30 Best Indian Thriller Movies That Will Keep You on the Edge of Your Seat!
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India is home to a vast and diverse film industry, and the country has produced some of the most thrilling and suspenseful movies ever. From gripping murder mysteries to heart-pumping action thrillers, Indian cinema has something for everyone. In this article, we will take a look at some of the best Indian thriller movies that you should not miss.
The thriller genre has always been popular in India, and over the years, Indian filmmakers have produced some of the most iconic and spine-chilling movies in this genre. These movies have captured audiences’ attention not only in India but worldwide. This article will explore some of the best Indian thriller movies that have captivated audiences and stood the test of time.
The Growth and Popularity of Indian Thriller Movies
The development and popularity of Indian thriller movies have steadily risen in recent years, garnering attention and acclaim from domestic and international audiences. Several factors have contributed to this phenomenon, including evolving storytelling techniques, global exposure, and an appetite for diverse content.
Evolving storytelling techniques: Indian filmmakers have consistently pushed the boundaries of the thriller genre, experimenting with unique narrative styles, themes, and elements that keep viewers engaged.
Talented filmmakers and actors: The Indian film industry has seen an influx of gifted filmmakers and actors who have honed their skills and contributed to the growth of the thriller genre. Directors like Anurag Kashyap, Sriram Raghavan, and Sujoy Ghosh have significantly impacted by delivering critically acclaimed thrillers. Similarly, actors like Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Ayushmann Khurrana, and Radhika Apte have shown immense range in their performances, elevating the quality of Indian thrillers.
Global exposure: With the advent of streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime, Indian thriller movies have reached a wider global audience. These platforms have not only promoted Indian films but also invested in producing original content, allowing filmmakers to explore diverse themes and cater to international tastes. This global exposure has resulted in increased popularity and demand for Indian thrillers.
Increased appetite for diverse content: As audiences grow increasingly diverse and discerning, there is a demand for content that caters to different tastes and sensibilities. Indian thrillers, with their unique blend of cultural context and universal themes, have successfully tapped into this appetite, making them more popular than ever.
Critical and commercial success: Several Indian thriller movies have received critical acclaim and commercial success in recent years, fueling the genre’s growth. Films like “Andhadhun,” “Talaash,” “Kahaani,” and “Drishyam” have left a lasting impact on audiences and critics alike, paving the way for more innovative and exciting thrillers.
Best Indian Thriller Movies: The Classic Era
The 70s and 80s were significant decades for Indian cinema, marked by the emergence of some classic thriller movies that continue to be celebrated today. These films not only entertained audiences but also laid the foundation for the growth of the thriller genre in India. Here are some notable Indian thriller movies from the 70s and 80s:
Directed by Yash Chopra, this suspense thriller stars Rajesh Khanna and Nanda in the lead roles. The film revolves around a man accused of murder who seeks refuge in a woman’s house, only to discover another murder occurred there. “Ittefaq” is widely regarded as one of the earliest and most iconic Indian thriller movies.
Jewel Thief (1967)
Directed by Vijay Anand and starring Dev Anand, Vyjayanthimala, and Ashok Kumar, “Jewel Thief” is a classic crime thriller. The film tells the story of a man mistaken for a notorious jewel thief and his journey to uncover the truth and prove his innocence. With its captivating plot and memorable songs, the movie continues to be a favorite among fans of Indian cinema.
This psychological thriller Parwana, directed by Jyoti Swaroop and starring Amitabh Bachchan, Navin Nischol, and Yogeeta Bali, follows the story of an artist obsessed with a woman and devises a diabolical plan to eliminate her fiancé. The film showcases an early, intense performance by Amitabh Bachchan, who became a Bollywood megastar.
Kanoon Kya Karega (1984)
Directed by B.R. Chopra, this courtroom thriller stars Rajendra Kumar, Vidya Sinha, and Raj Babbar. The movie focuses on a defense attorney who discovers that his client, accused of murder, is his long-lost son. With a gripping narrative and stellar performances, “Kanoon Kya Karega” keeps viewers on the edge of their seats.
Best Indian Thriller Movies: Modern Age
We have picked the top 23 best Indian thriller movies. The list contains regional thrillers as well.
1. Drishyam (2015): A Mind-Bending Tale of Deception
Directed by Nishikant Kamat, Drishyam is a critically acclaimed thriller starring Ajay Devgn, Tabu, and Shriya Saran. The film follows the story of Vijay Salgaonkar, a cable TV operator who uses his wit and intelligence to protect his family from a grave accusation. Drishyam’s gripping narrative and stellar performances make it a must-watch for any thriller aficionado.
2. Andhadhun (2018): A Dark Comedy with a Twist
Sriram Raghavan’s Andhadhun, starring Ayushmann Khurrana, Tabu, and Radhika Apte, is a dark comedy thriller that leaves viewers on the edge of their seats. The story revolves around a blind pianist embroiled in a series of murders. The film’s unpredictable twists and turns and outstanding performances make Andhadhun a standout entry in the thriller genre.
3. Kahaani (2012): A Gripping Mystery Set in Kolkata
Directed by Sujoy Ghosh, Kahaani stars Vidya Balan as Vidya Bagchi, a pregnant woman searching for her missing husband in the bustling city of Kolkata. With the help of a sympathetic police officer, she unravels a web of lies and deception. The film’s immersive storytelling, backed by a powerful performance from Balan, makes Kahaani an unforgettable thriller experience.
4. Talvar (2015): A Real-Life Crime Drama that Shocks
Talvar, directed by Meghna Gulzar and written by Vishal Bhardwaj, is a riveting crime thriller based on the controversial Aarushi Talwar murder case. The film stars Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma, and Neeraj Kabi and presents multiple perspectives on the case, leaving viewers questioning the truth. Talvar’s engaging narrative and superb acting make it a must-watch for true crime enthusiasts.
5. Ugly (2013): A Dark and Disturbing Thriller
Anurag Kashyap’s Ugly is a gritty, dark thriller that delves into the underbelly of human nature. The story revolves around the kidnapping of a young girl and the subsequent search for her by her estranged parents and the police. The film’s raw, unflinching portrayal of its characters and gripping storyline make Ugly a compelling watch for those who enjoy intense thrillers.
6. Talaash (2012): A Supernatural Mystery that Haunts
Reema Kagti directed Talaash, a supernatural thriller starring Aamir Khan, Rani Mukerji, and Kareena Kapoor Khan. The film follows a police officer who investigates the mysterious death of a famous film actor while dealing with his tragedy. Talaash’s eerie atmosphere and intriguing plot make it a unique entry in Indian thrillers.
7. Badla (2019): A Taut Whodunit that Keeps You Guessing
Sujoy Ghosh’s Badla, starring Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu, is a gripping whodunit thriller that keeps viewers guessing until the end. The film revolves around a successful businesswoman who seeks the help of a seasoned lawyer to unravel the mystery behind a crime she has been accused of. Badla’s clever storytelling and top-notch performances make it an enthralling experience for thriller lovers.
8. Raat Akeli Hai (2020): A Murder Mystery with a Stellar Cast
Directed by Honey Trehan, Raat Akeli Hai is a captivating murder mystery set in a small town in India. The film stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui as a cop investigating the murder of a wealthy family’s patriarch on the night of his wedding. With a stellar supporting cast that includes Radhika Apte and Shweta Tripathi, Raat Akeli Hai is a thrilling ride full of twists and turns.
9. Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru (2016): A Tamil Thriller with a Gripping Narrative
Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru, also known as D-16, is a Tamil-language thriller directed by Karthick Naren. The film stars Rahman as a retired cop who recounts the events leading up to a gruesome crime he investigated years ago. Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru’s non-linear narrative and intriguing plot make it a standout among regional Indian thrillers.
10. Ratsasan (2018): A Chilling Serial Killer Thriller
Directed by Ram Kumar, Ratsasan is a Tamil-language psychological thriller that follows a former film director turned cop who hunts down a sadistic serial killer targeting young girls. Starring Vishnu Vishal and Amala Paul, Ratsasan is a chilling and intense thriller that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats.
11. A Wednesday! (2008): A Thought-Provoking Thriller
A Wednesday! is a gripping thriller directed by Neeraj Pandey that revolves around a commoner’s audacious plan to expose the system’s inefficiencies. The film stars Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher in influential roles, delivering stellar performances that captivate viewers. A Wednesday! is a thought-provoking film that raises pertinent questions about society and governance.
12. Johnny Gaddaar (2007): A Stylish Neo-Noir Crime Thriller
Directed by Sriram Raghavan, Johnny Gaddaar is a stylish neo-noir crime thriller that tells the story of a group of criminals who find themselves embroiled in deceit and betrayal after a heist goes wrong. The film features an ensemble cast, including Neil Nitin Mukesh, Dharmendra, and Rimi Sen, and boasts of an engaging plot that keeps viewers hooked from start to finish.
13. Kaun (1999): A Psychological Thriller with a Twist
Directed by Ram Gopal Varma, Kaun? is a psychological thriller starring Urmila Matondkar, Manoj Bajpayee, and Sushant Singh. The film unfolds throughout a single night, as a woman finds herself trapped in her house with two strangers during a storm. With its claustrophobic setting and unexpected twists, Kaun? is a suspenseful thriller that will leave viewers guessing till the end.
14. Vikram Vedha (2017): A Tamil Neo-Noir Action Thriller
Directed by Pushkar-Gayathri, Vikram Vedha is a Tamil-language neo-noir action thriller that features R. Madhavan and Vijay Sethupathi in lead roles. The film tells the story of a police officer who becomes entangled in a deadly cat-and-mouse game with a notorious gangster. Vikram Vedha’s engaging plot, top-notch performances, and stylized visuals make it a must-watch for fans of Indian thrillers.
15. Ittefaq (2017): A Riveting Whodunit Remake
Directed by Abhay Chopra, Ittefaq is a modern adaptation of the 1969 classic film of the same name. The film stars Sidharth Malhotra, Sonakshi Sinha, and Akshaye Khanna and follows the story of two seemingly unconnected murder cases being investigated by a determined police officer. With its suspenseful plot and unexpected twists, Ittefaq is a thrilling experience that keeps viewers guessing until the end.
16. Special 26 (2013): A Heist Thriller Based on True Events
Directed by Neeraj Pandey, Special 26 is a heist thriller inspired by real-life incidents that occurred in the 1980s. The film stars Akshay Kumar, Anupam Kher, and Manoj Bajpayee and follows a group of con artists who pose as CBI officers to raid the rich and corrupt. With its engaging plot and riveting performances, Special 26 is a thrilling watch that keeps viewers hooked from beginning to end.
17. Khamosh (1985): A Classic Bollywood Whodunit
Directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Khamosh is a classic Bollywood whodunit featuring Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, and Amol Palekar. The film revolves around a film crew shooting at a remote location, where a series of mysterious murders take place. As the body count rises, the survivors must unmask the killer before it’s too late. Khamosh is a suspenseful thriller that will keep viewers guessing with its atmospheric setting and compelling storyline.
18. Lucia (2013): A Mind-Bending Kannada Thriller
Directed by Pawan Kumar, Lucia is a critically acclaimed Kannada-language psychological thriller that explores the thin line between dreams and reality. The film stars Sathish Ninasam and Sruthi Hariharan and tells the story of a man who starts experiencing strange events after taking a mysterious pill that allows him to control his dreams. Lucia’s unique narrative structure and compelling performances make it a must-watch for fans of Indian thrillers.
19. No One Killed Jessica (2011): A Crime Thriller Based on a True Story
Directed by Raj Kumar Gupta, No One Killed Jessica is a crime thriller based on the real-life Jessica Lal murder case. The film stars Vidya Balan as a relentless journalist and Rani Mukerji as Jessica’s sister, who join forces to seek justice for Jessica. The film’s gritty portrayal of the events surrounding the high-profile murder case and the powerful performances of its lead actresses make No One Killed Jessica a beautiful watch for thriller enthusiasts.
20. Manorama Six Feet Under (2007): A Gripping Neo-Noir Mystery
Directed by Navdeep Singh, Manorama Six Feet Under is a neo-noir mystery thriller starring Abhay Deol, Gul Panag, and Raima Sen. Inspired by Roman Polanski’s classic film Chinatown, the story follows a small-town government engineer who gets entangled in a web of lies, deceit, and murder. With its intricate plot and compelling performances, Manorama Six Feet Under is a fascinating watch for fans of Indian thrillers.
21. Te3n (2016): A Suspenseful Kidnapping Thriller
Directed by Ribhu Dasgupta, Te3n is a suspenseful thriller featuring an ensemble cast of Amitabh Bachchan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and Vidya Balan. The film revolves around an older man seeking justice for his granddaughter’s kidnapping and death, who teams up with a priest-turned-cop to solve a similar case. Te3n’s intriguing storyline and powerful performances make it an engaging experience for thriller enthusiasts.
22. The Stoneman Murders (2009): A Chilling Serial Killer Thriller
Directed by Manish Gupta, The Stoneman Murders is a chilling thriller based on the real-life Stoneman serial killings in Mumbai in the 1980s. The film stars Kay Kay Menon, Arbaaz Khan, and Rukhsar Rehman and follows a suspended police officer who becomes obsessed with catching the elusive killer. The Stoneman Murders is a suspenseful and intense thriller that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats.
23. 404: Error Not Found (2011): A Psychological Thriller with a Twist
Directed by Prawaal Raman, 404: Error Not Found is a psychological thriller starring Imaad Shah, Nishikant Kamat, and Rajvvir Aroraa. Set in a medical college, the film follows a young student who becomes convinced that the ghost of a former occupant haunts his dorm room. With its atmospheric setting, unexpected twists, and intriguing storyline, 404: Error Not Found is a beautiful watch for fans of psychological thrillers.
Indian Thriller Movies: Adapted from Bestselling Novels
Several Indian thriller movies have been adapted from bestselling books, which have successfully captured the essence of the original literary works while presenting engaging visual narratives. Some notable examples include:
Drishyam (2013, Malayalam) / Drishyam (2015, Hindi)
The Japanese novel “The Devotion of Suspect X” by Keigo Higashino inspired the original Malayalam film and its Hindi remake. These movies follow an ordinary man who creates an elaborate plan to save his family from a crime they inadvertently committed. Drishyam was well-received by critics and audiences alike for its gripping narrative and powerful performances.
This psychological horror thriller was loosely based on the British novel “Act of Providence” by Joseph Payne Brennan and Donald M. Grant. The film stars Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor, and Rani Mukerji and delves into the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of a famous film actor. The film was praised for its solid performances and intriguing storyline.
Byomkesh Bakshi Series
Based on the famous Bengali detective novels by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay, the Byomkesh Bakshi films revolve around a brilliant detective solving various mysteries. Several adaptations have been made in different languages, including Hindi, Bengali, and Telugu. Among the most notable Hindi adaptations is “Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!” (2015), directed by Dibakar Banerjee and starring Sushant Singh Rajput.
Raat Akeli Hai (2020)
This crime thriller is an adaptation of the book “The Girl With the Long Green Heart” by Lawrence Block. The story revolves around a small-town cop called to investigate the murder of a wealthy family’s patriarch on the night of his wedding. The film, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Radhika Apte, received positive reviews for its engaging plot and strong performances.
Based on the novel “Chor Chor Super Chor” by Surender Mohan Pathak, this black comedy thriller follows a retired thief who gets involved in one last heist. The film starred Emraan Hashmi and Vidya Balan and was lauded for its unique blend of comedy and thriller elements.
7 Khoon Maaf (2011)
Adapted from the short story “Susanna’s Seven Husbands” by Ruskin Bond, this dark thriller traces the life of Susanna, a woman who kills her seven husbands. Directed by Vishal Bhardwaj and starring Priyanka Chopra in the lead role, the film was praised for its intriguing narrative and Chopra’s powerful performance.
These Indian thriller movies adapted from bestselling novels showcase the ability of Indian filmmakers to skillfully translate compelling literary works into engaging and visually stunning films.
Indian cinema has produced some of the most thrilling and captivating movies ever, and the thriller genre has always been popular in India. The movies listed above are just a few excellent Indian thrillers worth watching. From gripping murder mysteries to high-octane action thrillers, these movies will surely keep you on the edge of your seat.