Alfred Hitchcock once said, “The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.” But that hardly holds true for Hindi cinema. From an average run-time of three hours, Bollywood films are now close to two and half hours long. But that doesn’t blanketly apply to all films. Let’s take a look at the longest Bollywood films made.
1. Gangs of Wasseypur (2012) – 5 hours, 19 minutes
Directed by Anurag Kashyap, the crime drama was originally shot at a run-time of 319 minutes. But no Indian theatre agreed to run it for its five-hour duration. It was, therefore, released in two parts. Gangs of Wasseypur I and II turned out to be huge hits and enjoy a cult following today.
2. Tamas (1987) – 4 hours, 34 minutes
Based on a Hindi novel by Bhisham Sahni, Tamas is a period drama set in the backdrop of riot-hit Pakistan around the time of the Partition. Directed by Govind Nihalani, the award-winning tele film features Om Puri, Deepa Sahi, Amrish Puri, Pankaj Kapur, A.K. Hangal. The film courted much controversy at the time of its release. The Bombay High Court restricted the screening of the film for its sensitive subject. Two days later, however, the stay was lifted.
3. LOC Kargil (2003) – 4 hours, 15 minutes
LOC Kargil was not only one of the longest Bollywood films of its time but also had the biggest star cast. After the successful Border, this ambitious J.P. Dutta project met a rather sorry fate.
4. Mera Naam Joker (1970) – 4 hours, 4 minutes
Director Raj Kapoor was wiped out of his savings after the box-office debacle of Mera Naam Joker. It had come to selling out R.K. Studios if his subsequent film Bobby were to flop. Mera Naam Joker may have bombed at the Box Office, but has earned a cult following with the passage of time. At 255 minute runtime, Mera Naam Joker was the second longest Bollywood film with two intervals.
5. Sangam (1964) – 3 hours, 58 minutes
Another Raj Kapoor directorial, starring him alongside Rajendra Kumar and Vjayanthimala, Sangam was one of the biggest hits of its time. The love triangle was the first Hindi film to have been shot outside India. It was filmed in various countries across Europe – Venice, Rome, Paris, Switzerland.
The longest Bollywood film of its time, Sangam was also the first with two intervals.
6. Hum Saath Saath Hain (1999) – 3 hours, 48 minutes
Family dramas were the flavor of the 90s. After the successful Maine Pyar Kiya (1989) and Hum Aapke Hai Koun (1994), Sooraj Barjatya scored a hatrick with Hum Saath Saath Hai. Although, it wasn’t as big as his first two. (Trivia: Did you know Sooraj Barjatya started out as an AD to Mahesh Bhatt?)
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7. Lagaan (2001) – 3 hours, 44 minutes
He had ruled the 90s along with the two other Khans. Lagaan, however, had placed Aamir in a different league. Director Ashutosh Gowariker became a household name with this film. The sports drama at three hours and forty four minutes, made every second count. Loved and hailed by critics in India and the world over, Lagaan is a fine example of how cinema while being rich in content can entertain. Lagaan was in Channel Four’s ’50 best films to see before you die’ list.
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8. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: Forgotten Hero (2004) – 3 hours, 42 minutes
The biopic on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose won critical acclaim at festivals abroad. The length of the film, however, became a grouse among the audience. Directed by Shyam Benegal, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose featured an ensemble cast of Sachin Khedekar, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Rajit Kapur, Arif Zakaria, Divya Dutta.
9. Mohabbatein (2000) & Salaam-e-Ishq (2007) – 3 hours, 36 minutes
After the iconic Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), Mohabbatein was a rather damp squib from Aditya Chopra.
A plain rip-off of Love Actually (2003), Salaam-e-Ishq too was a tedious affair to sit through.
10. Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna (2006) – 3 hours, 35 minutes
The Karan Johar film starring Shahrukh Khan, Preity Zinta, Rani Mukerji, Abhishek Bachchan opened to mixed reviews. The film was written off by many not for its duration but its cursory treatment to a subject that required more earnestness and detail.