Bollywood films have been overshadowed by the rise of Southern cinema. But all is not lost. Here are some of the movies released this year so far that we liked.
Note: (the list is not indicative of ticket numbers)
1. Badhaai Do
Release date: February 11, 2022 Director: Harshavardhan Kulkarni where to watch:Netflix
Rajkummar Rao and Bhumi Pednekar, two of Bollywood’s top contemporary actors, play Shardul and Sumi, a gay man and a lesbian, who opt for a lavender wedding. Besides the nuanced performances, what makes this film a must-watch is its matured, sensitive writing, storytelling, and gaze. Although it addresses the social issue of the stigma that is still associated with homosexuality, it does so without becoming moralistic or diluting the issue to a ridiculous point to make it acceptable while breaking down quite a few stereotypes along the way. Instead of hanging out with characters from the LGBTQIA+ community, the director chooses to create flawed individuals, making this film feel more real and relatable than most of this genre.
Release date: February 11, 2022 Director: Chakun Batra Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video
A tumultuous, clandestine relationship between two distinctly different individuals is at the heart of this steamy domestic drama-turned-thriller, reminiscent of Woody Allen’s 2005 film Match Point. It’s a dark, searing brew of love, sex, deception, manipulation, infidelity, guilt, consequences and childhood trauma. Although not as nuanced as Kapoor and Sons, and being accused of normalizing infidelity under the guise of “modern day romance”, this is a must watch for all Deepika Padukone fans. ; here, the actor is in all his glory as Alisha, a yoga teacher who engages in an illicit affair with her cousin sister’s boyfriend.
3. Gangubai Kathiawadi
Release date: February 25, 2022 Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali Where to watch: netflix
Loosely based on a true story of a brothel madam’s rise to power, this Alia Bhatt starring set in Kamathipura in the 1950s is the quintessential tale of victim becoming savior, a wronged woman emerging from her trauma to write her own destiny. The poignant drama is set in a baroque world of Bhansali filled with rich colors, exquisite visuals, stylized scenes, heightened emotions, over-the-top characters and embellished dialogue. If Bhansali renders misery and filth aesthetic, Alia imbues Gangu’s character with an honesty that balances artifice and sucks you into the cinematic experience.
Release date: March 18, 2022 Director: Suresh Triveni Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video
Jalsa follows a hit-and-run incident with an incendiary journalist and single mother of a teenager with different abilities, Maya Menon, in the driver’s seat. The girl she unknowingly hits with her car turns out to be her housekeeper’s daughter. What unfolds is a story that oscillates between power and guilt, a story where the demarcation between the aggressor and the victim gradually blurs. This is a film with three powerful actors, Vidya Balan, Shefali Shah and Rohini Hattangadi, and it is their gritty and nuanced performances that make this Rashomonesque film which explores changing ideas of motherhood, morality, privileges and power dynamics, an absolute must watch.
Release date: May 6, 2022 Director: Raj Singh Chaudhary Where to watch: netflix
A dusty, sun-scorched frontier town set amid a parched and cracked desert landscape sees the arrival of a mysterious young man and the sleepy hamlet is suddenly rocked by the action. Something sinister is brewing. It’s a quintessential setting for a Clint Eastwood western. Here, valiantly trying to fit into his rather large shoes, is a burly, brooding Harshvardhan Kapoor. But it’s Anil Kapoor as Inspector Surekha Singh who steals the show, once again proving that baap aakhir baap hota hai! Written by Anurag Kashyap, this disturbingly violent revenge drama has its flaws but is a delightful watch.
6. Bhool Bhulaiyaa2
Release date: May 20, 2022 Director: Anees Bazmee Where to watch: netflix
A pretty girl meets a charming boy. She gets him hooked and they land in a haveli haunted by Manjulika. A mix of psychological thriller and horror-comedy, the film has a bubbly performance from Kartik Aaryan (although he lacks the charisma of Akshay Kumar) as Ruhan Randhawa, aka “Rooh baba”, and of course of Tabu in a dual role. Although not a patch on the movie Priyadarshan, it’s a fun watch if you’re looking for a full Bollywood comedy and have an appetite for gags, slapstick and a Bengali ghost stuck in a Rajasthani haveli song Friend I Tomarr.
7. Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon
Release date: June 10, 2022 Director: Anamika Haksar Where to watch: Theaters
Not an easy or airy watch, this experimental film follows the lives, dreams, fears and aspirations of street dwellers – pickpockets, beggars, petty factory workers and migrant communities – of the crowded alleys of the old Delhi. A heady and unnerving mix of fantasy, magical realism, surrealism and hyperrealism, it premiered at the 2018 MAMI festival but only secured a nationwide theatrical release this year. Reminiscent of 1988’s post-modernist absurdist drama Om-Dar-B-Dar in its visual style, this menial saga is an offbeat hybrid of documentary, film, drama, animation, and folk painting, and is populated primarily by non-actors.
8. Jugjugg Jeeyo
Release date: June 24, 2022 Director: Raj Mehta Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video
Kuku and Naina want to announce their decision to divorce to their parents. But Kuku’s father has his own secret to reveal. The film attempts to explore the dynamics of arranged and loving marriages but never takes itself too seriously. It is another story of a wealthy but dysfunctional Punjabi family, who, despite not being in the same league as a Dil Dhadakne Do, is a nice watch. And Anil Kapoor once again steals the show. Go there if you miss the good old artists of the Bollywood family.
Release date: July 22, 2022 Director: Rajat Kapoor Where to watch: Theaters
A filmmaker struggles to put a film on the editing table when he discovers that his main character has disappeared from the footage. Worse? He entered the real world! Now, a movie character crossing the line between fiction and reality is not a new or unique concept. But Rajat uses the film-within-a-film format to create a poignant, if quirky tale that explores a filmmaker’s existential crises. The quirky, crowd-funded meta-caper reflects its fear of losing control of narrative, the constant struggle to balance commerce and creativity, and explores the relationship between art and its artist.
10. Good Luck Jerry
Release date: July 29, 2022 Director: Siddharth Sen Where to watch: StarDisney+
Adapted from the 2018 Tamil film Kolamaavu Kokila, this neo-noir starring Janhvi Kapoor tells the story of Jerry aka Jaya Kumari, who desperately needs money to treat his cancer-stricken mother. She eventually lands in the world of drug mafias and becomes a peddler. The original story tells how the sweet and innocent Jerry managed to outsmart not only the union but also the cops. This whimsical film, with its wacky music and standout performances, is a fun ride, but with a few bumps here and there.