The Indian film industry was on a roll for most of 2015. From the industry’s biggies realising, finally, that there is no substitute for good content to smaller filmmakers waking up to the power of digital campaigning, it was a year of serious learning for the industry.
In this season of lists on anything-under-the-sun-in-2015, we’ve decided to take a break from convention here. If this year was about big ticket films, it was as much for a few cinematic gems that lit up the year for us. These films were unique in terms of content, budget and acting, and thus they deserve to be seen more on DVDs and TV. Here’s a list of 8 underrated films that should have put the box office on fire in 2015.
Titli (Kanu Behl): Though producer Dibakar Banerjee and Yash Raj Films made sure Titli gets a simultaneous wide release in front of Main Aur Charles and Guddu Ki Gun, the quintessential multiplex audience thought differently. Make no mistake. Titli could well be counted among the best films of 2015, and stands its ground effortlessly in an illustrious crowd of money spinners and award winners.
Qissa (Anup Singh): Your DVD repertoire won’t be complete without this film. Qissa is one of the most stylised films our industry has ever seen. And we haven’t talked about Irrfan Khan, Tilottama Shome and Rasika Dugal’s acting prowess yet. Qissa is aptly tag-lined ‘a tale of a lonely ghost’. Indeed, this is one of those rare films which have a haunting effect on you even months after you’ve watched it.
Court (Chaitanya Tamhane): Yes, it went to the Oscars, but you haven’t seen it yet, right? Court is not a film where you would have to differentiate between the story and the storytelling. Both are one in this film. The characters are the story and the story is its characters. It’s satirical, radical, revolutionary, simple, complex, all at the same time.
Manjhi (Ketan Mehta): Could you find a film better than Manjhi – The Mountain Man if you look for messages wrapped in film roles? Dashrath Manjhi wasn’t just a man; he was a symbol, of our indomitable spirit and forward looking approach. Just sit in solitude and think about it: There was a man who broke a mountain in 27 years because he wanted to leave something behind for his fellow human beings. Can you get more human than this, ever? And, Nawaazuddin Siddiqui was icing on the cake.
Kaun Kitne Paani Mein (Nila Madhab Panda): This film is in the list because of its nobility and heart. It’s about a cash-strapped royal family which craves for water and thus it hatches a plan to trick the neighbouring prosperous village. From caste system to the propaganda of shining India, a lot of burning issues have been covered in Kaun Kitne Paani Mein, in a humorous way, which makes it even more effective.
Bhaag Johnny (Shivam Nair): No, we are not comparing it with Vantage Point or Run Lola Run. The fact is, Bhaag Johnny has used a similar technique. The intercutting and parallel narrative makes it a film worth watching. And, don’t you think Kunal Khemu is really underrated?
Meeruthiya Gangsters (Zeishan Quadri): The dark underbelly of North India has been fascinating the Bollywood filmmakers since some years now, and Quadri’s film is next in the list, but it’s certainly more engaging than usual gangster films. Its wit, heart and craft are at the right places. There’re some scenes in the film which will hint you towards Zeishan’s untapped latent potential. A team of newcomers has understood the meaning of raw, gritty and noir quite well in this one.
Hawaizaada (Vibhu Puri): Yes, it wasn’t a hit and could only get some mixed reviews. But you can never undermine or overlook its set designing and detailed canvas. I still believe that the first trailer of Hawaizaada was the best we saw this year. Here’s a challenge for you: Spot just one thing that is out of place in any Hawaizaada frame.
(Interact with Rohit Vats at Twitter/ @nawabjha)
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