There’s nothing quite like a Bollywood romance. Moviegoers looking for romance have few places better to turn than Indian cinema – which features musical numbers, genre smash-ups and plenty of old-style star power.
Many of the best Bollywood films can be watched on Netflix in the UK and internationally. From box offices juggernauts like Maine Pyar Kiya, to indie gems like Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, to recent Netflix originals like House Arrest, there’s no shortage of good romances to dig into on the streaming service.
Here’s a list of 10 of the best Bollywood romances on Netflix.
Sanitary pads are the unlikely basis for this acclaimed Bollywood drama, based on the life and work of Arunachalam Muruganantham. Akshay Kumar won widespread praise for his turn as Lakshmikant “Laxmi” Chauhan, an uxorious entrepreneur who becomes the unlikely force behind a menstrual hygiene revolution. The film was included in BBC film critic Mark Kermode’s top 10 films of 2018.
Ali Fazal is most recognisable to Western audiences as the actor who played Abdul Karim in the colonial drama Victoria & Abdul. Fazal was cast as Karan, the lead in this off-beat Netflix original. Karan is a man who lives in self-imposed confinement, never leaving his house. But when he is given a suspicious package to look after, and meets charming journalist Saira (Shriya Pilgaonkar), his quiet routine is thrown out the window.
This 2013 action-romance is one of the highest-grossing Indian films of all time. Chennai Express tells the story of Rahul (played by Shah Rukh Khan, the “King of Bollywood”), as he adventures across South India with the beautiful “Meenamma” (played by Indian superstar Deepika Padukone). A fish out of water who doesn’t even speak the local language, Rahul gets embroiled in a series of lighthearted escapades, finding love along the way.
Main Hoon Na (‘I am here’)
Shah Rukh Khan also stars in this acclaimed movie from 2004, which tackles the Indo-Pakistani conflict from a neutral point of view. Khan plays Major Ram Sharma, an army officer who takes a personal role in brokering peace between the two nations. Sushmita Sen also features as a chemistry teacher who becomes Ram’s love interest.
Running nearly three hours long, this romantic comedy-drama follows diminutive Meerut man Bauua Singh (a digitally-shortened Shah Rukh Khan) who’s always been unlucky in love. But Bauua’s luck starts to change when he meets Aafia Bhinder (Anushka Sharma), a space scientist with cerebral palsy – until movie star Babita Kumari (Katrina Kaif) is thrown into the mix, creating a love triangle. Praised for its visual effects, Zero includes a host of cameos from Indian celebrities playing themselves.
Love Per Square Foot
This warmly received romance, distributed by Netflix, stars Vicky Kaushal and Angira Dhar as two bank employees who decide to move in together as part of a joint housing scheme. As an unmarried couple, the pair face various hurdles in trying to secure an apartment, all while navigating some thorny romantic situations.
Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (‘How I felt when I saw that girl’)
Telling the story of a young closeted Punjabi lesbian and her efforts to come out to her conservative family, this film stars Sonam Kapoor Ahuja in the lead role, alongside her real-life father, Anil Kapoor. While mainstream Bollywood has traditionally ignored LGBTQ narratives, Ek Ladki ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga has won critical praise for its sensitive and progressive handling of its subject matter.
Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na (‘Whether you know… or not’)
A seminal Bollywood film among Indian millennials, this coming-of-age romance focuses on Aditi (Genelia D’Souza), a fiery young woman whose habit of scratching people has earned her the nickname “Meow”, and Jai (Imran Khan), a gentle, non-violent man known to his friends as “Ratz”. Although the two are firm friends, they are convinced they are romantically incompatible – even as everyone else thinks they are perfect for each other.
This lavish romantic epic stages a love triangle against the backdrop of the Second World War. Kangana Ranaut stars as Miss Julia, an actress and stunt performer who is supposedly based on ‘Fearless Nadia’, Bollywood’s first celebrity stunt woman. Saif Ali Khan and Shahid Kapoor also appear as a film producer and a soldier (respectively), who both vie for Miss Julia’s affections.
Maine Pyar Kiya (‘When Love Calls’)
This 1989 Bollywood classic helped launch the career of its star Salman Khan, handing him his first leading role. Indian actress Bhagyashree plays Suman, a beautiful young woman whose father leaves their countryside home for the city, to try and earn enough so his daughter can marry.
He eventually meets Prem, a young man from the city, who befriends Suman, and eventually falls in love with her. This charming romance became one of the most commercially successful Bollywood films of all time.