"Heist" films generally feature an intricate story woven around a group of people trying to steal something. These films feature a variety of plot twists that reflect the challenges of the task as the characters formulate a plan, carry it out, and (hopefully) escape with the goods. And there is generally a nemesis they have to deal with - the person being stolen from, someone who is trying to prevent the heist, or one of the heist partners who turns on the others.
Because Bollywood films are generally over 2 hours long, you are offered more of the storyline so you can better understand the characters and their motives, see the evolution of the plan, witness the intricacies of the heist attempt, and fully experience the results of the heist.
While there have been many heist films produced by India over the years, here are five heist films to watch if you are new to Bollywood.
English Title: "Eyes"
Release Date: 15 April 2002
Director: Vipul Amrutlal Shah
Description: After losing his job, bank manager Vijay Singh Rajput (Amitabh Bachchan) recruits three blind men - Iliyas (Paresh Rawal), Arjun Verma (Arjun Rampal), and Vishwas Prajapati (Akshay Kumar) - to help him rob his bank. He also coerces Neha (Sushmita Sen), a teacher at a local blind school, to train the men on the steps needed to perform the robbery. But when scheduled date for the robbery arrives, the well-rehearsed plan begins to slowly unravel ...
Why I Love This Film: The idea of three blind men robbing a bank in broad daylight is unique. What makes this film enjoyable is watching the camaraderie develop between the three men - even during the occasional mishaps that occur. Each character brings with them a unique talent, perspective, or personality flaw which ultimately leads to their undoing or salvation. While some of the songs are mildly entertaining, it is the storyline that keeps your attention through to the end. The film was based on a play written and directed by Vipul Shah.
Trivia: To prepare for her role, Sushmita Sen visited schools for the blind to interact with the students.
English Title: "Thorns"
Release Date: 20 December 2002
Director: Sanjay Gupta
Description: In Los Angeles, six Indian men - Yashvardhan "Major" Rampal (Amitabh Bachchan), Jay "Ajju" Rehan (Sanjay Dutt), Marc Issak (Suniel Shetty), Raj "Baali" Yadav (Mahesh Manjrekar), Maqbool "Mac" Haider (Lucky Ali), and Anand "Andy" Mathur (Kumar Gaurav) - are rounded up by the police and questioned about a missing truck. While being held, they discuss a plan to commit the perfect crime - and resolve each of their financial and personal problems once and for all. When their simple robbery explodes into a bloody ambush, the ruthless killers learn that one of them is a cop. But which one?
Why I Love This Film: The film lifts the central storyline directly from Reservoir Dogs. But because of the style and character development, Quentin Tarantino says this is his favorite remake. The film is dark, violent and bloody but, given the source material, the film does a great job of bringing a Bollywood sensibility to the story. As the characters try to resolve what went wrong and why, trust unravels and their true natures are exposed. Note: Several of the item numbers performed by women seem to be set in strip clubs, so they are fairly provocative.
Trivia: Completed in 31 days, this was the first Indian film to be entirely shot on location in Los Angeles.
3. Dhoom 2
English Title: "Blast 2"
Release Date: 24 November 2006
Description: ACP Jai Dixit (Abhishek Bachchan) learns that an international thief plans to steal a priceless artifact in Mumbai. Despite their attempts to prevent the crime, "Mr. A" succeeds and eludes the police. At his next heist, Sunehri (Aishwarya Rai) appears and tries to steal the jewel Mr. A is after. Being intrigued by her fearlessness, he agrees to make her a partner. After some training, they travel to Rio de Janeiro with Jai and Ali Akbar Fateh Khan (Uday Chopra) in pursuit. But Mr. A soon uncovers a secret about Sunehri which threatens their plans ... and their lives.
Why I Love This Film: This is a delightful cat-and-mouse game where Jai and Mr. A meet face-to-face several times in an attempt to get to know the others weaknesses. In addition, each heist is unique and cleverly choreographed with intriguing use of high-tech gadgetry and physical prowess. Finally, several key item numbers performed by two of Bollywood's best dancers add to the entertainment value of this high-energy film.
Trivia: The second film in the Dhoom series, this was the first Bollywood film shot in Brazil.
4. Don 2
Release Date: 23 December 2011
Director: Farhan Akhtar
Description: Having conquered the Asian underworld, Don (Shah Rukh Khan) now wants to control the European market. However, law enforcement agencies in several countries want him captured and the bosses of the existing European underworld wants him dead. Despite these obstacles, Don manages to pull together a team of criminal frenemies (Boman Irani, Nawab Shah, Kunal Kapoor) to undertake a heist that is beyond anyone's imagination.
Why I Love This Film: The second in the series of SRK Don films, this story has an Ocean's Eleven feel to it, though these characters can't be trusted and don't trust each other. The storyline takes you on a high-class rollercoaster ride of plot twists that keeps you engaged through to the end. Filmed in India, Thailand, Germany, Malaysia and Switzerland, the film takes advantage of each country's sights, sounds, and structures to present an entertaining tale.
Trivia: Several scenes were shot in Malaysia's Malacca Prison with prisoners as extras. A section of the prison block was made available for filming, with special T-shirts distinguishing crew members from prisoners in the high-security zone.
5. Special 26
Release Date: 8 February 2013
Director: Neeraj Pandey
Description: Based on true incidents during 1980s, a group of four men - pretend to be Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officials and carry out income tax raids in different locations of India. They decide to do one last raid - the biggest ever - but the real CBI has become aware of their game, investigates and follows them.
Why I Love This Film: This is the ultimate heist film because it is based on real events which lend credibility to the on-screen sequences. As the real CBI gets closer the fake CBI, you can almost feel the noose tightening around the necks of the imposters. The opponents are equally savvy, which makes this cat-and-mouse game even more fascinating.
Trivia: The film is inspired by a real-life heist on 19 March 1987 where a group of 26 people posing as CBI officers executed an income tax raid on the Opera House branch of Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri in Mumbai.
Don't know which film to watch first? The following playlist features video trailers for each of these five heist films.
If you liked this, please check out some of our other Friday Five posts.