Through the passage of an arduous journey, India as gone through a tumultuous times with terror lurking behind it every instance. However despite the continuous threat, it has managed to break all odds. Be it the 2006 Train Bombings or the 26/11 attacks, India and its countrymen have come back with extreme force. The Indian film industry has over time, portrayed this horrifying terror with care and perfection. Adding a tinge of romanticism or humanism, directors have pulled off a masterful execution with their art.
For this list, I have taken in account “Bollywood” exclusively. So, even though films such as ‘Roja’ (1992), ‘Azad’ (2000) and ‘Kannathil Muthamittal’ (2002) are brilliant films, they are not a part of Bollywood. Also, the selection and ranking is based on the magnitude of the theme of terrorism portrayed. Plot, acting, writing and direction are imperative points. Here’s the list of best Hindi movies based on terrorism and terrorists.
12. Sikandar (2009)
One of the underrated films of this genre, ‘Sikandar’ bases itself on the terrorism in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. Loosely adapted from Stephen King’s novel,‘Apt Pupil’; the Piyush Jha directed flick tells the story of a young boy, Sikandar Raza who slowly embroils into the world of the Kashmir conflict. It has a strong screenplay and Parzan Dastur as the 14 year old schoolboy is quite brilliant. What makes it such a strong contender is its conception of the Kashmir issue. It employs the idea of “memories” to ignite that innate fear within us. Concepts of childhood and innocence are portrayed with intense case through the football obsessed Sikandar. It’s worth a watch.
11. Neerja (2016)
Primarily a biographical thriller, ‘Neerja’ centres around the Libyan-backed Abu Nidal Organization’s hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 in Karachi, Pakistan, on 5 September 1986. Narrated through the perspective of the flight’s head purser, Neerja Bhanot who died while negotiating with the terror organisation; ‘Neerja’ influences through the dialogues and the acting. It does away with explosions and bomb blasts, but deals with the terror’s anarchical monarchy. It received humongous praise with Jason Klein of “Variety” saying “DAR-Film Leaderboard was notably absent of Oscar-nominated films, but part of the gap was filled by Neerja.”
10. Mumbai Meri Jaan (2008)
Based on the 2006 Mumbai train bombings, ‘Mumbai Meri Jaan’ deals with the lives of five people, and how it changed by the 2006 Mumbai train bombings. Directed by Nishikanth Kamath, it stars R. Madhavan, Irrfan Khan, Soha Ali Khan, Paresh Rawal and Kay Kay Menon. Kamath intricately goes through the themes of loss and trauma while maintaining a realistic portrayal of the subject matter. The writing is impeccable and showcases the insensitivity of media, government and people. The actors perfectly sketch out human subjectivity and were praised for their efforts. It went on to win multiple awards, including the National Film Award for Best Special Effects.
9. Aamir (2008)
‘Aamir’ puts a frightening scrutiny on every single individual with its story of a doctor, played by Rajeev Khandelwal, who upon returning to Mumbai from London; is forced to participate in a terrorist coup by Islamic extremists who want to carry out a bombing in the city. The directed, Raj Kumar Gupta adapted his idea from a Filipino-American thriller film, ‘Cavite’ (2005), and uses it as pedestal to pen a gripping script with resounds of gritty realism and psychological symbolism. It portrays the terrifying reach of terrorism and helplessness it can provoke inside every soul, which won over the audience and critics.
8. Droh Kaal (1994)
‘Droh Kaal’ sets the bar high with a riveting screenplay and characters with depth. A crime drama film, ‘Droh Kaal’ is directed and produced by Govind Nihalani and deals with India’s combat against terrorism. The film explores the mental and psychological trauma that honest police officers go through in their fight against terrorists.
Written by Govind Purushottam, Deshpande, Govind Nihalani, Anjum Rajabali and Atul Tiwari; the film lays foundation on the aforementioned characters with brilliance. The three leads – Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah and Ashish Vidyarthi showcase maturity by psychologically grasping the audience and the director portrays the emotional turmoil of the police with dexterity.
7. Mission Kashmir (2000)
‘Mission Kashmir’ managed to score financial success with multi-starrer ‘Mohabbatein’ releasing on the same date. Directed by visionary director Vidhu Vinod Chopra, this 2000 movie deals with the melancholic tragedy and heartbreak of children embroiled on war. What makes this flick quite unique is Chopra’s innovative take on the demonic political warfare and the disturbing terror.
‘Mission Kashmir’ the life and tragedy of a young boy named Altaaf who, after his entire family is accidentally killed by police officers is adopted by the police chief, played by Sanjay Dutt responsible. While things seem to go well through time, an adult Altaaf, played by Hrithik Roshan finds out and seeks revenge, and to everyone’s horror, becomes a terrorist.
The film holds a tight grasp on morality which seems to be glacially waning, personified by the Kashmir trepidation. The action drama is built on a strong foundation of the leads that are foiled emotionally by the supporting cast of Preity Zinta, Sonali Kulkarni and Jackie Shroff. Chopra perfectly mould the film with an intrinsic screenplay, written by y Pulitzer Prize finalist Suketu Mehta and an engaging soundtrack composed by the trio Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy.
6. Fiza (2000)
Directed by Khalid Mohammed, ‘Fiza’ is set against the backdrop of the Bombay riots. Mohammed absorbs the emotions of the audience by setting the narrative from the eyes of the titular character played by Karisma Kapoor, who is on an arduous path of uniting her mother with her brother, who disappeared during the 1999 Bombay riots. The film boasts one of the best acting performances in Indian cinema crafted judiciously by the director. The 2000 flick bagged a barrel of awards and impressively dominated the prestigious BFJA awards by winning Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress.
5. Sarfarosh (1999)
‘Sarfarosh’ deftly infuses a Bollywood blockbuster and a critically well-crafted work. Directed, written and produced by John Matthew Matthan; the 1990 film portrays Indian police’s quest to stop cross-border terrorism. Releasing at the time of the Kargil conflict, it was the perfect timing for the film. The cast sketches out a masterful performance; with Aamir Khan portraying the righteous cop and Naseeruddin Shah essaying the unsettlingly calm cunning Gulfam Hassan with perfection.
The film neither overexerts the intensity nor derails anywhere. The foundation is laid on an extremely well crafter script. Themes of terrorism, crime and patriotism are dealt with composure and ease. The director took over seven years to research and it showed in the way the film dealt with smuggling of arms through border and the how the police functions and undergoes the procedure. Among its humongous praise, the movie won four awards – Filmfare Critics Award for Best Movie, Filmfare Award for Best Editing, Filmfare Award for Best Screenplay and Filmfare Award for Best Dialogue.
4. Dil Se.. (1998)
Directed by the pioneer of terrorism films, Mani Ratnam, ‘Dil Se..’ is the final film of trilogy of terror films, ‘Roja’ (1992) and ‘Bombay’ (1995), it is the perfect ending to a brilliant trilogy. Set against the backdrop of the backdrop of insurgency in Northeast India, the film knits its grotesque political and terrorism allegory with a thrilling romance. Establishing the narrative with the much evolving “parallel cinema”, this 1998 movie stars Shahrukh Khan and Manisha Koirala as the masterful leads.
The films strongest tool is the screenplay, mastered in Hindi and Tamil by Tigmanshu Dhulia and Sujatha respectively which adds a layer of unsettling atmosphere to the flick. ‘Dil Se..’ introduces us the a lovelorn program executive for All India Radio Amarkant Varma, played by Khan, who upon from being posted to cover festivities in Assam, falls for the elquent beauty of Manisha Koirala’s Meghna. Things seem to go on a beautiful romantic journey between the two, until they get embroiled in a terror coup. And if things weren’t frightening enough, Meghna turns out to be a part of a Liberationists group, which plans multiple suicide attacks in New Delhi at the upcoming Republic Day celebration. What follows is Amarkant Verma’s tumultuous journey of being torn part with his ideology and love.
Receiving raging critical acclaim, ‘Dil Se..’ was a movie ahead of its time which was masterfully moulded by the director, star-cast, writer and composer. What makes this flick such brilliance, is its poetic essence to it. With Ratnam establishing his credibility with his previous two film, the director could employ the best which was backed up by the producer Ram Gopal Verma. Among its huge critical success, it became the first Indian film to enter the top 10 in the United Kingdom box office charts.
3. A Wednesday! (2008)
While other films on the list extensively showcase terrorism, ‘A Wisdnesday!’ uses it as a metaphor and portrays it through eyes of a common man. It deftly employs voice, time and geography that are supported by a masterful performance by the star cast. It does not waste time in establishing a plot or the character sketch, and yet grips the audience by their imagination. Unlike most films of the “terrorism genre”, it portrays the frightening image of the common man rather than the terrorists. The humongous efforts the film’s team earned it a gallon of accolade, including the Indira Gandhi for Best First Film of a Director.
2. Maachis (1996)
‘Maachis’ has heart like no other film. Directed by the veteran Gulzar, the movie chronicles the terrorism and its influences on youth of Punjab during the 1984 riots. It strikes right in the emotions with its direction, writing, acting and music. Starring a sparkling cast of Tabu, Om Puri, Chandrachur Singh and Jimmy Shergill, the film brings life to the metaphor of the “matches” or “maachis”. Every instance of this well-crafted movie is supremely poetic with a gloomy atmosphere hovering above. Sadness and melancholy drench the emotions and the soundtrack by a young Vishal Bharadwaj just makes things even better.
1. Black Friday (2007)
‘Black Friday’ is probably the most unabashed horrifying reality of the world of terror. Directed by Anurag Kashyap, this 2007 film is brimming artistic controversy which resulted in the release being postponed by three years. Based on the terrifying 1993 Bombay Blasts which shook the moral foundation of the country, it invited the viewers to actively participate in the horror. With an unsettling realism, the 2007 flick recreated each and every instance, right from a drop of tear to a stomach churning blast, with perfection.
The director masterfully adapted Hussain Zaidi intrinsic novel of the same name and the actors seemed to have completely immersed themselves into the multidimensional writing. If things weren’t brilliant enough, Kashyap had the “audacity” to use the real identities of the perpetrators, and thereby making the first of its kind. ‘Black Friday’ is not just one of the best films in this genre, but also one of the best of Indian cinema.
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