Some of the best movies to understand Indian history are:
Gandhi, Sardar, Earth, Mangal Pandey: The Rising, The Legend of Bhagat Singh, Bajirao Mastani, Hey Ram, Tenali Raman, Urumi, Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja, Kalapani and Jodhaa Akbar.
- Gandhi (1982) - (IMDb - 8/10)
Gandhi is a biographical movie based on the life of Mahatma Gandhi and his struggles for India’s independence. The movie contains some of the important historical elements of India.
History you learn: The movie helps you to understand more about Gandhi’s life, his non violence independence movement, the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in Amritsar, the Salt March in 1930, the end of British rule in 1947, and how Gandhi was assassinated.
Director: Richard Attenborough
Starring: Ben Kingsley, John Mill
- Sardar (1993) - (IMDb - 7.9/10)
The Hindi language biographical drama tells the story of one of the greatest freedom fighters of India , Sardar Vallabhai Patel’s struggles during the fight for India’s independence.
History you learn: The movie portrays the age of the Quit India movement, Indian independence, the proposal of partition of India, and the riots taking place due to this decision. It also depicts how Nehru and Sardar worked together to unite India as an independent nation.
Director: Ketan Mehta
Starring: Paresh Rawal, Annu Kapoor
- Earth (1998) - (IMDb - 7.7/10)
The Hindi movie Earth is a reflection of the political and social conditions that occurred in India at the time of Partition. It portrays the painful social split and its tragic consequences during the Partition.
History you learn: The movie discusses the Partition of India and the tragic situations that happened as a result of this. It highlights the state of uncertainty of India before partition, painful social split, disagreement between main political parties, and helplessness of common people who belong to different religions.
Director: Deepa Mehta
Starring: Amir Khan, Nandita Das
- Mangal Pandey: The Rising (2005) - (IMDb - 6.6/10)
A Hindi language historical biographical film, directed by Ketan Mehta, talks about the life of an Indian soldier Mangal Pandey, who is known to help start the Indian rebellion of 1857.
History you learn: It helps to learn about the brave life of Mangal Pandey and the spark he created for beginning the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The movie also demonstrates the beginning of the Sepoy Mutiny and also depicts small elements of the Mughal period.
Director: Ketan Mehta
Starring: Amir Khan, Rani Mukerji, Ameesha Patel
- The Legend of Bhagat Singh (2002) - (IMDb - 8.1/10)
The Hindi language biographical movie is about a fearless freedom fighter who fights for Indian independence. The film also throws light on the pre-independent period of India along with the important historical events that happened during the independence.
History you learn: It aids you to get a better idea about the life of Bhagat singh, Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Gandhi’s satyagraha policies, the death of Lala Lajpat Rai, the 116-day hunger strike in Lahore Central Jail, and the fearless death of Bhagat Singh.
Director: Rajkumar Santhoshi
Starring: Ajay Devgn, Sushant Singh, Amrita Rao
- Bajirao Mastani (2015) - (IMDb - 7.2/10)
The movie depicts the life of Peshwa Bajirao I, one of the most outstanding leaders of the Maratha Empire, and Mastani, the daughter of Bundela King.
History you learn: The movie portrays the period of the Maratha Empire, along with the fight with the Mughal Empire.
Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Starring: Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone
- Hey Ram (2000) - (IMDb - 7.9/10)
Hey Ram is a Tamil movie based on India's partition and its consequences on people.. It is also made available in Hindi language.
History you learn: It has some historical elements like pre-independence period, about Mahatma Gandhi, Godse’s assassination of Gandhi and the Partition of India.
Director: Kamal Hassan
Starring: Kamal Hassan, Vasundhara Das
- Tenali Raman (1956) - (IMDb - 7/10)
The Tamil movie portrays the life of Tenali Rama, a 14th-century poet and member of the court of Krishnadevaraya, the king of the Vijayanagara Empire. It focuses on the king and Tenali’s efforts to save him.
History you learn: It portrays the life of Tenali Raman and also depicts more about the Vijayanagara Empire and king Krishnadevaraya.
Director: B.S Ranga
Starring: Sivaji Ganeshan
- Urumi (2011) - (IMDb - 7.1/10)
Urumi is a Malayalam historical movie that portrays the 16th century period when the Portuguese completely ruled the Indian Ocean. The Hindi, Tamil and Telugu versions of the movie were also released.
History you learn: The movie demonstrates globalization, another side of the explorer Vasco da Gama, his arrival to Kerala, the conquering of the British in different parts of Kerala, and about the Chirakkal kingdom in Kerala.
Director: Santhosh Sivan
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Genelia D’Souza
- Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja (2009) - (IMDb - 7.7/10)
The Malayalam historical drama film highlights the legendary king, Pazhassi Raja, who lived in the 18th century. He was a brave warrior who fought until his last breath against the British.
History you learn: The film portrays the fight of Pazhassi Raja against the East India Company, the First Pazhassi Revolt, the life of people during the British Rule, etc.
- Kalapani (1996) - (IMDb- 8.4/10)
It is an epic Malayalam historical film, set in 1915, that focuses on the life of activists during Indian independence. The movie is dubbed in Tamil and Hindi languages.
History you learn: The movie is an excellent historical piece that truly depicts the activists' life during the pre-independence period and the terrible and tragic incidents they had to face in the Cellular Jail located in Andaman and Nicobar Islands at the time of British rule.
Starring: Mohanlal, Tabu, Prabhu
- Jodhaa Akbar (2008) - (IMDb - 7.6/10)
Jodhaa Akbar is a historical drama film that portrays the 16th-century love story of the greatest Mughal emperor Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar and the Rajput princess Jodhaa Bai.
History you learn: The movie has some historical elements like representation of the Mughal period, touches the history of Babur and Humayun, and talks about Rajput too.
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Starring: Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
The top 5 most inspirational movies are The Shawshank Redemption, Forrest Gump, Pursuit of Happyness, 3 Idiots, and Taare Zameen Par.
- The Shawshank Redemption (1994) - (IMDb - 9.3/10)
“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” - Andy Dufresne
The movie is about a banker named Andy Dufresne’s 19 years in prison. The movie gives a strong message of patience as well as friendship. It encourages the audience to focus on long term goals while still maintaining short term goals. It is a really inspiring tale filled with hope and faith.
- Forrest Gump (1994) - (IMDb - 8.8/10)
“My Mama always said you've got to put the past behind you before you can move on.” - Forrest
The movie is a touching story of a man who gives a high level of inspiration while watching it. The man is filled with optimism and reminds the audience to appreciate the life one has and love it to the fullest. The story also reminds you to live in the present as we don’t know what’s going to be in future.
- Pursuit of Happyness (2006) - (IMDb - 8/10)
“The world is your oyster. It’s up to you to find the pearls.” - Chris Gardner
The movie gives a strong message that hard work always pays off and you should never give up. It also focuses on the father-son bond and the struggles taken by father for providing a better future to his son. It is a heartwarming story which shows that you can find happiness in every small thing even in the middle of problems.
- 3 Idiots (2009) - (IMDb - 8.4/10)
“Pursue for excellence, success will chase you” - Rancho
The movie gives a message that instead of following success, most importantly you have to achieve excellence which requires hard work and commitment. It also highlights the importance of learning with purpose rather than for the sake of examination. The story also throws light on the importance of friendship.
- Taare Zameen Par (2007) - (IMDb- 8.4/10)
“ Sometimes in life, it is healthy to be slow and dumb.” - Nikumbh
Taare Zameen Par is a heart touching movie which gives a message of smart parenting and teaching. It also focuses on helping children to follow their passion rather than getting top grades and competing with others. The movie also highlights the strong bond of mother and child which deeply touches the audience's heart. The movie is a whole package of awesome life lessons.