In my state of Illinois in the US, we have been sheltering in place since March 21st due to the Covid-19 virus. All theaters are closed, and many movie releases postponed by weeks or months. Now is the perfect time to catch up on all the great movies you missed in theatres on streaming. I see many pleas on social media for recommendations of something good to watch. I've got you covered.
Netflix and Amazon Prime are providing English language subtitles for their Indian film content which makes it easy to enjoy films of all different regional cinemas.
Super Deluxe (Tamil) –
This film absolutely blew my mind when I saw it in theatres. I am a huge fan of Vijay Sethupathi, and this is one of his very best performances as the trans woman Shilpa. Director Thiagarajan Kumararaja has woven together several stories (written by other top notch directors), with some of the finest actors in Indian cinema, including Fahadh Faasil, Samantha Akkineni, Ramya Krishnan, and Mysskin. The ending that ties the stories together will leave your jaw on the floor. Also note the colour palette in the film – everything is red or turquoise. Super Deluxe was my favorite film of all Indian Cinema for 2019. (Netflix)
Helen (Malayalam) – We all feel trapped in our homes, but this is a survival movie starring the wonderful Anna Ben, about a fast food worker who gets caught in the freezer. Anna Ben gives a wonderful performance, and Lal is also excellent as her father. This debut film by director Mathukutty Xavier, is not only a gripping survival thriller, but shows how the misogyny of all the men around Helen delays her being found. Aju Varghese makes an impact playing that cop you hate, who won't bother to look for Helen. (Amazon)
The Sky Is Pink (Hindi) – This film flopped, but I caught up with it on streaming, and you should, too. The subject of a dying teen (Zaira Wasim), based on the real life Aisha Chaudhary put people off, but the film has so much humour and a wonderful message of living life to the fullest. The movie is really more about the marriage of Aisha's parents, played by Priyanka Chopra and Farhan Akhtar. I loved their chemistry in Dil Dhadakne Do and they are just wonderful playing off each other in this film. Yes, I cried, but I also laughed a lot. It's a heartwarming film by director Shonali Bose. I think the death of her own son gave her the sensitivity to share the story of this family and shouldn't be missed. (Netflix)
Jersey (Telugu) – When I went to see Jersey in the theatre, I thought it was just another sports cricket film. I didn't realize the film would have a deep impact on me. My father had just passed away, and this movie, and Nani's incredible performance, had me sobbing. Nani is an unemployed former cricketer, and his marriage with Shraddha Srinanth is strained. All he wants is to be a hero to his little boy. Yes, there's cricket, but there's so much more to this family drama. (Zee 5)
Peranbu (Tamil) – Mammootty had an incredible 2019, and I admire his film choices last year. This one was the best, just an amazing performance as the father of a teen daughter with severe cerebral palsy. Mammootty's character returns after living in the Gulf, and has to find a way to care for and connect with his disabled daughter. The film's script went to places I never would have expected. The trans actress Anjali has an important supporting role in this incredibly moving film. (Amazon)
Kumbalangi Nights (Malayalam) – This is just a gem of a film. Four brothers share a ramshackle house on the wrong side of this tourist town, and fight and squabble. (Much like my family stuck quarantined in our house!) Fahadh Faasil, one of finest actors in Malayalam cinema, is not the star of the film, but an important supporting character that just seems a bit off. He is a new husband, and his sister-in-law (Anna Ben, in her debut) is dating Bobby (Shane Nigam). Soubin Shahir gives one of his best performances. He is hilarious and heart rending as Bobby's older brother. The film is about found families, and families that seem perfect from the outside having hidden dysfunction. I absolutely adored this debut film by director Madhu C. Narayanan.(Amazon)
Connect with Melanie Greenberg on Twitter @PardesiYT or her Youtube Channel Pardesi Reviews.