India is home to some of the world’s oldest religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. And like most religions, they are also populated with a rich mythology, commonly termed Indian mythology.
It is deep rooted in the culture of India and has been has also been portrayed in movies to great effect, be it Indian or foreign movies. Here we take a look at the 9 movies inspired by Indian mythology that everyone should watch.
Raavan (2010)
Release Year: 2010
Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Vikram, Govinda
Mani Ratnam’s Raavan is an action-adventure film that can be categorised as a neo-mythological film. Raavan is inspired by the Indian epic Ramayana.
Featuring a modern take on the beloved Ramayana, Raavan centers on a bandit, Beera, who kidnaps a police officer’s wife but falls in love with her.
Raavan’s twist ending received some criticism from the public, but the film was praised for its gorgeous visuals, performances, and action sequences.
Raavan was also simultaneously made in Tamil as Raavanan, which, unlike the Hindi version, turned out to be a box-office hit.
Baahubali: The Beginning (2015)
Release Year: 2015
Cast: Prabhas, Tamannaah, Rana Daggubati
Baahubali: The Beginning took Indian audiences by storm in 2015. An action-packed film with some of the best visual effects, Baahubali: The Beginning is epic in every sense.
Baahubali and its sequel take place in the kingdom of Mahishmati. Shivudu, a villager, learns of his royal past and sets out to claim his birthright as the king of Mahishmati by overthrowing his treacherous uncle, Bhallaladeva.
Baahubali: The Beginning and its 2017 sequel were the most expensive movies released at the time and were also huge box office hits.
The Baahubali series is inspired by the Mahabharata and Ramayana epics.
Brahmastra (2022)
Release Year: 2022
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Amitabh Bachchan
Brahmastra: Part One – Shiva was released this year amidst a slew of controversy. But the film proved the naysayers wrong with its amazing visual effects and action. The story did receive some criticism.
Brahmastra is heavily influenced by Hindu mythology and follows the journey of Shiva, an orphan with the power to control fire, as he discovers he is an Astra, a weapon of massive energy. Brahamastra is the first of a trilogy, with each film exploring a different Astra.
Brahmastra is currently the most expensive Hindi film.
Return of Hanuman (2007)
Release Year: 2007
Cast: Malak Shah, Uday Sabnis, Ayesha Raza
Return of Hanuman is also a modern take on a Hindu God, Lord Hanuman. Anurag Kashyap, who is best known for making the Gangs of Wasseypur series, directed Return of Hanuman, an animated action adventure.
Return of Hanuman follows the titular God as he takes birth as a human to help a bullied boy. But when evil asuras come to Earth, he has to defend the realm.
Raajneeti (2010)
Release Year: 2010
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Nana Patekar, Katrina Kaif, Ajay Devgn
Raajneeti is a modern version of the Indian mythological epic Mahabharata. The film is written and directed by Prakash Jha and follows a longstanding feud between two rival political families.
Raajneeti was a big hit at the box office and also received 4 Filmfare award nominations.
Kalyug (1981)
Release Year: 1981
Cast: Shashi Kapoor, Rekha, Raj Babbar, Anant Nag
Kalyug is another modern adaptation of the Mahabharata. Veteran Indian filmmaker Shyam Benegal co-wrote and directed Kalyug. The film revolves around the bitter feud between two businessmen, brothers, who both conspire against each other to get a government contract.
Kalyug is not directly influenced by the Mahabharata, but the similarities are undeniable. Kalyug received critical acclaim for its screenplay and Shashi Kapoor’s performance as Karan Singh/Karna.
Avatar (2009)
Release Year: 2009
Cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang
Avatar is the highest-grossing movie of all time and also one of the most expensive ones. As evident from its title, Avatar is heavily influenced by Hindu mythology.
Avatar is set in the future where humans are colonising another planet, Pandora, but face resistance from the indigenous humanoid species, the Na’vi.
Director James Cameron stated in multiple interviews how the title Avatar came from the same Sanskrit word meaning “a human incarnation of the Gods.” The blue look of the characters was also inspired by Hindu deities.
Doctor Strange (2016)
Release Year: 2016
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Doctor Strange is a popular Marvel comic character that is often compared to Indian mythology. The origins of his powers can also be traced to the spiritual teachings of Hinduism and Buddhism.
In Doctor Strange, the titular character, Stephen Strange, travels to Kathmandu to find a sorcerer to heal his hands after meeting a car accident. While Strange is unable to heal, he does gain mystical power and becomes a superhero.
Doctor Strange’s hand gestures, powers, and fighting style are also inspired by Indian mythology.
The Matrix (1999)
Release Year: 1999
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Carrie Anne-Moss, Hugo Weaving, Laurence Fishburne
The Matrix is a revolutionary sci-fi action movie that is widely considered among the greatest films of all time. The Matrix raises the question, what if our world isn’t real and we’re living only in a simulation?
The Matrix centers on a computer hacker, Neo, who realises that the world he’s living in isn’t real and is controlled by rogue AI machines. The Matrix and its two sequels raise several philosophical questions. Some of which, as per the filmmakers, the Wachowski Brothers, are inspired by Hinduism.
That’s the end of our list of the 9 best movies about Indian mythology. Hopefully, they will reignite your interest in India’s rich cultural heritage. In the meantime, stay tuned for more knowledgeable lists on cinema and education.
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