Yearender 2021: 'Karnan', 'The Disciple', 'Sherni' ; The best films of the year

Written By: Shomini Sen | Updated: Dec 29, 2021, 09:46 PM IST

The pandemic, the growing OTT space and the success of Korean hit 'Parasite' has broken the language barrier for cinema lovers to quiet an extent. A greater part of 2021 too was spent inside the comforts of one's home and watching films from all across. While theatres opened up in August earlier this year, audience took time to again venture out to watch films. 

Brave, unfiltered and honest stories won hearts this year and were even able to overcome the famous '1 inch barrier' of subtitles.  As we wind up 2021, here is a look at the best Indian films of the year- language notwithstanding.  

The Great Indian Kitchen

Filmmaker Joe Baby's 'The Great Indian Kitchen' was a striking story on how most Indian households operate. Baby resisted naming his characters in the film perhaps to signify how common the story was yet almost always overlooked. A new bride is ly left to look after her husband and father-in-law when the mother-in-law has to visit her daughter in another city. The film brilliantly shows how scores of Indian women spent endless hours in the kitchen providing for the family and do not revolt to nonsensical patriarchal norms that they have to undergo. A bold story of almost all Indian  of households irrespective of which strata they belong to, 'The Great Indian Kitchen' made Indian families all across look within. 


Sardar Udham

Shooji Sircar is a master story teller and knows very effectively to deliver a message. In 'Sardar Udham' Sircar narrated the story of a revolutionary who found his calling in middle age. Vicky Kaushal performed deftly the role of revolutionary Udham Singh and how he went to England to avenge the killings of Jallianwala Bagh massacre. While the story seems simple, Sircar gave the plot a layered narrative giving insights into the mind of the great revolutionary and what made him choose the path. 



In Umesh Bisht's 'Pagglait' - a family is mourning the death of their young son- also the main breadwinner of the family. His wife, though, is more perplexed about the fact that she is not crying about his death. A poignant story of a grieving family and life of those who lose a dear one- 'Pagglait' was full of endearing moments of love, laughter and tearing up. Headlined by the talented Sanya Malhotra, 'Pagglait' manages to make you smile through your tears and gives many hope to live life in a fulfilling way even after losing a loved one. 


The White Tiger

Adapted from Arvind Adiga's bestseller, 'The White Tiger' had a strong 'Slumdog Millionaire' hangover when the trailers came out. But Ramin Bahrin creates a twisted dark tale of privilege and class disparity based in northern India. Featuring Priyanka Chopra, Rajkummar Rao and young star Adarsh Gourav, the film was lauded for its deatiled screenplay and fabulous performances. Gourav in particular earned accolades for his performance and even earned a Best Actor nomination at the BAFTAs earlier this year. 



Kabir Khan's film on Indian cricket team's historic win at the 1983 World Cup was worth the wait. The film was initially supposed to hit theatres in April 2020 but got delayed owing to the pandemic. While many makers sought the digital route to release their films, makers of '83' waited for the theatres to re-open which proved to be the right decision as audience lapped up the grand film on the big screen. With stellar performances from the cast and interesting inside stories about the players and the team- '83' was one wholesome sports film that India needed amid gloom thanks to COVID-19. 



Mari Selvaraj's film was a powerful story about those who have been wronged for a long time. Lead by the supremely talented Dhanush, the story was of a small village in the interiors of Tamil Nadu who have been neglected by the authorities for long. A group dalits, the village is deprived of a bus stop, of proper infrastructure and even govt jobs until Karnan, a hot headed young man rises up and revolts and inspires others to speak up. A powerful film, 'Karnan' used several metaphors to emphasize how caste system still mars a society from developing fully. 


The Disciple

Chaitanya Tamhane's film gives an insight into the world classical music and singer in the country. It raises an important point on whether musicians and singers hone their craft to better for their own satisfaction or do they do it for the recognition and fame. The film gives an insight into the world of classical music- which has never been explored with such details before- and also makes the audience think within about long standing prejudices. 



Amit Masurkar took viewers deep inside the jungle in search of a man-eating tiger but also threw light over misogyny that remains deep rooted in the Indian society. Vidya Balan played a forest officer who has to not just hunt down a man eaten tiger, but general perceptions of people who feel she is not fit enough for this tough job. 

(Photograph:WION Web Team)

Jai Bhim

Police atrocities and custodial death has been shown in several films before but it hasn't been as effectively told as it is in TJ Gnanavel's 'Jai Bhim' which is reportedly based on a real-life incident. Caste divide, class disparity and the oppression of the minority in the hands of the state- are all brilliantly showcased in the film which has actor Suriya playing the lead role of a feisty advocate fighting for the cause of those who lack the ability to fight back.