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12 Great Bollywood Movies That Flopped

12 Great Bollywood Movies That Flopped

top Bollywood movies

Over the years, Bollywood has evolved to the extent where almost every movie starring a who’s who of the industry would gain sufficient attention, which would then lead to box office sales depending on the quality of the movie. But in the past few decades, there were some absolute classics, movies which are regarded as milestones of Indian cinema, which at the time of their release, did not get the financial rewards they deserved. Here are some of the top Bollywood movies which never, unfortunately, took off at the box office:


Great Bollywood Movies That Flopped

1. Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959)

Director: Guru Dutt

Kaagaz Ke Phool is a film which is widely considered way ahead of its time. But at the time of release, the movie bombed at the box office, which left Guru Dutt shattered and marked the end of his directing career. Today, however, the movie is regarded as a world cinema classic. It deserved much more.

Watch Kaagaz Ke Phool on Amazon Prime


2. Guide (1965)

Directors: Vijay Anand, Tad Danielewski

best Bollywood movies
Image Source: NDTV Movies

I consider Vijay Anand’s Guide to be a personification of the spirit of Bollywood in the 1960s. Today, the Dev Anand-Waheeda Rahman starrer is a cherished romantic flick, with Dev Anand pulling off an acting masterclass. Unfortunately, audiences in the 1960s weren’t too enthusiastic about the film, and it took quite a while for them to change their minds. Because of which, Guide became a box office flop.

Where to watch: YouTube


3. Mera Naam Joker (1970)

DirectorRaj Kapoor

good Bollywood movies
Image Source: Google

A sort of Indianized version of Pagliacci, the clown who made people laugh at the expense of his own happiness, Mera Naam Joker is supposed to be Raj Kapoor’s greatest role. It was way ahead of its time, with the concept so new to audiences, they didn’t understand it. Today, however, there a few movies that deserve to be given the title of ‘classic’.

Where to watch: YouTube


4. Pakeezah (1972)

Director: Kamal Amrohi

top Bollywood movies which first flopped
Image Source:

Audiences realised too late that they had a masterpiece on their hands with Pakeezah. It bombed badly at the box office, but the movie was eventually rediscovered through rentals and TV and was recognized for the masterpiece it was. The film took 14 years to make. Tragically, it was legendary actress Meena Kumari’s last film before her untimely death. If only she knew the impact she made on the industry.

Watch Pakeezah on Amazon Prime


5. Sholay (1975)

Director: Ramesh Sippy

top Bollywood movies
Image Source: Indian Express

Yep. You read right.

The first couple of weeks of Sholay‘s release was an unmitigated disaster, with no proper marketing and critics slamming the film. The soundtrack got people interested, however, and a snippet of dialogues released as part of a PR stunt saw ticket sales go up. And up they went. The rest is history.

Watch Sholay on Amazon Prime


6. Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983)

Director: Kundan Shah

good movies that flopped
Image Source:

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro wasn’t meant for its time. And it’s no fault of the film. In an era like the 1980s, filled with masala, romance and campy tear-jerkers, as well as the inability to get out of the disco fad, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro was a satire on all this. It was intelligently made but didn’t sit well with the mainstream audience. Years later, after the movie bombed spectacularly on the box office after Indian audiences became more accustomed to more grounded storylines, did the movie get the credit and recognition it deserved.

Watch Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro on Amazon Prime

7. Swades (2004)

Director: Ashutosh Gowariker

Source: UTV Motion Pictures

The fact that a movie like Swades didn’t get its due, in the financial sense at least, makes me mad. It was critically acclaimed at several international film festivals, but the Indian audience didn’t bother to watch a movie without melodrama or half-arsed action sequences. This is one of Shahrukh Khan’s best ever movies. Period. This was a movie that made you sit down and think, to reflect and to relate with your homeland. Today it’s a cult classic, but the movie deserved the big bucks as well.

Where to watch: Netflix


8. Lamhe (1991)

Director: Yash Chopra

This film was well ahead of its time. Perhaps this movie came out a bit too soon for an audience which was not ready to accept the kind of relationship that was depicted in the film. A man is in love with a girl, who goes on to marry another man. The couple dies and leaves behind a daughter who falls in love with the same man who loved her mother. Awkward much? But there’s a but in between. The direction and execution by Yash Chopra give it a very playful and innocent characteristic. It’s a simple film, the premise of which might be hard to stomach for some, but it has its heart in the right place. What a brave film for its times. Watch it for its execution.

Watch Lamhe on Amazon Prime


9. Silsila (1981)

Director: Yash Chopra

Another film that bombed at the box office at the time of its release, Silsila today has acquired a cult status. A classic Yash Chopra film, Silsila redefined romance. Starring Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Rekha, Shashi Kapoor, the film boasts of remarkable performances and unforgettable compositions.

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Watch Silsila on Amazon Prime


10. Oye Lucky Lucky Oye (2008)

Director: Dibakar Banerjee

Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! was more proof of 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. You just needed to look into the fine print, and uncover the subtext. It expects as much of the audience as the audience expects of the film.

It’s a Catch Me If You Can-esque film, with a Delhi twist. A cool thief, a great soundtrack, and an intelligent film that respects the audience. Can’t ask for much more.

I fail to figure why it was so ill-received. Perhaps, the star value that casual moviegoers seek. If the audiences had known that soon after this one, the lead would amazingly justify his role as Dev in the iconic Dev D, they would have been much more supportive to an actor who gave his all and displayed quite the skill in this film that derives a lot from popular fables yet maintains a core of originality and authenticity.

Where to watch: Netflix


11. Dil Se… (1998)

Director: Mani Ratnam

Source: Netflix

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.

Visually, Dil Se is among Ratnam’s top three works. Santosh Sivan’s majestic portrayal of Ladakh will stay forever in our minds.

Where to watch: Netflix, Amazon (Tamil), (Telugu)


12. Umrao Jaan (1981)

Director: Muzaffar Ali

Yes, the Rekha-starrer Umrao Jaan. Not only her looks but her grace, elegance and her ada are all phenomenal. The songs themselves are masterstrokes in musical artwork. Add to that the extravagant settings, the meticulous attention to detail, the crisp directing, the beautiful cinematography and obviously, the mind-blowing acting; all come together to create something that transcends all boundaries of conventional filmography.

Where to watch: YouTube

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