Despite the dominance of masala movies at the box office, Indian cinema has seen a continued proliferation of inventive and offbeat movies cropping up across every language. Of the 35 movies I’d watched across 5 Indian languages, this is my list of Top 10 movies.
Honorable Mentions: Brochevarevarura, Android Kunjappan 5.25, Otha Seruppu Size 7, Nerkonda Parvai, To Let, Lucifer, Petta, Kalavu, Game Over, Helen
The Vetri Maaran-Dhanush combo that topped the rankings last year with Vada Chennai strikes gold yet again with Asuran. I was blown away by the dizzying pre-interval block scene when Dhanush transforms from the quiet Sivasamy to an asuran, complemented brilliantly by GV Prakash’s rousing background score.
Kavaludari, the lone entry from Kannada cinema, is a brilliant crime investigative thriller spanning decades that steers clear of most of the trappings of commercial cinema.
Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu recreate the magic of Pink in Badla, an edge-of-the-seat revenge drama that keeps you hooked throughout the movie.
Chichore is a nostalgic fun ride of our college/hostel lives replete with a relevant message that ‘failure doesn’t define you’.
6. Uri: The Surgical Strike
Uri: The Surgical Strike is a fitting tribute to the Indian Army that pushes all the right buttons to stir your patriotic fervor and open your tear ducts.
Promising director Logesh Kanagaraj delivers one of the best action movies of the decade with Karthi literally going all-guns-blazing.
4. Super Deluxe
Super Deluxe is an anthology of seemingly random, but interwoven stories, featuring a stellar ensemble cast. The movie brilliantly explores existentialism, the idea that our lives are nothing but a series of random events. It’s a difficult idea to eschew, even as your mind connects the many dots and patterns in the movie. I cannot remember the last time, if ever there was one, when an Indian movie raised so many existential questions about the very meaning of life.
Virus is a devastatingly beautiful and meticulous reconstruction of the Nipah Virus outbreak in Kerala, which demonstrates yet again why Mollywood transcends Indian cinema when it comes to making authentic movies.
2. Kumbalangi Nights
Kumbalangi Nights is a beautiful exploration of the lives of a motley bunch of outcasts, who eventually find their place in life through love and togetherness. At a time when we are building walls (metaphoric and otherwise) around us, the movie serves as a reminder that there is always room for accommodating kindness and compassion.
1. Agent Sai Srinivas Athreya
It might be one of the biggest surprises in the list, but Agent Sai Srinivasa Athreya is the closest to an Indian Sherlock Holmes and arguably, the most enjoyable movie experience of the year! The movie’s opening arc is a delightful laughter riot as the eponymous Agent fashions himself after Sherlock Holmes, complete with a trench coat, a hat, and a Starbucks cup. After the fun caper of an opening half, the movie breaks into a headlong sprint in the second half as Agent uses his unorthodox sleuthing methods to solve a multi-layered maze of misleading clues, dead bodies, religious beliefs, and elaborate conspiracies.
Did Not Watch (Notable Only): Gully Boy, Article 15, Mothoon, Unda, Uyare, Thanneer Mathan Dinangal, Peranbu
Movies Watched (All Languages):
- English (24): Alita: Battle Angel, Captain Marvel, Shazam!, Avengers: Endgame, John Wick 3, Aladdin, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Toy Story 4, Spiderman: Far From Home, Lion King, The Great Hack, Batman: Hush, Brexit, Ready or Not, Joker, El Camino, Football Manager: An Alternate Reality, Ford vs Ferrari, Frozen 2, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, The Irishman, Knives Out, The Lego Movie: The Second Part, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
- Tamil (18): Petta, Viswasam, Kalavu, LKG, Thadam, Super Deluxe, To Let, NGK, Kadaram Kondan, Jiivi, Nerkonda Parvai, Magamuni, Kaapan, Asuran, Sigappu Manjal Pachai, Otha Seruppu Size 7, Kaithi, Bigil
- Telugu (7): Game Over, Jersey, Agent Sai Srinivas Athreya, Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy, Saaho, Nani’s Gang Leader, Brochevarevarura
- Malayalam (5): Lucifer, Virus, Kumbalangi Nights, Android Kunjappan 5.25, Helen
- Hindi (4): Badla, Uri: The Surgical Strike, Chichore, War
- Kannada (1): Kavaludaari
- Korean (1): Parasite