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The 10 Best Indian Movies of 2019 (so far)

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2019 has been a strange year for Indian films, especially Bollywood movies. The much-raved Zoya Akhtar and Ranveer Singh’s ‘Gully Boy is a missed opportunity. I was left cold by the time end credits rolled. The subtle and restrained narrative of the first act is compromised in the last two acts to please the masses. The tonal shift in the film is jarring. Singularly focused narrative of on a road to rapper platform is often muddled with clunky subplots used, often, as a catalyst but felt manipulative and disjointed at times.

Aditya Dhar’s URI: The Surgical Strike manufactures the melodrama using every character to generate the emotional connect during the attack on terrorists in its third act. The character arc of Vickey is sketched unevenly for someone to misunderstand that he helmed the surgical strike for personal loss than the tragic terrorist event in URI base camp. Even the cameo of Kirti Kulhari comes with sentimental baggage that makes her character more like a dead weight than an ace in a hole.




 

Hailed as a revolutionary film of the Tamil new wave, Thiagarajan Kumararaja’s Super Delux is crowded with half baked subplots that do not come together in the end. The hyper stylised visual narration is often punctured by hollow philosophy it wants to preach. Hopefully, upcoming Bollywood movies and Indian films have good films in the store like the ones listed below. The Best Indian movies of 2019 list will be constantly updated.  

10. Kavaludaari | Hemanth Rao | Crime Mystery | Kannada

Rishi wearing Traffic cop dress in front of a train in Kavaludaari film, dir. Hemanth Rao

‘Ratsasan’, ‘Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru’, ‘Thadam’ are a few of the films that suffered from inconsistent writing and incoherent narrative due to needless subplot, but Hemanth Rao, one of the writers of Sriram Raghavan’s Aandhadhun and director of family drama Godhi Banna Sadharana Mykattu, stays away from the glittery expositions and redundant subplots and manages to make a coherent film even though it has issues.  Anant Nag is a revelation in the film. Rishi manages to stay true to the character Hemanth must have envisioned in his understated performance that manages to stand out despite Nag’s presence. Read the complete review of Kavaludaari.




9. Sarvam Thaala Mayam | Rajiv Menon | Musical Drama | Tamil

A die-hard ‘Thalapathy’ Vijay fan, who runs a Vijay Fan Club, gets enamoured and fascinated by mridangam, and decides to dedicate his life mastering the art. Rajiv Menon in his, partly inspiring and partly hopeful, film brings the two art forms – movies and music – that every Tamilian relates to as a part of their strong culture, and constructs a narrative that alternates between rooted to ground and theatrics. The film is not without any flaws. In fact, the simple narrative often gets convoluted because of subplots involving revenge and insult, but it is often entertaining and inspiring when the attention shifts to Peter’s dedication and love for mridangam.

Sarvam Thaala Mayam is available on Netflix.




 

8. Aamis | Bhaskar Hazarika | Horror Drama | Assamese

Nirmali and Sumon, Lima Das & Arghadeep Baruah - Dolee Talukdar
Nirmali & Sumon, Lima Das & Arghadeep Baruah – Dolee Talukdar

Bhaskar Hazarika sophomore film is an experimental horror drama that weaves the suppressed desire of women and unconventional facet of love. A young doctorate student, Sumon (played by Arghadeep Barua), researching on the regional meat-eating traditions across India falls head over heels with a paediatrician Niri (played by Lima Das) during their kinky outings to explore various animals meat-eating sessions. Never explicitly confessed about their mutual love but the spark that set off their platonic relationship soon turns into obsessive and transgressive meat eating exploration that tests their limit of love. Read our review of Aamis from Tribeca Film Festival 2019.




 

7. Hamid | Aijaz Khan | Drama | Hindi

Hamid did not top the list but it is the most important film on the list. Perhaps, it is the most significant film of the year even if all the subplots don’t come together well, and few of them are left open. Another crack in the film is the dependency on ‘deus ex machina’ to take the plot forward. In spite of that, Hamid works like a wonder and pull the strings of your heart, and leave thinking after the credits roll. An innocent and naive kid calls ‘786’ believing it is Allah’s number which redirects to an Army officer battling his own demon. Their conversation is heartwarming and heartbreaking. Keeping the innocent kid at the vantage point, Aziz Khan’s ‘Hamid’ never picks the side, rather present a poignant and anti-war film surrounding hope, faith and death.




 

6. Kumbalangi Nights | Madhu C. Narayanan | Family Drama | Malayalam

Fahadh Faasil wearing helmet on the bike in Kumbalangi Nights

After the end credits roll, how you feel about Madhu C.Narrayanan’s directorial debut Kumbalangi Nights is debatable, but we all have to unanimously agree that Fahadh Faasil gave the phenomenal performance of the year that would be difficult to beat in India this year. He has measly screen time in a tale of dysfunctional brothers navigating through the life when not beating each other black and blue, but Faasil’s character is omnipresent. Kumbalangi Night has its issues but Fahadh and Soubin Shahir more than compensate for the issues.




 

5. Sir | Rohena Gera | Drama | Hindi

Tillotama Shome on the bike in Mumbai

In her debut feature film, the documentary film-maker Rohena Gera patiently observes a maid who has newly found freedom due to her widow status that gave her an opportunity to leave behind her conservative family in the village and a heartbroken writer from New York, staying together in a flat and sharing silences and disconcertment of  loneliness in the most crowded city of India. ‘Sir’ is a heartfelt drama about finding love and solidarity in the most unusual place. Tillotama Shome owns the role and breaths the heart and soul to it.

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