- Dipankar Sarkar
As 2021 comes to an end, it can be said without an iota of doubt that it was neither a progressive nor an entertaining year for Indian cinema. Only some of the films released on the OTT platform gave us hope for the future of Hindi cinema. While regarding the rest of them the less it is said the better it is.
So, here is my list of the top five Hindi Films of 2021 Streaming on OTT in ascending order
Pagglait, streaming on Netflix, begins with informing the viewer that a young man, aged between twenty-seven or eight years, Astik, had recently passed away. His immediate family mourns him and relatives stream into the house of the deceased to participate in the funeral. But to the utter surprise of the viewers, his widow, Sandhya (Sanya Malhotra) is lying on the bed, yawning and going through his Facebook post inundated with condoling comments. The prayer meets are an extended and prolonged thirteen-day period and as the rituals are performed relationships between different family members are dissected and their complexity explored. The filmmaker Umesh Bist censures the conditioning of liberation and agency needed to be controlled, manipulated, and exploited to maintain the status quo at home and adopts a more nuanced approach to decoding this concept.
4. Ajeeb Daastaans
Ajeeb Daastaans, streaming on Netflix, is an anthology film where the stories are layered with an intense feeling for masculinity, lust, bigotry, revenge, compassion, and deception. The first and second instalments- Manju and Khilauna– are disappointing. But the third and fourth instalment, Geeli Pucchi and Ankahi raises the bar of the anthology and compensate for the damage caused by its predecessors.
3. Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar
Dibakar Banerjee’s Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar (2021), streaming on Prime Video, is a crime drama that narrates the plight of two individuals who represent two completely different versions of India. Sandy Walia (Parineeti Chopra), aka Sandeep, is a wily, unapologetic, self-made woman who saves her bank from collapse. But in return, she becomes a victim of the bank president’s conspiracy to kill her. Satinder Dahiya (Arjun Kapoor), aka ‘Pinky, a thick-set Haryana police constable under suspension, also becomes a victim of the same conspiracy linked with Pinky. United by their mistrust, suspicion, and hate for each other, the only option left for the two troubled souls is to flee. What follows next is a tense and thrilling ride through the long-winded roads of Delhi and Pithoragadh, as the characters confront the systematic misogyny and toxic masculinity, along the way.
Though the treatment of Sherni, streaming on Prime Video, is far too subtle and understated and lacks the visceral impact which the writing promised, yet it brings perceptive observation, sharpness and satire in equal measure to the film. Vidya Balan’s accomplished portrayal of the character caught in personal and professional turmoil truly elevates the film.
1. Sardar Udham
Sardar Udham, streaming on prime video, directed by Shoojit Sircar is one of the most perceptive pieces of biopic made on an Indian freedom fighter in recent years. It is a rare period drama that gets into the psyche of its subject and helps provide a fascinating, intimate insight into the will and determination of a young boy whose last wish is to be known as a revolutionary and not a criminal for killing a demonic British officer who has no remorse for his brutal act. Had the lengthened of film shortened, it would have been devoid of any blemish on an otherwise modern classic. Had the lengthened of film shortened, it would have been devoid of any blemish on an otherwise modern classic.