Year Ender 2023: Best Indian films of the year you probably didn't watch | Bollywood - Hindustan Times
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Year Ender 2023 | Aatmapamphlet to Three of Us: Best Indian films of the year you probably didn't watch

Dec 31, 2023 09:29 AM IST

From Chithha to Vidhuthalai Part 1, here are some of the underrated gems of the year from Indian Cinema that you can now stream on various platforms.

Year end lists are difficult, but they serve as a careful and necessary reminder of the films that surrounded us in the last few months. Some films demand our attention for their own merit, while the rest are merely employing tricks to hold it a bit longer. From promotions, talk shows, interviews- the buzz is indicative of the pull that one film has. With so many feature films releasing in multiple languages, in theatres as well as in OTT, the options have only grown with these years. Its hard to keep track, harder to notice that one title holding onto a late spot in the cinemas for the second week, pushed aside because a big release which lies ahead. As the year draws in to a close, here's a look at some of the finest Indian films that released this year which you probably missed. (Also read: Dunki Drop 6 Banda: Shah Rukh Khan's visuals and Diljit Dosanjh's voice is the crossover we were waiting for. Watch)

Have you watched these films this year?
Have you watched these films this year?

Chithha

Hard-hitting and raw, Chithha is that one film you need to add to your watchlist before the year ends. Based on a true incident, the Tamil drama directed by S. U. Arun Kumar chronicles the kidnapping of school girl named Sundari (a terrific Sahasra Shree), while her uncle Eeswaram (Siddharth) is accused of assaulting Sundari's friend Ponni. Siddharth easily delivers his career-best performance in a film that handles the sensitivity of the subject matter with a lot of grace and nuance.

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Where to watch: Disney plus Hotstar

Aatmapamphlet

Few films manage to balance scathing anger with such sly satire and humour. The feather-weight touch of Ashish Bende's Marathi language coming-of-age film Aatmapamphlet skillfully deals with the uncompromising subject matter- intercutting cultural history and personal history together unlike few Indian films in recent memory. Set in 1990s India, the film follows ten-year-old Ashish (a brilliant Om Bendkhale) as he falls in love with his classmate Srusthi. What follows is a wickedly humorous ride, infused with a deft screenplay by Paresh Mokashi. Without a doubt, Aatmapamphlet is one of the very best Indian films of the year.

Where to watch: Zee5

Ardhangini

When Suman Chatterjee's (Kaushik Sen) celebral attack makes him comatose, it brings in his wife Meghna (Jaya Ahsan) and his ex-wife Subhra (an excellent Churni Ganguly) into the same room. What unfolds is a tender, unsentimental drama directed by Kaushik Ganguly, that steers away from cliché-ridden theatrics and revelations. Most of all, its the interpersonal dynamics of the family (along with the fleshed-out supporting characters) that holds this stirring and deeply empathetic film together.

Where to watch: Zee5

Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai

A terrific Manoj Bajpayee performance elevates Apoorv Singh Kalki's resolute courtroom drama Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai to new heights. Here, his P.C. Solanki is fighting a case for the girl who has been assaulted by an self-styled and influential godman. Even as the film slips into loud, commercial tropes of courtroom scenes and big showdowns, Bajpayee takes the lead head-on, stirringly holding back when required.

Where to watch: Zee5

Three of Us

Set in the Konkan region of Maharashtra, Avinash Arun Dhaware's beautifully realized drama chronicles an unusual vacation taken by a middle-aged woman named Shailaja Patankar (a mesmerizing Shefali Shah), who has been diagnosed with early onset of dementia. She is accompanied by her husband, played by noted lyricist Swanand Kirkire. Shailaja has this yearning to revisit her school and in this process, seeks out her childhood love Pradeep (Jaideep Ahlawat), who then becomes their tour guide along the way. There's so much restraint and nuance in Three of Us, it flows like a steady stream of memories, holding back that desire to ask, 'What if?'

Read more here: Three of Us review: A stunning exploration of fast-eroding nostalgia made memorable by Shefali Shah and Jaideep Ahlawat

Viduthalai Part 1

Right from that striking single shot sequence in the opening, director Vetri Maaran constructs a brutal and unforgiving world of guns and violence where a policeman named Kumaresan (Soori) battles his inner conflict in order to catch hold of the local activist named Perumal (Vijay Sethupathi), the leader of the Makkai Padai. The almost graphic nature of violence will almost make you want to turn your eyes away from the screen, but stay along for the ride that Viduthalai promises. Its bone chilling power refuses to leave the mind.

Where to watch: Zee5

Read more here: Viduthalai Part 1 movie review: Vetrimaaran film is not for the faint-hearted, questions police brutality without fear

Dada

Ganesh Babu's Dada is one of those films which could have gone wrong due to the melodramatic tendencies of its plot. But it is to the credit of the writing and the performances that Dada retains its impact. Manikandan and Aparna Das play Kavin and Sindhu, the young couple whose lives take a turn when Sindhu becomes pregnant. They decide to keep the baby. What follows is a heartwarming tale of parenthood bolstered by a truly extraordinary performance by Manikandan. The bond he shares with his baby boy Aditya is the beating heart of this wonderful film.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video

Read more here: DaDa review: Enjoyable coming-of-age drama about accidental parenthood

Pokhar Ke Dunu Paar

Can love survive the pandemic? Parth Saurabh's beautifully realized feature film asks this question through gazing at the relationship between Priyanka (Tanaya Khan Jha) and Sumit (Abhinav Jha of Dhuin fame), who have returned to the place from where they eloped two place ago. No one is chasing them anymore. Now that they are back, these two individuals yearn to discover themselves all the more. Deftly performed and directed, Pokhar Ke Dunu Paar demands your attention.

Where to watch: Mubi

Read more here: Pokhar Ke Dunu Paar review: Darbhanga, disillusionment and deconstructed masculinity

Zwigato

For her third feature film after the brilliant Firaaq and Manto, director Nandita Das chose Kapil Sharma as the lead protagonist. The decision could have gone horribly wrong. It's a story about a food delivery rider who grapples with his new job after having to sit at home jobless for 8 months because of the pandemic. Sharma rises to the challenge and sheds all the baggage of his star comedian to play Manas. As his wife, Shahana Goswami is utterly brilliant. Zwigato is an earnest and engaging film, one that chooses to ask important questions.

Where to watch: Netflix

Read more here: Zwigato movie review: Kapil Sharma adds soul to this compelling tale that blends humour with honesty

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