From classics to the latest releases, Hindi to Tamil, here are some of the best Indian movies on Amazon Prime streaming as of May 17, 2020.
Best Indian Movies on Amazon Prime
1. Newton (2017)
Amit Masurkar’s Newton is a darkly comic examination of a frail democratic process. Rajkummar Rao spectacularly plays the protagonist, a young idealist who does things by the book. His disciplinarian attitude lands him the duty of election officer in the conflict-torn region of the Maoists. Airlifted to the middle of a jungle, Newton is tasked to register the votes of 76 locals. Armed with rules and ideals, he finds himself at odds with the chaotic reality.
The director strikes a perfect balance between satirical humour and tense interplay. Masurkar subtly renders how there’s a lot to democracy than symbolic gestures of the polling booth and voting machine. While Rao offers a standout performance, Pankaj Tripathi’s pragmatic and wearied military officer character is equally good.
2. Nayakan (1987)
The gangster epic — inspired by Mario Puzo’s Godfather — brought together three great personalities of Indian cinema. Kamal Haasan, Illayaraja and Mani Ratnam. It’s the story of a down-trodden young, rebellious guy becoming a saviour of his fellowmen. The film is partly based on real-life Tamil gangster Varadarajan Mudaliar. The nuance Kamal Haasan brings to the central role (Velu Naicker) is up there with Brando’s Corleone. While Mani Ratnam had creative freedom in Mouna Raagam, it was only in Nayakan that he fully developed his directorial voice. His penchant for sharp angles, light and darkness, sweeping set-ups were well established here.
This was P.C. Sreeram-Mani Ratnam’s second collaboration. Both were at an early phase of their career. It was with Nayakan that they started their journey of capturing slice of life with all its layered features. There are few dated and mediocre elements in the film. But, Nayakan was much ahead of and different from its contemporaries.
3. Gangs of Wasseypur (2012)
The 5-hour-plus magnum opus is clearly Anurag Kashyap’s best work to date. The story spans close to seven decades and chronicles the dominance between warring factions in the small, coal-rich town of Wasseypur.
Novel-style storytelling deals with themes like political corruption, family legacy, revenge, cultural strife, etc. The scope and ambition with which Kashyap treats this saga of betrayal and deceit are much subtle and deeper than the usual rise-and-fall arc. Kashyap’s visual acuity sets the stage for some of the best set-pieces in this gangster thriller.
For all its stomach-churning violence, gore and profanities, the characters and dramatic scenes are effectively realized. Altogether, it’s a perfect mix of history, social commentary, and crime-genre entertainment.
4. Andha Naal (1954) – Tamil
Sundaram Balachander’s mystery thriller was a commercial failure but went on to win the second Best Feature Film in Tamil at the 2nd National Film Awards in 1955. The first in the film noir genre in Tamil cinema, made without songs, dance or stunts, Andha Naal has gained a cult status over the years. In 2013, CNN-News18 counted it in its 100 Greatest Indian Films of All Time list.
5. Roja (1992) – Hindi, Tamil
Mani Ratnam loves to do a contemporary redesign of Hindu mythological stories. In Roja, he takes Satyavn and Savitri story, mixing it with real-life incidents. For good or bad, Roja was an important film in Ratnam’s filmmaking career. The superbly realized individual conflicts in his previous films were now replaced with ‘individual vs the giant political system’ conflicts.
Apart from Arvind Swamy and Madhubala’s great central performances, Pankaj Kapur stole every scene he was in. His performance as the jihadist militant rises above the constrained characterization. Roja, once again, is a very emotionally appealing film to mass audiences. Yet, its portrayal of Kashmir militants and a blunt showcase of patriotism were problematic.
6. Masoom (1983)
Adapted from Erich Segal’s Man Woman And Child, this was Shekhar Kapur’s debut feature. And what a remarkable one! Masoom is an adorably heartwarming story of an illegitimate child. His mother dies and he goes to live with his father who already has another family. The complexities of child psychology and implications of irresponsible childbirth are beautifully explored in the film.
7. Anbe Sivam – Love is God (2003) – Tamil
Kamal took on the themes of globalization, religious fatalism, and economic disparity in this brilliant re-working of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles(1987). Anbe Sivam is a buddy road film involving a trade-union activist Nalla Sivam and an upper-class ad-executive Anbarasu (Madhavan). Circumstances force these polar opposite figures to travel together from Bhubaneswar to Chennai. Although they disagree on everything, a brotherhood is forged through their shared humanity. Kamal Haasan’s script, apart from the formulaic flashback, shines with witty as well as thought-provoking word-plays. In the era of clashing lifestyles, religious and cultural views, the film’s laudable message is simple enough to not forget: ‘Love is God.’
8. Firaaq (2008)
Firaaq examines the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat riots in India. It showcases the horror a society undergoes after communal harmony is broken loose. The film weaves in multiple story lines that follow the lives of a range of characters: a Muslim-hating Hindu whose wife is haunted by the ghost of the riots; a Hindu-hating Muslim who hopelessly plans revenge; a mixed marriage couple rethinking their decision to move to Delhi post riots and a Muslim child who has recently lost his parents to the riots. Nandita Das manages to put together characters of a similar mindset on both sides of the equation. It wasn’t a controversial film at all but a purely human interest story that doesn’t sympathize with a particular community.
9. Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015)
A stereotype-thwarting film that helps cement a new concept of love, or rather a new way of looking at it; one that is rarely explored on the silver screen. This original story is an unexpected yet much-deserved movie that affords a certain intelligence to its viewers.
I can promise you that this is a romantic drama like none other. Both the leads, Bhumi Pednekar and Ayushmann Khurana give stellar performances that radiate the sincerity, seriousness and honesty with which the movie was made.
10. Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959)
India’s first cinemascope film, Kaagaz Ke Phool is a tragic tale of yet another creative mind. A famous director struggles with his family relations. His wealthy in-laws deem his job to be low in social status. He loses his wife and is kept away from his child. The film demonstrates how an innocent daughter just wants her parents to reunite and live as a family. It makes a case for men in the realm of child custody.
11. Kannathil Muthamittal – A Peck on the Cheek (2002) – Tamil
Amudha, on her 9th birthday, learns that she is adopted. Her biological mother, a Srilankan Tamil refugee, has gone back to her people in Sri Lanka. On Amudha’s insistence, the adopted parents make a trip into the escalating war zones of Sri Lanka. Unlike Mani Ratnam’s previous issue-based films, the central conflict of Amudha is intricately realized. Moreover, the humane perspective organically flows unlike the contrived nature of Bombay and Roja.
There’s a poignant scene in the latter half of the film. Madhavan’s writer character recites a Tamil poem as he is dragged by the Tamil rebels to confirm his identity. One of the verses goes:
“One day our eyebrows will arch. Our closed eyes will open again. Our puckered lips will throb and our clenched teeth grind. Rule over us until then. Flaunt your power over us.”
It’s a tear-inducing poem, not just for the persecuted Sri Lankan Tamils, but for persecuted people all around the world.
12. Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year (2009)
Shimit Amin gave us a drama-comedy too smart for its own good. Rocket Singh is the kind of film that has jokes thrown at you from all sides. It is up to the audience how many jokes they can grasp. Rocket Singh was in line with smart comedies like Dibakar Bannerjee’s Khosla Ka Ghosla and Oye Lucky Lucky Oye! and sadly suffered the same box office disaster.
Amin sprinkles the completely fresh storyline with his trademark detailing. The banner of “We Passed The College Failed” at a graduation party, the small comb that Ranbir uses to groom his beard, rival salesman writing ‘Vijay Dinanath Chauhan’ in the society register, Harpreet and Nitin putting their ties inside shirt pockets while eating and Nitin reading client’s papers upside down are just a few of the innumerable subtle instances of a well-researched and rich screenplay.
Shimit’s casting is pitch-perfect. Veteran actors Manish Chaudhary, Prem Chopra, Mukesh Bhatt and newbies Gauhar Khan, Amol Parashar light up each scene. Shimit yet again succeeds in extracting the best performance of his career from the leading man Ranbir Kapoor.
13. Peranbu (2019) – Tamil, Malayalam
Peranbu is a heartfelt, humanist masterpiece that holds a mirror to our sad reality. It deals with real issues that directly or indirectly threaten the lives of those the society doesn’t consider ‘normal.’ The movie revolves around a father and his daughter, who is inflicted with cerebral palsy and chronicles their journey through a world that is against them only because their orthodox mentalities deem them to be dangerous. So ensues a series of betrayals from those they called their own, those they believed in and of course those who opposed them from the beginning. Peranbu is a disturbing watch while being deeply impactful.
The chapterised novel-like storytelling technique helps add more sophistication to the film and allows for a much more planned and honed approach. The performances by both the leads are on par with the greatest of actors and the chemistry they share on-screen, which develops throughout the film, is uncannily realistic. Watch it if I haven’t said it enough.
14. Pyaasa (1957)
Perhaps one of the most realistic portraits of the world that could be portrayed through a film was depicted in Pyaasa. The movie raises questions regarding the worth of an artist, the value of art and the paradoxical Schrodinger’s Cat-like existence of that which is called true love in the world. They are questions that shall boggle the human mind for centuries and yet remain unanswered. Dutt delves deep into themes of acceptance and rejection, both literal and metaphorical as well as internal and external. Coupled with iconic scores like ‘Jaane Woh Kaise’ and others, Pyaasa renders a sublime experience.
15. Kumbalangi Nights (2019) – Malayalam
Kumbalangi Nights is a pure and simple story of love and life. A slice-of-life drama that focuses on a lot of different things — friendship, society, stereotypes, true love, etc. It’s a delightful, organic experience. The sibling dynamic is amazing. The story takes its time but never feels like it’s dragging out. The characters are real.
There is a great balance between character and plot. The first half and the second half compliment each other as one is focused on character development while the other focuses on the plot. Striking a perfect balance is anything but easy. But the filmmaker makes it look so effortless it’s almost unbelievable. This beautiful small-town film is a definite masterpiece about unbreakable bonds and relationships. It displays amazing humour rooted deeply in reality and provides an understanding of the enigma of life.
There we are! These are some of the best Indian films on Amazon Prime available for streaming right now. How many have you seen?