2014 has been another typical year for Bollywood, full of desi ‘latka-jhatkas’ , book adaptations, alpha females and ‘ Khan’-Daan ruling at the box office. However, with time movie scenario in India has become more receptive towards content driven cinema. There is no denying the fact that the quintessential masala flicks are still known as the face of Bollywood but the emerging, content-rich brand of cinema is slowly but surely changing the image of Indian Film Industry. While low-budget, quality films have started to find reasonable number of screens for their release, they still haven’t been able to pull enough audiences to the theaters.

2014 hasn’t been any different with a number of good movies releasing and going down without a mention. Check out some of them which you should have definitely watched this year.

1. Dedh Ishqiya

2014 couldn’t have asked for a better start in terms of performances. Talent powerhouses Naseeruddin Shah, Madhuri Dixit, Arshad Warsi and Huma Qureshi got together and set fire to the the screen with sizzling performances. Dedh Ishqiya was tighter, crisper and had dark humor interwoven in the script with such finesse that it took the Ishqiya franchise a notch higher.

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2. Gulaab Gang

Gulaab Gang is a flick which belongs totally to its performers. The movie, which brings together Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla for the first time on the silver screen, was said to be inspired by the activities of the real life Gulaab Gang and made its way through a lot of controversies. The movie shows women clad in pink sarees playing vigilante and activists and raising a strong voice against the patriarchal set up of India, especially in the rural regions. Madhuri’s action scenes were the icing on the cake!

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3. Miss Lovely

This audacious docu-drama is an attempt to uncover the sleazy side of a certain ‘C’ grade movie industry which co-existed with the main stream Hindi film industry in ’80s. Lifted by Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s solid performance, Miss Lovely is an unconventional watch made on a shoe-string budget.

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4. Ankhon Dekhi

A concept so novel and performances so solid that even a humble budget could not stop this movie from being appreciated. As a man who believes only what he sees, Sanjay Mishra yet again delivers a convincing performance. Seema Pahwa – delivering the goods as Mishra’s good-natured wife – also looks endearing on the screen. Mostly skipped by audiences in the theatres, Rajat Kapoor’s Aankho Dekhi is one movie which should have been marketed more intelligently.

5. Kya Dilli Kya Lahore

Set in 1948, Kya Dilli Kya Lahore attempts to put the painful period of India-Pakistan partition in a different perspective. The film, which marks the directorial debut of the talented Vijay Raaz, depicts the interactions between army men on either side of the border and stresses on the fact that wars are futile.

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6. Hawaa Hawaai

There is something very earnest in Amol Gupte’s films which is yet again highlighted in this flick based on skating. The characterization is likable, performances are convincing and the film leaves you with a feeling of positivity.

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7. City Lights

Again a small-budget movie with performances so terrific that it can give big budget multi- starrers a complex! Led from the front by much-lauded actor Rajkumar Rao, City Lights also marks the debut of actress Patralekha, who unlike many other newcomers, doesn’t disappoint. Hansal Mehta’s next outing after the National Award-winning ‘Shahid’, depicts the struggles of a farmer in a metro city.

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8. Filmistaan

There have been several films with India-Pakistan as the theme. But it takes a clear mind, stout belief in the concept and immaculate precision in execution for a debutante director to belt out such a paisa vasool pot boiler! Nitin Kakkar very playfully depicts the love for Hindi cinema on both sides of the border using bitter-sweet humor throughout the film. It leaves the audience with an over-arching thought: are we really any different from people across the border?

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9. Mardaani

In the times of Pandeys, Singhams and Rathores, Rani Mukerji as Shivani Shivaji Roy, a dedicated and brave heart lady cop was a welcome respite. Touted as her comeback vehicle, Rani went all guns blazing in this flick based on the sensitive issue of women trafficking.

10. Katiyabaaz

Katiyabaaz is a wonderfully presented story in the form of a documentary. Depicting the power struggles in Kanpur over the power crisis, this movie tries to expose the corrupts through satirical undertones. What’s even more interesting? The hero is an anti-hero! Grab a DVD to find out more.

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11. Finding Fanny

Director Homi Adajania quite honestly knew that his film would cater only to the urban masses and had no huge hopes of entering a 100-crore club, given the language of the film was English. Adajania depicts the Goan Catholic community set in a very believable world. Charming Goa sceneries and a humorous-dramatic plot set on great ensemble cast are the USPs of the film.

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12. Sulemani Keeda

Sulemani Keeda ‘s only problem is that its creativity gets limited by its geographical subject. Set and executed in Versova, this unpretentious flick depicts Versova life to the T! In a way, the movie depicts the real life situation of the makers of Sulemani Keeda (who already run a successful Youtube channel) who want to try their luck at screenplay writing for a Bollywood film. This light-hearted take on a struggler’s life in Versova is surprisingly refreshing but its release in select theatres didn’t help its cause.

13. Haider

Haider , an adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’, shot with a backdrop of Kashmir is easily Shahid’s best performance till date. No wonder Shahid Kapoor feels all his films should be directed by Vishal Bhardwaj! Narrating a tale on the controversial canvas of AFSPA activities in Kashmir, Haider earned Bhardwaj lots of critical acclaim and gave Kapoor’s career a new lease of life.

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14. Ugly

When it comes to dark thrillers, not many can match Anurag Kashyap. This one is right out of his own backyard and Kashyap went all guns blazing with this. Finally seeing the light of the day after a long tussle with the censor board, Ugly is a must-watch thriller and is in the league of Black Friday .

It’s encouraging to see film makers coming up with a new brand of quality cinema even when the bite in the revenue pie for them isn’t satisfying. Slowly blurring the line between art house and mainstream cinema, we hope we come across many more content-driven movies in 2015 as well!