Top 10 Indian Films of 2021 (So Far), Ranked (2023)

Malayalam cinema is flourishing. Hindi cinema is languishing. An unscientific, mid-year survey of the Indian film industry throws up that conclusion. In year two of the pandemic, which is, in some ways harder than year one because we imagined that we would be out of the woods by now, films from Kerala have sustained and nourished us. These stories of human frailty, hubris, family, relationships, good and evil, crime and punishment have startled us with their originality and craft. Meanwhile Bollywood seems to have lost its moorings, epitomised by the bloated mess that wasRadhe. Thanks to streaming platforms, audiences have access to the best films from across India. I hope that raises our standards and enables us to demand more. These are myfavouritesfrom the first half of 2021.

10. Mandela

Streaming on: Netflix

Mandelacould be a spin-off from theMunnabhai universe. The title character, played by a terrific Yogi Babu, seems like Munna's Tamilian brother – a good-hearted, naïve game-changer who throws into the spotlight the greed and corruption of those around him. Mandela even has a Circuit-like sidekick. Writer-director Madonne Ashwin tells a timely story about caste, democracy and marginalisation with humour and compassion. The satire bites but it never becomes vicious.

9. Nayattu

Streaming on: Netflix

Nayattumeans the hunt. In Martin Prakkat's disturbing police procedural, the hunters are cops but the hunted are also cops. After a road accident, three police officers get embroiled in a cauldron of caste politics and violence, and are forced to flee. What's fascinating is how Martin and writer Shahi Kabir, a police officer himself, consistently humanise the characters. Soevenduring the tense pursuit, the narrative finds room for moments of silence, introspection and an ordinary decency. In one of myfavouritescenes, a man wordlessly buys sanitary pads for a woman. In how many movies have you seen that happen?

(Video) Top 10 Indian Films Of 2021 (So Far) Ranked | Anupama Chopra | Film Companion

8. Geeli Pucchi

Bharti Mandal is female, Dalit and gay. That intricate intersectionality is perhaps a first for Hindi cinema. Except this isn't a feature. In a 43-minute short film, director and writer Neeraj Ghaywan tells a searing story of the hesitant intimacy thatdevelops between two women from opposite sides of the class and caste divide. Konkona Sen Sharma as Bharti combines external toughness with vulnerability and a rage that flashes in her eyes as she understands that it is impossible to navigate the chasm between them. And Aditi Rao Hydari is the perfect foil as Priya – naïve, fragile and trapped in the upper-caste patriarchy.Geeli Pucchiis a masterclass in saying more with less.

7. Jathi Ratnalu

Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video

"I'm also a responsible Citizen Kane of this country" – how can you resist a film that features that dialogue?JathiRatnalu, about three small-town boys who come to the big city – Hyderabad – looking for jobs, money and the good life, is a sparkling concoction of humour, social commentary and terrific chemistry between the leads (Naveen Polishetty as Srikanth, Rahul Ramakrishna as Ravi and Priyadarshi asSekhar). Director and writer Anudeep K.V. also peppers the film with hat-tips to all the films he's loved. This is a film I wish I had seen in a theatre – it would have been magical to sit with strangers and laugh.

(Video) Top 10 Best Indian Movies Of 2021 So Far | You Need To Tell Me Your List!

6. Karnan

Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video

Karnanis a powerful call to arms. Director Mari Selvaraj reimagines theMahabharataso that the demi-god Karna is no longer a good man on the wrong side. Instead, he is the saviour of his people and his village, Podiyankulam. Unlike his first film,Pariyerum Perumal, which portrays a determined but peaceful rebellion against the caste system,Karnantells us that sometimes violence is the answer. The film features striking visual imagery, the terrific song 'KandaaVara Sollunga' bySanthoshNarayanan and a blazing performance by Dhanush as Karnan. He is both myth and everyman. And that is an unbeatable combination.

5. Drishyam: The Resumption

Honestly, I didn't think writer-directorJeethuJoseph would be able to pull off a sequel to his superbly scriptedDrishyam, in which we are rooting for Georgekutty and his family to get away with murder. The second film isn't as seamlessly constructed as the first – the first act is plodding – but once the plot kicks in, Joseph takes us on a gripping saga of crime and punishment. Georgekutty's deceptions are so elaborate that they will take your breath away. And superstar Mohanlal plays the character superbly, with just the right inflection of sorrow and scarring.

4. Kala

Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video

(Video) Producer Reacts: Top 10 Indian Films Of 2021 (So Far) Ranked Anupama Chopra Film Companion

A fractured father-son relationship, a home invasion horror story, the casual callousness of the privileged and the rage of the underprivileged –Kalapacks in a lot. Director Rohith V.S., DOP Akhil George, Dawn Vincent, the director of music and sound design, and editor Chaman Chakko construct a beautifully crafted, immersive experience into one man's hell. Lead and co-producer Tovino Thomas delivers a brilliant performance as an entitled man who is fighting his own frustration and failure but who is also taught a brutal lesson. The teacher – a labourer played by Sumesh Moor – is terrifying and terrific. The mayhem and brutality inKalais relentless. But Rohith doesn't allow us to look away – either from the consequences of violence or the consequences of our actions.

3. Joji

Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video

In the hands of Malayalam cinema's dream team – director Dileesh Pothan, writer Syam Pushkaran and actor Fahadh FaasilMacbethbecomes a riveting drama about a deeply dysfunctional family. A formidable patriarch controls his three sons and his vast estate with an iron fist until a stroke confines him. Now the family members must negotiate between their true feelings for this despotic figure and the mournful façade that society requires. Joji, played by a terrifically unnerving Fahadh Faasil, puts into motion a chain of events that lead to murder. As Joji plots, he discovers his own capacity for cruelty and his utter lack of morals. But Pothan layers this disturbing story with touches of humour and whimsy. It is a thing of beauty.

Streaming on: Netflix

The Discipleis a meditative character study that draws you deep into its mysterious spell. Using stillness, long takes and wide shots, director Chaitanya Tamhane tells the haunting, melancholic story of a Hindustani classical vocalist, Sharad Nerulkar, who gives his life in the pursuit of his art. But Sharad slowly discovers the dichotomy between the purity he seeks, and the reality of the marketplace and the reality of his talent. Singer and debutant actor Aditya Modak transforms externally and internally as we watch. And as that happens, Chaitanya asks us to consider the cost of Sharad's devotion. Like Sharad, we wonder: was it worth it?

(Video) Top 10 Indian Movies of 2021

1. The Great Indian Kitchen

Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video

The Great Indian Kitchenis a gutting portrait of domestic slavery, of the lives that millions of women in this country lead, toiling away, unpaid and unsung. Nimisha Sajayan plays a housewife – unnamed because director Jeo Baby wants us to understand that she is an everywoman. Her first flush of excitement when she has an arranged marriage slowly gives way to a seething anger. The film is brilliant because Jeo doesn't create high drama or outsized villains. Instead, he showcases the horror of the ordinary – the pile of unwashed utensils, the disgusting kitchen waste, the half-chewed bones and spilt curry that men leave on the dining table for women to clean. The women are second-class citizens, only there to serve. The rage of the housewife becomes your rage. This film should be required viewing in educational institutes.

Special mentions:

Sanu John Varughese's Aarkkariyam

Dibakar Banerjee's Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar


Which is the No 1 movie in India 2021? ›

List Of Most Popular Movie In India 2021
SNMovieBox Office Vote
1.Pushpa: The Rise (Part 1)31380
2.Spider-Man: No Way Home26100
48 more rows

Which movie has highest rating in 2021? ›

Best Movies 2021
  • #1. Spider-Man: No Way Home. 93% 96% #1. ...
  • #2. In the Heights. 94% 85% #2. ...
  • #3. Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) 99% 93% #3. ...
  • #4. Pig. 97% 77% #4. ...
  • #5. The Power of the Dog. 94% 57% #5. ...
  • #6. CODA. 94% 90% #6. ...
  • #7. Raya and the Last Dragon. 94% 86% #7. ...
  • #8. West Side Story. 91% 86% #8.

Which is the No 1 movie in India now? ›

Top 10 Indian Movies (Worldwide Gross Collection)
SNMovie (Release Year)Overseas
1.Dangal (2016)1535.3
2.Baahubali 2 The Conclusion (2017)371.16
3.KGF Chapter 2 (2022)206.35
4.RRR (2022)211.32
13 more rows

Is Pushpa hit or flop? ›

The film was commercially successful, grossing ₹355–₹365 crore at the box office. The film emerged as the highest-grossing Indian film in 2021, and ranks among the highest-grossing Telugu films of all time. A sequel titled Pushpa 2: The Rule is under production.

Which is the No 1 movie in India in 2022? ›

'RRR', the period action drama that was released on March 25, Friday, is all set to emerge as the biggest blockbuster in Indian cinema. The SS Rajamouli directorial is enjoying an exceptional run at the box office.

Which movie is trending now in India? ›

  • Most Anticipated New Indian Movies and Shows. Discover the most anticipated Indian movies on IMDb based on real-time popularity. Love Today. Bhediya. Phone Bhoot. ...
  • Trending Tamil Movies. Sardar. Ponniyin Selvan: Part I. Tamil Rockers. See what's trending now.
  • Trending Telugu Movies. Prince. Ginna. Ammu.

Which is the superhit movies of 2022? ›

Best Bollywood Movies of 2022
  • Doctor G (2022) 4.0/5. ...
  • Aye Zindagi (2022) 4.0/5. ...
  • Jogi (2022) 4.0/5. ...
  • A Holy Conspiracy (2022) 4.0/5. ...
  • Anek (2022) 4.0/5. ...
  • Runway 34 (2022) 4.0/5. ...
  • Gangubai Kathiawadi (2022) 4.0/5. ...
  • Badhaai Do (2022) 4.0/5.

Has any film got 10 on IMDB? ›

1. Love You Loktantra (2022)

What is the number 1 grossing movie? ›

Top Lifetime Grosses
RankTitleLifetime Gross
2Avengers: Endgame$2,797,501,328
4Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens$2,069,521,700
117 more rows

What is the number one movie 2022? ›

Top Gun: Maverick

What is the 1 movie right now 2022? ›

Domestic Box Office For 2022
RankReleaseRelease Date
1Top Gun: MaverickMay 27
2Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of MadnessMay 6
3Jurassic World DominionJun 10
4The BatmanMar 4
39 more rows

Which is the No 1 movie in India in 2022? ›

'RRR', the period action drama that was released on March 25, Friday, is all set to emerge as the biggest blockbuster in Indian cinema. The SS Rajamouli directorial is enjoying an exceptional run at the box office.

Which is the No 1 film industry in India 2022? ›

1. Bollywood. Throughout our childhoods, we've been exposed to a wide variety of Hindi-language films. “Bollywood” is an abbreviation for the Hindi film industry.

Who is the best movie in India 2022? ›

  • K.G.F: Chapter 2 (2022) Not Rated | 168 min | Action, Crime, Drama. ...
  • Vikram (2022) 175 min | Action, Thriller. ...
  • Bheeshma Parvam (2022) 144 min | Action, Crime, Drama. ...
  • Rorschach (2022) 150 min | Action, Thriller. ...
  • Sita Ramam (2022) ...
  • Ponniyin Selvan: Part I (2022) ...
  • RRR (2022) ...
  • Kantara (2022)


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