Although you probably think of Hollywood when you think of blockbuster movies, Hindi films, also known as Bollywood films, are a cornerstone of cinema. Believe it or not, nearly half of all money that passes through the worldwide box office goes toward Bollywood movies. A Bollywood movie is typically melodramatic, musical, and colorful. In this article, I’m going to be talking about the most commercially successful Bollywood films out there. I will be talking about the top ten highest grossing Bollywood movies, taking worldwide totals into account. (By using the worldwide total, we get a look at which movies were also able to become popular outside of India.) Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at some of these masterpieces.
#10 – Dilwale (₹394 crore)
We start off our list of the top 10 highest grossing Bollywood movies with Dilwale, a 2015 movie that made ₹394 crore, or about $59 million. Dilwale is a 2015 film directed by Rohit Shetty, and it features a cast that includes the likes of Shahrukh Khan, Kajol, and Varun Dhawan. An action romance, follows two pairs of lovers who belong to rival gangs. It was nominated for a variety of awards at the 61st Filmfare Awards, including Best Actor, Best Music Director, Best Actress, and Best Lyricist. Dilwale made approximately ₹150 crore during its opening weekend worldwide, which was quite the impressive debut. Even still, Shahrukh Khan, who is a bit of a big shot in Bollywood, has said that he was disappointed by the film’s commercial performance. (This was seen as strange, since it was actually the second highest grossing film that Shah Rukh Khan had ever been a part of.) Kajol, his co-star, also expressed a little bit of disappointment in its box office gross.
#9 – 3 Idiots (₹395 crore)
The next Bollywood movie on our list, 3 Idiots, is a little bit older than Dilwale, being released in 2009. The comedy-drama follows two friends as they try to reconnect with a friend from college who inspired them both to reach their highest potential in life. 3 Idiots is based on the 2004 novel Five Point Someone, and its cast includes actors like Aamir Khan, Sharman Joshi, and R. Madhavan. When it first released, it had the highest grossing opening weekend of any other film in India, pulling in ₹38 crore domestically. (This is roughly the equivalent of about ₹67 crore today.) In its 2009 run, the film was able to become the highest grossing Bollywood film in overseas markets as well, performing especially well in East Asian countries like China. Critically, 3 Idiots was also very successful. It won Best Film, Best Director, and Best Story (among many other awards) at the Filmfare Awards. It was even nominated for Best Outstanding Foreign Language Film at the 37th Japanese Academy Awards.
#8 – Chennai Express (₹423 crore)
The next movie that I’m going to be talking about is Chennai Express, a romantic comedy released in 2013. It made about ₹423 crore during its run, which is equivalent to roughly $63 million. This film stars Shahrukh Khan and Deepika Padukone, and it’s actually Shahrukh Khan’s highest grossing movie of all time. (If you remember, he also had a prominent role in Dilwale.) Chennai Express is basically about a guy who falls in love with a woman while he’s on his way to take his grandfather’s ashes to Rameswaram. Although critics had mixed opinions on the film, it was definitely a success, pulling in around $7.1 million overseas during its opening weekend, which was a record at the time. It was also nominated for several major awards, including Best Film at the Filmfare Awards and Best Film at the Star Guild Awards.
#7 – Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (₹432 crore)
Prem Ratan Dhan Payo is the next Bollywood movie on this list of the highest grossing Bollywood films. The romantic drama was released in 2015, starring Salman Khan and Sonam Kapoor, and it’s all about romance at a very royal level. It has been said that the film was inspired by the 2012 South Korean film Masquerade, which itself was inspired by the 1894 Anthony Hope novel The Prisoner of Zenda. Prem Ratan Dhan Payo was directed by Sooraj Barjatya, who at the time was also known for the successful films Maine Pyar Kiya and Hum Aapke Hain Koun…!. In its opening weekend, the movie made over ₹40 crore in a single day. The buzz around this movie wasn’t all good, though. In the Golden Kela Awards, which is the equivalent to the Golden Raspberry Awards, it won Worst Director and Worst Actress.
#6 – Sultan (₹584 crore)
The next movie that we’re going to talk about about is Sultan, a Bollywood movie that just came out last year. It stars Salman Khan and Anushka Sharma. (Salman Khan, if you remember, also starred in Prem Ratan Dhan Payo.) At its core, Sultan is a sports drama about a wrestler who is looking to make his big comeback. It also has a bit of a romantic subplot, which is spearheaded by Sharma. As far as worldwide gross goes, Sultan made about ₹206 crore during its opening weekend. About ₹37 crore was made just in India on its very first day of being released. At the 2017 Filmfare Awards, Sultan was nominated for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Music Director, and Best Lyricist. At the Stardust Awards, it won Best Costume Design, along with being nominated for Best Choreographer and Best Supporting Actor.
#5 – Dhoom 3 (₹585 crore)
Dhoom 3 is the next Bollywood movie on our list, and it made ₹585 crore during its run in theaters. That’s equivalent to about $86 million. I suppose it’s a good thing that this film was so commercially successful, considering all of the money that was poured into it. Dhoom 3 was the most expensive Indian film of all time, being made with a budget totaling ₹175 crore, or about $26 million. This may not seem like a very big budget by American standards, but for Indian film, it’s pretty exorbitant. This list has been pretty dominated by romantic comedies or dramatic comedies thus far, and Dhoom 3 breaks the mold by primarily being an action thriller. Its cast includes the likes of Aamir Khan, Katrina Kaif, and Abhishek Bachchan. During its theatrical run, it was the highest grossing Bollywood film of all time. In the years to follow, though, it was obviously surpassed.
#4 – Bajrangi Bhaijaan (₹626 crore)
Next, we’re brought to Bajrangi Bhaijaan, which made ₹636 crore (the equivalent of $93 million) during its theatrical run. Bajrangi Bhaijaan is about a man who devotes himself to helping a mute six year old girl back home to her family who live in Pakistan. It’s a really heartwarming flick, and the movie features Salman Khan, who brings a characteristically impressive performance to the table. Several months after the film’s premiere in July of 2015, it aired on Star Gold and became one of the most watched Bollywood films in television. Bajrangi Bhaijaan made a whopping ₹333 crore worldwide during its first weekend, playing in more than fifty countries. The film also won many awards, including Best Story at the 61st Filmfare Awards and Best Director at the Star Screen Awards.
#3 – Baahubali: The Beginning (₹650 crore)
I mentioned before that Dhoom 3 was one of the most expensive Indian films of all time at the time of its release. Well, that bar was raised by Baahubali: The Beginning, a war epic that ended up having a budget of close to ₹180 crore. It’s a big risk to put that kind of money into a money, but it paid off big time. Baahubali: The Beginning made ₹650 crore at box office, which is around $97 million. The historical action film stars Prabhas, Tamannaah, and Rana Daggubati. This is actually the only film on this entire list that isn’t Hindi. Baahubali: The Beginning is Telugu and Tamil, which is certainly cool to see. On the first day of this movie’s release, it made ₹750 million at box office. The dubbed Hindi version of the film made ₹50 million in its opening, which is the most impressive opening that a Hindi dubbed film has ever had.
#2 – Dangal (₹730 crore)
Dangal is a movie that just came out in December of 2016, and it has already made its mark on Indian film. Dangal is a film that was distributed by Disney, and it starred the likes of Aamir Khan, Sakshi Tanwar, and Fatima Sana Shaikh. Aamir Khan plays a former wrestler who works to train his young daughters to also become great wrestlers, and it captivated audiences around the world. People were drawn to the fact that the film was based off of a real family, and the sisters in the movie were based off of the Phogat sisters. If you look at just domestic earnings, then Dangal is actually the highest grossing Bollywood movie of all time. It surpassed the next film’s domestic earning about a month into its theatrical run. At this point, it’s become evidently clear that Aamir Khan has a special ability to get people into those theater seats. He has a knack for making movies successful.
#1 – PK (₹792 crore)
Finally, it’s time to talk about PK, the highest grossing Bollywood film of all time. . For a couple of years now, PK reigned supreme as the highest grossing Bollywood film of all time. The premise of the film is pretty simple, and it’s one that American moviegoers should be moderately familiar with. An alien (played by Aamir Khan) lands on Earth and befriends a television reporter. PK has a certain childlike curiosity to him, and he brings up all sorts of interesting questions to the grounded reporter. Science fiction isn’t a genre that hasn’t been very well-represented on this list, and PK is a triple threat as a science fiction film, a comedy film, and a satire. It made ₹175 worldwide during its opening weekend, and that number just grew and grew as the weeks went on. Today, PK is considered a beloved film, and it has even spawned a video game.