Generally, every holiday is encountered with masala, overhyped Bollywood movies. However, sometimes we are gifted with some astonishing, unusual, movies on the silver screen. Those movies lack the item dances, the craze of the Khans, or the forceful comedy lines. They don’t even gain a significant amount of audiences’ appreciation. It also happens that during their release, some other famous, well-promoted films overshadow the quality flicks.
We have collected such a handful of movies and listed them down for all the cinephiles.
The topper of the list is a period horror drama movie. It is set in the lands of Tumbbad, British Maharashtra, around the 20th Century. The story starts with narrating about a God named “Hastar”, which we usually are not acquainted with. A family builds the shrine of the monster (according to the mythology as he portrays signs of greed for wealth and food) with strictly forbidden signs of worshipping. However, when one of the family members slips into greedy slime and touches the curse, the trail of catastrophic consequences starts to follow the generation. Tumbbad is an absolute work of perfectionist as you will witness their skills in acting, cinematography, direction, etc.
The film received the underrated tag due to its poor marketing skills. Many of the cinephiles did not hear about the movie due to such improper promotion. However, when the movie hit the Amazon Prime screen, the film gained fast followers in a short period. Well, it was quite natural as the cinema will make you glued to your seat. After watching the movie on a smaller screen, many regretted not watching it in halls. Adesh Prasad and Rahi Anvil Barve present you the absolute horror, morale film starring Sohum Shah. It rhymes with must-watch.
Pink – A color suited only for females, and females can quickly perish under power. The film comes with a fierce storyline where it held up women’s rights. Unfortunately, many misogynist patriarchal minded men try to influence verdict using their masculinities. Well, the 2016 film put a tight slap to those men with the words, “No means No” (in pink). A group of three girls was molested by the politician’s nephew, a big shot guy. When the trio went to the judiciaries to get justice, they were hindered with waves of power. In fact, without facing questions against their character, they could not lodge a pure FIR against the attackers.
The case starts to get dilute with powers, so does the justice until the retired lawyer comes in with the experience of integrity. Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury directed the suspenseful cinema, coupled with Shoojit Sircar as producer; undoubtedly, the quality of the film was at an epitome. Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu gave Goosebumps to the audience. They made the noise regarding women’s dignity, something which is not to be taken lightly. The social thriller film won the National Film Award on Social Issues. Therefore, it is a mandatory watch.
3. A Wednesday!
If you are looking for a family film, yet a thriller type, then we have got the best one for you: A Wednesday! A Neeraj Pandey drama film is set on a span of four hours in a weekday – Wednesday, where a soon to be retired Police Commissioner Prakash Rathod receives a phone call. According to him, it was the most exciting and adventurous case he had in his lifetime of duty. Although this case was never officially recorded. Anupum Kher, as Prakash Rathod, is informed that multiple bombs are planted in the city that never sleeps – Mumbai.
He was puzzled as to the informer, or should we say the antagonist was just another common man. The common man had an extraordinary plan for the bombs and his requests. Naseeruddin Shah, as the common man, delivered outstanding performances, where you just cannot leave the seat. The low budget film was loved by all the critics and therefore bagged the National Award as the best debut director! The film has such an awestruck storyline that a remake has been made in Hollywood – Common Man. I guess this is intriguing enough to watch the cinema.
4. Dhobi Ghat
How can the Aamir Khan Starrer film be in the list of underrated Bollywood movies? Well, somehow it found its way to here. Dhobi Ghat is a famous place for Mumbai, and the cinema revolves around it. Four different individuals – Arun (who is a divorcee painter), Shai (who is an investment banker, yet a passionate photographer), Munna (who is a washerman or dhobi works in the Dobhi Ghat, yet an aspiring Actor), and Yasmin (who makes videos for her brother as he never being to Mumbai) somehow collided with each other.
Their fates are intertwined, but will it for better or will devastate some? Kiran Rao cleverly directed the drama movie and received plenty of appreciation. Although the film did not do well at the box office (bummer for Aamir) but managed to slip into the list of Best Non-English Film in BAFTA Awards. Therefore, it is understandable how the movie came to the list, and you should give a watch.
5. Badhaai Ho
Indians love gossip! This is something where we have the same opinion. And Badhaai Ho is the perfect family drama to get entertained during the lockdown days. The middle-class people are often familiar with the phrase, “What will society say?” However, when Nakul’s mother found out she was pregnant, things became a mess. Well, what is the fuss about it? The catch is Nakul is 25 years old. Therefore, do a mental calculation of his mom’s. The satirical comedy starts with the society, but Nakul, himself is disappointed with his parents. Amidst the cold war, his relationship with his lover gets in jeopardy.
The movie teaches that society should know the limits of poking their noses. Moreover, there is no mandatory period where a woman can receive. Whenever she feels ready or wants, that is her choice. Amit Ravindrenath Sharma directed the bold storyline of this film and Ayushmann Khurrana as the protagonist, and the film received many awards. Among the long list, the two National Awards shimmers all the way – For supporting actress and for providing wholesome entertainment. The drama, comedy film, is sure to give you quality laughs as well as quality lessons.
6. Hindi Medium
The Indians believe that the standard of a person’s education qualification comes from the fluency of the English language. Therefore, a couple of Raj and Mita is hell bent to admit their daughter into a renowned English medium school. They are ready to go at any lengths so that their daughter can receive education from a reputed institution. However, they soon find out that the admission is being hindered due to their background.
Alas, they start manipulating facts so that Pia gets the admission. Saket Chaudhary proves how our biased attachment to the language leads to unnecessary drama. Irrfan Khan Starrer, Hindi Medium, is a genuinely good film for the cinephiles. It does not matter how old you are; you are sure to burst in laughter while teaching the lessons. A quality watch movie!
7. The Lunch Box
We have another Irrfan Khan starrer movie on the list, the typical Lunch Box. The romantic drama by Ritesh Batra is an outstanding movie where love evolves between the unlikeliest people. The lunchbox services are quite a remarkable job. A woman named Ila used to make lunch for her husband and send it through the service. However, due to an unfortunate (most likely fortunate) error, the box gets delivered to Saajan Fernandes.
Soon, a friendship followed by romance started to bud between them. It is a sweet, warm, and affectionate film without any cloying factor. The film received a long list of accolades and was thoroughly praised. The first time director made a crowd-pleasing cinema, which definitely should be in your inventory.
8. Mr. and Mrs. Iyer
This movie will send a chill down by your spine. It shows the naked truth of every communal riot that takes place in our country. Although we carry the Secular tag, yet the brutal acts cannot be stopped. The story leaps the bus journey where a mother (a Tamil Brahmin) and her daughter are seated close to a Bengali Muslim guy – Raja Chowdhury. The wildlife photographer was even asked not to touch Mrs. Iyer due to cultural differences.
However, when their bus got stopped due to a communal riot, things started to change. A gang of Hindu enters into the bus to enquire about passenger’s religion. Mrs. Iyer voluntarily protects the Muslim by telling; he is her husband, Mr. Iyer. Extraordinary performances by Konkona Sen Sharma and Rahul Bose helped in the success of Arpana Sen’s movie. This 2002 drama Bollywood holds up the mirror to 2020 realities.
9. Margarita with a Straw
Today we have many supporting groups for LGBTQ, trying to act as a catalyst for normalizing unnatural sexual choice. It has been just two years when consensual gay/lesbian intercourse is decriminalized. We, as Indians, still have a long way to go. However, coming out to your real identity before 2018 was pretty tough, so let us imagine for a cerebral palsy teenager!
Shonali Bose has meticulously directed the film subtly, showing how an orthodox mother (the Indian Society) can adapt and become supportive to her daughter. Kalki Koechlin starrer Margarita with a Straw was a bold move back in 2014, which led to many controversial stories behind its release. The critically acclaimed film should be watched with your family.
The CityLights reminds us of how we take our lives for granted. One of the most underrated films by Rajkumar Rao is a thought-provoking movie. This drama film starts with a family leaving their village (in Rajasthan) as the husband (an ex-army) owes a lot of money. The family reaches Mumbai with nothing but a name of a friend. They hoped to settle and lead a happy life. But fate had some other plans.
Upon their arrival, the innocent husband gets tricked twice, and the wife ends up working as a bar dancer for their livelihood. The climax is a tragic, saddening end, but that is just another face of the shiny Mumbai. We often skip that face, but we cannot skip the reality. Hansal Mehta was praised for his exceptional direction of the city’s hardships.
11. Pyaar Ka Punchnama
The sequel of this movie was a super hit, but many skipped part one. We assure you, it is a worthy watch. The list included drama, horror, and thriller; therefore, it is time to get some comedy and romance in the chart. The 2011 film starts with three bachelors living in an apartment in Noida and leading a monotonous, not so happening life. Soon, they find themselves with partners. Just like every rom-com, they fall for them hard!
And that’s where the problem starts to surface. Their lives are trailed by twists and turns of romance, which get through (all Bollywood’s do) but in satirical paths. The stomach aching comedy film is directed by Luv Ranjan, where Kartik Aaryan is the protagonist. This movie is undoubtedly giving you epic dialogues, just like the sequel.
Another epic film by Ayushmann Khurrana and also by Radhika Apte! The 2018 film falls into various categories – An Indian Dark comedy, drama, thriller, crime, etc. It is just a mix bag of full enjoyment and nail-biting drama. We have another veteran actor – Tabu. The film is extraordinary in every ordinary way. Sriram Raghavan has delivered a stunning and a treat to our Bollywood world.
The film opens with a pretentious visually impaired guy who is recruited for playing and teaching piano. Suddenly in the happy days, he finds himself amidst a murder of a formerly famous actor. He gets ghastly entangled in the mess; even his life is on the line. The black comedy of the film ends with a rhetorical question – was Akash blind? The film will give you laughter and 180 minutes of pure happiness.
13. Bheja Fry
We have another underrated 100% comedy Bollywood film on the list. The 2007 movie was made at a low-cost budget, yet they delivered the laughter thrice. Sagar Ballary was critically loved for his exceptional direction and even won many accolades and laurels for this comedy flick. The movie opens with Ranjeet welcoming an aspiring singer named Bharat into his humble home.
Alas, if he knew he was inviting trouble! As time goes by, Bharat is enlightened with the mess he made in Rajneet’s life and tries to fix the problems. But, instead of amending, he goes on adding to his list of troubles. Rajat Kapoor starrer comedy is first among the trilogy. It has a 100% guarantee to deliver laughter and enjoyable time.
14. Ki and Ka
After a long list of every genre, now we have another stereotyping breaking flick – Ki and Ka readily translate into her and him. We can reasonably guess, the movie delivers about gender stereotyping, but no, it shows another harsh reality we often overlook. Kareena Kapoor Khan, like Kia, is an ambitious woman ties knot with Arjun Kapoor, who prefers to stay at home husband. Something sounds off, doesn’t it? Well, that is the problem of our society; we have already assigned roles to the genders.
Coming back to the preview, they don’t mind leading such lives, but their happy days are hindered when another unforeseen ego clash takes place. The jealousy, dominating aspect challenges their marriage, but somehow they get through it. If you watch this movie, you will be left awestruck and spellbound by our definition of gender stereotyping. Every Indian needs to listen and understand the storyline of this film. R Balki delivered an essential movie to the history of Bollywood in 2016.
15. Manorama Six Feet Under
We shall end the list with another jackpot, mix bag film: Manorama Six Feet Under. An intriguing title, as one must say. The movie is mentioned under the crime, mystery, and drama genre. The story starts when a woman pays a considerable sum to investigate her husband. The wife, Manorama, is none other than the better half of the Irrigation Minister.
She suspects his husband is romantically involved with another woman. The investigator, Satyaveer, accepts the assignment unaware of the fact; he’s a participant of a bigger game. Navdeep Singh was applauded for his brilliant direction and casting Abhay Deol and Raima Sen as the lead actors. The 2007 flick has a must-watch for all types of movie buffs.
These are the most critically appreciated top 15 underrated movies. Since in India, we solely focus on the star casts, hence such quality watch gets lost amidst the crowded masala films. These cinematic gems are worthy of a binge-watch. Have fun while watching the best of Bollywood.