Nikhil Mahajan


Voted for

The Godfather Part II1974Francis Ford Coppola
Zodiac2007David Fincher
In the Mood for Love2000Wong Kar Wai
Taxi Driver1976Martin Scorsese
Oldboy2003Park Chan-wook
Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood2019Quentin Tarantino
Pather Panchali1955Satyajit Ray
Psycho1960Alfred Hitchcock
Seven Samurai1954Akira Kurosawa
1963Federico Fellini


The Godfather Part II

1974 USA

Undoubtedly the greatest motion picture ever made. It is faultless, technically top notch and such intense, soaring drama at its violent core. I don’t think there will ever be another film like The Godfather: Part II


2007 USA

Over the last decade or so, I’ve seen myself go back over and over again to this modern-day masterpiece by Fincher. It is in my opinion his finest film. While it is a police procedural and an investigative drama, the tension that Fincher creates by employing all the tools of filmmaking is astounding. The film creeps under your skin and makes you really gasp and I think that it has aged so remarkably well that it deserves to be seen more, talked about more, and appreciated more.

In the Mood for Love

2000 Hong Kong, France

The way Wong Kar Wai uses the elements of film noir, right from the deep reds and yellows to the shots of cigarette smoke billowing up in the air in order to tell a story of unrequited love is fascinating. After all the protagonists are, in their own way, trying to solve a mystery. It also brings to the fore the beauty of lonely people living in crowded cities, where there is as much space to live as there is for secrets. Wong Kar Wai employs the camera with such lushness that it becomes impossible to look away. The songs are spectacular and the performances nuanced, underlined, and just too perfect. It is in many ways the perfect film.

Taxi Driver

1976 USA

The finale of the film is so heartbreakingly violent and Scorsese manages to paint aloneness in such a dark shade of red that it is impossible to not sit there thinking about the time when we all felt so alone, so empty, so helpless. The aloneness of Travis Bickle is representative of all that we have all felt at many times in our lives. The inability to find connection can lead to journeys that are dark and destructive. This thought feeds this film and this film, in turn, feeds our collective conscience. It is, in my honest opinion, Scorsese's best picture.


2003 Republic of Korea

A genre-bending, game-changing cinematic masterpiece, Oldboy is important because it opened up the world to the possibilities of storytelling. The flourishes that Park Chan Wook employs to tell this story of revenge and forbidden love are so compelling and so accurate that they make us think about all that human beings and cinema are capable of - and all this while being so wildly entertaining.

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

2019 USA, United Kingdom, People's Republic of China

Tarantino's violent love letter to LA is a stunning cinematic achievement. The camerawork, the production design, the costume, the music, everything works in perfect synchronization to achieve a period piece that is so accurate, so compelling that you feel like you're breathing the same air as the film's protagonists. The cultural nuances are so wonderfully accurate and the violence is absolutely delicious. In my opinion, this is Tarantino's best film and for a filmmaker with such an epic filmography, that says a lot.

Pather Panchali

1955 India

Pather Panchali is an extraordinary, extraordinary, extraordinary cinematic achievement. A film unlike any other, with Ray at the absolute top of his game.


1960 USA

Arguably the greatest horror film ever made, Psycho's beauty lies in the fact that it takes you to unexpected places not just in the story but also within your mind. As we watch Psycho unfold, we are left gasping for air as Hitchcock slaps on layer on layer of sheer horror, an assault on all senses, just loud enough to render you motionless but never numb. The beauty of this film lies in the filmmaker's sheer conviction in his craft.

Seven Samurai

1954 Japan

Kurosawa's Seven Samurai is not just his personal best but also the greatest action picture ever made. It is incredible how the film manages to hold you by your throat even today and makes you sit up with your mouth agape, wondering with all your might about how incredibly difficult it must have been to make this miracle come to life.

1963 Italy, France

Fellini's masterpiece oscillates between what is real and what is not with such frenzy that we are compelled to watch the protagonist's world as he experiences it. The humour is sharp and unexpected, the dialogue is peppered with incredible wisdom and worldliness, and all this while being completely aware of what it is trying to say and trying to do. The camerawork and the editing on this picture are top notch, with everything blending beautifully to bring this tale of self-deprecation to complete fruition.

Further remarks

I have to mention the fact that I was so torn between choosing Apocalypse Now and Zodiac. I wish there was space for me to include a few more films. It’s always tough to do this but I feel that my list is a true representation of my choices as a viewer. These are films that have shaped me as a filmmaker and I’m heavily influenced by a lot of these works.