What makes a movie underrated? Is it when critically applauded but doesn’t gain the limelight it deserves? Or is it when the movie is liked only by a few?
Underrated movies are those that are worth your time but they might not be on your radar. Maybe because they didn’t make as much noise or maybe because it lagged behind in the box office!
This year, just like every year, there were several great films that were released only to go largely unnoticed. They could have made the biggest impression had they got more exposure but for some reason they couldn’t. These films mentioned below are definitely worth your time, if you haven’t watched them already.
#1 Posham Pa
Director: Suman Mukhopadhyay
Cast: Mahie Gill, Sayani Gupta, Ragini Khanna
“Posham Pa is kind of like Breaking Bad,” actress Mahie Gill who plays a prominent role in the movie had said. So, if you liked the greatest TV show of all time, you might want to watch this one too. Not only that, the Zee5 Originals’ psychological thriller was also hailed as Indian version of Mindhunter soon after it was released.
The unbelievable story of serial killers is about three women who go on murderous spree in a small town. The film is inspired by convicted murderers Seema Gavit and Renuka Shinde. The movie is intriguing and the ending will leave you startled yet impressed.
Director: Sujoy Ghosh (Kahaani fame)
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Taapsee Pannu, Amrita Singh
The Taapsee Pannu and Amitabh Bachchan starrer mystery thriller is the official remake of The Invisible Guest. It is one of those films wherein every minute counts and the guessing game keeps you hooked throughout. With a strong narrative and good performances, Badla becomes an intriguing watch.
It’s a story about dynamic young entrepreneur (Taapsee Pannu) who finds herself locked in a hotel room with the corpse of her dead lover. While everyone suspects that she killed him, she hires a prestigious lawyer (Amitabh Bachchan) to defend her. As they work together to figure out what actually happened, things take an ugly turn. The storyline of the movie has so many twists and turns that it’ll keep you engaged until the very end.
#3 Love Sonia
Director: Tabrez Noorani
Cast: Mrunal Thakur, Freida Pinto, Demi Moore, Mark Duplass, Manoj Bajpayee, Rajkummar Rao, Richa Chadda, Riya Sisodiya, Anupam Kher, Adil Hussain, Sai Tamhankar and Sunny Pawar
Love Sonia is one of the rare Indian films that created storm at International film festivals for its remarkable plot and stellar performances. The movie will be keep you hooked and leave you with a lot of thoughts after it ends. It’s a reality check – the kind of reality you wouldn’t like.
Love Sonia follows the harrowing story of two sisters, one of whom is sold by their debt-ridden father, who get trapped in sex trade. It showcases the real side of flesh trade and how it operates. It also talks about a farmer’s struggle. “Karne ko kya hai, ek din latak jaayene ped mein” -- dialogues like these makes the movie hard-hitting.
Fun Fact: Mrunal Thakur who plays one of the lead roles was cast after a year long search of over 2, 500 girls, and she simply nailed the role.
Director: Aijaz Khan
Cast: Rasika Dugal, Vikas Kumar and Talha Arshad Reshi
A beautiful portrayal of love, loss and longing, Hamid throws light on the harsh reality of Kashmir. Do you know how many people go missing in the valley of Kashmir overnight? Their families live the rest of their lives waiting and hoping that their loved ones would return one day.
Based on the Amin Bhat’s play Phone No 786, Hamid follows the story of a little boy and her mother whose father goes missing. Waiting for his missing father, the Kashmiri boy attempts to call God for help until the day when an army officer picks up his call. The sweet telephonic relationship between the two is heartwarming.
Not only does this movie beautifully portrays the pain and struggles of people living in Kashmir, it also showcases a heartfelt friendship being struck during an unexpected circumstance.
Did you know child actor Talha Arshad Reshi who played the titular role in the movie won the National Award for Best Child actor soon after the abrogation of Article 370, but since he lived in Kashmir, for the longest time the makers couldn’t share the good news with him? Wasn’t this irony heart-wrenching?
Director: Ivan Ayr
Cast: Geetika Vidya Ohlyan and Saloni Batra
At a time when injustice, inequality and crime against women are on the rise in the nation, have you ever imagined what it is like to be a female police officer? These women who don Khakhi fight injustice against society. But can they also be subject to harassment and misconduct in their own office?
Soni is a story that revolves around the bonding of a hot-headed female cop and her calm and patient senior officer. They are both subject to frequent sexual harassment as well as patriarchy. The emotional drama is a portrays the outrage against sexism, and with the two lead actresses giving a spectacular performance makes it all seem real.
#6 Mere Pyare Prime Minister
Director: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Cast: Anjali Patil, Om Kanojiya, Atul Kulkarni and Makrand Deshpande
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra has given us some amazing cult films like Rang De Basanti and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag -- that remain to be our favourites even after years of their releases. Another masterpiece that he made this year is Mere Pyare Prime Minister.
The story revolves around an eight-year-old protagonist named Kannu who lives in a slum and is upset about the fact that there is no toilet there. When he sees the repercussions of his mother defecating in the open where she gets raped, he is disheartened. He writes a letter to the prime minister about the incident and travels to Delhi from Mumbai along with his buddies Ringtone and Nirala.
The story is so gut-wrenching and heartwarming that you’ll get attached to the characters as well as the story. So much so, you’ll feel empathetic towards the little child.
#7 Hum Chaar
Director: Abhishek Dixit
Cast: Prit Kamani, Simran Sharma, Anshuman Malhotra and Tushar Pandey
When your friends understands you deep-down even when you make a wrong decision, is a feeling out of this world, right? There are several films made that have redefined friendships in Bollywood, Hum Chaar is the latest one to join the bandwagon.
It’s a story of four friends Namit, Manjari, Abeer and Surjo who become good friends at college and end up becoming each other’s family. But are friends like family? The film explores the idea that in modern times, friends indeed can be family. It’s yet another tale of ups and downs in friendships, but it’s so relatable that it's worth your time.
Director: Ritesh Batra
Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Sanya Malhotra
The film is written, co-produced and directed by Ritesh Batra, the man who made waves with his directorial debut movie The Lunchbox. If you loved The Lunchbox, this is another love story of two people who are contrastingly different from each other, yet their story isn’t unusual. In fact, it is quite relatable.
The story of Photograph revolves around a street photographer who is struggling to make ends meet. His grandmother is pressuring him to get married, so he convinces a shy stranger to pose as his fiancée. Soon, they develop a connection that transforms them in ways that even they didn’t expect.
Director: Abhishek Chaubey
Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Bhumi Pednekar, Manoj Bajpayee, Ranvir Shorey and Ashutosh Rana.
If you loved Paan Singh Tomar, you would love Sonchiriya too. What is the movie about? Set in the Chambal valley, Sonchiriya is a story about warring dacoits who were once terrorized Indian heartlands.
Manoj Bajapayee has given an impeccable performance in this one too. The story and the performances are simply great in this film.
Interestingly, when the movie was being shot a real life dacoit came to the sets of the movie and nobody apart from Manoj Bajpayee who belongs to that area could recognise him.
#10 Tashkent Files
Director: Vivek Agnihotri
Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Mithun Chakraborty, Shweta Basu Prasad, Pankaj Tripathi, Mandira Bedi and Pallavi Joshi
Generations have passed but the conspiracy theories surrounding the the mysterious death of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri haven’t died.
Hailed as the modern India’s icon, Lal Bahadur Shastri, who led the country during the Indo-Pak war of 1965 – the man whose slogan ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’ became popular during that time – was in Tashkent when the incident took place.
From doubts of poisoning to the fact that no post mortem was later carried out on his body, a lot of theories about Lal Bahadur Shastri’s mysterious death have been doing the rounds.
Vivek Agnihotri's Tashkent Files is one of those films which explores every aspect of his death. The best part about the movie is that it is not one-sided. It will present all facts and will leave you thinking in the end.
#11 Section 375
Director: Ajay Bahl
Cast: Akshaye Khanna, Richa Chadda and Meera Chopra
With rape cases rising in the country and brutality shocking us all every time, the question that what constitutes a rape is what everyone needs to address on priority. Can there be emotional manipulation when such cases are fought in the court? Do the laws require amendments? The movie will put you into deep thinking. With interesting story line and stellar performances by Akshaye Khanna and Richa Chadha, the movie will keep you intrigued.
#12 Game Over
Director: Ashwin Saravanan
Cast: Taapsee Pannu, Vinodhini Vaidyanathan, Anish Kuruvilla, Sanchana Natarajan, Ramya Subramanian and Parvathi T
If you like psychological thrillers, this is the movie that you should definitely watch, if you haven't already. The movie has so many layers that it will leave you confused at various occasions. Starring Taapsee Pannu, the story of Game Over revolves around a game developer with PTSD who has to deal with a serial killer. As the movie progresses, it blurs the thin line between reality and imagination and it's going to make you flip.
#13 Gone Kesh
Director: Qasim Khallow
Cast: Shweta Tripathi, Jitendra Kumar, Vipin Sharma, Deepika Amin and Brijendra Kala
Do you remember Amitabh Bachchan starrer Paa? Gone Kesh will remind you of that heartwarming story.
The film reflects the tale of a 15-year-old girl who is an ambitious dancer but is diagnosed with alopecia, a condition in which she starts to lose hair quite rapidly. The movie deals with the stigma attached to how hair defines beauty. This film was highly underrated. There were several movies that focussed on the subject -- like Ayushmann Khurrana’s Bala -- but successfully offered the message of inner beauty.
How many of these have you watched?