• 9 Movies About India That Will Inspire You to Visit and Help You Feel a Connection to India

9 Movies About India That Will Inspire You to Visit and Help You Feel a Connection to India

There are some beautiful movies about India which will for sure inspire you to travel here, but there are also ones that show the grittiness of India – these are good to watch, too. They will help you understand more about India (even if a little overdone for Hollywood) and it will help you feel connected to India while you travel and see things in real life that you saw once in a movie. For me, there was one movie, A Little Princess, that inspired me to travel India back when I was just a little kid! Here are some movies about India to watch before traveling here, both beautiful and gritty, so you can get prepared for India’s amazing culture shock!

9 Movies about India to Inspire (and Prepare) You to Journey Here

I’m going to add the trailers to each movie so you can get a little sneak peak. Honestly, these are all so good that if you want to come to India, have been here and miss it, or just love the idea of India you will love this. In fact, if you never considered India as a travel destination, watch these and you’ll be booking a flight. I linked to the DVD’s on Amazo and since most of these are old, they are really cheap.

1. A Little Princess

My favorite of all the movies about India – even though it’s not so much about India as it is about this girl’s life, with scenes of gorgeous India in the background. A young girl, Sara, grew up in India with her father who was in the army there but is sent to London to go to boarding school. There are beautiful scenes from her childhood in India in the film. It’s based on a book and is written by the same author who wrote The Secret Garden.

Buy A Little Princess on Amazon

2. Lion

Lion is going to make you cry your eyes out. It tells the story of a boy who gets lost on a train, ending up far away from home and in an orphanage because in India they didn’t have a way to help him find his way home – it’s too high of a population, with too many lost children. He is adopted by an Australian family and later looks for his lost family. We are taught to never give to beggars in India, but after seeing this it will soften your heart a bit and I think have you be more open to the difficulties some people in India go through. As a traveler, it’s important to have some empathy and be helpful when you can.

Buy Lion on Amazon

3. Jungle Book

The new Jungle Book was amazing! If you want to come to India and watch this, I’m sure you’ll end up adding some awesome jungle safaris to your itinerary. Did you know that some of the names in the Jungle Book are Hindi for what the animal is? For example, Baloo the bear: Baloo means bear in Hindi! Same goes for Bagheera which is a black panther/leopard. The writer of the actual book, Rudyard Kipling, drew on his own experiences in India as a child to write this. He was born in Bombay.

Buy the Jungle Book on Amazon

4. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The actual plot of this movie isn’t the best ever, but it does show a side of India that other movies don’t which is that many people do come here to retire in Jaipur, Goa, and other cities. It also shows Jaipur in a beautiful way which is one of my favorite cities here. I think seeing the riches and “other side” of India is kind of cool. In this movie, a young guy has his own love story going on while he opens the “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” for old English people to come and retire at. It’s cute. There is a sequel too!

Buy Best Exotic Marigold Hotel on Amazon

5. The Darjeeling Limited

This is an Indie flick where three brothers go on a train journey to find their mother, who is up in the mountains in Darjeeling after their father dies. They have a crazy adventure and it’s a very funny movie. You’ll see some things about India in this that are so true, like the shoe scam, lol. It’s definitely one to see especially if you want to travel India by train. The brothers are played by Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman.

Buy The Darjeeling Limited on Amazon

6. Slumdog Millionaire

I’m sure you all know about Slumdog Millionaire since it’s won a million awards! This film has mixed feelings here in India with some people being angry it shows a negative side of India, but it does show the truth of what goes on with the mafia guys in charge of the beggars and, well, it will break your heart but it’s important to know the truth which although it might be dramatized here, it is the gist of how the streets are run. Mumbai surely has a dark side, but this movie has a great ending. Watch this first, then watch Lion and it will balance out your feelings!

Buy Slumdog Millionaire on Amazon

7. The Lunchbox

Such a sweet movie! The lunchbox has its own love story, but it touches on India’s famous Dabbawalas. It means “one who carries a box”. You have chaiwalas, who serve chai as well. Dabbawalas serve boxed lunches served in tiffins. But, that’s beside the point! Dabbawalas are FAMOUS in India because in Mumbai they pick up homecooked meals from women’s houses and deliver them to the men working in Mumbai so they have a hot homecooked meal. They deliver 200,000 lunches a day in Mumbai and get those empty boxes back home, too. They make only one mistake in every 8 million deliveries – it’s a system people actually study because it’s so amazing. This movie is about that one-in-a-million mistake.

Buy Lunchbox on Amazon

8. Monsoon

Having lived in the monsoon for 5 summers now, I just love this documentary which will make you want to travel to South India during the rainy season. While people might think it’s just a rainy time of year, the monsoon is a huge deal which effects people so personally but can cause absolute devastation to some. This is a really enlightening documentary! That feeling when the first big rains come and you know “It’s monsoon” officially, is the best feeling, a really happy time. The cinematography here is just stunning and it shows so many classic scenes of India that I get happy tears.

Buy Monsoon on Amazon

9. Life of Pi

WOW! Okay, read the book first – then see the movie. This is one of my favorite movies of all time. It’s the story of a kid who is lost at sea after a boat crash and is on a tiny boat with a Bengal tiger, named Richard Parker. It’s honestly amazing and the ending has a deep twist you don’t see happening.

Buy Life of Pi on Amazon

Pin Movies About India to Inspire Journey:

9 Movies About India That Will Inspire You to Visit and Help You Feel a Connection to India


About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Werkenntwen, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Werkenntwen has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. veena February 22, 2018 at 9:02 am - Reply

    What a great roundup! I finally saw Lion toward the end of last year and cried through most of it. I worked with street kids in Bangalore for 4 years, and that movie brought back so many memories, both good and bad. I’ve still not seen Best Exotic Marigold Hotel or The Lunchbox, and I’ve not heard of Monsoon, so I need to see those soon. Thank you for this!

    • Rachel Jones February 22, 2018 at 1:05 pm - Reply

      Lion was heartbreaking – him walking down the street with that watermelon! The whole thing… just killed me!

  2. Antonina February 22, 2018 at 9:35 am - Reply

    Great list! Haven’t seen “Lion” and “Jungle book”. I also love David Lean’s “A passage to India” and Mira Nair’s “Salaam, Bombay!” – if you’re curious, do give them a try, both are fantastic. Also, you may like “The Japanese wife” – a touching movie about a long distant relationship between a Bengali man and a Japanese woman.

    • Rachel Jones February 22, 2018 at 1:05 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing – I’ll definitely check them out!!

  3. RPCV February 23, 2018 at 2:12 am - Reply

    Dev Patel is perfection.

  4. aaron February 23, 2018 at 4:40 pm - Reply

    just loved the way your write up about the country India as an indian i have just enjoyed your article and got a lite smile thanks for the article

  5. thebritishberliner February 27, 2018 at 1:41 am - Reply

    Absolutely love this post.

    I’ve seen all the films except for “The lunchbox,” and it’s true, once you see them you really get inspired to get on the next plane and go to India! Another Indian film I really like starring Irrfan Khanis who is extremely talented and is featured in some of the films above is “The Namesake.!” I like the film so much that I watched it in both English and German, I have the book, and I applied for a competition concerning the film, in which I won a lovely Indian home-made handbag and a scarf!

    Oh, and Dev Patel is so lush. I’m really proud we have another British actor, making waves in Hollywood!

    • Rachel Jones February 27, 2018 at 7:53 pm - Reply

      Oh wow, I didn’t know it was a movie – I love that book, The Namesake! I’ll have to find it online :) Yeah, Dev Patel is the best! I want to watch Lion again (but not with Ben or he will 100% want to adopt an Indian child asap)

      • thebritishberliner February 28, 2018 at 12:03 pm - Reply

        Haw! Haw! I hear you! Most Indian films tend to pull at the heart-strings and the children are so cute. It’s going to be so hard to ignore homeless children once we arrive come the summer. I do have a thing about not giving money to children, so I tend to buy fruit instead.

        You can’t take it back to the shop (hopefully), and it’s healthy and filling for the children!

  6. Kundan March 1, 2018 at 11:16 pm - Reply

    I have never seen these movie, i would like to check all the things about my country. I would really like to thanks you for sharing the list, i will be surely watching them one by one.

  7. sunil March 16, 2018 at 8:49 pm - Reply

    honestly, i like jungle book and slumdog as much as the rest of them, but a list of the best films about india, and not one film from (well apart from lunchbox) from the actual indian film industry (which is more than just bollywood)? lol. you should try and see a few. if youre not used to non-western styles of filmmaking, you might struggle but even then, i feel like you should try to watch a few at least.

    • Rachel Jones March 17, 2018 at 10:02 am - Reply

      Watched many over my years living in India but they don’t make my favorites – lunchbox is the only one that made it, that’s why it’s my list, everyone has the right to make their own! (insert passive aggressive lol)

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