The ecosystem of Indian cinema has gone through a sea change in 2021 with films arriving in the OTT space as well on the big screen to tell thought-provoking and entertaining stories that have never been told before. Here is our pick of a few that really stood out.
83: This film is a heartfelt tribute to the heroes of the 1983 World Cup win helmed by skipper Kapil Dev and his exceptional team of stalwart players. Director Kabir Khan meticulously recreates the passion and the power that the team demonstrated to win the championship of a lifetime against great odds. The film shows that the impossible can become possible only when a nation comes together as one. With Ranveer Singh leading a stellar cast, the film is a joy ride and also a deeply emotional experience for anyone who loves cricket and the stories of underdogs whose self-belief cannot be defeated.
Chehre: Anand Pandit is a patient producer and waited for a long period of time to be able to release his passion project ‘Chehre’ in theatres on 27th August 2021. This was a time when Maharashtra had not yet opened theatres but still the producer went ahead and released the Amitabh Bachchan and Emraan Hashmi starrer because he felt every Bachchan fan deserved to see the superstar on the big screen. Even the film’s Amazon Prime release received a stupendous response in terms of viewership ratings.
Sooryavanshi: This Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif starrer was finally released on 5th November, 2021 after many pandemic imposed delays. The crew had also faced many changes during the shoot owing to strict, COVID-19 norms but belied all fears of a lukewarm response on its release by drawing eager audiences in droves to the theatres. The cop drama is also trending currently on an OTT platform. The film’s success has generated hope for long delayed films like `83’ which will finally be released this month after multiple delays.
The Big Bull: This was possibly the only financial thriller in 2021 and told the story of ambition, the inevitable repercussions and the unravelling of many lives.Directed and co-written by Kookie Gulati and produced by Ajay Devgn, Anand Pandit, Vikrant Sharma and Kumar Mangat Pathak, the film inspired by the life of Harshad Mehta encapsulated a tumultuous journey spread across a decade with a powerful performance by Abhishek Bachchan. The film also starred Nikita Dutta, Ileana D’Cruz, Sohum Shah, Ram Kapoor and Saurabh Shukla.
Shershaah: This Vishnuvardhan directorial and Dharma and Kaash Entertainment production revisited the unforgettable story of Param Vir Chakra-awardee Captain Vikram Batra. The film tugged at heartstrings as it refreshed the memories of a man who became the face of the Kargil war with a zestful cry of ”Ye Dil Maange More!” The film showed us the horror of war without losing its grip on the humanity inherent in the story and steered clear of hateful messaging. The film also gave us an insight into Vikram Batra’s love story with a girl who till date has not forgotten him. Sidharth Malhotra as Vikram Batra wowed even his strongest critics with his bravura performance while Kiara Advani played his girlfriend Dimple Cheema.
Sardar Udham: Even though Raj Babbar had essayed the titular role ‘Shaheed Uddham Singh’ in 2000, Vicky Kaushal brought a new dimension to the role of the revolutionary in this Shoojit Sircar directorial and Rising Sun Films and Kino Works production. He essayed the role across decades and played a young boy scarred forever by the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre who then evolves into a revolutionary with a purpose. Be it his long journey across continents to reach the UK,or his preparation before he finally assassinates Michael O’Dwyer in London, every scene had great detailing and substance.
Jai Bhim: This film, from its title to its source material, made audiences feel the pain and the erasure that marginalized communities suffer as a matter of course. Based on a true incident, the film narrated how in1993, Justice K. Chandru, stood up for two Dalit victims, Senggeni and Rajakannu, and got some semblance of justice for them. The Tamil legal drama was directed by T. J. Gnanavel starred Suriya and Lijomol Jose with K. Manikandan, Rajisha Vijayan, Prakash Raj, Rao Ramesh, and others. The scenes of brutality and casual casteism reminded viewers how easily a certain section of society is dehumanized and how important it is to finally do what we can to change things. ‘Jai Bhim’ also became the first Indian film to top the IMDb ratings.