It was a year which pretty much told Bollywood, “Look, to make a good film, all you need is a good script.” In fact, the best films of this year were the smallest and most underrated films, which eventually gained critical and box office acclaim simply via word of mouth. They may have had to compete with top notch films; ones with big budgets and big stars. But ultimately, it is these films that don’t get recognized and if they do, it is far too late. So, instead of forgetting about them, this year we want to give praise, applaud and simply call out some of the smallest and most underrated films of 2010.
Based on a true-life story of a young boy who is kidnapped with the pretense of being forced into marriage, which has been seen and heard of in Bihar, the story follows the life of one such man. The script written, directed and produced by Sushil Rajpal is a fabulous example of a primarily unknown social issue which needed to be bought to the forefront and has simply been ignored. The film won the National Award in the Social Issues category in 2009 before it was released commercially this year. From the performances to execution to realism, the critics adored Antardwand.
9. Tum Milo Toh Sahi
Despite housing a powerhouse star cast which included Dimple Kapadia and Nana Patekar, Tum Milo Toh Sahi was pretty much ousted immediately. The film follows the life of a number of different people who are individually going through a number of changes. However, their lives are all joined by one single café owned by Kapadia. What made the film so endearing was the simplicity with which the story is told. In fact, it was rather sad that he film didn’t receive as much attention as it deserved because it certainly captured a number of sequences superbly.
8. Red Alert – The War Within
What rocked most about Red Alert – The War Within was Suneil Shetty. The film spoke volumes about Naxalites and their treatment in Andhra Pradesh. This rather dark film followed the life of a farm laborer who is unnecessarily dragged into a mess created by the local Naxalites. After making its rounds at film festivals around the world, the film finally released in India and was unfortunately panned by the critics. However, what they failed to realize was the reality that Red Alert possessed. As a social film, it allowed audiences to take a look into the lives of the impoverished and unfortunate in parts of India that are simply forgotten.
7. Bumm Bumm Bole
It was the kids which made Bumm Bumm Bole, one of the most endearing films of the year. Set in a village where a family simply cannot afford a pair of new shoes, two young children are forced to share their school shoes as they wait for a race that awards the winner a new pair of shoes. Inspired by the Iranian film Children of Heaven, Priyadarshan’s version of the film with an Indian twist, Bumm Bumm Bole pretty much was out of the cinema overnight because of the small star cast and lack of publicity. However, it is a film which made you go gush over the cute performances by the two children.
6. Thanks Maa
By far, Thanks Maashould have been India’s entrance to the Oscars for 2010. It is incredibly sad that this film was even considered as it is by far one of the most beautiful films of the year. Debutant director Irfan Kamal’s look into the life of slum children and child abandonment in Mumbai was far more real and honest than any Slumdog Millionaire. And for these reasons, the film was selected to be screened at some of the most prestigious film festivals around the world. And although the star cast consisted of only a few known names, Alok Nath and Ranvir Shorey, the film is a phenomenal take on a life that is unknown in India.
Even Ajay Devgn, the most consistent actor of 2010, felt that Aakrosh was underrated. Yet again Priyadarshan is back with a social film which didn’t seem to cut it. A rather political film which follows two police men who are told to find three kidnapped men who have disappeared, Ajay Devgn and Akshaye Khanna both come out with powerhouse performances in a film which is raw and rustic. So why didn’t it work and leave unnoticed? That’s one we’ll never know but it is a film which deserves to be watched and gain immense acclaim.
4.City of Gold
For the most part, no one has even heard of this fabulous film. What we know of the rather snooty South Mumbai infrastructure, was once a range of textile mills before they were all torn down. It is during this time that a family is struck with tragedy as they are thrown out of their jobs after the local mill is shut down. It is rather dark and negative, but more than anything, it is honest and true. Executed and told openly, City of Gold tells the story of a tale virtually unknown and untold. Supported by some fabulous acting, the film makes for a must watch.
3. The Japanese Wife
It is a sad day when a Rahul Bose film is on this list especially since his films are hardly regular. The Japanese Wife is one of 2010’s most magnificent films but who’s seen it? Very few. Aparna Sen directs a movie about pen pals who fall in love and marry over oceans and paper. As time passes, they make plans to meet but are struck by nonstop series of unfortunate events. A simple tale which may be unfeasible, but makes for perhaps one of the most romantic films of the year. In addition, you can be sure the film will be gripping with an outstanding performance by Rahul Bose.
2. Tere Bin Laden
After much hype and word of mouth, Tere Bin Ladenwent on to become the sleeper hit of the year. And I would hate to think that the film could have been one that the entire world missed out on. Ali Zafar is a man who is looking to get out of Pakistan, but is constantly rejected. However, he finds a way to gain publicity using an Osama Bin Laden lookalike and mayhem begins. While the rest of the films have been rather serious and grim, Tere Bin Ladenis a satire look at stereotypes that exist around the world regarding the Muslim community. Definitely a funny look at a more serious matter, Tere Bin Ladenis a fun film which is still underrated because you can be sure it won’t bag too many awards at commercial functions.
Vikramaditya Motwane is a genius and there is no other way to describe the man. Taking on a sensitive subject, the father-son relationship, for his first film, the director proves that a small film, with a meager budget and an even smaller star cast can still do wonders. Udaan was a film that wasn’t expected to create any waves despite being produced by Anurag Kashyap. However, after screening at a number of film festivals, and gaining rave reviews, it was finally recognized by the Indian film fraternity as a movie that needed to be acclaimed for a number of reasons. For this and many more reasons, Udaan gains the top spot as by far the most underrated films of the year. It truly is an experience.
There is no other way to describe the above films but to simply say: watch them! You will not be disappointed.