Bollywood has been known to be the commode of mediocrity by certain standup comedians. However, it is not all a lost cause as there are crusaders who tide against the wave and make the films they wish to see. Such films unlike the majority respect the audience’s intelligence and have a definite story to tell.

Here are 2016’s Bollywood films which came out to modest praise and yet couldn’t convert that into footfalls inside the theatre:

1. Aligarh

Based on the real life story of a professor at Aligarh university who was sacked and rendered homeless for being a homosexual, Hansal Mehta’s film doesn’t sugarcoat the issue. Manoj Bajpayee’s striking central performance only added more credibility to this fact-based retelling of the story of stigma, society and the story of sexuality. Aligarh didn’t quite get the box office that it deserved even though many applauded the movie’s uncomfortable subject in a hushed tone.


 2. Nil Battey Sannata

Directed and co-written by ad filmmaker Ashwini Iyer Tiwari, Nil Battey Sannata follows the story of a single mother working as a maid to provide for her daughter’s education through matriculation. The movie stars Swara Bhaskar, Ratna Pathak Shah and Pankaj Tripathi in lead roles and won many audiences through word of mouth. The film even got remade into Tamil called Amma Kanakku.


3. Phobia

Directed by Pavan Kripalani and starring Radhika Apte in the central role of a woman phobic about the outside world, Phobia manages all the right scares. The film follows the story of a phobic individual who is convinced someone has broken inside her home. Termed as one of India’s few convincing psychological thrillers, Phobia didn’t quite get the audience it deserved.


4. Waiting

Directed by Anu Menon, Waiting chronicles the journey of two strangers who meet in the waiting room of a hospital after their respective spouses are fighting for their life. The film speaks about love, friendship, grief and acceptance. Starring Naseeruddin Shah and Kalki Koechlin in the two lead roles, the film deals with the age gap beautifully as both characters learn from each other.

5. Dhanak

Nagesh Kukunoor after a spate of unsuccessful films, made this simple movie on the idealistic dreams of two kids who want to meet Shah Rukh Khan. The film is set in Rajasthan, and two kids get the news that the Bollywood superstar is shooting in a nearby city. The journey that the two kids undertake and the kind of people meet along the way is what makes Dhanak such a warm film.

Indian Express

6. Brahman Naman

Netflix India’s first film directed by the avante-garde director Qaushiq Mukherjee, Brahman Naman is a tale of three boys in 1980s Bengaluru as they quiz their way around different campuses. They are also incredibly sex-starved young adults on the look-out for some action. The film was well received and applauded for taking forward the sex dialogue in a time when talking about it was considered taboo.


7. Island City

One of the year’s best films, Ruchika Oberoi’s Island City is an anthology of stories on the loneliness that sets in after living in an urban setting for long. The film follows three different stories including Vinay Pathak’s, Amruta Subhash and Tannishtha Chatterjee’s – each slightly interconnected and therefore touching upon the dark humour of all the stories. The film was criminally overlooked by the audience.

Indian Express

8. Parched

Leena Yadav’s film about three women in Rajasthan’s hinterland finding their identity, became the news for the wrong reasons. A portion of the intimate scene between Radhika Apte and Adil Hussain was leaked and created quite a furore. However, the film came up trumps when it came to addressing issues of women independence in the rural areas of India. Parched didn’t quite get the audience that it deserved.


9. Moh Maya Money

Ranvir Shorey and Neha Dhupia’s film about middle class greed released alongside heavyweights like Dear Zindagi, Dr. Strange and Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. And understandably got drowned in the midst of the big releases. Moh Maya Money received decent reviews, however the good word of mouth wasn’t of much help as the film bombed at the box office.


We hope there are many more of these in 2017, and hopefully they will get an audience.