Top row: Gangubau Kathiawadi, Prisoners of the Ghostland, Gargi, RRR; Bottom row: Everything Everwhere All At Once, The Swimmers, Goodbye, The Tinder SwindlerKUNAL PURANDARE’S PICK
Undoubtedly the best film of 2022, RRR is a cinematic spectacle that scores high on every aspect of filmmaking. It’s a visual delight with an intriguing storyline, insane action scenes, superb performances and catchy music. For an audience deprived of the movie-going experience because of the Covid-induced lockdowns and shutting of theatres, RRR provided wholesome entertainment and drew people to cinema halls once it was released in March. A fictional tale inspired by the lives of two Indian revolutionaries, the Telugu movie—directed by SS Rajamouli who previously made the magnum opus Baahubali—deals with patriotism, friendship, love, betrayal and sacrifice. The onscreen ‘rivalry’ and bromance between lead actors, NT Rama Rao Jr and Ram Charan, became the talk of the town. Mounted on a lavish scale, the film was dubbed in multiple languages, including Hindi, Malayalam and Kannada, and became a box office rage. It has earned over Rs1,144 crore worldwide with the accolades and awards continuing to pour in from across the globe. To sum it up, RRR holds your attention from start to end, leaves you awestruck with its sheer brilliance and is worth every rupee spent.
Where to watch:
NetflixSAMIDHA JAIN'S PICKS
Watching Goodbye felt like reliving a recent sad episode from life. Having recently lost my grandfather, I went into the cinema hall with an inkling to come out with a heavier heart, and I did. The entire cast of the film was true to their roles as part of a family grieving the loss of a loved one. Although Neena Gupta, playing Gayatri Bhalla, the deceased family member, had less screen time, I thought that the film made a brilliant attempt to show her looming presence in the life of her kids and her husband, played by Amitabh Bachchan. The film brings a biting truth to the fore—funerals are not for the deceased but for those left behind, who, besides dealing with loss, also have to deal with a plethora of societal pressures and expectations.
Where to watch:
The Swimmers, directed by Sally El Hosaini about the lives of two young Syrian refugee girls and their struggles, opened up a new world for me. The film was recommended to me by my best friend, who follows the refugee crisis to some extent. And just hearing the description of the film from her left me spellbound. I had to watch it. The Swimmers follows the journey of two sisters—Yusra and Sara—who had to leave their homeland Syria and follow a deathly sea route to Europe. They competed at the Rio Olympic Games and finally reunited with their family. The film brings to light the pain a person goes through when sudden bombings rob them of not just their homes, families, and peace but also their identity. The film is beautifully shot. An apt amount of time is given to some of the defining events, shedding light on the refugee crisis. One such shot was of a land filled with life jackets representing countless people who had to set out sail from their homelands with nothing but a heart full of hope.
Where to watch:
NetflixDIVYA J SHEKHAR'S PICKS
Nna Thaan Case Kodu
I haven't seen a film that's as sharp and funny in a long time. It's about a reformed thief, Rajeevan (Kunchacko Boban), who goes to court against a senior minister. His reason seems like a lost cause, even delusional, but he is fighting because a pothole on the road that caused an accident cost him his dignity and livelihood. The writing is brilliant, and the satire, on-point. The narrative takes its time to unfold and show us how red tape and corruption are often tolerated, even normalised, during the daily course of life. And the people, who are vulnerable to this corruption and politics, often find that the path to justice is not only difficult but also largely inaccessible.Directed by Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval, every major and minor character of this film set in Kasargod, comes with distinctive traits. Be it the judge (PP Kunhikrishnan in excellent form), Rajeevan's live-in partner Devi, the autorickshaw driver, or the ministers, party workers, and the civil engineer, everyone is simple, relatable and rooted. I've grown to be a fan of Kunchacko Boban, his film choices, and strong and sincere performances over the years, and this film takes that admiration up by a notch. This is a must-watch. Where to watch:
In its final scene before the credits, the camera lingers on protagonist Sai Pallavi, before fading out to reveal a simple message: "Every time someone does the right thing, the world becomes a better place to live in."
Gargi, directed by Gautham Ramachandran, is a courtroom drama, a sensitive portrayal of a child rape investigation that also touches upon relevant issues like media trials, disbelieving the victim, and the lapses and loopholes of the criminal justice system. It was also a film about the kindness—and judgement—of strangers and the courage of the human spirit.
Through her portrayal of Gargi, Sai Pallavi offers an extremely relatable female character—she is an everywoman struggling with her battles and beliefs while taking on the fight for what she believes is right. She is vulnerable in the face of betrayal but also has the quiet strength to pick up the pieces and do what is just, even if it comes at a great personal cost. Between the film's beginning and its end, Gargi's view of the world, of family, of women, men, and herself, is different. But her journey of finding freedom, peace and light at the end of a very dark tunnel remained with me for a long time after I watched the film.Where to watch:
This thriller is not 10/10, but it's one of the most interesting films I've seen in 2022. To what extent can you go to get revenge from someone for ruining your life, even after that person is dead?
While this is a Mammootty film, where the superstar excels at portraying a range of emotions—from anger and helplessness to sadism and sorrow—through his protagonist Luke Antony, the female characters of the film stand out on their own. Starting with Bindu Panicker, as a mother who will go to any lengths to preserve her family's reputation, to Grace Antony as Sujatha, who is a gritty, feisty woman trying to navigate the challenges and falsities thrown at her.
Rorschach, named after the psychological test of the same name, has a non-linear plot where director Nissam Basheer involves paranormal elements, suspense, emotions and drama that is sure to keep you guessing and at the edge of your seat till the very end. Where to watch
: Disney+HotstarNAINI THAKER'S PICK
Everything Everywhere All At Once
Most films always have some element missing.
Not this one.
Everything Everywhere All At Once is just perfect. I can’t write a long description for this one because it made me feel so much. It was an experience and a roller coaster ride full of entertainment and emotions. Many people I spoke to told me it was bizarre and confusing. I will not reveal much, but I will say that it is far better than most of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe movies that dive into the concept of the multiverse. The best one I’ve ever seen. First, watch the trailer and then watch the film. If you missed it in the theatres, too bad. Add it to your watch list whenever it's available in India. You have to watch it without distractions and do not fast forward a second of it.Where to watch: Hulu
MANSVINI KAUSHIK'S PICK
Sex work has always been a controversial topic in India. To date, the law isn’t clear on prostitution. This is surprising since sex work is an extensively deep network in India that even today manages to evade public conversations. Therefore, a mainstream movie on prostitution starring an exceptionally eloquent Alia Bhatt was bound to raise eyebrows.
The movie is based on the life of the namesake, Gangubai Kathiwadi, a small-town girl who dreams of becoming a Bollywood actor. Her boyfriend lures her to come to Mumbai with the promise of a film career. But instead, she is brought to a brothel in Kamathipura from where there is no exit.
Based on S. Hussain Zaidi and Jane Borges’ hard-hitting book Mafia Queens of Mumbai, the movie chronicles her journey from a timid, scared, and helpless girl to a fierce, strong-headed madam of the brothel. She intimidates everyone around and ensures the women of Kamathipura live a far decent life.
While watching the movie in a cinema hall, I was constantly uncomfortable, at the edge of my seat, teary-eyed, admiring the masterpiece created by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The movie makes you reflect and wonder how women in prostitution have to deal with unimaginable, inhuman circumstances and injustice, while we the privileged ones, fail to see through even the minor inconveniences.
Where to watch: Netflix
JASODHARA BANERJEE'S PICK
Prisoners of the Ghostland
There are movies that tell great stories, and there are movies that are great visual spectacles. Prisoners of Ghostland is the latter. It has a threadbare story, which is easy to forget as you sit, slack-jawed, transfixed by what you see unravelling on the screen.
The story is about a bank robber, Hero (Nicholas Cage), who has been released from prison by the Governor (Bill Moseley), to find his ‘granddaughter’ (sex slave, really) Bernice (Sophia Boutella) after she runs away. Hero is fitted with a suit that has explosives designed to blow up different body parts—including his testicles—if he breaks any of the Governor’s rules. The rest of the movie is about the search and retrieval of Bernice. Sounds very much like any of Jason Statham’s Transporter instalments or the dime-a-dozen films about a badass being given an impossible job.
But what sets Prisoners squarely apart is its setting. Directed by idiosyncratic Japanese filmmaker Sion Sono, it is set in a nuclear wasteland (called ‘Ghostland’) where a motley crowd of desperate humans and mutants struggle to survive. Within the Ghostland sits Samurai Town, a mashup of quintessential Japanese and American wild West ingredients. The elaborate sets and costumes, the theatrical concepts and visuals, and the cinematography by Sôhei Tanikawa make Prisoners an absolute visual treat.
And with other visually stunning films such as Mandy (2018) and Colour Out of Space (2020) behind him, who else but Cage would be more befitting for Prisoners?NASRIN SULTANA'S PICKS
The Tinder Swindler
A true crime documentary about how an Israeli man manipulated and robbed women across the globe using the dating app Tinder. Shot extensively using real people interviews, with a pace of a crime thriller, the documentary exposes not only the scam that internet conman Simon Leviev hatches but also shows the vulnerability of women waiting to fall in love blinded by chinks, glamour and glitter of money. The documentary is inspired by an investigative report by journalists from the Norwegian tabloid Verdens Gang, with the help of Israeli journalist Uri Blau.
With the twist and turns of a crime thriller, built through three victims' narrations, the documentary keeps one hooked as the director digs into the deeper layers of human psychology and how the ‘love’ scam exploits financially and emotionally. It is a fascinating story of fragile social media hypocrisy and a ‘make-believe’ romance of a truth-stranger-than-fiction world. The shock and devastation factors are further accentuated by the final act of revenge. It leaves the audience a bit triumphed. However, despite being a wanted criminal in several countries, Leviev is still leading a lavish life with an active social media Instagram account, showcasing his new female friends, while his victims continue to repay the financial debt is not only shocking but also indicates a failure of nabbing the culprit.Where to watch:
Downfall: The Case Against Boeing
Two crashes in merely five months killed around 346 people, including pilots and crew, led to a series of investigations exposing Boeing’s horrific cover-up of its 737 Max plane’s mismanagement. Through archival footage, interviews of safety pilots, victims’ families, journalists, aviation experts, Boeing employees and congressional investigators, the documentary pieces together the consequences of the crashes that revealed corruption in the company and how Boeing compromised on passenger safety for the sake of corporate profits and raking share prices. Insufficient pilot training and flawed management decisions to beat the competition in the market resulted after the much-valued brand, Boeing, was merged with McDonnell Douglas. It is a heart rendering saga of when human greed and arrogance take precedence over empathy and value.
Where to watch:
NetflixAlso read: Forbes India Rewind 2022: Best OTT shows we watched this year