Though the Hindi Film Industry is constantly attacked for producing films with outdated stories, there are filmmakers who have pushed the boundaries and presented original concepts, only to fail at the Box Office. Films like these:
A finely crafted mythological-horror, Tumbbad explored a horror story that was unlike anything Hindi cinema had seen in recent years. With expert performances and breathtaking cinematography, Tumbbad--that explored the story of a demon God's curse--is one of Bollywood's must-watch films.
In a patriarchal society, women have to fight for a seat at the table - especially in fields largely dominated by men. Netflix's Soni expertly portrayed the struggle female cops face and its nuanced exploration of gender politics won it the Oxfam Award for 'Gender Equality' category at the 2018 MAMI Film Festival.
Starring Rasika Dugal, Vikas Kumar, and Talha Arshad Reshi in lead roles, Hamid went on to win the National Film Award for Best Child Artist and Best Feature Film in Urdu. A hard-hitting yet hopeful look at how compassion works in the midst of a conflict-torn state, Hamid offers a layered glimpse into the daily lives of Kashmiris.
Ritesh Batra, best known for his debut film The Lunchbox, delivered a poignant tale of love's slow burn in Photograph. Starring Nawazuddin and Sanya Malhotra in lead roles, this is a film that deserves to be appreciated as much for its evocative storytelling, as for its phenomenal performances.
5. Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota
An action-comedy Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota was a rare treat for fans of comic books, Bruce Lee, and wacky comedies. Devoid of flying cars and indestructible heroes, despite giving us a protagonist who could literally not feel pain, this film was far cry from what passes for action movies in Hindi cinema.
Technically Moothon falls under the category of an action thriller. But Geetu Mohandas served a love story so tender, beautiful, and heartbreaking in the film, that apart from the hauntingly beautiful music, that's my biggest takeaway from it. Ultimately, Moothon is an action thriller that explores the human tendency to form relations, even when trapped in the lowest echelons of society.
7. Judgementall Hai Kya
As far as black comedies and thrillers are concerned, Judgementall Hai Kya hits the brief spot on. A psychological thriller that expertly uses the motifs it presents, Judgementall Hai Kya should be on your watchlist, if for no other reason than to see one of Rao's finest performances - which, considering his filmography, is saying something.
After premiering at the 2017 TIFF, Mukkabaaz released in India in 2018 to theatres that remained half-full, until finally, the word-of-mouth publicity worked its magic. A sports drama which also talked about India's caste-divide, and showcased Zoya Hussain's explosive debut performance, Mukkabaaz is as much a drama as a love story for the ages.
This was the first film in Anubhav Sinha's trilogy of movies on social issues. While Article 15 and Thappad won the audience over, Mulk, that offered an unflinching look at the religious divide in India, took its own sweet time to reach the audience. But it stands as a fine example of layered storytelling and powerful performances.
Pataakha was, by no way means, without flaws. But, it offered a novel look at sibling relationships, which was reflective of Vishal Bhardwaj's trademark style of exploring the intricacies of human nature. And it gave us yet another chance to revel in Vijay Raaz's flawless screen presence.
Yes, the film's script was not as brilliant as its leading hero, because it was impossible for Irrfan Khan to be anything less than wonderful. But, Blackmail deserves complete credit for being wholly different from most comedy-dramas. Though not entirely successful, the effort is worth appreciating.
12. Bhavesh Joshi Superhero
No matter its flaws, Bhavesh Joshi will always be a film that deserves to be appreciated for at least attempting to gift India its very own superhero origin story. Yes, the script was not the film's strongest point, but the story was intriguing enough to be enjoyable in its own right.
13. Yeh Ballet
An underrated Netflix gem if there ever was one, Yeh Ballet is a beautiful ode to both, the spirit of chasing dreams and the joy of dancing. A film backed by solid performances and well-developed script, it's a real shame that Yeh Ballet did not earn the attention it most certainly deserved.
14. Gone Kesh
Though it questions the need and power of society's validation, Gone Kesh is the kind of simple, sweet film that may not stay with you after the end credits roll, but that certainly makes for a pleasant, enjoyable viewing experience. The story is further elevated by a brilliant starcast, that includes Shweta Tripathi, Jeetendra Kumar, Vipin Sharma, and Deepika Amin.
Kaalakaandi is the answer to anyone who has complained about Bollywood not being edgy or wacky enough. While it does not match the comedy of errors that director Akshat Verma served in his first film Delhi Belly, Kaalakaandi deserves a watch for its eclectic music and comically brilliant Saif Ali Khan.
What better time than now to watch these?