The 20 Best Movies Based on True Stories

Are you that person who engages entirely with the movie you watch, cries, laughs, and connects very closely with the storyline? You are not alone. Many people move past the line of reality and engage very closely with the plot. How intense would these feelings be if you knew these movies were based on true stories?

Yes. Many Indian movies, especially the ones in Bollywood, are based on real stories, and this elevates the total movie-viewing experience. We have put together 20 incredible true-story movies that will be on your watch list. If you have already watched these but have yet to learn they were based on real stories, do watch these again with this fact in mind. The experience will be even better.

1. Gangubai Kathiwadi

One of the first movies in this list of real story-based movies is Gangubai Kathiawadi. Released in 2022, this movie had high hopes for the performance of Alia Bhat. The story is based on the real life of Gangubai Harjivandas, a young woman forced into prostitution who became one of the mafia queens of Mumbai later on. This movie is directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and turned out to be a box office hit too. Contrary to the belief that Bollywood Actresses in Saree look very glamorous, in this movie, Alia Bhat manages to look terrifying while adorning a simple white saree.

2. Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl

This is one of the 2020 movies based on real-life stories released on OTT. Netflix released the movie on 12th August, and the film received mixed reviews. Starring Jhanvi Kapoor, this movie is based on the life of Gunjan Saxena, an Indian Air Force Pilot who was the first woman to fly in a combat zone. The movie lasts 112 minutes and is still available on Netflix.

3. Gully Boy

Gully Boy is one of the best movies based on true stories and is intense, inspiring, and beautifully written. Though not an actual real-life story, Gully Boy is based on the lives of Indian rappers Naezy and Divine. This movie was released in 2019, starring Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhat.

Gully Boy was an absolute box office hit and has won 13 Filmfare awards. If you still need to watch this, this should be your next binge-watch.

4. Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi

Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi is a movie based on the true life of an Indian queen who broke barriers and led an army as early as the 1840s. Kangana Ranaut plays Rani Lakshmi Bhai in this movie based on a true story released in 2019 and considered a box office hit.

This movie gave Kangana Ranaut her National Award in the best actress category. If historical movies and great screenplay interest you, watch this movie co-directed by Krish Jagarlamudi and Kangana Ranaut.

5. 83

If you are a cricket fan, here is a movie that will give you goosebumps. 83 is a 2021 film based on the Indian cricket team’s 1983 World Cup win! The movie has a big star cast, including Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Panjak Tripathi, and Saqib Saleem.

83 makes it to the list of Indian movies based on true stories for its gripping screenplay and climax. This movie received 14 nominations in Filmfare that year.

6. The Ghazi Attack

If you love action or thriller war stories, this is a movie you have to watch. Ghazi, the film, is inspired by the sinking of the PNS/M Ghazi ship, a Pakistani diesel-electric submarine.

Directed by Sankalp Reddy, this movie stars Rana Daggubati, Atul Kulkarni, and Kay Kay Menon. The movie was shot in two languages – Telugu and Hindi.

This movie also went on to win the National Film Award in Telugu under the best feature film category. The sinking of this ship triggered the Indo-Pakistani War and the separation of Bangladesh. So, this is an exciting history movie based on a true story.

7. M.S Dhoni: The Untold Story

If you are a cricket fan or a Dhoni fan, this is an absolute gold movie that you shouldn’t miss. Even if you have watched this before, you cannot escape the feeling of being on the ground with the actor and praying M.S Dhoni hits his helicopter shot in the climax scenes.

This real movie is based on the initial life and career of Mahindra Singh Dhoni and shows his journey from being a ticket collector to becoming the Captain of the Indian cricket team. It is said that the story was created after discussions and approval from Dhoni himself so that you can trust the authenticity of the plot line.

8. Mary Kom

Mary Kom is an Indian boxer who is the only woman in the world to have won the World Amateur Boxing Championship six times in history. She is also ranked number 1 by the Amateur International Boxing Association under the female light-flyweight category.

In the list of real story movies in Bollywood, this is an exceptional movie to note, as it reflects the struggles and life of this wonderful boxer. Priyanka Chopra acts as Mary Kom in the film, and fans and movie experts generally commended her performance.

This movie was released in 2014 and has won numerous accolades and awards. This movie won the National Award under the Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment category in 2015.

9. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

Another must-watch moviebased on real-life stories is Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. This is also a sport-related true story and covers the growth of Milkha Singh, the Olympic sprinter from India. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra directs this 2013 Bollywood movie. Farhan Akhtar takes up the role of Milkha Singh and does full justice to it. In 2013, this was one of the highest-grossing Bollywood movies, and it was also a decent hit both in India and overseas.

The climax scene involving the actual race feels completely realistic, and we cheer and pray for Singh to win the sprint. If you like watching movies based on true stories, this should be on your list.

10. The Dirty Picture

If you follow South Indian Cinema, Silk Smitha is a name that you definitely would have heard of. She played erotic roles in most South Indian movies during the 1980s and 1990s, and her untimely death remains a mystery. The Dirty Picture is a movie that revolves around the life of Silk Smitha, and Vidhya Balan plays the role of this actress. This movie was released in 2011 and won six awards in different categories the following year.

This movie showcases the difficulties a woman faces with the dreams of becoming a movie star. The story starts with the life of a young girl running away from her home and ends with her overdose and death.

Vidya Balan is one of the best Bollywood actresses and has done full justice to this role. Watch this movie if you are looking for a deep movie with intense plots.

11. Pad Man

In the list of movies based on true stories, here is one movie you should take advantage of. Pad Man is a biopic of a person named Arunachalam Muruganantham, a social activist from India. He created a low-cost machine to make sanitary pads, which made menstruation so easy for women in rural villages. Akshay Kumar performs the central role, and R. Balki directs this 2018 movie. The movie performed wonderfully box office-wise, too and is a must-watch story.

12. Dangal

In the list of sports movies based on true stories, Dangal definitely must be noticed. When Dangal was released in 2016, people got up to clap and cheer in the climax scene. Such was the power of the screenplay and direction. This movie stars Amir Khan, who acts as the father of two young wrestlers – Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari. The story revolves around the father, his two daughters, and his efforts to make them star wrestlers.

For budding athletes, this is one of the inspirational movies based on true stories they shouldn’t miss.

13. Sarbjit

Sarbjit is a 2016 real story-based movie that will surely grip your hearts. This story is based on a farmer living in Bhikiwind, Punjab. On one fateful day, he crosses the Indo-Pak border and gets caught by the Pakistani army. The story centers around Dalbir Kaur, a person living on his farm, and her fight for his innocence. Aishwarya Rai has portrayed Dalbir Kaur’s role and given an excellent performance. Omung Kumar directs this movie.

14. Neerja

When Neerja was released in 2016, the entire country talked about Neerja Bhanot and her sacrifice to save her passengers. This is another moviebyBollywoodbased on true-life incidents that touch people’s hearts deeply. This movie is based on a real-life incident in 1986 when Pan Am Flight 73 was hijacked. Neejra, an air hostess on this flight, saved the lives of 359 passengers while giving up her life.

15. Sanju

Sanju is a biopic based on the life of Sanjay Dutt. Ranbir Kapoor plays the role of Sanjay Dutt, and Rajkumar Hirani directs the movie. This is one of the movies based on true stories in Bollywood that will help see the actual life of an actor in reality. For this specific reason, the movie did well at the box office, away from the glamour of Bollywood.

16. Airlift

Another on-air action movie that was released in 2016 was Airlift. This also makes up the list of real story-based movies for its intense storyline and unique twists and turns. This movie, directed by Raja Krishna Menon, has Akshay Kumar playing the lead role.

In 1990, Iraq, under Saddam Hussain, invaded Kuwait, starting the Gulf War. At this time, Ranjit Katyal, a businessman in Kuwait, becomes the spokesperson for the 170,000 Indians in Kuwait City and helps them reach India safely.

17. Talvar

Talvar is one of the movies based on real-life stories about a crime that shook the entire country. The murder of a teenage girl, the family’s servant, and the subsequent persecution of the parents is a story filled with many twists and turns. Meghna Gulzar has picked up this incident and created the movie Talvar. The movie was also released internationally with the title ‘Guilty’. Irrfan Khan has done a great job acting as the prime investigator of the case.

18. Madras Café

Madras Café is one of the action movies based on true stories that belong to the political thriller satire. The movie is directed by Shoojit Sircar and has John Abraham and Nargis Fakhri playing lead roles. The film is based on the Sri Lankan Civil War and most of the story happens in Jaffna in Sri Lanka. Though the director says that the plot is a work of fiction, the story is heavily based on real-life events in Jaffna during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

19. No one killed Jessica

No one killed Jessica is a thriller movie that came out in 2011 based on the Jessica Lal murder that happened in 1999. Vidya Balan and Rani Mukerji play lead roles in this movie, and if you are looking to binge-watch anintense movie based on a true story, this should be on your list. The film did well at the box office too.

20. Toilet: Ek Prem Katha

Toilet: Ek Prem Katha is a 2017 story loosely based on an incident in Madya Pradesh where a young girl named Anita Narre ran away immediately after marriage when she saw her husband’s house did not have a toilet. This is one of the best movies based on true stories that are fun yet inspiring.

Also Read: 100 Best Bollywood Comedy Movies: The Funniest Films of All Time


Movies based on true stories are always more interesting to watch because we know the stories are not mere fiction tales. The fact that these stories have been lived and experienced by people, in reality, makes them even more, enthralling to watch. These twenty true-story movies deserve a special place in Bollywood.

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