Sports movies in India, barring a few exceptions, have more or less always hit the mark. Whether it was the landmark Lagaan, which was even nominated for the Oscars or the nuanced social messaging of Chak De India — Bollywood has attempted chiefly to steer clear from cliched representations of sportspeople. Here’s the definitive ranking of contemporary Bollywood Sports Movies to check out.
This Rani Mukherjee starrer is one of the sports movies with its heart in the right place — it shows how female cricketers are primarily discriminated against and not considered on par with men. But the route it took was not just ridiculous but plain unnecessary: she “dresses” up as a man to enter a men’s team and proves her worth.2. Saina (2021) – Amazon Prime Video
The only saving grace in this Film was perhaps Manav Kaul’s ever-smiling face. Based on the life of legendary badminton player Saina Nehwal, Parineeti Chopra does her best to do justice to the role, but a lazy script fails her
3. Azhar (2016) – Sony Liv
The story of the controversial cricketer who made it big coming from a middle-class family, only to be threatened by match-fixing allegations, certainly had a lot of potential. With Emraan Hashmi essaying cricketer Azharuddin’s role, the film’s superficial treatment of an otherwise entertaining story was disappointing.
Based on the life of the titular Olympic winner boxing champion, the film was criticised for casting a non-northeast actor, Priyanka Chopra, in the lead. Although the movie stayed true to the story, the casting choice stuck out like a sore thumb.5. M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story (2016) – Disney + Hotstar
Sushant Singh Rajput delivered one of his best performances as former Indian cricket team captain and his journey towards leading India to a historic World Cup victory. Even though the film’s bloated runtime seemed too much of a drag at times, it was entertaining.6. Gold (2018) – Amazon Prime
The Reema Kagti directorial charts the historic journey of India’s first gold medal in the 1948 Olympics, marking the start of Indian hockey’s golden period in hockey. Akshay Kumar plays the role of Tapan Das, the team manager charged with the responsibility.
7. Soorma (2018) – Netflix
Diljit Dosanjh plays the role of a hockey player nearly paralysed after an injury, only to make a spirited comeback later. Even though the film wasn’t well received by critics, it proved to be a hit with the audiences.8. Sultan (2016) – Amazon Prime Video
Salman Khan plays the role of a wrestler who gives up the sport after his father’s demise in this emotional roller coaster of a film. Apart from its soulful songs, the film was praised for its taut screenplay and all-round performances by Anushka Sharma.9 Dangal (2016) – Netflix
Aamir Khan plays a wrestler who fulfils his dream of winning his country a gold medal by going against societal norms and training his daughters for the same. The film proved a mega-hit, even breaking records in international markets such as China.10. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013) – Disney+ Hotstar
One of the highest-grossing Indian films of the year, Farhan Akhtar, went all out in this film based on the life of sprinter Milkha Singh. The vulnerabilities, the pathos, and the passion were all captured with vivid detail.11. 83 (2021) – Netfilx
The year it ended with one of the most wholesome Bollywood movies in a long time in this Ranveer Singh starrer. The events that led up to India winning its first cricket World Cup were accurately captured by director Kabir Khan.12 Mukkabaaz (2017) – Google Play
This Anurag Kashyap film dealt with the intersection of boxing, caste politics and fraught love affairs in the heart of western Uttar Pradesh. The promotional song by DIVINE hit all the right notes and captured the film’s spirit.
13. Iqbal (2005) – Amazon Prime Video
Iqbal, a boy who is hard of hearing and without speech, dreams of playing in the Indian cricket team. When his condition hinders his selection, he asks a retired coach to train him. The film beautifully captured how an individual’s passion for cricket can triumph over everything else.14. Chak De! India (2007) – Amazon Prime Video
This is one of the Sports movies that deals with religious discrimination in sports; Shah Rukh Khan plays the role of a women’s hockey team coach who is accused of siding with Pakistan and sabotaging his team’s winning prospects — only to fight back and lead his team to an emphatic victory.15. Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (1992) – You Tube
Widely considered the OG Indian sports film, Aamir Khan plays the role of a brother who goes out of his way to win the intercollegiate bicycle match after his brother backs out of it due to an injury.16 Paan Singh Tomar (2010) – Netflix
It is a film that shows us not just the victory but what happens after it. We keep seeing news of national sports champions being neglected and resorting to odd jobs to make a living. Irrfan Khan’s powerful performance as a sportsman-turned-bandit was a scathing commentary on our times. This is one of the must-watch sports movies.17. Lagaan (2001) – Netflix
A landmark film that not only revolutionised how sports films must be made but also showed the world the power of Indian cinema. A bonafide entertainer with clearly defined villains, heroes, and an epic score by A.R. Rahman — Aamir Khan leads a team challenged to win a cricket match against the ruling British officials to get a three-year tax waiver.