There’s always an excuse for not giving a good film a chance. We heard about it from a film festival it went to but it never released in theatres. Or it came to a theatre but it had a limited release so it was hard to find a show. Sometimes, there just isn’t enough marketing buzz around a film so it slips under the radar. Many great stories from India have eluded us for these reasons. But now you don’t have an excuse to not watch them. Thanks to the lockdown, time is not a constraint. Also, they’re all available on streaming platforms. So it’s a great time to give these gems a chance.
Based on a true story, Manusangada narrates the fight of a young Dalit man named Kolappan against deep-rooted casteism. After the death of his father, Kolappan struggles for his rightful burial. Not one to bow down to the so-called upper strata of the society, the movie follows his fight for his rights. The film was screened at the 19th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, Cairo International Film Festival and the International Film Festival of India.
Kaaka Muttai (Hotstar)
One of the most celebrated children’s’ films in recent times, Kaaka Muttai is about two young brothers from the slums of Chennai who save up money to relish their first-ever slice of pizza. Director M. Manikandan went on to win the National Film Award for Best Children’s Film, while J Vignesh and V Ramesh who play the brothers, won both National and State awards for Best Child Artist.
Photograph (Amazon Prime Video)
A struggling street photographer in Mumbai convinces a shy stranger to pose as his fiancee in front of his grandmother. Their unlikely friendship changes them in more ways than they expect. Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Sanya Malhotra effortlessly play the leads, set in a world where silences are comfortable and words are few. Director Ritesh Batra brings his distinct restrained treatment and knack for exploring isolation like few before him.
Part documentary, part fiction, Buddha.MOV follows the life of testosterone-driven cricketer Buddhadev Mangaldas. Directed by Kabir Mehta, who also happens to be a relative of the 27-year-old protagonist, the film hypnotically blends fact and fiction in its exploration of voyeurism and self-obsession.
Dheepan follows a Tamil soldier (Antonythasan Jesuthasan) and two refugees (Kalieaswari Srinivasan and Claudine Vinasithamby) who flee Sri Lanka and arrive in Paris in the hopes of rebuilding a new life. Helmed by French director Jacques Audiard, the film won the prestigious Palme d’Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.
Asha Jaoar Majhe (Amazon Prime Video)
Asha Jaoar Majhe (Labour Of Love) is one of those rare films which is devoid of dialogue and yet brimming with heart. The film follows the daily struggles of an unnamed married couple working in Kolkata and comes from celebrated director Aditya Vikram Sengupta, starring Ritwick Chakraborty and Basabdatta Chatterjee.
A documentary which takes on the issue of student-suicides the film follows the lives of four students at AIIMS, Delhi. The bold film attempts to explore and understand the psychopathology of a student who is driven to suicide owing to the pressure imposed on him through sky-high expectations. Director Abhay Kumar received the Special Jury Prize for Best Film at EBS International Documentary Festival 2015 and was nominated in the Best Documentary Feature category at Brooklyn Film Festival.
Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (Netflix)
Directed by Vasan Bala and starring Abhimanyu Dassani, Radhika Madan and Gulshan Devaiah, MKDNH is an action-comedy with dollops of nostalgia. Surya (Abhimanyu Dassani) has a rare medical disorder which makes him insensitive to pain. Throw in an unusual upbringing with his disciplined father and mischievous grandfather who encourages him to pursue martial arts by watching VHS videos. A chance encounter reunites Surya with his childhood bestie Supri (Radhika Madan) and together the duo try to bring down their martial arts idol’s evil twin Jimmy (Gulshan Devaiah) in a zany, and wildly original action-comedy.
One of 2019’s most acclaimed films, Abhishek Chaubey’s Sonchiriya is the tale of Chambal’s dreaded dacoits and their dying way of life. The film has a formidable ensemble cast which includes Manoj Bajpayee, Ranvir Shorey, Bhumi Pednekar and Sushant Singh Rajput.
In a politically-motivated bid to close a high profile robbery case, policemen in Andhra Pradesh torture four innocent Tamil daily wage earners to confess to a theft they haven’t committed. The National Award-winning crime thriller directed by Vetrimaaran explores police brutality like few before it and was also India’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards.
Aamis (Movie Saints)
A married doctor Nirmali, and Sumon, a student researching food habits in North-East India, develop an unlikely bond. They express their feelings through their shared love for meat. When Sumon realises that there is no way for him to pursue his physical desires for Nirmali, they travel down a bizarre route to express their love. Aamis had its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival and won Best Director at the Singapore South Asian International Film Festival.
Thithi, which won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Kannada, is the story of how three generations of a family react to the death of their grandfather, the 101-year-old Century Gowda. The comedy unfurls over the 11 days that lead up to the final funeral celebration (Thithi). Filmmaker Raam Reddy won the prestigious Golden Leopard Award at 68th Locarno International Film Festival for this, his debut feature.
Director Avinash Arun’s Marathi film Killa revolves around the life of 11-year-old Chinmay who has to shift to a village with his mother after his father passes away. The film explores how the young boy who’s yet to come to terms with his father’s death, struggles with his new surroundings while his single mother faces challenges at work.
Set in early 1990s Malaysia, Jagat takes us through the life of a mischievous 12-year-old boy, Appoy and his fascination for the world of drugs and gangsters while his father struggles to keep him on the right path. Director Shanjhey Kumar Perumal described this film as semi-autobiographical.
C/O Kancharapalem (Netflix)
The Telugu film which won the Best Film Award at the Critics’ Choice Festival of Indian films follows four unconventional love stories set in the village of Kancharapalem. From a school boy’s first love to a middle-aged man’s office romance, the heartfelt romantic drama comes from debutant director Venkatesh Maha and is sure to chase away your quarantine blues.