This week, Rohit Shetty’s action-packed cop drama series Indian Police Force is arriving on Amazon Prime Video. To go with it, we have collated some interesting 10 Must-Watch Police Movies in Hindi. Cop stories are a delectable genre as they combine the best of both worlds — action as well as emotion. 

Bollywood has a good tradition of churning out stellar cop dramas, even though some of the recent ones have been a bit high on action and gore. This is just a whimsical and subjective list, and this disclaimer holds true for most of our listicles.

Our 10 Must-Watch Hindi Police Movies

Zanjeer (1973)

A cult movie, if ever there was one. Amitabh Bachchan, after having had a less-than-satisfying start to his career, was about to give it up. Then, he met the ace scriptwriters Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar.

They and director Prakash Mehra created the archetype for the ‘angry young man’, which proved to be the delectably dominant motif of Bachchan’s sterling and storied career. The story is simple: it is about an honest police officer’s clash with a crime don, who also happens to be his parents’ murderer. This one is for the ages.

Ardh Sathya (1983)

This is another of those raw, visceral cop movies that every other movie that has followed has taken inspiration from. Directed by Govind Nihalani and screenplay by Vijay Tendulkar, based on the short story Surya by S D Panvalkar, the film’s strength is the performance of Om Puri as the cop Anant Welankar.

His inner frailties and his helplessness in the face of a powerful and politically connected goonda are the stuff of reality. The film also stars Amrish Puri, Smita Patil, and Sadashiv Amrapurkar, all top-notch performers.

Drohkaal (1994)

If half-truth was the idea of Ardh Satya, betrayal and complex truths are the core themes of Drohkaal, both helmed by Govind Nihalani.  It is a character study in which the lines between good and evil are blurred, where truth is relative.

Face-to-face with the enemy, a cop finds out that he isn’t really that different from the villain. It is a moral drama played out with brilliant intensity. The film examines the mental and psychological trauma that honest police officers go through in their fight against a group of ruthless terrorists—Ompuri, Naseeruddin Shah, Ashish Vidyarathi excel in this compelling drama of human quandary. The film was remade in Tamil by Kamal Haasan as Kuruthipunal (1995), which was, in fact, better than even the original.

Sarfarosh (1999)

Sarfarosh, directed by John Matthew Matthan, seamlessly marries serious cinema with the commercial variety. The film, on the face of it, is about a cop who goes behind smugglers and terrorists from across India’s border in Rajasthan. The film is also about the proxy war conducted by the inimical neighbouring country. The film opens Pandora’s box about an issue that has been the focus of considerable debate: Why should India have cultural exchanges with a country that is also conducting a proxy war with it?

Aamir Khan as ACP Rathod and Naseeruddin Shah as ghazal singer Ghulfam Hassan make the movie a relishable one with their near-perfect performances. The music is another big plus of this nuanced movie.

 

A Wednesday (2008)

This quintessential cat-and-mouse game between a top cop and a ‘stupid common man’ is also a morality play on how to deal with hard-nosed terrorists.

Released two years after the fateful Mumbai 2006 train bombing, this Neeraj Pandey directorial shook the moral conscience of the dormant nation. Naseeruddin Shah, the common man who makes the police run around in circles, and Anupam Kher, the police commissioner, deliver a bravura performance. It is among the most stirring cop dramas that asks pertinent questions.

Singham (2011)

This movie and its sequels (Singham Returns – 2014), derivatives like Simbha (2018) and Sooryavanshi (2021) all established Rohit Shetty as a master of mainstream cop dramas — an honest police officer shakes up the system and the crime lords.

You know the story and tropes. Shetty, with his yen for action set pieces, makes it all a compelling spectacle. Singham also established Ajay Devgn as a master of poker-faced policeman roles. He is tailor-made for this rollicking action adventure—a film for all seasons.

Dabangg (2010)

Dabangg is a police story with a twist. In that, the cop has some grey shades. He is actually a Robin Hood kind of character. 

Dabangg, directed by Abhinav Kashyap was released on 10 September 2010. The movie revolves around a city cop, Salman Khan, as Chulbul Pandey gives a standout whistle-worthy action hero performance. The hero kills the brother of a notorious politico. The rabble-rousing exchanges that follow are the staple of this movie directed by Abhinav Singh Kashyap.

The film had two sequels: Dabangg 2 (2012) and Dabangg 3 (2019). The latter is, as it happens, a partial prequel, describing a flashback which forms the events of Dabangg itself.

Khakee (2004)

Khakee tells the story of a team of Indian police officers who are tasked with transporting a Pakistani spy from a small town in Maharashtra to a prison in Mumbai. But the whole thing runs into trouble.

Directed by the redoubtable Rajkumar Santoshi, this blockbuster cop action drama stars Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgn, Akshay Kumar, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Tusshar Kapoor in key roles.

The punchy film stood out for smart writing and adroit execution. This edge-of-the-seat thriller is not a mindless masala movie. It makes you think that every character has some depth.

Shool (1999)

The film, directed by Eeshwar Nivas, who was an understudy to Ram Gopal Varma (who wrote and produced it), carries his trademark gritty and dark tones.

The film is about RGV’s favourite theme:  the politician-criminal nexus. Here, it happens in the acrid lands of Bihar. The political-criminal tandem hits hard the life of an honest police officer.

The movie stars Manoj Bajpayee as Inspector Samar Pratap Singh and Sayaji Shinde as the criminal-politician Bachhu Yadav, a character loosely based on  Prahlad Yadav, a Bihar politico with shady connections. Shool recreates the spirit of Dirty Harry-vigilantism.

Mardaani 

Mardaani is about a lady cop. But make no mistake about it: she has spunk and is tough as nails. Rani Mukherjee, playing the cop Shivani Shivaji Roy, sets out on the trail of a child trafficking mafia. What follows is a cat-and-mouse game between a fearless cop and a young and ruthless mafia kingpin in a very personal war.

The film, directed by Pradeep Sarkar, had a sequel in Mardaani 2 (2019). And what we hear is that a possible third instalment in the Mardaani franchise is in the works. Women breaking new ground is always encouraging.

Balakumar Kuppuswamy
Balakumar Kuppuswamy

An engineer-turned-journalist, K Balakumar’s career began in print publications as a sports writer. That also opened doors for other journalistic avenues like films, music, finance, technology and politics, which nobody can escape in India. After 30 yrs in mainstream journalism, now a freelancer for various digital publications.

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