In 2021, OTT platforms converted living rooms into personal theatres for audience who longed for diverse and enjoyable content. Long before theatres reopened, film buffs got to witness some brilliant and riveting stories of human flaws, unconditional love, long-distance marriages, unsung heroes, determination and womanhood. Ah! We so wish these films get re-released on the big screen now.
After a year full of entertainment, it is time to sit back and rewind. OTT platforms offered a range of films belonging to genres like thriller, biopic, romance, patriotic etc. Now, let's take a look at the best films released in these 12 months. From Oscar-worthy Sardar Udham to heartwarming Mimi and Pagglait, one cannot simply miss out on these cinematic creations.
Arjun Rampal, Manav Kaul and Anand Tiwari served a nail-biting psychological crime thriller in Bugs Bhargave Krishna’s Nail Polish. The film released on ZEE5 on January 1. It orbited around a popular sports coach Veer Singh, who was accused of raping and murdering two migrant children and suspected of having killed dozens of others. The famous defence lawyer Sid Jaisingh entered the picture to solve the case.
Tribhanga, directed by Renuka Shahane, was a powerful tale of three headstrong women of one dysfunctional family dealing with the immediate and life-long repercussions of their emotions, decisions and life choices. Tanvi Azmi, Kajol and Mithila Palkar essayed the primary roles in the Netflix film. It is a sensitive take on the mother-daughter relationship. Tribhanga released on January 15.
The White Tiger
Netflix's The White Tiger is the adaptation of Aravind Adiga’s Man-Booker prize-winning novel. Directed by Ramin Bahrani, the film featured Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Rajkummar Rao and Adarsh Gourav in central roles. The White Tiger grabbed eyeballs for presenting an engrossing tale of servant and master where the former must try to rise above his predicament if he is lucky or else wallows in his own deprived birth-ridden ditch for the entirety. The film released on January 22.
One of Sanya Malhotra's best works, Pagglait took us into the life of Sandhya, who lost her husband Astik months after their wedding. Sandhya found it difficult to express grief after losing her husband. Paggalit revolved around her journey, evolution as a person over 13 days of mourning. The Umesh Bist-directorial is like a breath of fresh air. Pagglait released on March 26 on Netflix.
Ajeeb Daastaans was an anthology of four stories exploring emotions like jealousy, entitlement, prejudices and toxicity. The Netflix film was produced by Karan Johar. Shashank Khaitan's Majnu starred Fatima Sana Shaikh, Jaideep Ahlawat and Armaan Ralhan. The short film was based on lust and revenge. Raj Mehta’s Khilauna focused on class distinction. It starred Nushrratt Bharuccha, Abhishek Banerjee and Inayat Verma. Neeraj Ghaywan’s short film Geeli Pucchi was about same-sex love but with a twist. Konkona Sensharma and Aditi Rao Hydari played key roles. Kayoze Irani’s Unkahi featured Shefali Shah and Manav Kaul. It was all about unconditional love. Ajeeb Daastaans released on April 16.
Vinil Mathew's Haseen Dillruba was a delicious romantic thriller. Heavily inspired by the pulp fiction genre, the Netflix film starred Taapsee Pannu, Vikrant Massey and Harshvardhan Rane in interesting and surprising roles. Haseen Dillruba was about Rani Kashyap and Rishabh Saxena. The lack of spark in their sex life forced Rani to seek pleasure with Rishabh's cousin brother Neel. The story took a sharp twist when Rishabh learnt about it. An unconventional end and edgy characters made Haseen Dillruba an engaging watch. The film premiered on July 2.
Mimi, starring Bollywood's 'Param Sundari' Kriti Sanon, in the titular role, was an excellent look at surrogacy and adoption. The story of this Laxman Utekar directorial was about a Rajasthani dancer and aspiring Bollywood actress named Mimi, who is chosen to be a surrogate mother at the request of an American couple. The honest and emotional storytelling pierced through the hearts of the viewers. Despite being a remake of the Marathi film Mala Aai Vhhaychy!, Mimi stood out. The film released on Jio Cinema and Netflix on July 26.
Yeh Dil Mange More! That's what people said after watching Shershaah. Starring Sidharth Malhotra and Kiara Advani in central roles, the film was directed by Vishu Varadhan and produced by Karan Johar. Shershaah, based on Kargil war hero Vikram Batra, released on Amazon Prime Video on August 12. Sidharth played the role of Captain Batra whereas Kiara was Dimple Cheema. The film was appreciated by the critics and audience alike.
Probably one of the best-made biopics on an unsung hero, Sardar Udham was a slow-burn beauty that continues to linger in the minds of the audience. Directed by Shoojit Sircar, the film starred Vicky Kaushal in the lead and released on Amazon Prime Video on October 16. As the title suggests, it was based on Udham Singh, who assassinated Michael O' Dwyer, former lieutenant governor of Punjab, in revenge for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar in 1919. Sardar Udham was shortlisted as India's official entry for the 94th Academy Awards in the Best International Feature Film category. However, it was not sent to the Oscars and people were clearly not happy with the Film Federation of India (FFI) jury's decision.
Rashmi Rocket was about Rashmi Veera, a sprinter from Gujarat, who aspired to represent India in world athletics. The character played by Taapsee Pannu received support from her parents. Rashmi trained hard and tasted success for her talent. However, her success was short-lived when she was called for a gender verification test. Akarsh Khurana's film traced Rashmi's journey and how she fought for herself and other girls who were banned because of the unfair practice. Rashmi Rocket released on ZEE5 on October 14.
Sanya Malhotra and Abhimanyu Dassani's Meenakshi Sundareshwar was like a warm hug on a dull, stressful day. Directed by Vivek Soni, the Karan Johar-produced film released on Netflix on November 5. Set in Madurai, Meenakshi Sundareshwar spoke about long-distance marriage and the journey of the titular characters who go through several ups and downs to keep the spark in the relationship alive despite hindrances. Powered by excellent performances and a heartwarming love story, the film touched all those couples who face the same in reality.
Just like its title, Aanand L Rai's Atrangi Re explored the unusual love story of its protagonists- Rinku, Vishu and Sajjad- played by Sara Ali Khan, Dhanush and Akshay Kumar. The film primarily focused on Sara's Rinku who got married to Vishu (Dhanush), forcefully. However, she wished to marry her boyfriend, magician Sajjad (Akshay). The story revolved around the unconventional love triangle. Atrangi Re released on Disney+Hotstar on December 24.
Kunal Deshmukh's Shiddat showed us what passionate love means. The film released on Disney+Hotstar on October 1. Sunny Kaushal, Radhika Madan, Mohit Raina and Diana Penty played the lead roles. Shiddat was about Jaggi and Kartika's young love. While everything seems perfect, their love story faced a rough phase when Kartika's parents fix her marriage with a London-based person. The film traced Jaggi's journey to reclaim his love.
Hum Do Hamare Do
Paresh Rawal, Ratna Pathak, Rajkummar Rao and Kriti Sanon's Hum Do Hamare Do brought to fore a unique concept. Directed by Abhishek Jain, the protagonist of the film adopted his parents so that he could marry his ladylove. It was a quirky comedy entertainer that expertly portrayed the longing of people coming from broken families. Hum Do Hamare Do released on Disney+Hotstar on October 29.