Best Indian films and OTT shows in 2021: From Jai Bhim and The Great Indian Kitchen to Shershaah and Sardar Udham, this has been a groundbreaking year for the Indian entertainment industry.
The pandemic facilitated drastic changes in many fields. One among them is the film industry. Booking a favourite seat in theatres to watch a big-budget film turned into watching movies at home in our cosy couches.
Out of the many popular films and shows released on both Over The Top (OTT) platforms and theatres in 2021, here’s a list of 10 movies that were bold and stood out from the rest:
Helmed by T J Gnanavel, this film pierces into the heart of viewers with its hard-hitting portrayal of caste-divided India. The true-life story of Justice K Chandru (Suriya) and his fight to protect Dalit lives is the crust of the story. The top-notch performances of Suriya, Lijomol, Manikandan and every other actor makes it stupendous. This Tamil film has been rated top on IMDb, beating classics like The Shawshank Redemption and The Godfather.
The Great Indian Kitchen
Don’t misread the poster and assume this film is a regular love story. Written and directed by Jeo Baby, this Malayalam film is a slap on the face of patriarchy. Nimisha Sajayan and Suraj Venjaramoodu as lead actors perform brilliantly as a couple where the former is enchained in the four walls of the kitchen by the latter and his family. The film ends blazingly with on-point dialogues and a song.
The film is more like a tribute to the unsung hero of the Indian Independence struggle – Sardar Udham Singh (portrayed by Vicky Kaushal). What makes this drama different from other patriotic films is the avoidance of blunt dialogues which are supposed to evoke emotions. Instead, it revolves around the grief of a man who is shaken by a massacre. Directed by Shoojit Sircar, this Hindi film is based on true events.
Garuda Gamana Vrishabha Vahana
A Kannada film helmed by Raj B Shetty conveys a story with a mythological context. Shiva (Raj B. Shetty), Hari (Rishab Shetty) and Brammayya (Gopal Krishna Deshpande) are the three major characters who have mythological references. The holy trinity is imagined as flawed human beings, which is the best part of the film and makes the plot realistic.
This biographical Hindi film directed by Vishnuvardhan is based on the life of Kargil war hero Vikram Batra. Vikram Batra (played by Sidharth Malhotra) and his comrade Bansi (Anil Charanjeett) take the viewers on an emotional rollercoaster. It shows a war scene, similar to other films in the same genre, but leaves a grave impact on its viewers.
Part of the Hindi anthology Ajeeb Daastaans on Netflix, Geeli Pucchi is helmed by Neeraj Ghaywan. It is the story of two equally talented and educated women from different backgrounds who eventually realise their feelings for each other. But the film doesn’t end like any other lesbian love story. The plot twist clubbed with the subtle but magnificent performance of Konkona Sensharma and Aditi Rao Hydari makes for one powerful short film.
Bhuvan Bam’s television series conveys the story of a common man and his fears about life. Shot in the lanes of Mumbai and Delhi, the show is full of impactful moments. Every emotion of an ordinary man is portrayed skillfully by Bhuvan and his co-actors. The extra-realistic and heartwarming season ends on a nail-biting cliffhanger.
Inspired by the Shakespearean play Macbeth, Joji directed by Dileesh Pothan is a well-made crime drama. This Malayalam movie is not full of surprises but is a bundle of amazing performances and a splendid storyline. Joji (Fahadh Faasil), Bincy (Unnimaya Prasad) and Jomon (Baburaj) are some of the many talents appearing on-screen. The minute actions and influential dialogues of the characters stay with viewers long after.
The Family Man (Season 2)
This Hindi spy thriller by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D K is a top-rated television series with a star cast of Manoj Bajpayee, Samantha Ruth Prabhu, Priyamani, Neeraj Madhav, among others. The much-awaited Season 2 with 16 episodes is a chase of a ‘family man’ to stop a rebel plan — a big threat to national security.
This is a delightful hand-painted animation film by award-winning animator Gitanjali Rao. It contains three love stories, fantasy and politics. This 90-minute film talks about issues that discriminate against marginalised communities in Indian society. Set in the background of Mumbai, the film is a beautiful watch that invokes nostalgia in its audience.
A Hindi-Punjabi thriller television series, Tabbar, is the journey of a former police officer who defies all odds to save his family from the consequences of an unfortunate incident. Directed by Ajitpal Singh, the series mostly depicts the intensity of relationships between family members. Plot twists and performances of actors are the major points of attraction in this series.
Written and directed by Renuka Shahane, this is a trilingual family drama film starring Kajol, Tanvi Azmi and Mithila Palkar as central characters. The story revolves around these three women, their struggles and aspirations. Three generations of women trying to be their best version of mothers and daughters but failing miserably is the crux of the story. The film tries to convey that there is no perfect way to be a mother.
This is a Hindi action-adventure film directed by Amit V Masurkar with Vidya Balan playing the role of a forest officer. It tries to address the unanswered question of why animals attack humans and why tribal groups enter dangerous jungles despite knowing its risks. Forest politics and the effort of forest officers are deeply discussed in the film. And Vidya Balan’s terrific performance is icing on the cake.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)