10 Movies That Spoke About Uncomfortable Social Issues Way Ahead Of Their Time

There has always been a debate about films imitating life or is it the other way around. This is especially true when the said films talk about social truths.

While movies like Toilet and Pad Man paint the movie with a brush commercialism, as viewers we barely appreciate social issues depicted realistically without any frills. An average Indian moviegoers logic is going to the cinema to escape reality.

These movies did something gutsy, they spoke about social causes realistically without fear of it being a ‘commercial success’.

#1. Achhoot Kanya


The film was WAY ahead of its time. There has probably been no movie since then which tried to deal with the issue of casteism with such delicacy. The story of the film revolved around Prataap born in a Brahmin family who falls in love with his childhood friend Kasturi who comes from a Dalit family. Due to social stigma and casteism, they end up marrying other people, never forget their love for each other. Ashok Kumar and Devika Rani played the lead characters.

#2. Prem Rog


Prem Rog when it released was very popular. It discussed the idea of widow remarriage and tried to portray it in a positive light compared to stigmatizing it. The film featured Rishi Kapoor and Padmini Kolhapure in the lead.  Rishi Kapoor plays a role of progressive Devdhar battling it out against archaic traditions and customs.

#3. Dor

When Dor released it got rave reviews from the critics and audience alike. The movie did a great job of talking about a woman who is forced to change herself to fit into the regressive traditions. The movie speaks about forgiveness and redemption.

#4. Matrabhoomi: A Nation Without Women

Never has a feature film spoken about female infanticide and foeticide like this one. The movie revolves around a woman who is forced to marry five brothers because of gender imbalance. It talks about the real issue of fraternal polyandry that still happens in some parts of the country because of preference of the male child and female foeticide. The movie is heartbreaking and disturbing.


#5. Peepli Live

Peepli Live had a different treatment to the serious tragedy of farmer suicide. It took the satire route and managed to reach the audience with its brilliant script. The movie was much talked about when it released in India.


#6. Well Done Abba!

This film won a  National Film Award for Best Film on Social Issues. The movies central theme was rising issue of drought and a family’s battle to solve it in their village.


#7. Pakeezah

This movie was a cult classic. Every cinephiles list is incomplete without this classic. The movie showed the journey of a prostitute without the usual judgemental stance. It follows the story of Nargis who falls in love with Shahabuddin but is roiled in an internal battle. Can she as a courtesan be allowed to love or was it not in her destiny? Watch the film to know its brilliance.


#8. My Brother Nikhil

In a time when talking about homosexuality was a taboo on screen and pair that with talking about another social taboo AIDS, this movie was very brave. When the main lead Nikhil finds out he has HIV, his life comes tumbling down. His family disowns him and his flourishing sports career as a swimmer comes to an end. His sister Anamika (played by Juhi Chawla) and boyfriend Nigel are the only ones who stand by him.


#9. Paanch

While this film does fall justifiably in the noir genre, it does heavily deal with the topic of drug abuse. While no ends are tied off neatly, it does show the ugly nature of drug addiction. A mix of murder and hedonism, this movie makes for an interesting watch. Sadly, the movie never got a commercial release because it was too controversial.


#10. Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron

Another social movie that spoke about the rampant social issue of corruption. This movie is veritably a cult classic. The satire tackles heavy topics of red-tapism, politics, and bureaucracy with a tinge of dark humor.


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