Anurag Basu’s next Ludo, releasing on Netflix India this week, follows four intersecting madcap stories tied together by unlikely circumstances.
Much like the director’s Life In A… Metro (2007), Ludo is also a multi narrative film (also known as a hyperlink film) – those with several interlocking stories. And who doesn’t love a film featuring a bunch of characters running around trying to figure out their lives amidst overwhelming obstacles?
These films feature multiple characters and plots that come together to create a larger world of frustration, miscommunication, comedy and crime. Not to mention they often tend to assemble some of the most exciting casts with more great actors in a single film that you can process. So, from diamond heists and war epics to intersecting love lives and stories of survival and swag, here’s a list of some of the most memorable multi narrative movies.
Shor In The City
Streaming On: Netflix
Filmmaking duo Raj & DK’s ability to weave together multiple stories never fails to impress. Nowhere did that feel as raw and distinct as it did in Shor In The City. The film follows three interconnected stories in the maximum city – an honest NRI businessman is forced to deal with local thugs, a minor criminal attempts to be better and an aspiring cricketer grapples with a life-changing choice. Widely considered the directors’ best film, Shor In The City is surprising, disturbing and funny all at once.
Streaming On: Netflix
Thiagarajan Kumararaja’s delectable hotchpotch of dark comedy, drama and sheer unpredictability offers a unique cinematic experience. A transwoman attempts to reconcile with her estranged family. A husband comes home to find his wife having an affair with a man who’s suddenly died in their bed. Elsewhere, a boy watches a porn video with his friends only to discover that the lead star is his own mother. Featuring some of the finest actors in Indian cinema, including Fahadh Faasil, Vijay Sethupathi, Ramya Krishnan, and Mysskin, Super Deluxe somehow manages to be both epic and intimate. Throw in what is objectively one of the most adorable and memorable child characters in Rasukutty, and what more could you really want?
The crowd-pleasing, feel-great ensemble drama from Richard Curtis follows various love stories between a slew of Londoners. With an insane cast including Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Keira Knightley and Alan Rickman, Love Actually remains the gold standard of interconnecting love stories, which has since become its own genre. A film for the times, it’s feel-good cinema at its best with stories of heart, hope and connection that remind us that, even in the darkest of times, love actually is… all around.
Streaming On: Disney+ Hotstar
Delhi Belly writer Akshat Verma made his directorial debut with this deliriously entertaining dark comedy following a set of interlocking stories that come together in the most unlikely way. An unremarkable teetotaller (a whacked out Saif Ali Khan at his best) learns he’s suffering from stomach cancer and decides to break bad and live what life he stills has by going on a hilarious bender of drugs and alcohol. Two hitmen (Deepak Dobriyal and Vijay Raaz) mess up a misguided plan to extract money from their own boss. A couple’s (Kunal Roy Kapur and Sobhita Dhulipala) trip to the airport takes an unlikely turn involving a hit and run. While Kaalakandi didn’t quite pack the same punch as Delhi Belly, it was a film which aspired to more than outlandish laughs. It was distinct, refreshing and imaginative and is a firm response to anyone who complains that mainstream Hindi cinema isn’t edgy enough.
Mumbai Meri Jaan
Streaming On: Netflix
A multi-narrative snapshot of the city centered on the 2006 train bombings, Nishikanth Kamath’s Mumbai Meri Jaan followed the lives of people in the week after the attack that tore through the lifeline of the metropolis. The film examined the impact of the tragedy through following a series of different perspectives. The Islamophobe (Kay Kay Menon), the traumatized everyman (R. Madhavan), the immigrant (Irrfan Khan), the veteran cop (Paresh Rawal), the bereaved TV journalist (Soha Ali Khan) and their experiences of a horrific week. Through their stories Mumbai Meri Jaan reflected on everything the maximum city means for those who call it home.
Streaming On: Amazon Prime Video
Christopher Nolan’s celebrated World War 2 epic followed multiple perspectives of soldiers and civilians and their individual missions to evacuate the shores of Dunkirk. Among the film’s many achievements is having you hooked on each narrative thread equally, with no clear ‘winners’ or ‘losers’, with each arc painting a different part of the larger picture of the historic evacuation. Adding to that the tension-building chronology, splitting the film into three distinct timelines which all ultimately come together together in breath-taking fashion.
The movie that catapulted Quentin Tarantino into the mainstream, Pulp Fiction played with the idea of an anthology meets multi-narrative film like none before it. Told through a series of non-linear episodes, the film followed the lives of two hitmen, a boxer, a gangster’s wife, and a pair of diner bandits. While countless films have tried to recreate Tarantino’s distinct style since, few have managed to live up to its clutter-breaking achievement.
Guy Ritchie’s gloriously entertaining follow-up to Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels is arguably his best work. This in many ways the same film done better. It centers on a diamond heist and the multiple intersecting players vying to get their hands on it. With an eclectic cast including, Benicio del Toro, Vinnie Jones, Jason Statham, and Brad Pitt, Snatch is frequently violent and constantly hilarious. Watch out for how its multiple strands come together for an explosive finale.
He’s Just Not That Into You, Cloud Atlas. Crash, Syriana, Babel, Contagion, Burn After Reading