(This article was updated on October 26, 2023). From Nayakan to Titli, we’ve assorted some of the best Indian thrillers on Amazon Prime streaming across languages — Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali.
Mysteries, whodunnits, suspense dramas — thriller as a genre fascinatingly unifies different narrative techniques and has the power to draw your attention from the get-go. Whether it’s a gripping crime drama, a psychological suspense, or a political espionage story, the best thrillers captivate audiences with intricate plots, well-fleshed characters, and unexpected twists. They challenge conventional storytelling norms, pushing the boundaries of what a thriller can achieve. Several Indian filmmakers, particularly in the recent past, have upped the stakes in the genre with their meticulous eye for detail. In fact, most of these filmmakers predominantly hail from regional industries whose movies were generally overlooked compared to the mainstream Bollywood.
In the ever-expanding universe of streaming content, Indian thriller genre has carved out a niche that’s both compelling and thought-provoking. And among all the OTT streaming platforms, Amazon Prime Video has a vast catalog of Indian titles. Quickly then, we bring you some of the best Indian thrillers streaming on Amazon Prime.
Note: These films were playing as of October 26, 2023.
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Best Indian Thrillers On Amazon Prime
1. Maanagaram (2017) – Tamil
Tamil hyperlink thriller Maanagaram (Metropolis) marks the feature-film debut of Lokesh Kanagaraj, who is now known for his action blockbusters Kaithi (2019) and Vikram (2022). Set in Chennai, the narrative revolves around four interlinked stories. The central characters of each of these stories is a job-seeking engineering graduate from a small town — Sri, a hot-headed youngster; Sundeep Kishan, a cab driver; Charlie, and a bumbling criminal(Munishkanth. While facing their own personal conflicts, these peoples’ lives inadvertently intersect at various points when a ruthless gangster’s son is kidnapped.
Maanagaram explores the multi-faceted nature of a city in a thriller format through four unique characters. Lokesh’s taut and unflinching script meticulously builds up the tense conflicts and provides due catharsis in the end. The brisk pace and brilliant performances from the ensemble keep us thoroughly invested in the tale.
2. Ela Veezha Poonchira (2022) – Malayalam
Shahi Kabir’s slow-burn thriller is set on a scenic hilltop, where a small wireless police station is situated. Two cops are assigned to this remote outpost. The film opens with police officer Madhu (Soubin Shahir) making an arduous trip to the police station. There’s news of heavy monsoon as Madhu joins his carefree colleague, Sudhi. Soon, they receive communication about a woman’s body parts being scattered all over the mountain peak. After a few smart distractions, the film delivers some twisted answers to the central mystery.
Writers Shaji Maarad & Nidhish take up a simple emotional drama and deftly restructure it into an intriguing thriller. The nuanced characterization and astounding cinematography retain the suspense in the narrative. Soubin Shahir’s terrific performance brings out the many complex layers of his cryptic cop character.
3. Pada (2022) – Malayalam
Kamal KM’s balanced political thriller Pada is based on a true-life incident that happened in 1996. Four members of a leftist organization held a district collector hostage in his office, demanding the government to withdraw an amendment to an act that has unleashed injustice upon Adivasi or tribal communities. The film brilliantly dramatizes the incident, registering the dissenting voices of the impoverished and the forgotten. Part hostage thriller and part socio political drama, Pada’s central four characters are played by gifted Malayalam actors Vinayagan, Jogu George, Kunchaku Boban, and Dileesh Pothan.
The riveting performances will make you deeply root for the oppressed and their resistance against the apathetic system. At the same time, the film doesn’t lionize the men or try to evoke pity. The background score is used in a restrained manner, unlike many South Indian thrillers.
4. Karthik Calling Karthik (2010)
Vijay Lalwani’s Karthik Calling Karthick is an underrated psychological thriller that takes up a pretty unconventional subject in Indian cinema. The story revolves around a socially awkward titular character (played by Farhan Akhtar). He is bullied by his boss and landlord, and the girl of his dreams, Shonali (Deepika) barely acknowledges his existence. Just when Karthik feels like ending his empty life, he receives a call saying it’s Karthik calling. This reassuring Karthik sets out to change the life of introverted Karthik. Soon, miracles start to happen, but the voice at the other end doesn’t always play the benefactor role.
Lalwani’s film suffers from underwhelming writing and generic direction in the latter half. Yet the ominous atmosphere and flawlessly subtle performance from Farhan elevate the thriller elements. Shefali Shah plays a small role as the psychiatrist Dr. Kapadia.
5. Andha Naal (1954) – Tamil
S. Balachander’s murder-mystery thriller was a commercial failure but went on to win the second Best Feature Film in Tamil at the 2nd National Film Awards in 1955. It also acquired a cult status over the years. In 2013, CNN-News18 counted it in 100 Greatest Indian Films of All Time list.
Balachander was inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s enigmatic drama Rashomon (1950) which he watched at a film festival. Later, he wrote a play in that narrative style. Javar Seetharaman who plays the prominent detective role in the film, co-wrote the screenplay. Known as rare Tamil cinema that was made without song or dance sequences, Andha Naal employed certain film noir tropes. The greatest Tamil actor Sivaji Ganesan gained critical acclaim for the portrayal of his shady protagonist Rajan. Pandari Bai who plays his wife also offered a fierce performance.
6. Sonar Kella (1974) – Bengali
Apart from being a great filmmaker and a musical composer, Satyajit Ray has a talent for writing popular fiction. One particular genre that interested him was detective fiction, most of it featuring the charismatic private investigator Feluda. Sonar Kella aka Golden Fortress was Ray’s first of two Feluda movies, based on his own novels.
The narrative revolves around a little boy’s memories from his past life, where he supposedly lived in a golden fortress. This leads to a newspaper article which attracts attention of the tale’s antagonists. Soon, the boy’s father seeks the help of Feluda. Subsequently, they take a long train trip to find the truth behind the boy’s memories. Soumitra Chatterjee offers a subtle and riveting performance as Feluda. Ray masterfully maintains the tension and thrill in the movie’s three parallel narrative threads.
7. Nayakan (1987) – Tamil
The gangster epic — inspired by Mario Puzo’s Godfather — brought together three great personalities of Indian cinema. Kamal Haasan, Illayaraja and Mani Ratnam. It’s the story of a downtrodden young, rebellious guy becoming a savior of fellow downtrodden people. The film is partly based on real-life Tamil gangster Varadarajan Mudaliar. The nuance Kamal Haasan brings to the central role (Velu Naicker) is up there with Brando’s Corleone. While Mani Ratnam had creative freedom in Mouna Raagam, it was only in Nayakan that he fully developed his directorial voice. His penchant for sharp angles, light and darkness, sweeping set-ups were well established here.
This was P.C. Sreeram Mani Ratnam’s second collaboration. Both were at an early phase of their career. It was with Nayakan that they started their journey of capturing slice of life with all its layered features. There are few dated and mediocre elements in the film. But, Nayakan was much ahead of and different from the films of its time.
Watch Nayakan on Amazon Prime
8. Manorama: Six Feet Under (2007) – Hindi
Drawing inspiration from Roman Polanski’s classic Chinatown, Navdeep Singh’s neo-noir is an intense, dark, edge-of-the-seat thriller. An intricate, thoroughly consuming storyline unfolds across the winding dark alleys of Rajasthan as the viewer, along with the protagonist, set out to uncover a murder mystery. There’s much to appreciate in this underrated gem of a film with a socio-political context and philosophical undertones.
It’s a bit convoluted, but it was a unique neo-noir that was rare in Indian cinema at the time. Fiercely executed and with performances top notch (Abhay Deol, Vinay Pathak, Gul Panag, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Raima Sen), Manorama: Six Feet Under will leave you satiated if you’re in the mood for a good thriller.
9. Shanghai (2012) – Hindi
Costa Gavras’ Z (1969) talked of a different time, a different political situation during the turbulent 1960s Greece. But the fact that Dibakar Banerjee managed to transplant the European setting to modern India is a showcase of his talent in scriptwriting and direction. The core narrative itself would resonate across the world to transcend any social or cultural barriers. Dibakar’s pacing is incredible and he never wastes a moment. With some incredible performances by Emraan Hashmi and Kalki Koechlin, the movie manages to stun, thrill and amuse, as Dibakar’s attention to detail is evident here, in a mature, serious thriller, which ranks as one of his best films.
Watch Shanghai on Amazon Prime
10. Chotushkone (2014) – Bengali
Srijit Mukherji is a prolific Bengali filmmaker who’s had an equal number of hits and misses. The filmmaker often excels in the thriller genre, and made one of the best Indian serial-killer thrillers titled Baishe Srabon back in 2011. Chotushkone is another excellent dramatic thriller, featuring a great ensemble cast that includes Parambrata Chatterjee, Aparna Sen, and Goutam Ghose.
It has a classic mystery/thriller set-up with four popular filmmakers coming together to meet an unknown prospective producer. They are asked to make an anthology film with death as a recurring theme in their stories. Mr. Mukherji uses thriller aspects to look into an artist’s creative process. The intricate screenplay demands a second viewing to contemplate its subtext. Chotushkone features the narrative device of film within a film, which Mukherji later employed in films like Vinci Da and Uma.
11. Titli (2014) – Hindi
Film’s titular character wants to break free from his gangster family and start life afresh as a law-abiding citizen. However, things change when he gets married. Titli captures the gloomy essence of Eastern Delhi to full tilt. Moreover, it features a solid rendering of its fairly dark subject.
Kanu Behl’s narrative is largely concerned with the men on the streets, who are part of a dynamic criminal underworld. It also doubles up as a character study of an individual who tries to escape the grim backstreets for a brighter future. Shashank Arora is bewitching in the titular role. This is one of the most well realized Bollywood dramatic thrillers out there!
Watch Titli on Amazon Prime
12. The Hungry (2017) – Hindi
The Hungry, directed by Bornila Chatterjee is a contemporary retelling of the Shakespearean tragedy, Titus Andronicus. The movie is purely an art-house film that puts a lot of effort into the characters as well as the storyline. In the backdrop of a New Delhi wedding, The Hungry gets the perfect environment to explore the emptiness and self-destruction that contrasts with the extravagant wedding setting.
The film is quite mysterious and homicidal in its own right as it jumps from timeline to timeline while maintaining immaculate consistency in both plot and performance. It concentrates on the lives of various characters who are in some way or another linked to each other either by bloodline or by the threads of destiny.
13. Raazi (2018) – Hindi
A taut spy thriller helped by an edge-of-the-seat narrative and a fine ensemble of actors, Raazi is a wartime tale set in 1971. It chronicles the true story of a young Kashmiri girl trained as a spy sent behind enemy lines ahead of the Indo-Pak war. Alia Bhatt as Sehmat renders some fine, jaw-dropping moments and her character transition is smooth. She brings out the innocence and brazenness with equal conviction. Watch Raazi for Meghna Gulzar’s compelling storytelling, supported by brilliant performances (Jaideep Ahlawat, Vicky Kaushal, Shishir Sharma, Rajit Kapur, Amruta Khanvilkar). I wish Vicky Kaushal had more to do.
Amidst the spate of jingoistic dramas, Raazi is a welcome relief that looks into the grim realities of the spy game.
Watch Raazi on Amazon Prime
14. Magamuni (2019) – Tamil
Santhakumar’s Magamuni is a hard-hitting revenge thriller which revolves around two twin-brothers separated when they were young. Aarya brilliantly plays the contrasting dual roles. Maga is a cab driver who also works as a paid-killer for a local politician. Muniraj lives in a small village. He is a soft-spoken guy who invests himself in organic farming.
Magamuni is not a simple tale of separated twin brothers crossing each other’s paths. The film benefits from a nuanced screenplay where each character was written with great depth. It’s what makes the thriller aspect of the narrative unbelievably gripping. Prior to Magamuni, Santhakumar made the path-breaking character-driven Tamil thriller Mouna Guru (2011).
15. Virus (2019) – Malayalam
Aashiq Abu’s Malayalam thriller is an extremely humanizing and moving portrayal of a crisis which shook an entire state. This Medical thriller is based on the Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala. It largely unfolds like a docudrama which 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 visualized with such dedication and finesse that it seems impossible to isolate the movie as a fictional piece. Besides, the film’s atmosphere of dread and tension resonated much amid the tough pandemic.
Watch VIRUS on Amazon Prime
16. Kavaludaari (2019) – Kannada
Kavaludaari is a thriller as well as a character-driven neo-noir written and directed by Hemanth M Rao (who also co-wrote Andhadhun). The film revolves around a traffic cop who tries to solve a decades-old murder case with the help of a retired police officer and a compulsive journalist. Hemanth’s director is particularly clever when he establishes the facts of the case. This includes a distinctly visualized scene where the protagonist goes through the old case files.
Kavaludaari does disappoint us towards the end which drags us into politics and personal revenge. Nevertheless, for the large part it stays on track and remains a gripping police procedural.
17. Agent Sai Srinivas Athreya (2019) – Telugu
Swaroop RSJ’s funny detective thriller mystery is a breath of fresh air amidst the over-stylized Telugu masala features. Naveen Polishetty offers a witty performance in the titular role, who despite being a clever sleuth tries and fails in establishing himself as the Nellore Sherlock Holmes. Naveen has also co-written the script with Swaroop.
The duo fascinatingly balances comedy and edge-of-the-seat thrill. The film is a bit marred by pacing problems. Moreover, like an average Indian thriller, it over explains its narrative threads. Yet, thanks to the satisfying mystery and Naveen’s hilarious, fast-talking dialogues, the film is engaging throughout. Eventually, the mystery/thriller also provides a much-needed social commentary on religious superstitions.
18. Thadam (2019) – Tamil
This investigative suspenseful thriller has a lot going for it. The edgy cinematography stands atop some great acting as we delve deeper and deeper into the detective drama. The plot revolves around a murder for which two lookalikes are suspected and both of them could have been equally guilty or equally innocent. There are not many clues that the movie gives us initially but the final reveals are quite satisfactory. The movie, with its great execution, kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. It is definitely worth a watch and also manages to squeeze a very prevalent social issue into the plot.
Thadam is now all set to be remade in Hindi featuring Sidharth Malhotra in the lead. The still untitled Hindi remake is due for release in 2021.
19. Joji (2021) – Malayalam
Written by Syam Pushkaran and directed by Dileesh Pothan, Joji is loosely inspired by MacBeth and Koodathayi cyanide murders. The versatile Fahadh Faasil plays the titular character, the black sheep of a wealthy Panachel family. Joji is the youngest offspring. He lacks courage but shows a knack for deception. When the patriarch of the family falls sick, Joji’s greed pushes him towards crime.
Joji excellently uses the dread-filled pandemic atmosphere to create tension. The film might be less gratifying than Pothan’s first two films – Maheshinte Prathikaram and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyu. Yet it’s an intriguing riff on Macbeth, employing a very unique and grounded domestic setting.
Watch Joji on Amazon Prime
20. Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar (2021) – Hindi
A lot of critics who’ve reviewed Dibakar Banerjee’s recent film misconceive it as a chase thriller. Of course, the title is partly suggestive. What Banerjee rather offers is a gripping character portrait of two characters hailing from vastly contrasting backgrounds. The narrative does have a few flaws, in terms of pacing and writing. But he fascinatingly subverts our expectations throughout the film. Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra astound us with their grounded performances. The filmmaker’s trademark black humor adds more intrigue to this thriller.
21. Jalsa (2022) – Hindi
Jalsa is the second directorial venture of Suresh Triveni, who previously made Tumhari Sulu (2017) with Vidya Balan. It is a social drama that unfolds like a procedural. The narrative revolves around Maya Menon (Vidya Balan), a renowned journalist known for her unwavering honesty. Maya has a son named Ayush. Maya’s trusted cook Ruksana (Shefali Shah) is also part of the family, who also takes care of Maya’s disabled son. A fateful accident and subsequent inquiry, however, put the two women in a terrifying situation.
Jalsa deals with themes of social inequality, class conflicts, motherhood, and injustice. Stellar performances from Balan and Shah keep us invested despite a convoluted second-half.
22. Malyankunju (2022) – Malayalam
Fahad Faasil once again offers a wonderfully restrained performance in Sajimon Prabhakar’s survival thriller Malyankunju. The versatile Malayalam actor plays Anil Kumar aka Anikuttan. He runs an electronic goods repair store in the mountain village, where he lives with his father. Anil is a casteist and a petulant man. He seems to have changed a lot since his father’s death. Anil undergoes a painful redemption arc as he is trapped under the debris of a landslide.
Mahesh Narayanan’s screenplay and cinematography offer us a complex character study of a despicable individual, who attempts to overcome a calamity. The narrative takes its time establishing Anil’s character traits and his surroundings. A.R. Rahman’s background score adds a lot to the tension, especially when focusing on the protagonist’s survival.
There you go! That was our list of the best Indian thrillers streaming on Amazon Prime. We might have failed to include some of the familiar and good Bollywood thrillers like Ek Hasina Thi (2004) and the super-popular Drishyam 2 (2021, Malayalam). If you’re looking to explore further, check out Hit (The First Case), an engaging Telugu suspense thriller, and Gatham (Telugu), a cleverly designed indie film made on a shoestring budget of 1 crore. Besides, there are decent crime/thrillers like Imaikka Nodigal (2017, Tamil) and Bannerghatta (2021, Kannada). Tell us in the comments if you think we’ve missed out on anything exciting, that deserves a mention on this list.