The advent of streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Videos and HotStar has seen several welcome developments in the entertainment industry. And breaking down of language barrier resulting in a larger audience for non-English titles could be considered the biggest.
When Netflix first arrived in India and Amazon Prime followed suit immediately, Indian viewers got a wider choice of international cinema with subtitles. In fact, not just movies, even episodic content gained popularity. Narcos received tremendous following in India as did Money Heist, both being Spanish. In fact, our very own Sacred Games found itself in several global lists of popular Netflix series.
It was not just movies and series in foreign languages that gained acceptance. Even movies made in various Indian languages began crossing over territory as the presence of subtitles meant that all was not lost in translation. Starting with this list, TechRadar India would bring you weekly doses of movies in various languages that would enrich your movie experience.
Ayyappanum Koshiyum (2020)
Actors: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Biju Menon
Synopsis: The story revolves around the conflict between Koshy Kurien, an influential and wealthy retired army jawan and Ayyappan Nair, a Sub-inspector in Attappadi, a reserve forest and scenic part of Kerala. It is a story of bloated egos and a sense of entitlement that certain public roles bring to the person carrying it out. Such has been the popularity of the movie that it is already being remade in multiple south Indian languages and may even find itself converted into a Bollywood script.
Director: Ashiq Abu
Actors: Kunchacko Boban, Asif Ali, Indrajeeth Sukumaran, Tovino Thomas, Parvathy
Synopsis: The movie is set in the backdrop of the 2018 Nipah virus attack and the manner in which Kerala handled it without allowing it to spread. The movie was shot in a single schedule at the Government Medical College in Kozhikode and featured some of the top actors from Malayalam cinema. The story features a man who gets admitted to hospital and dies thereafter after passing on a unknown virus to 18 other people. The movie takes us through a tension-filled few days as doctors and staff battle the virus using isolation and treatment protocols. In fact, it was this real life experience that helped Kerala tackle the Covid-19 virus more effectively.
Driving License (2019)
Director: Lal Junior
Actors: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Suraj Venjaramoodu
Synopsis: What happens when a top movie star loses his cool at a fan, who happens to be a traffic inspector and when the actor needs to get a duplicate driving license? Yet another story of clashing egos where the slighted traffic inspector uses every rule in the book to harass the actor and force him to accept his conditions. Of fulfilling all formalities where usually people in India procure a driver’s license after paying a fixed bribe to the local touts. Both actors are in peak form in this movie which went on to garner tremendous crowd support.
Director: Madhu C Narayanan
Actors: Shoubin Shaheer, Shane Nigam, Srinath Bhasi and Fahadh Faasil
Synopsis: Set in the quaint fishing village of Kumbalangi in Kochi, the movie revolves around the strained relationship between two brothers and their two step-brothers living in a dysfunctional home. The movie was produced by actor Fahadh Faasil who plays a negative role in the movie, of someone suffering from acute emotional disorder. The movie became a sleeper hit with viewers from across the world hailing it as a coming of age film for the debutant director.
Android Kunjappan Version 5.25 (2019)
Director: Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval
Actors: Suraj Venjaramoodu, Shoubin Shahir, Saiju Kurup
Synopsis: Inspired by the 2012 Hollywood movie Robot and Frank, this one tells the story of a man who heads out to Russia for work and leaves behind his ageing father with a robot for company. The father makes his son quit earlier jobs because he fears a lonely death and to guard against that the son gets him a robot caregiver. How the man first resents the machine and then accepts it into his life makes for the rest of this heartwarming story, which also hands out a message of elderly care.
Director: Khalid Rahman
Actor: Mammootty, Shine Tom Chacko, Arjun Ashokan, Ranjith
Synopsis: Those who have seen the Bollywood flick Newton featuring Rajkumar Rao and Pankaj Tripathi would resonate with this story involving a police unit from Kerala that is deputed to provide security during an election in faraway Chhattisgarh. Based on a real incident during the 2014 general elections, the story revolves around the sub-inspector leading a nine-member team and how they battle the odds, including one that relates to their having never fired a rifle. Mega-star Mammootty essayed the role of the inspector who is comfortable with his lathi than his pistol.
Director: Anwar Rasheed
Actors: Fahadh Faasil, Nazriya Nazim, Gautam Menon, Dilesh Pothan
Synopsis: The plot follows the events in the life of Viju Prasad, a Kanyakumari-based despondent motivational speaker, an atheist, who is hired by a couple of business tycoons to work as a Christian pastor and miracle worker. The logic being that religion is where the money is underlines the story and its shift from motivating people to heal themselves to eventually creating a money-spinning empire that is complete with places for congregation, schools, digital offerings and the works. Fahadh Faasil was appreciated for his nuanced performance as a high-strung pastor.
Director: Mathukutty Xavier
Actors: Anna Ben, Lal, Aju Varghese, Noble Babu Thomas
Synopsis: The story of a nursing graduate who works at a cold storage and gets locked inside the facility by mistake makes the crux of the story. Upon realizing her predicament, Helen doesn’t lose faith and tries everything to keep herself alive in the deep freeze where temperature is maintained at minus 18 degrees celsius. Outside, the predicament of her father, who disapproves of her relationship with a boy outside of his community and his fears for her wellbeing is played out. This mix makes for an edge of the seat thriller where the audience, for once, feels empathy for all the characters.
This is the first of our lists from regional Indian cinema. We hope you take time off and watch at least a few of these movies and savour the flavours of “God’s Own Country” while appreciating the cinematic excellence of their movies. Each one of these films fared well at the box office and received critical acclaim.