Best Movies of the New Millennium Streaming Now

By Pickle  May 2, 2020

Aligarh (Hindi, 2015)

Genre: Drama
Director: Hansal Mehta
Starring: Manoj Bajpayee, Rajkummar Rao, Ashish Vidyarthi
Streaming on EROS NOW, ZEE5, JIO

A gay professor is hounded by a hidebound town and university and eventually driven to suicide. The true story is narrated with unimpeachable integrity and empathy for the ‘outsider’ fighting a losing battle against an insensitive society.

High points: A knockout performance by ManojBajpayee as the wronged professor, with solid support from Rajkummar Rao

Article 15 (2019), Hindi

Director: Anubhav Sinha
Genre: Drama, Crime Thriller
Starring: Ayushmann Khurrana,Nassar,Manoj Pahwa
Streaming on Netflix

The ills of the caste system have been laid bare in stark detail in Anubhav Sinha’s Article 15. The film is a worthy follow-up to Anubhav Sinha’s earlier film Mulk, which addressed the issue of Islamophobia head-on. Article 15 is an important addition to a very small number of Hindi films that have successfully tackled weighty social issues through the means of a more popular idiom.

High Points: We might argue that Indian films still haven’t gone far enough to call out patriarchy and the Brahmanical order. But the very fact that some films (like Article 15) are making an attempt, no matter a feeble, is itself a sign of the changing times.

Dweepa (Kannada, 2002)

Genre: Drama
Director: Girish Kasaravalli
Starring: Soundarya, Avinash, M. V. Vasudeva Rao, Harish Raju
Streaming on YouTube Movies

In the backwaters of a big dam, a village is going under water due to heavy rains. A family struggles to save its dwelling because the government compensation isn’t enough for them to begin life afresh in a different place. Dweepa (The Island) is one of Kasaravalli’s best films.

High points: Visually stunning backdrop and a profoundly moving story addresses environmental degradation and displacement

Gulabi Talkies (Kannada, 2008)

Genre: Drama
Director: Girish Kasaravalli
Starring: Umashree, K. G. Krishna Murthy, M. D. Pallavi
Streaming on Disney+hotstar

This multi-layered masterpiece, set in a fishing village in the late 1990s, probes the phenomenon of rising communal tensions linked to the Kargil conflict and its impact on Gulabi, a cinema-loving midwife whose TV set draws women of the community to her home.

High points: A superb central performance by Umashree and masterful adaptation for the screen of a Vaidehi short story

Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (Hindi, 2003)

Genre: Political, Drama
Director: Sudhir Mishra
Starring: Kay Kay Menon, Chitrangada Singh, Shiney Ahuja, Saurabh Shukla, Ram Kapoor
Streaming on Disney+hotstar, Sony liv

Set in the 1970s, in the years before and after the Emergency, Sudhir Mishra’s evocation of a turbulent period in Indian political history revolves around three college students who go their own ways only to find their paths crossing again in the cauldron of a people’s movement that severely tests their idealism.

High points: A rare Hindi film dealing with the eventful Emergency years during which many young people jumped into the bruising battle for a more just society

Janala (Bengali, 2009)

Genre: Drama
Director: Buddhadeb Dasgupta
Starring: Shankar Chakraborty, Arindra Rai Chaudhuri, Swastika Mukherjee
Streaming on Hoichoi

Buddhadeb Dasgupta addresses his pet theme – the lure of childhood memories. A man returns to his school and finds the building in a severely rundown condition, He decides to help out but does not have the means. As a result, tensions brew between him and his wife.

High points: Moments of lyricism masterfully tempered with the harsh realities of life

Kaalpurush (Bengali, 2005)

Genre: Drama
Director: Buddhadeb Dasgupta
Starring: Mithun Chakraborty, Rahul Bose, Sameera Reddy, Shraman Mukherjee
Streaming on Disney+hotstar

A middle-class big city man with a failing marriage and a drab professional life seeks refuge in the memories of his childhood and tries to reconnect with his father. The film abounds in the surreal touches that define poet-filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s cinema.

High points: Stellar performances from the principal cast led by Mithun Chakraborty and the director’s unique ability to find poetry even in the drudgery of life

Kanchivaram (Tamil, 2007)

Genre: Drama
Director: Priyadarshan
Starring: Prakash Raj, Shriya Reddy, Shammu
Streaming on Disney+hotstar

Mainstream movie director Priyadarshan made an artistic detour to craft this intense drama about a silk weaver’s struggle to rise above his impecunious state in the years following India’s Independence from British rule. The film traces the birth of the cooperative labour movement.

High points: Marvellous interpretation of the protagonist by Prakash Raj and a director at the top of his game

Kathavasheshan (Malayalam, 2004)

Genre: Drama
Director: T.V. Chandran
Starring: Dileep, Jyothirmayi
Streaming on ManoramaMAX

A man kills himself. His fiancée inches ever closer to understanding the deceased’s mental state as she investigates the reasons behind his ultimate act of despair. Directed by T.V. Chandran, Kathavasheshan, which is indirectly set against the Gujarat communal riots of 2002, is a story told almost entirely, and very effectively, through flashbacks.

High points: Chandran’s politically inflected sense of humanity infuses a deeply empathetic portrayal of a man ashamed to be alive\

Ajeyo (Assamese, 2014)

Genre: Drama
Director: JahnuBarua
Starring: Rupam Chetia, Jupitora Bhuyan, Kopil Bora
Not available for streaming

Assam’s leading director JahnuBarua’s Ajeyo (Invincible) is an adaptionof Arun Sharma’s award-winning novel to narrate a tale set in the years before India’s Partition. An idealistic young man in a small village fights social ills against all odds. In present times, his granddaughter, a senior police officer, continues the crusade.

High points: A powerful story told with unwavering control and a sense of how history is never a thing of the past

Kaalbela (Bengali, 2009)

Genre: Drama
Director: Goutam Ghosh
Starring: Parambrata Chatterjee, Paoli Dam, Santu Mukherjee, Soumitra Chatterjee
Not available for streaming  

Made largely in the style of the radical political Bengali films of the 1970s, Goutam Ghosh’s Kaalbela documents the unrest that led to the birth of the violent Naxalite movement. The film, based on a 1980s novel written as part of an epic trilogy by Samaresh Majumdar, vividly evokes a turbulent era.

High points: Seamless juxtaposing of past and present and rich visual and aural texturing

Koormavatara (Kannada, 2012)

Genre: Drama
Director: Girish Kasaravalli
Starring: Dr. Shikaripura Krishnamurthy, Jayanthi, Apurva Kasaravalli
Not available for streaming  

In Koormavatara (Tortoise, A Reincarnation), an ageing government employee on the verge of retirement is offered a role in a television show in which he has to impersonate Mahatma Gandhi. The spirit of the Father of the Nation percolates into him and poses challenges that are anything but easy to confront.

High points: The film is marked by the quiet, meditative narrative style of Kannada cinema’s most celebrated auteur Girish Kasaravalli

Kutty Srank (Malayalam, 2010)

Genre: Drama
Director: Shaji N Karun
Starring: Mammootty, Kamalinee Mukherjee, Meenakumari, Wahiida, Saikumar, Siddique, Suresh Krishna
Not available for streaming  

A body of a nomadic mariner is washed ashore. A Buddhist nun, a Christian woman and a mute lady come forward to claim his body. The film weaves a complex, intriguing portrait of a character while highlighting different locations and cultural and seasonal variations.

High points: Visually stunning and multi-layered narrative; Mammootty’s stellar performance

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