Nothing about the entertainment industry was predictable or cliched in 2021 as filmmakers and storytellers moved beyond tired narratives to explore new milieus, themes, and issues. Here are some of our favorites that ruled the OTT space this year.
Here is our pick of the clutter-breaking films that dominated the OTT space in 2021:-
1. 200 Hallo Ho
This Sarthak Dasgupta directorial and Yoodlee production bravely mainstreamed a story about caste-based atrocities, the denial of justice, and the inevitable retribution that follows when hundreds of Dalit survivors strike a blow to avenge the systematic suppression of their pain and violation. Inspired by true events, this ZEE5 original slow burns to reach a moment of cathartic explosion when 200 women take law into their own hands to respond to centuries of erasure. Starring Amol Palekar, Rinku Rajguru, Barun Sobti, and others, the film equated Dalit identity with power and not just victimhood and reminded us why we must tell and hear more such stories.
2. Jai Bhim
This Jyothika and Suriya production will go down in history as one of the most important films about Dalit rights. The Tamil legal drama is directed by T. J. Gnanavel and stars Suriya and Lijomol Jose with K. Manikandan, Rajisha Vijayan, Prakash Raj, Rao Ramesh, and others. Like ‘200 Hallo Ho’, this film too is based on a true incident and recounts how in1993, Justice K. Chandru, fought relentlessly to get justice for Senggeni and Rajakannu. The lives of this tribal couple are forever changed when Rajakannu is first arrested and then goes missing from police custody. What follows next is wrenching and eye-opening. ‘Jai Bhim’ also became the first Indian film to top the IMDb ratings.
‘Sherni’ is yet another example of how director Amit V. Masurkar is pushing the thematic limits of Hindi cinema. Produced by T-Series and Abundantia Entertainment, Sherni had a solid female lead in Vidya Balan who played an upright and conscientious Forest Service officer caught in the corruption and inertia of a cruel and incompetent system. Sharat Saxena, Vijay Raaz, Ila Arun, Brijendra Kala, Neeraj Kabi, and Mukul Chaddha played supporting roles. The film highlighted little-known aspects of animal and human conflict and how habitat destruction is pushing wildlife on the margins of forests and into a spiral of extinction.
A war film without jingoism seems like an anomaly but this Dharma and Kaash Entertainment production pulled this off while paying a passionate tribute to Param Vir Chakra-awardee Captain Vikram Batra. Directed by Vishnuvardhan, the film showed us how an idealistic young man who loved life as much as his country, made the ultimate sacrifice during the Kargil war. It also celebrated his eternal love story with a girl who chose to celebrate his memories and his life even after losing him tragically. Sidharth Malhotra as Vikram Batra played possibly the role of a lifetime while Kiara Advani played his girlfriend Dimple Cheema.
5. Sardar Udham
Vicky Kaushal continues to stun with the ability to become every character he gets to play and ‘Sardar Udham’ is no exception. This historical drama helmed by Shoojit Sircar, and produced by Rising Sun Films in collaboration with Kino Works, gives Vicky another chance to display his depth and histrionic range as an actor as he plays the titular character of an iconic freedom fighter who assassinated Michael O’Dwyer in London to avenge the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre. The film is a far cry from hurried entertainers and takes viewers on an intense journey to meet the man who tried to right a historic wrong.