12 Small Bollywood Movies That Made Big Moolah At The Box Office

Posted On: 11 Apr 2022 | Last Updated : 11 Apr 2022 | Views : 13

The last few decades have been the reforming years in the world of Indian cinema. From movies supporting the LGBTQ society to educating viewers about the rarest of diseases, from talking about the most sensitive topics to enlightening the audience with everything going on in the world, we have seen everything. The aim of every filmmaker is to create a blockbuster movie that would earn a huge sum of money. However, to ensure the success of the movie, the movie is expected to have a huge budget, big banners and established film stars. Despite the long list of dos and don’ts for commercially successful movies, many times we have seen a small film in terms of budget, with no big banners and newcomers, to go on to become a big name and be appreciated by everyone. Today, we’re going to talk about 12 such small Bollywood movies that made big moolah at the box office.


1. Jai Santoshi Maa (1975) – (Budget: 25 Lakhs, Collection: 5 Crore)

The 1975 devotional mythological film Jai Santoshi Maa was one of its kind. Directed by Vijay Sharma, the film had a low budget with unknown lead actors. Despite this the movie went on to become one of the highest grossers of the year and shared the spotlight with films like Sholay and Deewaar. One of the first low budget films to create moolah at the box office, Jai Santoshi Maa surprised the critics and everyone in the industry. However, it made sense to Indian women who were moved by the concept of the film, where Santoshi Maa (Goddess of Satisfaction) was accessible through simple ritual and opened the way for all their wishes to come true. The film didn’t have the best sets or costumes and the scenes were raw and coarse, but the devotional songs, perfectly written dialogues and storyline was enough for the success of the film. The movie went on to become the perfect example for many and proved that even the small budget films could steal the limelight of the movies with big banners and names.

Jai Santoshi Maa (1975)
Jai Santoshi Maa (1975)
2. Aashiqui (1990) – (Budget: 30 Lakhs, Collection: 5 Crore)

Directed by Mahesh Bhatt, the 1990 musical romantic drama, Aashiqui, starring Anu Aggarwal and Rahul was the first ever film produced by T-Series Films. The film had a low budget with newcomers, but went on to become a turning point in the careers of many. It established the careers of music composers Nadeem-Shravan and singer Kumar Sanu, along with the music label T-Series, which was earlier dedicated to producing only devotional songs. Though the movie had a typical storyline, where the protagonists fall in love but face several hindrances before they finally unite in the climax. Not much was expected from the film, but upon release, the film received positive reviews, especially from the youth. Its soundtrack album emerged as the best-selling Bollywood album at the time of release, and the film was credited as an all-time blockbuster at the box office.

Aashiqui (1990)
Aashiqui (1990)
3. Murder (2004) – (Budget: 5 Crore, Collection: 15 Crore)

Based on the 2002 American film Unfaithful, the 2004 erotic thriller drama Murder was the first instalment in the Murder film series. The movie was about a lonely wife who starts an extra-marital affair with her former lover, and starts to neglect her duties towards her husband. One thing leads to another, and things take a turn when her lover goes missing and her husband becomes the prime suspect. The movie received mixed reviews from the critics, but was highly successful at the box office, and gained the title of ‘super-hit’. It became a huge turning point in the careers of the lead actors – Emraan Hashmi and Mallika Sherawat. Sherawat was seen in many bold scenes in the films, which helped her to establish herself as the sex symbol, and critics called her ‘the hero of the film’. Despite the low budget, unknown actors and no big banners, the movie became one of the top ten highest grossers of the year.

Murder (2004)
Murder (2004)
4. A Wednesday! (2008) – (Budget: 3 Crore, Collection: 12 Crore)

Neeraj Pandey’s 2008 thriller drama A Wednesday! was partially inspired by the 11th July 2006 Mumbai train bombings. Anupam Kher plays a retired police officer, who recounts one of his most memorable cases, in which a common man (Naseeruddin Shah) decides to take the law in his own hands and make the terrorists taste their own medicine. In many ways, it was a step forward from where Rang De Basanti (2006) left. Dealing with a very sensitive topic, where the movie gives the glimpse of frustration that is seated in the middle-class psyche or any innocent person who has become the victim of terrorism. The choice of caste and the script is what made this small-budget movie a big hit at the box office, and also the movie garnered the praises of both critics and audience.

A Wednesday! (2008)
A Wednesday! (2008)
5. Peepli Live (2010) – (Budget: 10 Crore, Collection: 30.41 Crore)

The satirical black comedy Peepli Live, directed and written by NDTV journalist Anusha Rizvi, explores the sensitive topic of famer suicides. The movie follows the story of a poor farmer named Natha (Omkar Das Manikpuri), who struggles to farm enough money for his family, and thus decides to commit suicide to claim farmer compensation for the betterment of his family. However, the news of his suicide grabs the attention of politicians and media, who reaches his village Peepli to capture this rare event. Being a journalist herself, Anusha Rizvi had the first-hand experience of covering such stories, thus knowing the reality and profundity of such a situation. The movie received positive reviews from the critics and took a good start and did fair business in its opening week. At the end of the third week, the film was declared a super-hit.

Peepli Live (2010)
Peepli Live (2010)
6. Tanu Weds Manu (2011) – (Budget: 17 Crore, Collection: 36.84 Crore)

Kangana Ranaut and R. Madhavan starrer 2011 romantic comedy drama Tanu Weds Manu, was the breakthrough in director Aanand L. Rai’s career. The movie follows the story of an NRI doctor, Manu, who visits India to find love and meets a fun-loving girl, Tanu. Though poles-apart, Manu falls in love with Tanu, however, she sees him as a friend and takes his help to execute her plan to elope with her lover. Things change when Tanu too falls in love with Manu and decides to marry him. Opened to mixed reviews from critics, Tanu Weds Manu was praised for its screenplay and unconventional character development. Despite getting a release during India’s world cup cricket campaign that year, the film did good business at the box office and maintained steady collection till the closing of the fourth week.

Tanu Weds Manu (2011)
Tanu Weds Manu (2011)
7. Vicky Donor (2012) – (Budget: 15 Crore, Collection: 35.50 Crore)

Shoojit Sircar’s 2012 romantic comedy drama Vicky Donor marked the debut of actors – Ayushmann Khurrana and Yami Gautam in Bollywood. One of its kind, Vicky Donor is the first movie to talk about the taboo concept of sperm donation and infertility, and how people are still too unsure and ignorant about it. The movie revolves around a young man named Vicky Arora, who decides to donate his sperm in order to earn extra money, which then creates a rift between him and his wife. The film was critically acclaimed and Shoojit Sircar was praised for being bold enough to make money on such a concept. The movie went on to garner positive response and receive several accolades. Despite its low budget, Vicky Donor was the breakthrough in the career of everyone associated with the movie.

Vicky Donor (2012)
Vicky Donor (2012)
8. Kahaani (2012) – (Budget: 8 Crore, Collection: 51.55 Crore)

Vidya Balan starrer 2012 thriller drama Kahaani, directed by Sujoy Ghosh, narrates the story of a pregnant woman named Vidya Bagchi, who travels to Kolkata during the Durga Puja festival in search of her missing husband, where she is helped by Assistant Sub-Inspector Satyoki Sinha (Parambrata Chatterjee) and Inspector General A. Khan (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). Sujoy Ghosh co-wrote the film with Advaita Kala, and because of the low budget of 8 crore, the crew followed guerrilla-filmmaking techniques on the streets of Kolkata. Exploring the themes of feminism in the male-dominated society, Kahaani received the praises of critics. Though a slow starter and opening to a poor response, Kahaani managed to gain the attention of people, as the occupancy went on to increase and within three weeks, the film was declared a super-hit and became one of the small budget movies that ruled the box-office.

Kahaani (2012)
Kahaani (2012)
9. Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 (2015) – (Budget: 22 Crore, Collection: 64.10 Crore)

Directed by Luv Ranjan, the 2015 romantic comedy drama Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 was the sequel to the 2011 film Pyaar Ka Punchnama. The multi-starrer movie follows the story of three bachelor roommates and friends, who fall in love with different girls at the same time. However, their relationships soon turn toxic and they realise that being in a relationship isn’t as easy as it seems. The perfectly timed humour used to define the struggles of three men was what made the movie a perfect rom-com. However, it also disappointed some critics for its over-the-top misogynistic nature and mean-spirit. Despite that, the audience enjoyed the light-hearted scenes of the movies, which helped it to do good business at the box office.

Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 (2015)
Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 (2015)
10. Hindi Medium (2017) – (Budget: 14 Crore, Collection: 69.59 Crore)

Saket Chaudhary’s 2017 comedy drama Hindi Medium starring Irrfan Khan and Saba Qamar in the lead roles, with Deepak Dobriyal in extended supporting role was an unexpected hit at the box office. The movie follows the story of a Delhi-based couple who struggle to get their daughter admitted to a prestigious English-medium school in order to be accepted in the society and rise high. The movie had a simple yet clever storyline, which was the main attraction for the audience. Along with a good storyline, Saba and Irrfan’s performances were particularly praised by both critics and audience. Upon release, Hindi Medium received a positive reception for the refreshing and brilliantly captured insightful parenting. The film emerged as a sleeper hit at box office, and became Irrfan Khan’s highest grossing film, surpassing the records of The Lunchbox (2013).

Hindi Medium (2017)
Hindi Medium (2017)
11. Stree (2018) – (Budget: 20 Crore, Collection: 130 Crore)

The 2018 horror comedy drama Stree, directed by Amar Kaushik and starring Rajkummar Rao and Shraddha Kapoor, was inspired by the Bengaluru legend of the 1980s known as ‘Nale Ba’. The movie is set in a historical town named Chanderi and the people residing there lived in a constant fear of Stree, the spirit of a woman who attacks the men of the town at night during the 4-day long festival season every year. However, this year a resident of the town named Vicky decides to solve the mystery of this woman, after one of his friends goes missing. With a collection of over 130 crore, against the budget of just 20 crore, Stree joined the club of ‘Low Budget Hindi Movies That Raked Moolah at Box Office’.

Stree (2018)
Stree (2018)
12. The Kashmir Files (2022) – (Budget: 15 Crore, Collection: 200 Crore)

If ever there would be a list of ‘Top 10 Low-budget Bollywood Films that Smashed Box-Office’, the 2022 historic thriller drama The Kashmir Files would always make its place on the list. Directed by Vivek Agnihotri and starring Anupam Kher, Mithun Chakraborty, Darshan Kumar and Pallavi Joshi in the pivotal roles, The Kashmir Files is based on the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits during Kashmir insurgency, and it portrays the genocide through a fictional storyline. The movie opened to mixed reviews from critics, but was highly praised for the compelling performances of the cast and the cinematography. Despite being a low budget film with no big names attached to it, The Kashmir Files didn’t take long to enter the 200-crore club as the collections kept on increasing.

The Kashmir Files (2022)
The Kashmir Files (2022)
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