Over the years, Bollywood has evolved to a place where content has little to do with box office numbers and is impacted by star-power. However, in the past decade, movies which failed at the box office have gained a cult status. Despite not getting the deserved financial rewards, they are being celebrated now.
Here are some of the top Bollywood movies which never, unfortunately, took off at the box office:
1. Karwaan (2018)
Karwaan is a road trip movie about accepting death, forgiveness and generational gaps. Dulquer Salmaan and Irrfan Khan never fail to impress and their chemistry enhanced the experience of the movie. Ever since, the movie has become a cult-favorite and an OTT staple. It is a simple and beautiful film about life, letting go and progress.
2. Jagga Jasoos (2017)
The cinematography, action sequences, direction and music of the movie were extremely enjoyable. However, the over-the-top nature of the story, Katrina Kaif’s acting and length of the movie did not impress the audiences.
3. Baar Baar Dekho (2016)
This Sidharth Malhotra and Katrina Kaif starrer has great cinematography, actors and a fun feel-good storyline. The technological interpretations, CGI, makeup and soundtrack made up for the overall lackluster experience. While the box office numbers were less than stellar, Nachde Ne Saare and Kaala Chashma are still staples at every desi wedding.
4. Lakshya (2004)
The only negative thing about the movie is its three-hour length. The performances, soundtrack, direction and storyline were commendable. The story of a clueless young guy who finally finds himself is something which the youth of this country identifies. Now, it is considered a cult classic.
5. I Am Kalam (2010)
I Am Kalam is the story of an underprivileged child who aspires to become a respectable person like Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam. The film, full of optimism, refrains from portraying larger than life situations and resolutions. It explores the right to education and a dream for every child. It is an inspiring tale that advocates the idea of hard-work over luck.
6. Raincoat (2004)
Adapted from the short story Gift of the Magi, Raincoat is a tale of unrequited love, directed by Rituparno Ghosh. Starring Ajay Devgn and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, the movie is built around their chemistry as Manoj and Neerja. The film captures the complexity of love and adds a sprinkle of simplicity.
7. Kadvi Hawa (2017)
Nila Panda, the director of Kadvi Hawa, showcases the problem of global warming. Sanjay Mishra brilliantly plays the role of a blind farmer crushed under debt. The movie is an centered around the agrarian crisis. It supposed to be a wake-up call to recognize the dangers of climate change.
8. Sonchiriya (2019)
Abhishek Chaubey directed the hugely controversial Udta Punjab and followed it up with what is probably one of the best movies. It received rave reviews from critics but did not do well at the box-office. It has stellar performances from Sushant Singh Rajput, Manoj Bajpayee, Bhumi Pednekar, Ranvir Shorey, and Ashutosh Rana. In addition to that, it has some of the best dialect-training for the characters.
9. Tumbbad (2018)
Rahil Anil Barve started writing the script in 1997. Between 2009-2010, he created a 700-page storyboard. Seven production companies worked and backed out of the project. It was initially shot in 2012. Then it was re-written and completed in 2015. It released in 2018 and bombed. That’s not going to be what Tumbbad is going to be remembered for. It is now crowned as one of the best horror films.
10. Omerta (2017)
Omerta is a Rajkummar Rao movie that shook him to his core. It was made on a budget of ₹ 18 crores and managed to make only ₹ 4 crores. It was embroiled in various controversies due to various fragments’ sentiments. There was even a Supreme Court order which demanded Mehta to deposit the movie’s earnings to pay up dues of Adarsh Telemedia. It got rave reviews in its brief theatrical run.
11. Meri Pyaari Bindu (2017)
Ironically enough, this Ayushmann Khurrana-Parineeti Chopra movie has a line where Abhimanyu Roy says that love stories with sad endings don’t work well with people. That’s why the self-fulfilling prophecy flopped. Why does a happy ending matter? Sad love stories change lives for the better. The movie manages to make your pain feel poetic and digestible.
12. Trapped (2016)
Another Rajkummar Rao starring movie that failed at the box office. The Vikramaditya Motwane film rests on the capable shoulders of the director-actor duo. It received a standing ovation at the Mumbai Film Festival and was made on a budget of ₹ 50 million. However, it made barely half of that.
13. Titli (2015)
This is a Yash Raj film. It has Ranvir Shorey, Amit Sial, Shashank Arora, Lalit Behl, and Shivani Raghuvanshi. It is unbelievably dark and boasts of some of the best performances in Indian film history. It is such a great critique of the violence that’s bubbling under our skin and just needs an outlet. There’s a fair chance you haven’t even heard about it. It’s on Amazon Prime Video. Do yourself a favour and watch it!
14. Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (2019)
This movie is one of the only great action films in Bollywood. It has a blistering performance from Gulshan Devaiah, Abhimanyu Dassani and Radhika Madan. The actors have done their action sequences on their own. It kicks toxic masculinity and nepotism. Its release date crashing with Kesari and its lack of famous faces caused the low box office numbers.
15. Swades: We, The People (2004)
This movie has everything going for itself: Shah Rukh Khan and a promising story. However, due to the lack of the usual tropes and glam factor, the movie didn’t do as well at the box office as it should have. However, today, it’s considered to be one of the best movies to have ever come out of Bollywood.
16. Andaz Apna Apna (1994)
This cult comedy classic was barely able to recover the cost of making the film. Despite starring big names like Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Karisma Kapoor, and Raveena Tandon in lead roles, it didn’t receive the adulation it enjoys. Today, it’s one of the most popular comedy movies that finds its place in several prominent movie lists.
17. Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! (2008)
The movie had great potential and received critical and audience appreciation. However, the box office did not reflect that because of its release date being 2 days after the 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. It even made the thief Bunty Chor a household name and increased the popularity of Abhay Deol (always a +1).
Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! presented Banerjee’s ability to create a smart, brilliantly written story with equally well written characters. It may have been a comedy, but it was darker than it was. A cool thief, a great soundtrack, and an intelligent film that respects the audience.
18. Dil Se… (1998)
Dil Se (Tamil title: Uyire) was the better one among Mani Ratnam’s unofficial ‘terrorism’ (or political) trilogy. The usual simplification of the sociopolitical backdrop wasn’t so bothersome in Dil Se. It’s a very good love story at heart with career-best performances from Shahrukh Khan and Manisha Koirala. As Amar, SRK gives a layered performance, transforming from a carefree youngster to a desperate adult. There’s a scene when Manisha tries to cry but her frozen emotional state doesn’t bring out the tears. Such endearing moments prove why she is one of the best actresses in Indian cinema.
19. Rocket Singh: Salesman Of The Year (2009)
The story line of the movie was actually genius, showing how youngsters in the sales field work hard. The supposed “loser” Rocket, overcomes all odds to start his own company. The performances of Ranbir Kapoor and Gauhar Khan left an impression on the audiences. One of those rare gems which not only make you smile, but also inspire you in many ways. This movie follows a certain commerce graduate who is ridiculed by his employers initially and turns the table later with his own marketing magic and business sense. However, the movie still tanked at the box office, even though it won Ranbir a Filmfare for it.
20. Rockstar (2011)
Rockstar failed to make an impression at the box office despite a spellbound performance by Ranbir Kapoor and a memorable soundtrack. The reason could be Nargis Fakhri’s lack of acting skills and the bad dubbing job. Furthermore, the plot did not have something concrete to justify Jordan’s growth to being a frustrated musician. Now, it is considered a cult movie.
These movies were made with genuine heart and passion, now they must get the love that they did not get during their theatrical release.