From ‘Super Deluxe’ to ‘Virus’, Indian Cinema’s Best on OTT

These are some of the best.

Updated18 Apr 2020, 05:19 AM IST
Indian Cinema
6 min read

The panic and tension created by the COVID-19 virus scare, has been unnerving for most of us. In addition to that, most of us are also working from home, which gives a chance to read more about the spread of the deadly virus. Instead of that, however, we can make use of our subscriptions to different streaming platforms and watch some of these gems that our regional cinema has given us. Here are some of the best films you can stream online.

1. Super Deluxe (Tamil)

(Available on Netflix)

Thiagarajan Kumararaja’s thriller has four subplots all connected by a common thread. In all these subplots, the characters have committed sins (according to society) and are trying to deal with it. The film is packed with social commentary, humour, pop culture references, and giving away more than that would be an injustice to the film. It also boasts of an absolutely terrific performance by Vijay Sethupathi as a transwoman. That’s enough for you to leave everything that you’re doing and just watch this film. A review in Huffington Post said, “The biggest strength of Super Deluxe, however, is the characters. In spite of the many interesting characters (and excellent actors) that share screen space, we understand and empathise with them.”

2. Virus (Malayalam)

(Available on Amazon Prime Video)

Virus directed by Aashiq Abu is a medical thriller, that received rave reviews across the board. In 2018, Kerala was hit by the Nipah virus outbreak and that’s what the film deals with. The film is like a roller coaster ride, and particularly relevant and scary given the current climate, but is worth a watch. Virus blends fact with fiction seamlessly and is aided by a stellar cast including Rima Kallingal, Revathy, Tovino Thomas, Parvathy and Indrajith Sukumaran.

3. Uyare (Malayalam)

(Available on Netflix)

The story of Uyare follows the life of Pallavi Raveendran played by Parvathy, an aviation student who survives an acid attack that disfigures her face and puts her career in jeopardy. The film directed by debutant director Manu Ashokan deals with the subject in a sensitive manner and boasts of a great performance. She lets us into her scars, internal and external and that’s what makes it heart wrenching. In a review for Firstpost critic Anna MM Vetticad wrote, “At the centre of this constellation of talents is a genius. Parvathy’s superpower is her ability to mutate into the persons she plays, erasing all reminders of her bodily presence in the character. This is not an actor in the role of a survivor, she IS that survivor.”

4. Village Rockstars (Assamese)

(Available on Netflix)

Filmmaker Rima Das not only directed this coming-of-age drama but also edited and co-produced the film. Das who is a self-taught filmmaker made this film about a 10-year-old girl living in abject poverty in a village in Assam who dreams of owning a guitar and forming a band with the local boys. Das creates poignant moments with her unobtrusive style of filmmaking. The film was also India’s official entry to the Oscars in 2018 but didn’t make it to the final list.

5. Bulbul Can Sing (Assamese)

(Available on Netflix)

Rima Das’ follow up to her acclaimed Village Rockstars, is a film about three teenagers coming to terms with their sexual identities. All these three characters live in a village and find their behaviour to be in conflict with what is expected of them by society. The film won the National Award for Best Assamese Film in 2019. Commenting on the tone of the film, critic Namrata Joshi wrote for The Hindu, “Her story-telling, however, remains gentle, quiet, restrained, graceful and mild. Which actually ends up making her take on the themes of feminism, gender, sexual identity and moral policing even more hard-hitting.”

6. Mahanati (Telugu/Tamil)

(Available on Amazon Prime Video)

Nag Ashwin’s directorial is about legendary actor Savitri known for her work mainly in Tamil and Telugu cinema. The film follows her trajectory from a regular girl to a superstar and the various tragic incidents in her personal life. They also show her struggle with depression and alcoholism. The highlight of the film is, however, Keerthy Suresh’s performance in the lead role as Savitri. From her mannerisms to her on-screen magic, Keerthy nails it. That alone is reason enough to watch the film.

7. Natsamrat (Marathi)

(Available on Netflix)

Natsamrat depicts the tragic family life of a stage actor who has retired from acting but misses theatre deeply. The film starring Nana Patekar and directed by Mahesh Manjrekar is a moving drama and became one of the highest-grossing Marathi films of all time. Critic Subhash K Jha commented on Patekar’s performance and said, “While the film is an unabashed showcase of Nana Patekar’s prowess as an actor, Vikram Gokhale as Rambhau is equally compelling. The sequence on his deathbed when Gokhale recites lines from the Mahabharat makes our hairs stand on end. This is an actor at the crest of his performing ability.”

8. Angamaly Diaries (Malayalam)

(Available on Netflix)

The premise of Angamaly Diaries is that Vincent Pepe played by debutant (Antony Varghese) wants to be a powerful leader of a righteous gang that will rule the town of Angamaly. The film directed by Lijo George Pellissery has 86 new actors and received massive acclaim. Critic Baradwaj Rangan wrote for Film Companion South saying, “Like last year’s Kannada blockbuster Kirik Party, Angamaly Diaries is proof that these relatively under-the-radar upstart films are making far better use of mainstream tropes – fights, songs, comedy – than your average mega-budget big-star Premam, Angamaly Diaries places a certain kind of small-town, short-fused masculinity under a microscope. Men are defined by their actions – and I’m not just talking about the action sequences.”

9. Sairat (Marathi)

(Available on Netflix)

Nagraj Manjule’s follow up to the terrific Fandry, was Sairat- yet another story on the brutality of caste discrimination in the country. This time however packaged like a Bollywood romance. Parshya and Archie are in love but are forced to run away because of the difference in their caste. In Nagraj’s words, he wanted to ‘serve a bitter pill’ but in a manner that people would savour it. The film has drama, song and dance but also a gut-wrenching end that will leave you uneasy but make you think. Sairat also ended up becoming the highest-grossing Marathi film. Critic Pradeep Menon wrote for Firstpost saying, “It’s a depressing reality check about the fact that the more things change, the more they stay the same; because the oppressor continues to fight for the right to continue oppressing.”

10. Bhooter Bhabishyat (Bengali)

(Available on Hotstar)

In Bhooter Bhabishyat, Parambrata Chatterjee plays a filmmaker who visits a palace to make an ad. Over there, he realises that there are ghosts in the house and they go on to narrate to him about how their house is going to broken down so that a mall is constructed. What follows is a series of events that take place, but the film is consistently engaging. The ghost comedy has plenty of satire and humour to keep you hooked.

11. Visaranai (Tamil)

(Available on Netflix)

Visaranai, directed by Vetrimaaran is about a bunch of immigrants who are badly tortured and forced to plead guilty for a crime they didn't commit. A policeman then helps set them free but asks for a favour. They agree to it, without realising what they were getting into. Vetrimaaran is known to make deeply political films and Visaranai is not different. In a review for The Hindu, critic Baradwaj Rangan said, “The violence in Visaranai is... horrifying is too mild a word. But it’s not torture porn. It’s necessary, dictated by the film’s structure.”

12. Dhunki (Gujarati)

(Available on Amazon Prime Video)

Two friends are unhappy stuck in their corporate jobs and decide to begin a food delivery business. The film then follows their hurdles as they work towards building their startup and the personal sacrifices that they make for it. A review by Times of India said, “The ease with which the film enables you to identify with the characters and their struggles is what makes Dhunki a winner. It’s the simple pleasures of life that makes it worthwhile and strong personal relations add more depth to our existence.”

13. Bakita Byaktigoto (Bengali)

(Available on Zee5)

The film directed by Pradipta Bhattacharya is about an independent filmmaker Pramit who is shooting a documentary on love but he himself has never been in love. His research makes him come across this mysterious village wherein whoever goes falls in love. The film also follows Pramit’s journey of self-discovery. The film won a National Award for Best Feature Film in Bengali.

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Published: 24 Mar 2020, 01:16 PM IST
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