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17 Must Watch Indian Movies Of 2019

17 Must Watch Indian Movies Of 2019

best indian movies of 2019

(Updated: March 21, 2021) India is a land of diverse cultures. From varying cultures comes art, each distinct in voice and style but one that carries a universal appeal. The year 2019 saw Indian cinema delve into socio-political and cultural themes that resonated with the masses. And then there were stories of philosophical significance, stories that made you think, stories that made you question. Here’s what we thought are some of the best Indian movies (in no particular order) to have come out this year. What do you think?


1. Super Deluxe (Tamil)

Director: Thiagarajan Kumararaja

Thiagarajan Kumararaja’s neo-noir is an exemplary work of art. It has a very unique and distinct style of storytelling that follows many different plots that merge together into a singularity. Credits are in order to writers – Mysskin, Nalan Kumarasamy, Neelan K.Sekhar and Kumararaja. The best thing about this movie is its unpredictability and shock value. But then again, the twists weren’t created purely for shock value. There’s meaning and purpose behind them.

The camerawork and cinematography are top-notch. So is the execution. The film takes simple everyday life stories and escalates them to an all-new level. The capacity for creativity and the potential for imagination required to pull off something like this is what separates Super Deluxe from the ordinary. The marks of a true and talented filmmaker are all over this one.

Where to Watch: Netflix


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2. Virus (Malayalam)

Director: Aashiq Abu

Virus is a Malayalam documentary drama based on the Nipah virus outbreak in Kerela. The movie revolves around the life stories of those who suffered and those who stood up to the unrelenting virus that didn’t have a cure. The desperation, struggles and utter hopelessness have been re-enacted and visualised with such dedication and finesse that it seems impossible to isolate the movie as a fictional piece. Aashiq Abu’s film is an extremely humanising and moving portrayal of a crisis which shook an entire state. Woeful is the fact that a major chunk of the population does not even know of the hardships that were involved in the containment of the deadly disease.

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime


3. Kumbalangi Nights (Malayalam)

Director: Madhu C. Narayanan

Kumbalangi Nights is a pure and simple story of love and life. It’s a slice-of-life drama that focuses on a lot of different things — friendship, society, stereotypes, true love, etc. It’s a delightful, organic experience. The sibling dynamic is amazing as well. The story takes its time but never feels like it’s dragging out. The characters are real. There is a great balance between character and plot. The first half and the second half compliment each other as one is focused on character development while the other focuses on the plot.

Striking a perfect balance is anything but easy. But the filmmakers make it look so effortless it’s almost unbelievable. This beautiful small-town film is a definite masterpiece about unbreakable bonds and relationships. It displays amazing humour rooted deeply in reality and provides an understanding of the enigma of life.

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime


4. Article 15

Director: Anubhav Sinha

Article 15 is a bold, fearless attempt at depicting the grim reality of 21st century India. A fiercely intense and nuanced portrait of a country blinded by its prejudices and hypocritical leanings. It was a much-needed film and so relevant for our times. The socio-political issues couldn’t get any closer to reality. So does the treatment of the film.

Article 15 is brutal and hard-hitting. The performances only add to it. Ayushmann Khurana’s restrained act seethes with unflinching resolve. Is there something you can’t do, Ayushmann Khurrana? Like 2018, this is your year! Sayani Gupta is a revelation. Zeeshan Ayyub’s is a brief but class act. The supporting cast rounds it out to perfection. (By Mansi Dutta)

Where to Watch: Netflix


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5. Soni

Director: Ivan Ayr

Soni is a crime-drama unlike any other. It tells the story of a female cop who faces obstacles because of her temper and gender expectations. Soni is special in its own way. Its most extraordinary feat is perhaps dealing with a sensitive subject-matter without getting preachy. The movie is steeped in realism and is driven forward with the aid of unflinchingly powerful performances and captivating and mesmerising music.

Debutant director Ivan Ayr gives us the many faces of India, both progressive and regressive while highlighting the merits and demerits of both.

Where to Watch: Netflix


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6. To Let (Tamil)

Director: Chezhiyan

ToLet is a film that has been shot beautifully and has been shot with the purpose of showcasing the realities and sorrows of those who suffer silently — the common people who are living within a false sense of security. It’s fragile as a feather. Even a light gust of wind can take it away, just like the symbolic balloon in the trailer. The human life is fleeting and so is its value in today’s world. The film delves into the dark side of humanity. ToLet nails its point home as it takes you on a journey with a stranded family who are desperately looking for a place to live after being evicted from their house. The premise is simple yet it is made engaging with the help of some wonderful performances and remarkable direction.

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime


7. Gully Boy

Director: Zoya Akhtar

Gully Boy is the 8 Mile of Bollywood. It celebrates the true essence of rap. Gully Boy is a bare, raw and fierce portrayal of life for the less fortunate. It functions as a bildungsroman, weaving a heart-touching tale of an ordinary man who rises up to be clad in the vestiture of stardom.

Gully Boy gives us a feel-good ending where the flawed protagonist goes from rags to riches, as he turns his miserable reality into an almost unbelievable victory against all odds. The popular track, ‘Apna Time Aayega’ summifies the essence of the film. One up for Zoya Akhtar who takes the reins and steers Gully Boy to incredible commercial and critical success. It’s one hell of an incredibly well-made film. Do not miss. (By Aditya Sarma)

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime


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8. Vinci Da (Bengali)

Director: Srijit Mukherji

Srijit Mukherji’s Vinci Da is an artistic psychological crime thriller. It tells the story of a struggling make-up artist who is funnelled into becoming an accomplice of a justice-crazed serial killer. The story is like no other you have ever seen and leaves some poignant images in the viewer’s minds. The solid performances and the crisp dialogue are what hold the film together during most of the second half. But it is amazing to witness such artistic talent and strokes of brilliance in what is essentially a crime thriller.

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime


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9. Sonchiriya

Director: Abhishek Chaubey

Chaubey’s period-piece thriller is a class act. It is set in 1970’s Chambal and tells the tale of dacoits. It is pretty close to the slow-burn Western genre.

We get a rooted close-up into the heartlands of India. The rugged and gritty portrayal sits excellently with the theme of psychological salvation and redemption. Honour among thieves is brilliantly portrayed as we find out that people are not what they seem to be on the surface. Thugs can have morals and upstanding men can be devils in disguise.

The fight scenes, action sequences and portrait shots are breathtaking. But despite all the gunfights, the movie is rooted not in crime but in its consequence. Self-accountability can be the most daunting of all tasks. To commit to violence while not being swallowed by your inner demons is not for the faint of heart.

Where to Watch: Zee5


10. Hamid

Director: Aijaz Khan

Set against the backdrop of a nation long divided by politics and war, Hamid is a poignant human tale of loss, resilience and hope.

It tells the heartbreaking story of Ishrat (Rasika Dugal) whose husband (Sumit Kaul) has gone missing, her indefinite search thereafter and the trauma that comes with it; it’s the story of 8-year old Hamid (Talha Arshad Reshi) who hatches a naive plan to bring back his missing father.

What also makes Hamid beautiful is there are no taking sides. The film shuns theatrics and never attempts to impose ideologies and beliefs. It gives a fair picture and an equal voice to both sides. While the film does evoke anger, the idea is to stir up compassion and empathy. And director Aijaz Khan does so with sophistication and ease.

John Wilmor’s cinematography adds weight to the narrative; capturing the turbulence as deftly as the tranquil, constantly reminding us through his lens what Kashmir once stood for. (By Mansi Dutta)

Where to Watch: Netflix



11. Gamak Ghar (Maithili)

Director: Achal Mishra

Mishra’s Gamak Ghar (2019) is an ode to his upbringing in Darbhanga, Bihar. The film’s protagonist is a rural house, and through 3 different timelines, explores its birth and decay, simultaneously examining the lives of the people associated with it.

The stunning cinematography, extremely patient editing, non-actor performances, and enjoyable experimentation with aspect ratios all combine to lend this film a deeply authentic and moving feel. The idea of a once-bustling village home silently crumbling under the stress of urbanization, inherently possesses something very moving about it. (By Abhay Budki)


12. Game Over (Tamil, Telugu, Hindi)

Director: Ashwin Saravanan

One of the best thrillers to be released this year, Game Over comes out on top of every aspect as a complete and utterly brilliant film. It deals with the psychological condition of “anniversary reaction” triggered by a post-traumatic stress disorder. Game Over keeps you on the edge with its twists and turns and never lets you go once it holds you hostage with its mystique and suspense. Tapsee Pannu turns in an amazing performance. She has truly outdone herself this time by aptly justifying the fears and the struggles of someone who would have to go through what her character did in the film.

The plot is remarkable and blends very well with modern times. The film is original and quite brave in its approach to video games, using the medium to its full potential. It’s nothing short of a genius creative attempt to redefine thrillers and cinema as a whole.

Where to Watch: Netflix (Tamil, Telugu, Hindi)

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13. Nagarkirtan (Bengali)

Director: Kaushik Ganguly

best indian movies of 2019
Image Source: firstpost

Kaushik Ganguly’s Nagarkirtan is one of best Indian movies you’ll witness this year. It explores gender identity with the sensitivity and respect that it deserves. In the larger canvas of the Indian movie industry, the topic was never given due credibility. This minority community has been suppressed for long and even the art form of cinema has shifted them to the background only using them for crass jokes and insensitive, offensive humour.

A very special thing about the film is it doesn’t patronize mainstream society. It does not preach about the discriminations and the sufferings that the community faces. It simply paints a realistic portrait of the struggles of their everyday lives. The movie gives birth to a very tender and humanising narrative that stays with you and has the potential to actually change the mindset of the most orthodox. The movie itself is a heartfelt, democratic appeal to our society as a whole to empathise with the plight of the transsexual community.


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14. Bhonsle

Director: Devashish Makhija

Bhonsle presents a striking social commentary on the issue of community-based biases and discriminations which are far too prevalent in our society today. Makhija takes a fragmented country and turns the entire problem into a gripping narrative that challenges the entire subcontinent with its gritty and violent but realistic portrayal of a Maharashtra that is steeped in hegemony and intolerance. The movie only shows the brutalities taking place among Marathas and the migrant Biharis but the metaphor stands for any two different and warring factions.

The differences could be regional, communal, linguistic, cultural, etc. But the observation remains the same. The violence never changes. People tend to take law in their own hands and more often than not regret their decisions. The movie also gives us a striking image of an unneeded and broken man striving to survive in a ruthless, unforgiving world. Bhonsle is a work of art, and being as artistic as it is, it may need a bit of time to get going in the first half. But once it takes off, it’s one hell of a ride.


15. Aamis (Assamese)

Director: Bhaskar Hazarika

Assamese filmmaker Bhaskar Hazarika won a National award for his debut feature Kothanodi, loosely based on popular folktales. His sophomore effort Aamis is a thoroughly original, thought-provoking film that is currently the toast of international festivals and sparking debate all over. In Assamese, the word ‘Aamis’ means non-vegetarian and the film uses food, rather meat based foods, as a metaphor for this dark, twisted, love story. The story is quite simply about forbidden love between an older married woman and a much younger man. It explores the curious relationship between food and sex, that has been given a brilliant dimension by the director, for whom, the darkness in human psyche has always held more fascination.

Unexpressed desire that rots, that takes a different turn because there is no other way to live that love. The young protagonist Sumon (Arghadeep Baruah) who is in love with the much older married pediatrician Dr Nirmali (Lima Das) embarks on a journey of experimenting and eating different meats, that range from the basic chicken to even the largely revolting bat meat. In between these supposedly harmless food fetishes, their repressed love and the meat eating takes a macabre turn.

Despite the degradation, the depravity that this love brings, the director lends them a strange dignity that does not allow us to condemn them, rather marvel at their capacity to bear the pain and angst.

Alongwith being a slice of reality, it also celebrates dark, twisted, depraved love, simply because it exists. An absolute must watch! (By Tashneem Ali Chaudhury)


16. Nirvana Inn

Director: Vijay Jayapal

Vijay Jayapal’s sophomore effort is a symbolic masterpiece. He weaves together a story about how one life can influence others and how one death can silence many. The unique thing about the film is that you can’t restrict it to a single genre. Although several movies have taken that route, this one excels at representing varied and sometimes conflicting themes by piecing them together into a slice of one man’s life. The movie presents itself as a horror. But then takes a sharp turn into the thriller territory. It’s also a deep psychological piece dealing with suicide and survivor’s guilt.

Nirvana Inn is not a film. It’s a story-building machine. You will subconsciously start constructing new and distinct realities within the universe of Nirvana Inn. So much is left to the imagination that the film almost becomes an interactive medium, exactly what hardcore post-modernists would want. The director took a tall-tale and molded it into a multi-dimensional warp gate.

All in all, Nirvana Inn is an experience best savoured by viewing it first-hand. A milestone in storytelling and presentation style, it’s sure to shake things up for our industry.


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17. Eeb Allay Ooo 

Director: Prateek Vats

Prateek Vats’ political satire cleverly explores class conflict. It shines light on the carefully sidelined migrant community, who’s penalised if it dares to transgress the unwritten rules laid out by the privileged few, for it must quietly function like cogs in the wheel to keep our cities and lives moving.

A keenly observed film, Eeb Allay Ooo speaks a language rich in metaphors. It offers an unassuming, unpretentious atmosphere leading you quietly into its narrative, never being indulgent at the cost of its viewer.

The city, like the script, offers and often lends itself to plentiful symbolisms. Saumyananda Sahi’s cinematography remarkably juxtaposes the cityscape of the elite against the cramped, crumbling dwellings of the less fortunate. (Read Eeb Allay Ooo full review)

Where to Watch: Netflix

 

Conclusion

There we are! These were some of the best Indian movies we’ve seen this year. What about you? Which are your favourites? How many of these have you seen? What did we miss? What are other other films you’re looking out for in 2019? Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments below.

By Deepjyoti Roy, Mansi Dutta, Aditya Sarma


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