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The Top 10 Movies to Learn Urdu

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The cliché of learning through entertainment always sounds pleasant to the ears, but its overuse has marred the truthfulness and effectiveness of the technique. That said, learning a language through movies keeps this method intact and relevant. This particular approach is not only entertaining, but it can also motivate you to continue working toward your language learning goals. 

Urdu movies depict the colorful Pakistani culture through the rich linguistic kaleidoscope of the Urdu language. Watching these films will allow you to hear how the language is used in a variety of real-life situations and contexts, keeping you amused all the while. 

In this article, you’ll get a snapshot of the ten best Urdu movies of all time to help boost your language studies. Let’s go!


Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Urdu Table of Contents
  1. انارکلی (AnarKali)
  2. امراؤ جان ادا (Umrao Jaan Ada)
  3. ارمان (Armaan)
  4. آئینہ (Aina)
  5. کوئل (Koyal)
  6. گھونگھٹ (Ghoonghat)
  7. سنگ (Sangam)
  8. خدا کے لئے (Khuda Kay Liye)
  9. بول (Bol)
  10. نامعلوم افراد (Na Maloom Afraad)
  11. Conclusion

1. انارکلی (AnarKali) 

We’ll start our list with a few classical hits of Pakistani cinema, among which is the film انارکلی (AnarKali). Released in 1958 and starring the legendary Noor Jehan (often dubbed the Malika-e-Tarannum, or Queen of Melody), this film occupies a distinguished position as an all-time favorite. Its plot is predicated on an historical legend of the Mughal era, while its language is pure Urdu spoken in the corridors of the palaces of the Mughal emperors. 

The film is also very famous for its fabulous music. Some of its songs have become household favorites in their respective genres. Sada hun apnay pyar ki is a prime example, sung with great dexterity by Noor Jehan.

    → Music plays a large role in Pakistani films. To pick up some relevant vocabulary, check out our Music Vocab Builder!

2. امراؤ جان ادا (Umrao Jaan Ada)

Released in 1972, this movie is based on the magnum opus of famous Urdu novelist Mirza Hadi Ruswa. It’s another beautifully directed classic, starring famous Pakistani actor and actress pairing Shahid Kapoor and Rani Mukerji. The language of the movie covers the courtesan culture of Lucknow and reveals multiple aspects of the Urdu language to viewers. The iconic music director Nisar Bazmi beautifully composed its epoch-making music.

Umrao Jaan Ada is the story of a girl born to a noble but sold as a courtesan, eventually adapting herself to that culture. She falls in love with a Nawab, and after going through various ups and downs in life, ends up bringing her life toward normalcy.

3. ارمان (Armaan)

Armaan (“Desire” in English) was released in 1966 and became the first-ever ‘Platinum Jubilee’ picture of Pakistani Urdu cinema. Waheed Murad and Zeba are paired as the hero and heroine of the film, and its music is considered a true masterpiece. Although it was filmed in black and white, it still retains its popularity and relevance today. For example, Sohail Rana’s unforgettable compositions Koko koreena and Akelay na jana are still some of the most frequently played and listened to songs in Pakistan.

This is considered one of the top romantic Urdu movies, following the story of an unwed mother and a wealthy, irresponsible young man who fall in love. From beginning to end, the film is teeming with drama as well as playful antics—you’ll be in for a truly unique movie-watching experience!

Movie Types

4. آئینہ (Aina)

This Urdu love movie was released in 1977 and features Nadeem and Shabnam in leading roles. The film illustrates the romance culture of Pakistan with finesse and is well-known for its melodious score. Roothay ho tum tum ko kaisay manaon piya and Mujhay dil say na bhulana are two evergreen songs composed by Robin Gosh that have achieved cult status in Pakistan. In addition to its captivating plot and magnificent score, language learners can look forward to its rich use of Urdu vocabulary! 

Aina is a love story of a leisure-loving girl named Rita and a promising poor young man named Iqbal. The two fall in love, marry, face struggles, and are eventually separated via trickery from Rita’s father. In the end, they reunite along with their son Shahzeb. 

5. کوئل (Koyal)

This film was released in 1959 and is particularly famous for its classical music score, composed by the great Khwajah Khurshid Anwar. His renditions of classical raagas have immortalized the movie, while the lyrics promise to introduce a new vernacular to aspiring Urdu learners. Noor Jehan not only played the role of the heroine in the movie, but also lent her beautiful voice to the songs in the film. The song titled Mehaki fazayain gati hawain is worth mentioning here.

6. گھونگھٹ (Ghoonghat) 

This movie, released in 1997, played a vital role in the revival of the Urdu cinema as well as in the career of Pakistani film stalwart Shan Shahid. Directed by Syed Noor, the film gives viewers a glimpse into the complexities of Pakistani culture and society. It also brought actor Arbaz Khan into the limelight and buttressed the dwindling film industry of the time through its strong script and highly artistic performances. Last but not least, its score is fantastic. The song Dekha jo chehra tera is never out of vogue among music lovers!

Top Verbs

7. سنگم (Sangam) 

Another beautiful love story, Sangam stands out among romantic Urdu movies for its strong dialogue and rich musical score. The film attracted a large audience and won many accolades for its cast members: Syed Noor received the national award for Best Film Director, while Shan and Resham received national awards for Best Actor and Actress. This success was much deserved, considering how thirsty Pakistani audiences were for a quality film at the time and the impeccable performances throughout the movie. 

Sangam is the story of a patient suffering from strange diseases that prohibit him from breathing in the open air. His love for a pop-singer brings him back the hope to live, and his life and inclinations change dramatically.

8. خدا کے لئے (Khuda Kay Liye) 

Shoaib Mansoor is an Urdu film director with a knack for questioning social and political taboos. He has raised the issue of religious fundamentalism, in particular, with a great deal of authority. The language of his film Khuda Kay Liye is unique as it acquaints its audience with people belonging to multiple ethnicities and Urdu dialects. It was released in 2007 in Pakistan and 2008 in India.

The film was welcomed at different national and international forums due to its compact plot, artistically crafted script, and flawless acting. Naseer Uddin Shah—a veteran Indian actor—gave a cameo appearance in the film, and Fawad Khan made his first appearance on the big screen. Shan Shahid once again showed his class in the movie and received huge appreciation from film critics and audiences around the world. The film won the Silver Pyramid Award at the Cairo International Film Festival.

Khuda Kay Liye is the story of two brothers, Mansoor and Sarmad, who suffer different types of catastrophes due to their Muslim backgrounds. Mansoor falls victim to post-9/11 interrogations in America whereas Sarmad suffers from pangs of psychological sufferings due to his misunderstanding of Islamic beliefs. Mary, who is forcefully married to Sarmad, also pays heavily due to his father’s hypocritical tendencies; this leaves her with no options but to teach the children there.

9. بول (Bol) 

Bol is another sociocultural drama by Shoaib Mansoor, exposing certain dark angles of Pakistani society through the eyes of a woman and presenting feminist idealogies. The natural linguistic flavor enables viewers to have a closer look at the middle-class culture and the problems therein. Mansoor raises a voice for the rights of the transgender and female population in the patriarchal society of Pakistan.

Atif Aslam and Mahira Khan debuted their film careers through this movie. The public and critics alike appreciated their chemistry a lot. The film questioned burning topics related to religious bigotry, the right to motherhood, child planning, and the right to marriage in a commendable manner. The film won numerous national and international awards, the most notable of which are the London Asian Film Festival and Lux Style Award.

Bol depicts the agony of a family led by a religious fundamentalist named Hakim who bears six daughters and an intersex child. He murders his intersex child and agrees to marry the oldest daughter of Saqa, who runs a brothel house, in dire need of money. Hakim is finally killed by Zainab, who rescues the daughter of Meena (Meena being Saqa’s daughter). Zainab is sentenced to death, and her remaining sisters run a café in her name and raise Meena’s daughter with love. 

10. نامعلوم افراد (Na Maloom Afraad) 

We’ve included this Urdu movie because it paved the way toward a new era in the world of Pakistani cinema. Na Maloom Afraad (2014) is a comic thriller that, today, filmmakers study and follow in the footsteps of in order to achieve success on the big screen. Javed Sheikh—a very seasoned Pakistani film actor—played a vital role in the movie and also contributed a lot to make it a box office hit with his beautiful performance.

Much of the film takes place in Karachi, which will afford language learners the opportunity to hear this unique Urdu dialect in context. 

11. Conclusion

In this article, you learned about the best films to learn Urdu. Watching these movies, when done in conjunction with your normal Urdu studies, can help you achieve fluency faster and make you more aware of how the language is used in different situations. If you find yourself craving some additional Urdu-language content after watching these films, UrduPod101 has some great suggestions for you. Check out these blog posts for a few ideas:

Make sure to let us know in the comments which of these movies you’re most excited to watch, and why! 

If you enjoyed this article and would like to continue learning with us, make sure to create your free lifetime account on UrduPod101.com today. We are a rich repository of Urdu language learning resources that every learner can benefit from, such as an Urdu-English dictionary, free vocabulary lists, and an Urdu pronunciation guide

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