Bollywood is known for the quintessential family entertainers and therefore romance, comedy and drama remain the most explored genres here. However, there is one more type of films which we Bollywood lovers enjoy watching and that is action films. Nothing gets the adrenaline running like the kickass action sequences. Moreover, for our classic ‘hero emerging victorious against villain’ climax, it is essential to have some Dishoom Dishoom.
Our action films may not be on par with the Hollywood’s slick action flicks, they most certainly have the typical Desi masala which every Bollywood lover likes to watch. There are plenty of action films that have set the benchmark and redefined the genre in Bollywood long before foreign technicians and computer effects came in. However, now filmmakers have incorporated these techniques and effects to create our own style of action scenes. That is the reason why Hindi films have everything to offer in this genre, from hand-to-hand combats to martial arts and from gun battles to even superhero action.
Here is a list of 20 best Bollywood action films which have given us some unforgettable gritty sequences-
Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971)
Often touted as ‘Sholay’ before ‘Sholay’, this Raj Khosla directorial starred Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna and Asha Parekh. A typical yesteryear setting of dacoit, perfected looks of the characters and brilliant storytelling made this film one of the best Bollywood action films of all time. What stole the attention was Vinod Khanna’s smashing performance in a role of a dacoit and the interesting twist that follows the song ‘Maar Diy Jaye’
This iconic film marked the arrival of Amitabh Bachchan as Angry Young Man. Zanjeer was one powerful action flick that broke the trend of soft-romantic films that was prevalant during that time. In the era when the common people were frustrated and angry over the corrupt system, this film turned violent and tried to find solutions to people’s problems. In this film directed by Prakash Mehra and written by Salim Javed, Amitabh played an aggrasive cop who stood firmly against all the wrongs.
Do we need to say anything more about Sholay? The timeless, iconic, matchless classic directed by Ramesh Sippy remains the milestone in the Indian Cinema. Even though it had everything to offer from comedy to drama, the action showcased in Sholay is the best. Of all the action sequences in the film, Gabbar’s gruesome ‘Ye Haath Muhe De De Thakur’ sequence, Jai-Veeru’s heroic stunts after the ‘Holi’ song and Thakur’s stellar act of kicking Gabbar with his spike-soled shoes remain the most memorable ones.
This film was produced and directed by Feroz Khan who also played the lead along with Vinod Khanna, Zeenat Aman and Amad Khan. This was a cool, stylish film with a lot of hot-blooded action stunts. Amjad Khan impressed with his performance in a role of a police officer while Zeenat Aman’s sensuous ‘Aap Jaisa Koi’ added the glamour quotient to the film.
In this Dharmendra starrer, Amrish Puri played the role of a villain who is a bandit. The film also starred Shatrughan Sinha and Mandakini in the pivotal roles. In this another Chor-Police drama directed by Raj Sippy, there were many ultra-violent action sequence which make the film fall into this list.
Director Rajiv Rai brought Sunny Deol, Jackie Shroff, Naseeruddin Shah, Anupam Kher, Amrish Puri and Madhuri Dixit together on screen for this edge-of-the-seat action thriller. This is a story of a cop, a street fighter and a crusader on a journey to end the rule of a powerful crime boss. It had a lot of aggrasive, violent action sequences with a powerful climax. The music, especially the quirky ‘Tirchi Topiwale’ added a much required Tadka to the film.
When it comes to action movies, not including Sunny Deol’s films would be a crime! He was one of the biggest action heroes of the 90’s. ‘Ghayal’ is about a man’s revenge against a villainous businessman who destroyed his family and a fight against a legal system that is too evil to help the ordinary citizen. The actor’s performance in this feisty action film is still etched in the memories of every Bollywood lover.
When the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Rajinikanth and Govinda come together on screen, the film is bound to become a blockbuster. This was the most successful film of Amitabh in the 90’s. It is considered as one of the best action films which provided complete entertainment. The action-packed, high-energy climax of the film and the superhit song ‘Jumma Chumma De De’ are the highest points of this Mukul Anand directorial.
Phool Aur Kaante (1991)
With this film, Ajay Devgn established himself as one of the leading action heroes of Bollywood. His classic and cool ‘balancing between two bikes’ sequence is remembered even today. Directed by Kuku Kohli, this film showcased story of a crime don’s son acquiring his empire and trying to balance his love life. Madhu played the role of Ajay’s wife while Amrish Puri portrayed Ajay’s father who is a crime don.
Mohra redefined the mood of action cinema in the country with its stylish packaging. The flair of action combined so well with the drama in the tale directed by Rajiv Rai. Starring Akshay Kumar, Sunil Shetty and Naseeruddin Shah, the film became one of the finest and most engaging action dramas that took a vocal stand against the rising drug problem in the country. It also marked Akshay Kumar’s arrival as the leading action hero of Bollywood.
Karan Arjun (1995)
Remembered even today for the classic lines like ‘Mere Karan Arjun aayenge’ and ‘Thakur Toh Giyo’, Karan Arjun is etched in our memories. Rakesh Roshan brought Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan together for this remarkable revenge-reincarnation drama which had some hot-blooded action and wonderful music.
Khiladiyo Ka Khiladi (1996)
This is a film about deadly game of survival in the world of crime and sleaze. In this brilliant mix of action, comedy, romance and drama; Akshay Kumar, Rekha and Raveena Tandon played the lead roles. Akshay Kumar impressed with his terrific performance in the carefully crafted action sequences. Rekha was brilliant in the role of vicious and merciless Maya.
This story of a sweet wrestler’s transformation into a violent man is a quintessential fight between the good and the evil. Sunny Deol, once again, won hearts with his brilliant performance and proved that he is one of the best action heroes in Bollywood. Rajkumar Santoshi’s fine direction gave the film a much-necessary edge and made it very thrilling.
The 90s were the era of cult action films and Aamir Khan’s ‘Ghulam’ was one of the favorites then. The movie showcased the exploits of a boxing champ and small-time thief Siddhu. Besides the amazing soundtrack with unforgettable ‘Aati Kya Khandala’, the movie is also remembered for Aamir’s classic rail-track jump in front of an approaching train. It won the Best Stunt Award, being performed by the perfectionist himself.
With smart writing and remarkable performances, Rajkumar Santoshi’s Khakee became one of the most exciting action thrillers of all times. Because of the stellar ensemble cast including Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, Aishwarya Rai and Tushar Kapoor; the film was full of the engaging action-drama scenes. This twist-filled, ultra violent action film certainly gives every viewer adrenaline rush and therefore falls under this list.
Wild bikers’ gang, perfectly crafted heists, aggressive cop (played by Abhishek Bachchan), and some exciting chase sequences- Dhoom had all the elements of a typical Hollywood action flicks. The robbers (led by John Abraham) here pull off some insanely choreographed robberies of casinos, charity concerts, and so on. These heist scenes are some of the movie’s high points, featuring some great stunts and cool vehicle jumps.
Dhoom 2 (2006)
The second installment of the biggest franchise of Bollywood had flaws but they faded in comparison to performances of the actors and high-octane action sequences. Hrithik Roshan as the sexy, tech-savy robber and Abhishek Bachchan in his intense cop avatar were a treat to watch on screen. Adding to the hotness quotient were Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Bipasha Basu who looked their best in this film.
What a film this was! This Anubhav Sinha directorial brought the feisty yet rogue Chulbul Pandey aka Salman Khan on screen. With his brilliant portrayal which had action and comedy both, Salman reestablished his stardom once again. This film took him places he probably would have never imagined.
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A 2011 remake of a 2010 Tamil film, Rohit Shetty’s directorial Singham stars Ajay Devgn as the title character, a small-town policeman who gets transferred to the big city and has to deal with a new class of criminal. Ajay has perfected all the high-energy action scenes which made the film successful at the box office
This Neeraj Pandey film about 2008 Mumbai terror attacks did many things correctly which many action movies fail at. The director built the tension gradually, never losing sight of its aim. Akshay Kumar’s flawless act, on-point action sequences and great screenplay added to the film’s success.
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