Some of them continue to be underrated gems while others have received cult status over the years. Regardless, they all began their sojourn on the silver screen as ‘small’ films but went on to get bouquets for their content. Made by names like Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, Sudhir Mishra and Kabeer Kaushik, here are 15 underrated gems which will forever end your complain that Bollywood doesn’t produce good films. If you haven’t already, you must watch every single one of them and give them a belated hurrah.
1. Citylights (2014)
A beautiful and thought-provoking film, Citylights captures the dark side of the city of dreams, Mumbai. With actors like Rajkummar Rao working under National Award-winning director Hansal Mehta, the emotional turmoil of a couple from a small village in search of a better life in Mumbai is heart wrenching.
2. Tere Bin Laden (2010)
Abhishek Sharma’s satire on Osama bin Laden, America’s war on terror and post-9/11 world scenario is one of the most hilarious spoofs of recent times. Grab your copy of its DVD now.
3. Phas Gaye Re Obama (2010)
Subhash Kapoor’s comedy of errors is full of smart dialogues. From recession affecting a gangster’s business to a broke NRI, this film is a hilarious take on organised crime, crime-politics nexus and the great American dream.
4. Gulaal (2009)
Anurag Kashyap’s Gulaal may have gained cult status now but the film had to wait for years before it got a theatrical release. Starring Kay Kay Menon, Abhimanyu Singh, Deepak Dobriyal, Ayesha Mohan, Jesse Randhawa, Piyush Mishra and Aditya Srivastava, the film explores power equations, perceived injustices and hypocrisy of those in power. It remains one of the best socio-political commentaries on our society.
5. Black and White (2008)
The Anil Kapoor-starrer explores the life of an Afghan suicide bomber who meets an idealist teacher while on a mission. The movie traces the intricacies of the fight of good and bad within a person.
7. Dil Dosti Etc (2007)
Directed by Manish Tiwary, Dil Dosti Etc featured Shreyas Talpade, Imaad Shah, Nikita Anand, Smriti Mishra and Ishita Sharma in pivotal roles. It exposes the growing stature of anti-social elements in student politics and university unions.
8. Black Friday (2007)
Anurag Kashyap’s Black Friday, based on the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts was released four years after the film was made -- only after the TADA court finalised its judgement in the case. Based on writer-journalist S Hussain Zaidi’s book Black Friday - The True Story of the Bombay Bomb Blasts, the film chronicles the blasts and their aftermath.
9. Khosla Ka Ghosla (2006)
This one marked the directorial debut of Dibakar Banerjee. Starring Anupam Kher and Boman Irani, KKG is perhaps one of the best comedies made in recent times. It also won the National Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi.
10. Seher (2005)
It provided Arshad Warsi a perfect platform to showcase his talent. The movie, directed by Kabeer Kaushik, traces organised crime in Uttar Pradesh and its political backers.
11. Haasil (2003)
Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Haasil is one of the earliest gems the director has gifted to the industry. Irrfan Khan’s powerful performance and the sensitive narration of the nexus between students and politics got the film a cult following.
12. Hazaaro Khwaahishein Aisi (2003)
Helmed by Sudhir Mishra, the film is an apt and sharp commentary on the hypocrisy, filth and struggles in socio-political revolutions. With Naxal movement as the backdrop, it captures some of the most hard-hitting facts of our delicate social fiber.
13. Ek Doctor Ki Maut (1990)
Tapan Sinha’s 1990 film starring Pankaj Kapur and Shabana Azmi highlighted the bureaucratic negligence, reprimand and insult of a doctor and his research. Based on Ramapada Choudhury’s story Abhimanyu, the film boasts of excellent actors and a smooth narration.
14. Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983)
The black comedy has gained a cult status among Bollywood fans. Produced by NFDC in 1983, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro is arguably the most deftly handled satire in Indian cinema.
15. Khamosh (1985)
Not many know that Vidhu Vinod Chopra made one of the most thrilling Hindi suspense movies back in 1985. It stars veteran actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Amol Palekar, Soni Razdan and Pankaj Kapoor.
The author tweets @swetakaushal .