There is no doubt that 2022 has been a great year for Indian cinema.
Yes, I am emphasizing the phrase ‘Indian cinema’ because viewers have had the opportunity to watch giants of cinema come out from different parts of the country. From director SS Rajamouli’s epic Telugu drama to Rishab Shetty’s Kannada magnum opus “Kantara” and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Gangubai Kathiawadi”, Indians with access to multiple streaming services and aggregators have witnessed an amazing array of stories, people and cultures.
Besides these films, there were a slew of others from around the country that caught my attention. Here, I recommend 11 OTT movies for 2022.
Gautam Ramachandran’s legal drama ‘Gargi’ starring Sai Pallavi is a deep and paradoxical exploration of justice, sexuality, family and society without trying to be one. Sai Pallavi gives her best screen performance as the main character Gargi – a school teacher whose father, a security guard, is accused of child molestation along with four other men. This is one of those movies that leaves you in awe long after it’s over.
(Language: Tamil; Sony Liv)
Satyajit Ray set the standard for how filmmakers should portray village life in India. Not only did he make us identify with his movie characters, but he also endowed them with dignity and humanity. This is what director M Manikandan also achieved in ‘Kadaisi Vivasayi’.
It tells the story of an elderly Mayandi farmer, played by non-professional actor Nalandi, who is the last farmer left in his village. Besides his deep ties to the land, this wonderful film also explores Mayandi’s compassionate relationship with Ramaiah, played by Vijay Sethupathi, who the other villagers believe has gone mad after the death of his lover.
(Language: Tamil; Sony Liv)
Jana Gana Mana
When you watch Dijo Jose Antony’s legal thriller, you think you know what’s going on so you don’t. The film’s basic premise revolves around the brutal murder of a powerful and socially conscious college professor, the students’ aggressive protest that he is being born, and the fascinating legal journey this case takes. Although the movie feels preachy, the pace of the storytelling and the stellar cast don’t let you get the feel of its 165-minute running time.
(Language: Malayalam, Netflix)
Even if Pan Nalin’s next film doesn’t sell you as India’s entry for Best International Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards, it’s worth investing 110 minutes of your time. The film tells the story of nine-year-old Sami’s obsession with cinema. From Shalala, a village in Saurashtra, Samay – played by Bhavin Rabari – develops an intense relationship with cinema with the help of a local showrunner – played by Bhavesh Shrimali. Such is his love for cinema that he decided to become a director but remained unaware of the difficulties that lay ahead.
(Subtitled “The Last Film Show”, Language: Gujarati, Netflix)
Nana Than Kudu case
For months, a friend of mine had constantly recommended this film, which was written and directed by Rathish Balakrishnan Poduval. It wasn’t until very recently that I sat down to watch this funny and insightful satire. And now it’s among the best movies I’ve seen all year. Set in Kasargod, its premise revolves around an ex-thief Rajivan – played by the slick Kunchaku Boban, who is falsely accused of robbery by the local AML and decides to challenge him in a court of law. But on this journey to search for justice, he must overcome a series of obstacles.
(Translated as “Su Me”, Language: Malayalam, Disney Hotstar)
Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu
Gautam Vasudev Menon’s new gangster movie has some familiar features of previous films in the genre. The story of Muthu (played by Simbu) coming to Mumbai as a fearsome gangster, after leaving a turbulent life in his homeland in rural Tamil Nadu, is reminiscent of ‘Nayakan’.
Like many gangster films, it also deals with the question of how this life of crime and violence is only inevitable through death and imprisonment. But the answer he leaves behind is vastly different from the gangster movies of the past. What also stands out in this film is Simbu’s performance as Muthu, who always looks like a ‘fish out of water’ until he is confronted with violence and certain death, and Menon’s personable work behind the camera, especially the one that takes a long time.
(translated as “The Burning Forest”; Part 1: The Kindling; Language: Tamil; Amazon Prime)
What more could you ask for from a zombie movie set in Dombivli, which is set in the suburbs of Mumbai? It has everything and more. Directed by Aditya Sarpotdar, the film revolves around Sudhir – played by Amey Wagh, an engineer who moves into a high-rise apartment with his wife Seema – played by Vaidehi Parashurami, six months into her pregnancy.
But life in this apartment is not really what Sudhir envisions. They are suffering from an acute shortage of water, and soon their bubble is bursting due to a zombie infestation in the nearby Janata Nagar slum. The film contains humor, horror, action sequences, and a love story, while also offering a strong critique of the city’s growing class division, gentrification and greed.
(Language: Marathi; Zee 5)
Written and directed by Rahul Sadasivan, Bhoothakaalam ranks among the best Hindi horror films I’ve seen in recent times. What’s particularly special about this movie is that it doesn’t rely heavily on visual effects and does the job with a small cast.
The film revolves around the turbulent relationship between Asha (played by Revathi) and her son Venu (played by Shane Nigam). Without offering any spoilers, one can’t help but mention that this nerve-wracking horror flick delivers one of the most spine-tingling conclusions to a movie in recent memory.
(translated as “The Past”; Language: Malayalam; Sony Liv)
Written and directed by Kiranraj K, this is a movie with a lot of heart. The emotionally charged film focuses on the relationship between Dharma – played by Rakshit Shetty, a factory worker who spends most of his time fighting, drinking and watching Charlie Chaplin shows on TV – and a stray Labrador dog he later names Charlie. As their bond grows, Dharma and Charlie embark on a journey to the higher climatic regions of northern India to fulfill the latter’s desire to play on the ice. After all, whenever Charli watches Snow on TV, she gets excited.
(Language: Kannada; choose to vote)
This political thriller directed by Kamal K. M. It is based on the true story of how a group of men, who called themselves the ‘Ayyankali Pada’, took the collector and the larger Palakkad collection hostage in 1996 over controversial legislation. This movie also gives us a glimpse into the circumstances surrounding Hayat Adivasi controlled by state agencies. Despite its obvious social and political message, it feels like a heist-thriller. The film possesses a true technical quality from the staging and editing to the screen performances.
(Translated as “Army”; Language: Malayalam; Amazon Prime)
From the very beginning, you are hooked to the story and there are no parts that last longer than they should. Starring Rajkummar Rao and Huma Qureshi, and directed by Vasan Bala, it is a murder mystery thriller that features humor and song. It’s one of those movies that you can play in the afternoon or evening and lose track of time. What gives the movie more appeal is the wonderful background score written by Akhint Thakkar of “Cheat: 1992” fame.
(Language: Hindi, Netflix)
(Edited by Pranita Bhatt)
(Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, IMDB)
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