchan), who is the only person who can slowly teach her something.
As the film progresses, we see Michelle begin to communicate using sign language and read Braille with the help of Debraj. In the end, she manages to graduate, but Debraj is now in a mental institution due to Alzheimer’s disease. The film ends on a heavy but hopeful note that will surely make you shed a few tears.
2 Rank De Basanti (2006)
Rank De Basanti examines the narrative of a failing administrative system that pushes college students to become rebels for their cause. In this Aamir Khan-starrer Bollywood film, British actress Sue McKinley visits India to compose a film about Indian freedom fighters.
To this end, she casts DJ (Aamir Khan) and his friends as some revolutionary spirits of India’s struggles: Chandrasekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Rajguru, Ashfaqulla Khan and Ram Prasad Bismil. But what began as a role-playing game after a tragic event in Sue’s film soon takes over each character’s identity. The characters take on the shoes of freedom fighters to rebel against their system. Rand De Basanti is a balanced combination of fun, story and drama.
1 3 Idiots (2009)
3 idiotsa loose adaptation of Chetan Bhagat’s bestseller Five Point Someone, starring Aamir Khan (as Rancho), is a college drama that uncovers the mysterious existence of Rancho. The plot of the film takes a sharp look at the Indian education system and other prevalent issues in the society. More than just pointing out the problems, 3 idiots also serves as a solution to overcome them.
Furthermore, the film preaches several succinct life lessons throughout its course that have shaped the lives of millions of people in one way or another. Through one of its core themes, it aims to convey to the audience the clear message: excellence and success will follow. The film became an all-time blockbuster and scored the highest grossing film in Bollywood this decade.