Stories are everywhere, you just need to look closer. And that is what filmmakers did when they turned their lens towards their own trade. However, the genre caught attention when Madhur Bhandarkar decided to delve into the untold stories of Bollywood and the entertainment industry.  

Fashion film scene
Source: Filmibeat

But as far as we can trace it, the roots of this self-reflexive cinema could be found in films such as Sone Ki Chidiya and Kaagaz Ke Phool. 

Guru Dutt
Source: The Indian Express

Films such as Harishchandrachi Factory came as a tribute to Dadasaheb Phalke and showed us how the first feature film, Raja Harishchandra, was made. On the contrary, a few of such films also put the spotlight on the dark underbelly of Bollywood. 

Harishchandrachi Factory film
Source: Netflix

Here are the Bollywood movies that gave us a closer look into the world of Indian cinema: 

 1. The Dirty Picture 

Vidya Balan
Source: SBS

The Vidya Balan and Emraan Hashmi starrer biographical film brought to the screen the story largely inspired by the life of well-known and controversial personality of Indian cinema, Silk Smitha. Set in the backdrop of the 80's film industry, The Dirty picture documents the rise and fall of a superstar who came from nothing.    

2. Heroine

Kareena Kapoor Khan
Source: India Today

Madhur Bhandarkar unveils what goes on off-camera while we focus on the glamorous front of the stars. In the Kareena Kapoor starrer Heroine, the creator focuses on the cost of stardom one has to pay.  

3. Luck By Chance 

Farhan Akhtar
Source: Film Companion

Directed by Zoya Akhtar and starring Farhan Akhtar, Luck By Chance had a realistic perspective of the Hindi film industry. Rather than a star, this film narrates the story of an aspiring actor while touching upon subjects such as nepotism and casting-couch.  

4. Om Shanti Om

Shah Rukh Khan
Source: Film Companion

A dramatised outlook on Bollywood, with reincarnation (not one but two), a revenge story and a melodramatic mother, is what Om Shanti Om was. But what is Bollywood without a little drama?  

5. Kaamyaab 

Sanjay Mishra
Source: IMDb

A version of Bollywood’s own stories, which we rarely see, Kaamyaab narrates the journey of an actor who has been on-screen for years but never under the spotlight. Sanjay Mishra essays the role of a “side-actor”, who wishes to accomplish a record of 500 films before his retirement.

6. Rangeela 

Urmila Matondkar
Source: Spotboye

The 1995 rom-com starring Urmila Matondkar follows the story of a young girl who aspires to become an actress. Comparatively a light-hearted film, Rangeela is all about the dreams and struggles of the lead, Mili. 

7. Bombay Talkies

Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Source: IMDb

The anthology movie Bombay talkies, in a part titled Star brought to screen an adaptation of Satyajit Ray’s short story Patol Babu Film Star. Nawazuddin Siddiqui, as a struggling actor, finally stumbles upon a role that would help him prove himself.  

Tahir Raj Bhasin
Source: IMDb

The most recent addition to the list was Mahesh Bhatt's web series Ranjish Hi Sahi. Although the show seems to be an ode to actor Parveen Babi, it also gives the audience a sneak-peek into the ways of Bollywood, back in the day. 

Without a doubt, the audience has mostly found films on Bollywood more interesting than Bollywood films.