bollywood films
Bollywood films can actually help students reduce stress and keep them motivated. Source: Sujit Jaiswal/AFP

What many people get wrong is that Bollywood films are just elaborate musicals, led by impossibly good-looking actors.

They are actually so much more than that.

Films have a way of making us feel so many emotions while encouraging us to pursue our goals and work harder every day. Bollywood films do this too — and as if they’re on steroids.

This makes them great for international students settling into a new life abroad, where everything from the supermarket to your notepad is foreign.

While this can feel fresh and exhilarating, it can sometimes become overwhelming. Stress sets in as more assignments and projects pour in. 

Bollywood films may not be the most typical pick-me-up but they do let us see life from different perspectives — and may just inspire us to do better.

Here are our favourite Bollywood films to help you become the best version of yourself: 

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is based on the true story of the late Milkha Singh, known as the “Flying Singh.”

It follows Singh’s journey to victory, from overcoming homelessness to becoming the country’s top athlete.

If you ever need a reminder of the power of dedication, hard word and resilience, this is it.


Though the movie title literally translates to a “wrestling competition,” this is no film about no ordinary match — which is expected given it stars Aamir Khan.

Dangal revolves around a father who initially wanted sons who he could train to become great wrestlers.

However, he soon realises that his daughters are just as capable and pushes them to become India’s first world-class wrestlers.

It’s easy to feel as if we’re not good enough, especially if you’re a woman in a traditionally male-dominated programme.

Dangal reminds us that women can be just as good, if not better.

Mary Kom

This movie is based on the true-life events of the famous Indian Olympic boxer Mary Kom.

From sneaking away to practise to having children and still getting back inside the ring, Kom shows how she balances it all.

Struggling to juggle classes, friends and yourself? Watch this movie to see how you can fight for what you want — and even have it all.

Pad Man

Pad Man is a story about a husband who set off to make sanitary pads for his wife after seeing how she’s potentially killing herself using unhygienic methods to contain her menstrual flow.

It’s a tale of ingenuity, that not every problem needs an expensive solution, but rather a clever fix.

3 Idiots

3 Idiots follow three engineering students at a prestigious IIT facing enormous pressure to prove their worth and succeed in their rigorous programme.

But are good grades the all and be-all? 3 Idiots prove otherwise. Perfect for anyone who’s questioning the point of traditional lectures and exams.  

Chak De! India

A movie about patience and perseverance that will definitely pick you up when you are feeling down.

After being overlooked by the Indian Hockey Association time and again, the Indian girl’s team has no chance of qualifying, let alone winning the hockey world cup.

The ex-captain of the men’s hockey team decides to give them a chance and coaches the team to victory. This movie will remind you to keep going and believing in yourself even when no one else 

English Vinglish

If you ever need a reminder that it is never too late to learn something new, this Bollywood film is it. 

The movie follows a woman who is often looked down upon because she can’t speak English.

However, this all changes when she travels to the US and makes the bold decision to enrol in a programme to learn English.

Here, she meets people who help her recognise her value and break away from the stigma created by society. 

The takeaway? Be confident and believe in yourself. You’re great.