Bollywood is all about huge stars, big money and blockbuster movies. Or is it? That’s the perception. When someone says Bollywood, the mind automatically throws back to the Khans, Kapoors and the Kumars and their massively mounted movies. We are not here to talk about the big movies that rake in the moolah, but films that may not have won the number game, but are exceptionally good stories.
The Hindi film industry has been churning out some great films over the years, and we made a list of 15 such movies that you may have missed because you were busy watching the popular ones.
1. Nil Battey Sannata
Ashwini Iyer Tiwari’s feature film debut recounted the story of a mother and a daughter. The mother who works as a maid and toils day and night so she can provide her daughter with a decent education. A story of how a mother enrols in a school so her daughter doesn’t flunk her examination, Nil Battey Sannata was a refreshing and heartwarming film.
2. Dear Dad
Starring Arvind Swamy, the movie might not be one of the best movies to have been made in the past 18 months. But the story of an Indian father coming out of the closet to his son was well-intentioned and featured compelling performances by the father-son duo.
Starring Naseeruddin Shah and Kalki Koechlin, the movie delved into the old trope of strangers in the same boat. And still came up with fresh insights, thanks to strong performances from both the lead characters. The waiting room of the hospital becomes a metaphor for life, as they patiently sit through for the tough times to get over.
Nagesh Kukunoor’s film about two kids and their wondrous journey to meet their favourite Bollywood actor – Shah Rukh Khan, was an uplifting tale of childlike innocence and hope. The colourful characters that they meet along the way made the journey only more interesting to watch.
5. Brahman Naman
Netflix India’s ballsy debut starred Shashank Arora in a film about a bunch of young quizzers in 1980’s Bangalore, as their sexual curiosity takes them on a journey of self-discovery. The film was directed by the eccentric Quashiq Mukherjee.
6. Island City
Ruchika Oberoi’s stellar debut was my favourite Hindi movie of 2016. Based on an anthology of three short stories – the film tells the story of urban loneliness, hypocrisy and features knockout performances by Amruta Subhash, Tannishtha Chatterjee and Chandan Roy Sanyal.
Leena Yadav’s tale of 3 women living in rural Rajasthan discovering the agency of their own body and standing up for themselves, is an important film on gender equality and female companionship. Starring Radhika Apte, Tannishtha Chatterjee and Surveen Chawla in the lead roles, the movie gave out a strong message.
Prashant Nair’s sophomore effort stars Suraj Sharma and Tony Revolori in lead roles. The film traces the story of two brothers, one of whom stays in America and dutifully writes to his brother. When the letters stop coming, one brother goes in search of the other.
9. Moh Maya Money
This small, whimsical film starring Ranvir Shorey and Neha Dhupia, celebrated the middle-class inferiority and revelled in a couple’s ambition for riches. Their plan to change their financial status overnight, snowballs into something both of them had not anticipated.
Shlok Sharma’s wicked portrayal of a relationship between a rural teacher and his high school student has you gobsmacked at the deftness with which they handle the sensitive issue. And then weave it into a tale of two young boys coming of age, merely by observing the forbidden lust affair.
Vikramaditya Motwane’s champion independent movie generated a lot of good word-of-mouth, however, that didn’t convert into footfalls at the theatre. Starring a sensational Rajkumar Rao as the only actor, the movie traces the story of a man locked inside his high-rise apartment.
12. Anarkali of Aarah
Swara Bhaskar’s kick-ass movie is about the item song culture of India, where semi-clad women are made to dance for the pleasure of men and then ostracised by the same men. The film took a strong stance on consent, agency of a woman’s body and was a breath of fresh air, thanks to a strong central performance by Bhaskar.
13. Death in the Gunj
Konkona Sen Sharma’s directorial debut, the film revolves around a Bakshi family and a vacation they decide to take at McCluskieganj, Bihar. As the vacation progresses, the confrontations curdle into something bitter and fatal.
14. Dear Maya
Even though it came under the spotlight for being Manisha Koirala’s ‘comeback film’, the story of a middle-aged widow was something many would identify with. When two teenage girls decide it would be good fun to write an anonymous letter to the lonely woman, things take a real turn.
15. G Kutta Se
This independent movie is set in a small village not too far from Delhi, three lives explode around taboos of love and lust. It follows the stories of the forbidden lust of 3 women in the patriarchal setting of Haryana.
So, if you are a lover of good cinema, don’t miss out on these gems.