2018 was a different year for Hindi cinema (aka Bollywood). As many films relying on heavy content turned out to be both, a commercial and critical success, the faith was somewhat restored to see good films getting their due at the box office. Then there were many other films which failed to garner the recognition they deserve. Some of these films are exceptional but went unheard by everyone alike. In our effort at bringing Underrated Hindi films of 2018 into the light they deserve, we have handpicked 10 lesser known Bollywood movies.
10. Jaoon Kahan Bata Ae Dil | Aadish Keluskar
9. Manto | Nandita Das
Nandita Das’ biographical account of revolutionary Urdu writer-playwright of pre-partition India Saadat Hasan Manto reflects his perceptions and emotions through a cinematic anthology of his works which runs parallel to the central narrative reflecting his life.
Manto was a brave film and relevant to the prevalent political environment, not just in our country but across the globe. Finely directed and intelligently written, Manto becomes memorable for the performances by its lead cast. It carried a vision of reinstating the importance of freedom of expression which it successfully executed through the personal traumas and turmoils of Manto.
8. Pari | Prosit Roy
When it comes to horror, Indian directors have unsuccessfully drenched themselves in poorly woven CGI-theatrics and unabashedly horrendous evil plots. However, Prosit Roy’s “Pari” was that rare India horror film that married creepy atmospheric thrills with cleverly placed social commentary (unlike the unintentional hybrid ‘Stree’) on the situations and derogatory life that raped and abused women of the country have to face.
7. Mukkabaaz | Anurag Kashyap
It’s not every day you come across a film that serves you with the crude reality of the traditional avenues of our rural heartlands. Kashyap tries to put all the right ingredients in his dish meant for entertainment which is why this film which calls out on casteism and corruption comes in the disguise of a sports drama.
You realize something definitely went wrong with the world we are living in when you fail to disregard a chaotic and violent event of cow vigilantism (read goonism) as a plot device. Mukkabaaz wasn’t discussed with the degree it deserved. Its climax comes out to be bitter medicine to swallow mocking the conventions we are habitual to but hey, this is life.
6. Pataakha | Vishal Bhardwaj
This film is a surprise in all regards. Vishal Bhardwaj’s Pataakha masquerades a comedy-drama structure to hide a burlesque on the Indo-Pak relations in its hood through the symbolic characters it paints in Badki (Radhika Madan) and Chhutki (Sanya Malhotra). A thoroughly entertaining saga that went unnoticed because Vishal refuses to trade his artistic intellect for a commercial one. Pataakha deserved much more than it received, both critically and commercially.
5. Gali Guleiyan | Dipesh Jain
Dipesh Jain’s “Gali Guleiyan” was a slow-burning psychological drama that revolved around a man who is so stuck in the criss-cross lanes of Old Delhi, that even deeply seated wounds can’t help him escape. A delirious tale of a voyeuristic individual whose obsession with the kid next door shuns him into despair as his sanity keeps slipping away. Featuring one of the best Manoj Bajpai performances ever, the film also examined how physical and emotional abuse seen at homes can sometimes scar lives forever.
4. Bhavesh Joshi Superhero | Vikramaditya Motwane
Falling into a genre in which many films gasp for breath and justify your existence in solitude is no less than a remarkable feat. It’s not a The Dark Knight but it doesn’t fall at the bottom either. Bhavesh Joshi emits originality in every frame and even the elements it finds itself subjugated to adopt come out to be more circumstantial than artificial.
The film became a victim to poor pre-release marketing along with not-so-compromised editing that stretched its screenplay beyond the patience bandwidth of an average viewer. But it deserves a watch only for its grounded effort and a story which will resonate to every Indian more than any western import in terms of the central issues it weaves itself around.
3. October | Shoojit Sircar
Unfortunately ununderstood unadulterated portrayal of unrequited love. October was the most mesmerizing cinematic experience I had in the year than went. It is a mild fragrant morning breeze that arrives to refresh your senses. October restores your faith in the beauty that cinema is capable of encapsulating. It is aesthetically charming, auditorily soothing and calming to the mind. October deserves but love which remained unrequited in its selfless marrow.
2. Bioscopewala | Deb Medhekar
Let’s start with some facts. Production budget? ₹4 crores. Total collections? ₹55 lakhs. Nominations, acknowledgement and popular appreciation? Close to none.
Most people don’t know about this film to know how underrated it is. Not only it comes out to be a neat adaptation of the classic short story “Kabuliwala” by Rabindranath Tagore in the contemporary era but also comes out as a beautiful ode to the spirit of the artform cinema is.
The lack of recognition is heartbreaking because it’s a beautiful story which was well made and well enacted by its cast including the likes of Danny Denzongpa, Adil Hussain and Gitanjali Thapa. Been more than a year and I still haven’t been able to get it out of my mind because it turned out to be food for the soul of the cinephile in me. The Bioscopewala wanted to tell stories but his story remains the most unheard one.
Bioscopewala is available on Hotstar. Walk down your memory lanes and treat yourself with Nostalgia.
1. Tigers | Danis Tanovic
Although the film opened in 2014, it remained stuck for 4 years for a commercial release only to get released on the streaming platform Zee5 last year. Did people miss it? Seems so.
Tigers can teach how to approach a biographical film to the entire Hindi film industry which is constantly churning out mediocrity for petty cash grabbing. Intricately woven around a deeply shocking and scary chapter of our reality, Tigers is melodious, thrilling, comical and horrifying in equal measures.
Danis Tanovic employs meta-cinematic elements to tell an honest story which is devoid of stereotypical imagery of cultures and stays rooted in the cause of humanity. Tigers is about a story which keeps repeating itself. It unearths something devastating, something capable of shattering our beliefs in the system, instilling a sense of acute powerlessness and trust me, it does all this effortlessly.
Watch Tigers Full Movie on Zee5
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