Films on Amazon Prime
Bigil is a typical Tamil ‘mass’ film, a solid star vehicle for Vijay. A hero-centric story about how Michael (Vijay) motivates the Tamil Nadu women’s football team to win the National Championship. It is also a story about the grit of his team members who fight great odds to do what they love doing — play football.
Viswasam is about how Thookudurai (Ajith) patches up with his wife Niranjana (Nayanthara) after they go their separate ways. The emotional crux of the film, though, is his relationship with his daughter Swetha (Anikha). Within this generic ‘mass’ arc is a well-written film with solid emotional beats. Typically, our makers depict village-based characters as defending traditional gender roles. That way, Thookudurai is a refreshing change.
Based on the Tamil novel Vekkai by Poomani, Asuran too has some of the meditative aspects of a novel, yet it is also a rousing revenge saga with masala beats built into it. For instance, Sivasamy’s (Dhanush) transformation at the interval harks back to films such as Baasha, and the writing makes it feel just a bit different.
Director: Arun Prabhu
Aruvi might be called a socio-political drama, but categorisation might not do the film or its protagonist Aruvi (a superb Aditi Balan) justice. A girl who grows up in a pristine environment feels suffocated by the mindlessness and cruelty of modern society. Instead of accepting it, she decides to take things into her own hands and fight back through a reality TV talk show.
Mysskin pays tribute to Conan Doyle by fashioning a quirkier, snappier version of Sherlock Holmes in Thupparivaalan. Vishal as the protagonist Kaniyan Poongundran is constantly interesting. But often, it is Prasanna’s Watson-like sidekick Manohar who steals the show.
Director: Mari Selvaraj
A lower-caste youth from a small village, Pariyan (Kathir), finds himself out of place in a big-town Government Law College. A poignant and realistic portrayal of persistent caste discrimination at every level, and there’s an angelic love story woven in too.
Director: Rathna Kumar
Films on Netflix
Visaranai is a hyper-realistic depiction of police brutality, based on the novel Lock Up by ‘Auto’ Chandran. The violence in the film is horrifying at times, but you have to admire the fact that it doesn’t give the audience a cleanly packaged ‘message’. Perhaps, Vetrimaaran’s best film.
Director: Ashwin Saravanan
How you interpret the genre-defying thriller Game Over is up to you. Written by the director and Kaavya Ramkumar, and starring Taapsee Pannu, it is everything from a psychodrama inspired by video games to a female-empowerment tale.
Oththa Seruppu Size 7
Director: R Parthiepan
What if the first character you see in a film is also the only one you’ll ever see in it? R Parthiepan pushes the limits of conventional storytelling with his one-man act in Oththa Seruppu Size 7 that is always entertaining, even when it’s sometimes contrived.
Director: Halitha Shameem
With a large cast of talented actors, including Sunaina, Samuthirakani, Nivedhithaa Satish, and Manikandan, Sillu Karupatti is an anthology of four stories about people connecting with each other; specifically, it is about how these connections begin in surprising and heart-warming ways.
Director: Thiagarajan Kumararaja
How does one describe Super Deluxe, a brilliant film that isn’t satisfied rehashing old ideas, and is constantly reaching out to newer ones? Like good literature, the film resists paraphrasing. The easiest way to talk about Super Deluxe is to just recommend it to your friends. At least, watch it just for Vijay Sethupathi’s Shilpa.
Irandam Ulagaporin Kadaisi Gundu
Director: Athiyan Athirai
Produced by Pa Ranjith, Gundu is an existentialist meditation on the working-class person. ‘Attakathi’ Dinesh plays a lorry driver working in a scrapyard who accidentally picks up an abandoned WW2 bomb.
Sarvam Thaala Mayam
Director: Rajiv Menon
A feel-good story of a Dalit musician who dreams big and strives to break the shackles of caste and class oppression, GV Prakash-starrer Sarvam Thaala Mayam is a great watch for its optimism and music by AR Rahman.
Merku Thodarchi Malai
Director: Lenin Bharati
Merku Thodarchi Malai is a poignant portrayal of life in the Western Ghats. It talks about the impact of globalisation in one of the most remote parts of the country. The film isn’t overtly judgmental, and lets viewers derive their own conclusion.
Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithal
Director: Desingh Periyasamy
Kannum Kannum is a romcom grafted on to a thriller. It has great performances by Dulquer Salmaan and Ritu Varma. Because the film stays clear of morally judging its characters, it is always fun and engaging.
Rajkiran plays sexagenarian Power Paandi, in the rather unusual Pa Paandi that gives a ‘mass’ twist to an uncommon lead character — a retired stunt choreographer with a reputation. The film talks both about how he reconnects with his past, and how his son reconnects with him in the present.
Films on Disney+Hotstar
Theeran Adhigaaram Ondru
Director: H Vinoth
Starring Karthi and Rakul Preet Singh, Theeran is an intricately-researched and gritty thriller based on real-life stories about a series of dacoity-murder cases. H Vinoth often makes the proceedings starkly realistic (especially, for a mainstream cop film), while keeping it engaging. The great background score by Ghibran is a huge reason why the film works.
Probably nothing short of an epic, Vada Chennai features Dhanush in supreme form. It’s hard to reduce the film to a brief, and not just because it features a whole gamut of characters. The film weaves a world with tales of moral and amoral gangsters, carrom matches, daily life in prison, and women who wield more power than you can imagine.
Director: Lokesh Kanagaraj
Director: AG Amid
Rajathandhiram is a gem among heist thrillers. It has unassuming and effective performances by a cast including Veera Bahu and Regina Cassandra, among other newcomers. Things get delightfully messy as the heist goes awry. Even when the going gets serious, the film still manages to keep things light with its subtle comedy.
Films on Zee5
Vikram Vedha film deals with the big moral question: What is Dharma? It turns this deep philosophical question into a riveting conflict between Vikram (Madhavan) and Vedha (Vijay Sethupathi), a delicious throwback (with a twist) on the mythological Vikram-Vetaal story.
Director: Nalan Kumarasamy
The big daddy of amoral comedies, Soodhu Kavvum showed both audiences and filmmakers the clichés they were trapped in. Vijay Sethupathi plays an eccentric, middle-aged low-level kidnapper with an imaginary girlfriend. Santhosh Narayanan’s instantly catchy score is hard to categorise. The film is delightful chaos.
Films on SunNXT
Director: Ram Kumar
Vishnu Vishal-starrer Ratsasan is a serial killer film with a super-eerie antagonist. Little can be said without giving some of the suspense away, but watch the film at least for the bone-chilling background score by Ghibran.
Sivappu Manjal Pachai
With top-of-the-line performances by Siddharth, GV Prakash, and Lijomol Jose, Sivappu Manjal Pachai is an action thriller that talks about the conflict between a traffic cop and a rowdy biker, who end up being family thanks to a wedding. It’s also about the conflict between love for one’s sibling and husband.