It is well-known that the Bollywood film industry has delivered some of the best movies of all time in the past century. Even Hollywood has praised the Indian film industry, known as Bollywood, for its emotionally driven cinematic experience.

Many Westerners have confessed that they adore Bollywood movies because they make them cry occasionally.

Hence, it is a worldwide phenomenon that Bollywood cinema is top of its class when it comes to creating highly emotional and dramatic films for its audience. Today, we bring you a list of the 20 most popular emotional drama films in Bollywood.

Top 20 Emotional Films in Bollywood

1. 3 Idiots

3 Idiots Sharman,Madhavan and aamir

3 Idiots is undoubtedly one of the best films that challenges our society’s mindset regarding education. Directed by Rajkumar Hirani, the film stars Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor, R. Madhavan, Boman Irani, Sharman Joshi, and Omi Vaidya in the lead roles. 3 Idiots is a film adaptation of Chetan Bhagat’s best-selling novel Five Point Someone with minor plot changes. It reflects on our Indian society, which values the medical and engineering stream more than any other fields, and how we force the idea into our children from a very tender age.

2. Tare Zameen Par

Darsheel in Tare Zameen Par best child actor

Yet another Bollywood movie based on education is Tare Zameen Par. The film marks the directorial debut of Aamir Khan, who also plays the supporting character of an art teacher, Ram Shankar Nikumbh, whereas the main lead is portrayed by the child actor Darsheel Safary, who plays Ishaan in the movie. Taare Zameen Par tells a story about an eight-year-old dyslexic Ishaan, who overcomes this weakness through his artistic skills and starts scoring better in exams under the guidance of Nikumbh.

3. Avtaar

avtaar Rajesh Khanna Film

Avtaar marks as one of the biggest blockbusters of the megastar Rajesh Khanna after a lean phase between 1976 and 78. Directed by Mohan Kumar, the film is about Avtaar, played by Rajesh Khanna, who takes retirement in the hope that now his sons will take care of their aging parents. However, the sons turn out to be henpecked husbands, and Avtaar leaves the house with his wife, played by Shabana Azmi, and a loyal servant named Sevak, played by Sachin. He starts his own garage with the help of his friend Balaji and builds an engine that brings him overnight success. The rest of the movie is about the sons realizing their mistake very late. The film has a few emotionally crafted scenes shot beautifully with natural acting by Rajesh Khanna and Shabana Azmi.

Also Read: Best Bollywood Family Drama Movies

4. Baghban

Baghban Hindi Movie Amitabh Hema Malini

If Avtaar marked the comeback for Rajesh Khanna, Baghban brought Amitabh Bachchan back into the race for the title of the Shehenshah of Bollywood. Surprisingly, Baghban was, in fact, partially inspired by the 1983 film Avtaar. The film, starring Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini in the lead roles, tells a similar story as Avtaar about how the parents are ill-treated by their kids post-retirement and how they decide to start over their life. Directed by Ravi Chopra, the film was an unofficial adaptation of the 1937 Hollywood movie Make Way for Tomorrow. The 1958 Kannada movie School Master inspired many scenes. This 2003 film also stars Paresh Rawal, Rimi Sen, and Lilette Dubey in pivotal roles, along with Salman Khan and Mahima Choudhary in cameo appearances. The best part of the movie is the speeches delivered by Salman Khan and Amitabh Bachchan, respectively, at the end of the movie that would make anyone cry.

5. Anand

Anand Rajesh Khanna Amitabh Still

Anand is an iconic film starring the then superstar Rajesh Khanna and the future superstar Amitabh Bachchan, which was released in 1971. Directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, the film teaches us the concept of living fully through Anand, played by Rajesh Khanna, diagnosed with Cancer and has only a few months to live. Although the major part of the movie is about joy and fun, there are a few elements in the movie that would definitely make tears roll down your cheeks.

6. Do Aankhen Barah Haath

Do ankhen Barah Hath Hindi

Do Aankhen Barah Haath is a 1957 classic Hindi feature film directed by V. Shantaram, who also played a central character in the movie. The movie is said to be one of the most inspirational movies of Indian cinema and teaches us that one can achieve anything with hard work, dedication, and focus. The movie is about 6 notorious criminals the Jail warden takes in after they are released on parole. The jail warden believes in a second chance, guides these men towards farming, and makes them realize the true reward for hard work. The movie touches a few emotional strings that would definitely shed a tear or two from your eyes. The movie is also popular as it became the first and only Indian film to win a Golden Globe award.

7. Swades

Shahrukh Khan in Swades Hindi film

Swades is a 2004 Hindi drama film starring Shahrukh Khan in the lead role as an NRI working at NASA. He returns to India to find his nanny, with whom he has lost touch. Directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, the film talks about the harsher aspects of Indian villages dominated by poverty, caste discrimination, child marriage, gender discrimination, illiteracy, child labor, and apathy towards change. Gowariker displays these harsher aspects in a very emotional way, making you think and care for a while about such villages and families all over India. The film also teaches that instead of whining about the problems we face, we should strive for ourselves and try to solve them.

8. Barfi!

Barfi Makes you cry

Barfi! is a 2012 romantic comedy film written and directed by Anurag Basu. The film is about a deaf and mute Nepali boy Murphy (Barfi as he pronounces it) played by Ranbir Kapoor and his relationships with two women Shruti and Jhilmil (an autistic girl) played by Ileana D’Cruz and Priyanka Chopra respectively. Even though the film is a light-hearted romantic comedy, there are many scenes in the movie that make you feel for Barfi and Jhilmil.

9. Masoom

Masoom 1983 film about Family issues

Masoom is a 1983 Indian drama film starring Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi in the lead roles, along with Urmila Matondkar and Jugal Hansraj as child actors. The movie also marks the directorial debut of Shekhar Kapur, who brilliantly sheds the emotions of the characters in the movie in a peaceful manner. Naseer gives one of his best performances in the movie and proves that by winning a Filmfare award for Best Actor that year. The song “Tujhse Naraz Nahin Zindagi,” voiced by Anup Ghoshal and Lata Mangeshkar, has become a classic and is popular even today. The film is based on the 1980 novel Man, Woman, And Child written by Erich Segal.

10. Amar Prem

Amar Prem Rajesh Khanna Sharmila Tagore Bobby

Shakti Samanta, who had a hit pairing with Rajesh Khanna in his prime time, introduced us to Amar Prem. Yet again, he cast the hit pair of Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore in Amar Prem after Aradhana’s success. The movie was quite different from a typical romantic film of that era. The title of the movie means “Eternal Love,” which reflects on the movie, where the relationship between a prostitute, played by Sharmila Tagore, and an unhappily married man, played by Rajesh Khanna, is displayed as beyond society and barriers. The dialogue in the movie where Rajesh Khanna tells Sharmila Tagore, “Pushpa, I hate tears!” became a trademark for the superstar in the later years.

Also Read: Best Roles by Child Actors in Bollywood Films

11. Viruddh… Family Comes First

Viruddh Underrated film sad story

Viruddh… Family Comes First is the story of an elderly couple who seek justice for the murder of their only son. Directed by Mahesh Manjrekar, the film is the Hollywood movie Man on Fire remake. Starring Amitabh Bachchan and Sharmila Tagore as the elderly couple and John Abraham as their son, the film talks about the fight of a father, the struggle of a mother, and the helplessness of a wife because of highly spread corruption and bureaucracy in the justice department where money triumphs the truth. Whether they get justice or not makes up the rest of the story.

12. Waqt: The Race Against Time

Waqt The race against time movie on father son life

Directed by Vipul Shah, Waqt: The Race Against Time is a Bollywood Film about the Father-Son relationship and all the family drama around it. The film stars Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar as a father-son duo who have been best buddies all their lives. However, because of the laid-back attitude of the son, the father makes some strict decisions that tear them apart. The movie tells the audience that no matter how much you love your kids, you should never let that love provoke wrongdoings or a careless attitude toward life. It’s one of the best movies in the Bollywood film industry on father-son bonding, and it shares an emotional tale that we can relate to.

13. Sadma

Sadma Kamal haasan and Sridevi Hindi Film

Sadma is a 1983 Hindi feature film directed by Balu Mahendra and is the remake of his own Tamil film, Moondram Piral, with almost the same cast. Starring Kamal Hassan and Sridevi in the lead roles, the film is about a girl named Nehalata, played by Sridevi, who regresses into childhood due to a head injury after a car crash. In a series of events, she gets trapped in a brothel and is rescued by a young man, Somu, played by Kamal Hassan, who later falls in love with her. The whole movie, except the final scene, is full of fun and comedy because of the childhood acts of Sridevi and the superb acting by Kamal Hassan. However, the end of the movie is very depressing that it will break any strong person as Nehalata completely fails to remember Somu after she is fully recovered and leaves Ooty forever, while Somu makes several attempts at the platform so she can recognize her but in vain.

14. Rang De Basanti


Rang De Basanti is a coming-of-age Indian drama that features the Indian youth and their mindset towards the nation. Written and directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, the film tells us the story of a group of friends who don’t care about the nation’s current state and often stay busy having fun day and night. However, their mindset starts changing when a British Filmmaker, Sue Mckinley, portrayed by Alice Pattern, enters the scene and selects them to enact the story of five freedom fighters, Chandrashekhar Azad, Bhagat Singh, Shivaram Rajguru, Ashfaqullah Khan and Ram Prasad Bismil. The film stars Aamir Khan, Madhavan, Siddharth Narayan, Sharman Joshi, Soha Ali Khan, Atul Kulkarni, Kunal Kapoor, and British actress Alice Pattern in the pivotal roles.

15. Bajrangi Bhaijaan

Bajrangi Bhaijaan will make you cry

The Salman Khan starrer Bajrangi Bhaijaan also makes the list because of its emotional quotient of the movie where a prime devotee of Bajrangbali in India, Pawan Kumar, played by Salman Khan, sets off on a journey in order to reunite a mute girl, Munni, with his family in Pakistan. Directed by Kabir Khan, the film tries to show that humanity has no barriers to borders. The film also stars Kareena Kapoor alongside Salman Khan in the lead role.

Also Read: Bajrangi Bhaijaan Review

16. Munna Bhai MBBS

sanjay dutt in munna bhai mbbs

Munna Bhai MBBS is a 2003 Indian comedy film starring Sanjay Dutt as Munna Bhai and Arshad Warsi as Circuit. Directed by Rajkumar Hirani, the film focuses on India’s healthcare system and doctors’ careless attitude towards patients without much empathy. The movie is based on an English movie, Patch Adams, released in 1998. The film sends a message about the importance of human relations and how we should treat one another and share Jadu Ki Jhappi more often rather than fight with one another for silly reasons.

17. Do Bigha Zameen

Do Beegha Zameen Balraj Sahni Film

Do Bhiga Zameen is a Bimal Roy film starring Balraj Sahni as the lead. The story is about a family that owns Do Bhiga Zameen (2/3rd of an acre of land) but risks losing it out of debt to the Zamindar, who plans to build a mill on the land. However, Shambu, the head of the family, played by Balraj Sinha, can’t risk losing his family’s only means of livelihood and tries his best to clear off the debt at the given time. Despite his efforts and hard life in the city, he fails to clear the debt in time and eventually loses his land to Zamindar. The movie tries to help us notice the life of many such farmers in that era, who, due to illiteracy and the dictatorship of Zamindars, lost their lands to commercialization. The movie will definitely make you cry by the end.

18. Kagaz Ke Phool

Kagaz Ke Phool Guru Dutt

Kagaz Ke Phool is a Guru Dutt, starring himself and Waheeda Rehman in the lead roles. The film is about an ace director who, due to his failed marriage and lost love, drifts towards alcohol and ruins his career. Although the film was a box office disaster, it eventually achieved cult status because of the great songs composed by S.D. Burman and lyrics penned by Kaifi Azmi, including a hit song, “Waqt Ne Kiya Kya Haseen Sitam,” sung by Geeta Dutt. The film was considered to be one beyond its time then,; hence,, the reception was not that great at the time of the release. Later on, people realized the movie’s depth and cried along with it at the end, where the main protagonist dies in the director’s chair, calling the final shot of his life.

19. Lage Raho Munna Bhai

Lage Raho Munna Bhai

The follow-up to Munna Bhai MBBS, Lage Raho Munna Bhai, is another movie Rajkumar Hirani directed on humanity and brotherhood among people. Sanjay Dutt reprises his role as Munna Bhai, while Arshad Warsi plays Circuit. Vidya Balan also plays an important role as a Radio Jockey in the movie. The film talks about the importance of human values and non-violence, featuring Mahatma Gandhi as Bapu in Munna Bhai’s imagination, who prompts him to move away from his violent Bhaigiri ways and encourages him to approach problems through Gandhigiri, a phenomenon quite famous among the young audience even today.

20. Saaransh

Anupam Kher in Saransh

Directed by Mukesh Bhatt, Saaransh is yet another emotional drama set in the 80s that focuses on the power game spread across the system at the hands of politicians and their goons. The film is about a couple, portrayed by Anupam Kher and Rohini Hattangadi, who are devastated after losing their only son in a mugging incident abroad. They rent a room in their house to a young Bollywood actress, Sujata Suman, played by Soni Razdan, hoping to make some money for their living. Sujata is in love with the son of a powerful politician and gets pregnant with him. Now, terrified to abort the child and leave the city, the elderly couple comes to her aid as they fight against bureaucracy from the officials and harassment by the politician’s henchmen, which makes their lives hell.

Your Turn! 

That’s it. If you think we missed any of your favorite emotional drama films in Hindi, mention that in the comments below.