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Best Indian Movies of 2021: Karnan and Sherni at The Disciple and The Great Indian Kitchen


Malayalam cinema’s bull run with the most interesting Indian films continued in 2021. Tamil filmmakers were not far behind, showing skill in combining mainstream cinema with high concepts and social issues. . In comparison, quality Hindi films were scarce.

Details of oppressive structures, such as patriarchy, the caste system or institutionalized political corruption, and how individuals combat them, were recurring themes in many of the best Indian films this year, as shown below. Don’t worry, some lighter films made the cut as well.

Note: The list only includes movies that premiered on streaming platforms this year or theatrical releases in 2021 that can now be streamed online.

Minnal Murali (Malayalam)

Where to watch: Netflix

Instead of trying to compete with Hollywood superhero extravagance, director Basil Joseph and his writers, Arun Anirudhan and Justin Mathew, are going hyper-local by setting up their costumed crusader saga in a semi-rural town. Charming performances, good-natured humor and technical finesse make Minnal Murali one of the most entertaining films of the year.

Also watch: Tamil time-looped thriller Maanaadu, streaming on SonyLIV, is another example of a successful Hollywood-style action artist going local.

Read also : Minnal Murali film review: Kerala delivers India’s first major superhero movie

Tovino Thomas in and as Minnal Murali.

Joji (Malayalam)

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video

Everyone’s favorite Malayalam star Fahadh Faasil plays a weirdly shy and feline Macbeth in this Dileesh Pothan-Syam Pushkaran joint. This is Pothan and Faasil’s third collaboration after the acclaimed hits Maheshinte Prathikaaram, also written by Pushkaran, and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum.

Also watch: Malayalam gangster drama Malik, airing on Amazon Prime Video, is a one-man show starring Fahadh Faasil in the Godfather / Nayakan area.

Fahadh Faasil in and like Joji.

Sherni (Hindi)

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video

Newton’s director Amit Masurkar returns with another story of a committed Indian government official who just wants to do his job right but is suffocated by local politics, the realities on the ground, and the eternal inefficiency of the bureaucratic machine. Vidya Balan gives a sober performance as a forestry department officer facing a man-eating tigress problem in the jungles of Madhya Pradesh.

Vidya Balan as Vidya Vincent in Sherni.

Meel Patthar (Hindi, Punjabi)

Where to watch: Netflix

It’s a dark and desolate world for workaholic truck driver Ghalib (Suvinder Vicky) and his young protege Pash (Lakshvir Saran) as they head into an uncertain future as economic hardship looms. As a lonely, world-weary Ghalib, Suvinder Vicky’s face and gait carries the weight of the world in Ivan Ayr’s existential drama.

Nayattu (malayalam)

Where to watch: Netflix

Three cops are on the run after accidentally killing a man close to a powerful group whose support is crucial for the upcoming elections. Ex-cop turned screenwriter Shahi Kabir paints a grim picture of the police world, where the main thing is to follow the orders of your superiors, and doing the right thing can cost your life and career.

Kunchako Boban, Joju George and Nimisha Sajayan in Nayattu.

Karnan (Tamil)

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video

Writer-director Mari Selvaraj’s second film follows a Dalit village, ruled by the titular hero of Dhanush, confronting their upper caste neighbors and the police who serve as their proxy. Karnan’s rage and will for justice fuel the 159-minute film, fueled by the superb music of Santhosh Narayanan. The use by Selvaraj of animals and mythical symbols is remarkable.

Also watch: Several Tamil films in 2021 addressed caste-based oppression. Add the equally fierce Jai Bhim, streaming on Amazon Prime Video, to the watchlist. Also check out Netflix’s Mandela release, in which two political factions move heaven and earth to secure the crucial vote of a Dalit barber.

Read also : Karnan review: Dhanush’s film is a powerful and daring portrayal of caste riots

Sarpatta Parambarai (Tamil)

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video

Pa Ranjith’s boxing drama is a sweaty, muscular, and exuberant film set in northern Chennai in the 1970s, when guts and glory in the square circle settled scores between warring communities. Colorful characters include Terpischorian boxer Dancing Rose (Shabeer Kallarakkal) and avid boxing dad (John Vijay).

Arya and Pasupathy at Sarpatta Parambarai.

Kaanekkane (Malayalam)

Where to watch: SonyLIV

An elderly man (Suraj Venjaramoodu) fiercely investigates the hit-and-run case that resulted in the death of his daughter. Secrets and tensions build up when he uncovers new evidence involving his son-in-law (Tovino Thomas) and his new wife (Aishwarya Lekshmi).

Also watch: Another trio of an older man, a young man and his wife grappling with silence and secrets in the Malayalam film Aarkkariyam, which airs on Amazon Prime Video.

Suraj Venjaramoodu in Kaanekkane.

Bandi Cinema (Telugu)

Where to watch: Netflix

In Praveen Kandregula’s merry debut film, a motorist in a village finds a high-end camera and has the idea of ​​making a lot of money making an independent film. A wedding photographer is the cameraman, the local barber is the hero, and his angry veggie girlfriend is the heroine.

Also watch: For another incredible directorial debut, but in a whole different genre, check out the Tamil thriller Kayamai Kadakka on MovieSaints.

Lord of the Orphans (English, Bengali)

Where to watch: MovieSaints

Cinematographer Ranjan Palit looks back on five generations of his family in his bizarre and haunting first film as a director. Memories and ghosts abound in Palit’s film, which fluidly oscillates between fiction, documentary and experimental film.

Also watch: Family is also at the center of the diametrically opposed Malayalam-language drama Home, which deals with the generation gap and the technology that ruins true human relationships.

Adil Hussain in The Lord of the Orphans.

Santhoshathinte Onnam Rahasyam (malayalam)

Where to watch: MUBI

Perhaps the only film that can be called romantic on the list. Don Palathara’s single-take film takes a look at the outcome of a young urban couple’s relationship as they discuss an unplanned pregnancy in the front seat of a car for 85 minutes.

Jithin Puthenchery and Rima Kallingal at Santhoshathinte Onnam Rahasyam.

The Disciple (Marathi)

Where to watch: Netflix

Films about heroes, geniuses and the gifted galore. What about others, who spend their lives chasing after greatness but fail? Chaitanya Tamhane’s second film takes a look at the sacred inner chamber of Indian classical music, in which the devoted Sharad (Aditya Modak) wants to shine, but he’s just not good enough.

A photo of the Disciple.

Great Indian cuisine (Malayalam)

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video

An educated dancer (Nimisha Sajayan) is pushed to her limits as regressive in-laws, an insensitive husband (Suraj Venjaramoodu) and mundane repetitiveness of round-the-clock housework eat away at her sense of identity and self-esteem. self. The climax of the Firecracker is one of the most satisfying final acts of the year in Indian cinema.

Also watch: Three more stories of Indian women fighting against patriarchy in director Vasanth’s Tamil anthology film Sivaranjiniyum Innum Sila Pengalum, streaming on SonyLIV.

Suraj Venjaramoodu (left) and Nimisha Sajayan (center) in The Great Indian Kitchen.

Sardar Udham (Hindi)

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video

Shoojit Sircar’s rigorously researched and painstakingly detailed biopic of the Indian freedom fighter stars Vicky Kaushal as the titular hero. It is one of the few Indian freedom fighters films that highlight the contribution of the Communists to our struggle for independence.

Vicky Kaushal in and as Sardar Udham.

Master (Tamil)

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video

In Lokesh Kangaraj’s action artist, Tamil superstar Vijay does what he does best. But for a change, he has an equally strong villain (Vijay Sethupathi), a storyline filled with twists and a seriousness not found in the mass Tamil movie revering average heroes.