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7 Bollywood Movies Set in a Village


Bollywood is the land of dreams, fantasies, and melodramas. While some movies portray India as a fantastic land with absolutely no flaws, others like to take advantage of its rural and rustic villages for a more realistic approach to storytelling. Let’s take a look at 7 quintessential Hindi movies set in some of the most beautiful villages in India.

Aarushi Chadha
7 Bollywood Movies Set in a Village
7 Bollywood Movies Set in a Village

Although stories from rural India don't get much spotlight in Bollywood, the rare ones that do, steal the show! Here are some of the best movies telling the stories of rural India that you MUST watch.

Lagaan (Set in Kanura, Gujrat, 2001)

Directed By- Ashutosh Gowariker

Written By- Ashutosh Gowariker, Sanjay Dayma, and Kumar Dave

Starring- Aamir Khan, Gracy Singh, Rachel Shelley, Paul Blackthorne, and Suhasini Mulay

Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India follows the lives of the inhabitants of a village in Central India who are burdened by high taxes which is compounded by the fact that there is a draught. Lagaan was a massive critical and commercial success in not just India but the rest of the world.

The movie had a strong point of view that resonated with many colonized countries. The barren lands of Kanura village were the perfect setting for the film. Gowariker was not only able to recreate an entire Victoria-era village but also use it as the background for one of the most important mainstream Bollywood movies that captured Indian resilience and the ruthlessness of our colonizers.

Sholay (Set in Ramgarh, Karnataka, 1975)

Directed By- Ramesh Sippy

Written By- Javed Akhtar and Salim Khan

Starring- Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar, Amjad Khan, and Hema Malini

Sholay tells the story of Veeru and Jai, two criminals, who are hired by a retired police officer (played by Sanjeev Kumar) to capture the ruthless dacoit, Gabbar Singh. Sholay is inspired heavily by the Spaghetti Western films of the west and the Samurai cinema. Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar’s brilliant writing gave birth to a new genre of film, Curry Western, whilst simultaneously becoming one of the greatest films of all time.

The fictional village of Ramgarh, where all of the action in Sholay takes place was based on an actual village in Karnataka called Ramnagar. Today, 47 years after the film’s massive success, Ramnagar, which is 50 km away from Bangalore, has become a major tourist destination. Its unsullied vistas of natural beauty are the perfect weekend-getaway spot for the inhabitants of India’s bustling IT city.

Lootera (Set in Purulia, West Bengal, 2013)

Directed By- Vikramaditya Motwane

Written By- Bhavani Iyer

Starring- Ranveer Singh, Sonakshi Sinha, Adil Hussain, and Vikrant Massey

Lootera is a romantic period drama film partially based on the short story ‘The Last Leaf’ by American writer O. Henry. The film is set in the 1950s against the backdrop of the Zamindari Abolition Act instituted by the newly independent India. Lootera follows the story of a conman posing as an archaeologist who falls in love with the daughter of the zamindar he is conning.

Lootera was a commercial failure that was received well critically. Critic Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama said, “On the whole, Lootera is an intrinsically earnest and profoundly heartwarming story that stays in your heart. An absolute must for those who love romantic films or are romantic at heart. This one's a cinematic gem!". And although the latter half of the film is set in Dalhousie, the first half was shot in the lush district of Purulia, West Bengal.  

Paheli (Set in Abhaneri, Rajasthan, 2005)

Directed By- Amol Palekar

Written By- Sandhya Gokhale

Starring- Shah Rukh Khan, Rani Mukherji, Amitabh Bachchan, Juhi Chawla, and Anupam Kher

Paheli is a remake of the 1973 National Award-winning film Duvidha by Mani Kaul. The film tells the story of a woman who is visited by a Jinn disguised as her husband when her husband goes on a business trip. The Jinn, who is in love with the woman, takes her husband’s place. Paheli received mixed reviews from critics who praised the film for its intricate costuming, set design, and sound design.

Paheli is a captivating movie that brings an old delectable folk tale to life. The acting and storytelling is aided by Ravi K. Chandran’s spellbinding cinematography that takes us on a journey of the fabulous and colourful landscape of Rajasthan. A major portion of the film is shot in the desert village of Abhaneri, Rajasthan. Abhaneri is located on the Agra-Jaipur highway and is at most 100 km away from Jaipur. It is famous for Rajasthani architecture, the Chand Baori stepwell, and Harshat Mata Temple.

Paan Singh Tomar (Set in Chambal, Gwalior, 2012)

Directed By- Tigmanshu Dhulia

Written By- Tigmanshu Dhulia and Sanjay Tomar

Starring- Mahie Gill, Irrfan Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and Vipin Sharma

Paan Singh Tomar is a biographical film based on the book Life of Paan Singh Tomar. It tells the story of Paan Singh Tomar a soldier in the Indian Army who represented India at the 1958 Asian Games and later became a rebel against the state after a land feud. The titular role of Paan Singh Tomar was played by the late thespian Irrfan Khan whose performance in the film was praised unanimously.

The film went out to be not just a critical but also a commercial success at both domestic and international box office. The movie Paan Singh Tomar was praised heavily for aptly representing the tumultuous rural life in Madhya Pradesh’s Chambal area post-independence. The subtle themes of village life are juxtaposed next to gang wars and violent family disputes in the film.

Guru (Set in Pollachi, Tamil Nadu, 2007)

Directed By- Mani Ratnam

Written By- Mani Ratnam and Vijay Krishna Acharya

Starring- Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Mithun Chakraborty, R Madhavan, and Vidya Balan

Contrary to popular belief, this film is not a biopic about the industrial tycoon Dhirubhai Ambani and instead is entirely a work of fiction. It tells the story of Gurukant Desai, a young man from Idar village in Gujrat who dreams of making it big, his struggles, and his eventual rise to power. Guru was received well both critically and at the box office. And although the movie is set in Gujrat, the village scenes were shot in a village near Pollachi, Tamil Nadu, and in another village in Karnataka.

Swades (Set in Wai, Maharashtra, 2004)

Directed By- Ashutosh Gowariker

Written By- Ashutosh Gowariker, Ayan Mukherji, Sameer Sharma, and Lalit Marathe

Starring- Gayatri Joshi, Shah Rukh Khan

Considered Shah Rukh Khan’s best performance to this date, Swades: We the People tells the story of Mohan Bhargava, a project manager on the Global Precipitation Measurement program at NASA, setting up a micro-hydroelectric project to generate electricity in a remote village of Charanpur, Uttar Pradesh.

Charanpur is a fictional village and the film was actually shot in the village of Wai in Maharashtra which falls en route to Mahabaleshwar. The movie was able to resonate with millions of Indians because of its themes of untouchability, lack of infrastructure, homecoming, and the earthly charm of an Indian village.  

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