Special 26 (Neeraj Pandey/India/2013)

Story:

A team of tricksters pose as CBI officers and conduct raids to rob politicians and businessmen of their black money. With the real CBI on their trail, they decide to pull off their biggest heist.(google)

My Opinion:

Inspired by true events. While I certainly believe that parts of this could be true, it is really the word INSPIRED we should keep in mind here. I didn’t make any research yet, but some parts of the movie just seemed too good, or in the worst cases too illogical, to be true.

That doesn’t take the fun out of the movie though. It is really entertaining from beginning to the end. Always nice to see Anupam Kher and Akshay Kumar also gives us a good performance.

I don’t know what more I could say about this one. It’s a highly entertaining heist-movie and probably well worth your time

Trailer

Badla (Sujoy Ghosh/India/2019)

Story:

Naina, a successful entrepreneur and married woman, gets caught in a web of accusations when her lover is found dead. She then hires a reputable lawyer to work with her on the case and find answers. (Google)

My Opinion:

Sujoy Ghosh seems to be one of Indias thriller experts. That’s already the second movie I, believe it or not, unintentionally saw of him in the period of a few days. The other one was „Kahaani“

Thinking back now, the shoe really fits. The layers of how the thriller works are pretty much the same. The actors are well chosen, it is always a delight to see Amitabh Bachchan since not many can challenge his presence. Then things never get boring and you wonder how it happened. Everything ends with some pretty heavy twists and turns and you’ve spent your time well if you like thrillers. The twists and turns, although a bit hard to foresee, stay believable and are not too over the top. The movie plants a few things, but overall it is probably not as intelligent as it thinks it is. Again, Iam not the fastest but I would argue that it is hard to foresee all of that. The audience is being tricked, but not in the most intelligent way. It is more like “ Haha noooo it is not like that, it is like this cause I say so“. Yeah something like that, but it all makes sense. So no need to be afraid that everything is totally unlogical for the sake of a twist.

Yeah, „Badla“ is a solid thriller for fans of thrillers. You probably won’t be totally disappointed watching this one. It doesn’t go very deep, it relys on its tricks. Which is ok for me, a thriller is a thriller and nobody says a thriller always has to be super deep or whatever. Just a thriller has a few things that can make it outstanding. Its level of suspense, its cleverness or maybe different layers. „Badla“ is outstanding in neither of those things. In the end its solid, no next level stuff BUT solid. Anyway, although the movie doesn’t go very deep in my opinion, there is probably a message that feminists will find to be a bit problematic.😉

Also to not forget that point, the movies is based on the Spanish movie „The Invisible Guest“ from 2016. I didn’t see that one, yet.

Trailer

Nayattu (Martin Prakkat/India/2021)

Story:

Three police officers become pawns for unscrupulous lawmakers when they are framed in an incident amid political elections and must flee to evade arrest. (Netflix)

My Opinion:

Instead of „Kahaani“, which I watched recently, I would rather call this one „the best indian thriller ever made“. Iam not a big fan of such superlatives, but I wouldn’t mind people calling „Nayattu“ one of the best thrillers. It is surly amongst the best I have seen.

It just fits my personal taste a bit more than movies like „Kahaani“. It goes deeper in my eyes and doesn’t have to rely only or not at all on twists and turns. It has an authenticity that makes it gripping without you only waiting for the next twist. Then this movie delivers more than what meets the eye. The characters are authentic and relatable. Once again it is a movie that deals with cultural matters and the deeply implented corruption that is a part of living in India and that corruption comes from the highest places.

That doesn’t mean that there is no suspense. Just the suspense doesn’t come from twists and turns, like I already said a few times. The suspense is created by the fates of our characters since we care for them on a higher level. Well, I stop now. Iam not good at explaining this kind of stuff.

If you have a chance to watch it, you should do it.

Trailer

Kahaani (Sujoy Ghosh/India/2012)

Story:

Vidya Bagchi, a pregnant woman, travels to Kolkata from London to search for her missing husband. When all clues lead to a dead end, she realises that there is more than what meets the eye. (Google)

My Opinion:

Some critics and people called „Kahaani“ the best Indian thriller ever. While I can certainly see where this enthusiasm comes from, I wouldn’t be that enthusiastic myself.

Before it sounds too negative, „Kahaani“ is really a great thriller and ONE of the best to come out of India. Although the movie pretty fast gives you an idea about what could have happened here, it manages to constantly keep the excitement and suspense at a high level.As I often acknowledged Iam not the fastest when it comes to finding out stuff like „who did it?“, but no one can tell he directly knew how the ending is going to turn out.

How much you like the movie or especially the ending, depends on how you feel about the final twist. Of course you still can like the movie in general, but dislike the ending and so on. My point is, while I understand that a thriller wants to give you a final punch that no one expected, there can be certain problems with that. Sometimes a twist just feels like it is there for the sake of a twist, but actually the movie could have ended in another, sometimes more satisfying, way. Not that I totally feel that way, just slightly. I would have wished for another ending. Maybe I expected a bit too much from it anyway. I mean the whole movie is kinda straight story driven and relys on its twist and turns. Beside wondering about how the story is going on, there isn’t much of thought provoking stuff going on here. Still, in what it does, the movie succeeds. So maybe It was my fault to expect more.

In terms of being a straight forward thriller, „Kahaani“ is very good. The suspense level is constantly high, the characters are very well portrayed, the locations are interesting (at least for non Indian people i guess) and it never gets boring. I would have wished for some more here and there, but that is complaining on a high level.

Trailer

Ankhon Dekhi (Rajat Kapoor/2014)

Story:

After a distressing incident, a Delhi man vows to believe only what he can see, but his new ideals soon take his life in extreme directions. (Netflix)

My Opinion:

I really loved the premise of the movie. Actually it was pretty genius to me and kept me wondering where this will lead to.

Then you have a great setting and lovable characters. Especially Sanjay Mishra as our main protagonist steals the show for me. Still, overall the whole cast is lovable.

The only problem that I have with the movie that it tends to be a bit too abstract at times and somehow it starts getting messy after a while. Still, things always stay interesting and entertaining enough.

In the end you have a charming and thought provoking movie. That I would recommend for everyone to check out.

Trailer

Umrika (Prashant Nair/2015)

Story:

The film begins with Udai leaving his village for the United States. Following the death of his father, Udai’s younger brother Ramakant realises that the letters his family has been receiving from Udai have been forged by his father and uncle, and learns that Udai vanished when he reached his port city, Mumbai. He embarks upon a journey to locate his brother. (Wikipedia)

My Opinion:

As simple as it is, if you like the premise please go ahead and watch the movie.

„Umrika“ is one of the best examples for that a movie doesn’t need to be super complicated or always needs a hundred different layers to it. Although I don’t want to say that there are no things underneath, just they are pretty obvious and you don’t need to dig too deep. Everything is pretty much clear. To continue my topic, a movie also doesn’t always have to do or invent something new. It has to keep you attached to it, it has to be believeable in some way and it has to convince you. Umrika has all of that, nothing is overly challenging when we just talk about the story, but everything here has a pureness, innocence and honesty that sucked me in. The characters are also not overly complicated or super well developed but the actors and the director made them live, you get attached to their story. All of it just has that kinda magic touch that made me really full heartedly enjoy the movie.

One thing I still have to add though, the movie gets described as a comedy drama. Overall the movie is more a drama than a comedy, in its conclusion it is actually quite bitter. Anyway, I don’t wanna take away too much of it.

Trailer

The White Tiger (Ramin Bahrani/2021)

Story:

A rich Indian family’s ambitious driver uses his wit and cunning to escape from poverty and rise to the top as an entrepreneur.

My Opinion:

I have to admit that, even as a big fan of Indian movies, I have never been to India so far. That’s makes it hard for me to compare anything that I hear, read or see in movies to daily life in India. That being said, I read a lot and even have Indian people in my family. So from all the information I gathered so far Iam afraid, even though it is based on a novel, at least some aspects of the movie are pretty accurate.

You can become as modern as you want or pass better laws, the reality often is something completely else. Most of the time reality can’t really keep up with the image that some people want to create for a country. As I said, you may seem modern and all on the outside but it is hard to change what is inside. That for the most important part is the mindset of the people. That goes for rich people, middle class and poor people and of course also for the people who rule a country. India still suffers from things like the hundreds of different castes that showed people their exact place in society, without a chance to break out of your „destiny“. That’s what I meant with passing laws, like a law against caste discrimination. The mindset of hundreds of years won’t change over night. Then the trouble with corruption and so on. I wouldn’t totally despise the actions of the characters here based on the everlasting circle they are still caught in. How to break out of it? All of this is a large problem and also a problem of a worldwide system that works against people. That’s why, even if the movie works best for the example of India, you can also apply a lot of things here to many other countries and societies at least to a certain point.

Anyway, the movie shows all of this in a very gripping and entertaining way and gets carried by fine performances of its cast. It is not perfect and at some points it could have been more powerful but it is a real good movie worth to check out.

Mango Dreams (John Upchurch/2016)

Story:Concerned that dementia will soon steal his most cherished memories, a Hindu doctor hires a Muslim rickshaw driver to take him to his childhood home.

My Opinion:

Mango Dreams didn’t make any big noise and from how I see it is a rather unknown movie. It is easy to see why. No famous director, no real famous stars (at least for a western audience) except Naseeruddin Shah and the whole movie seems rather simple and low budget. That probably sounds more negative than the result really is. Overall I really enjoyed the movie. It is a pretty down to earth road movie that moves at a slow pace and features „everyday people“. Something that I personally really enjoy. So for people who look for something spectacular the movie will probably be disappointing. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t an emotional side to it. It touches the difficult and sensitive India/Pakistan subject and the violence and sadness connected to it.

Overall the movie is pretty straigth forward but still carries enough to be interesting and gets you emotional involved. It also delivers some pretty easy universal truths for me.

I wouldn’t see it is a total must see or a super unique gem. Still, if you are interested in these kind of movies and can look past some weaknesses it is worth your time.