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Have You Watched These OTT Films Yet?

January 03, 2024 15:40 IST
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There may not have been anything as remarkable as 2022's Darlings or Qala on OTT in 2023, but the advantage of the medium is the variety of genres that can be found, and there are always surprises.

Eventually, most films end up on streaming platforms, but the list here is of Hindi films made for, or, premiering on OTT in 2023. These are not necessarily good films, but the best of the lot.

There was also the odd event of a film releasing on OTT and becoming so popular that it got a limited release in the cinemas, Sirf Ek Banda Kaafi Hai.

Deepa Gahlot lists some 2023 movies, in order of release, that you need to watch if you haven't already.


Mission Majnu
Where to watch? Netflix

The series Mukhbir did the undercover spy plot better but Shantanu Bagchi's film has merit.

Set in 1971, during the war for the liberation of Bangladesh, the film is about Amandeep 'Aman' Singh (Sidharth Malhotra), a deep cover R&AW field operative in Pakistan, with the identity of a tailor named Tariq Hussain.

He falls in love with and marries Nasreen Hussain (Rashmika Mandanna), a blind woman.

His placid life is upended when Pakistan starts to build a nuclear weapon and Aman is assigned 'Mission Majnu' by R&AW chief R N Kao (Parmeet Sethi) to locate the nuclear facility.

He teams up with two other undercover agents (Sharib Hashmi, Kumud Mishra) to gather intel and avert a disaster.

It started well and become convoluted on the way, but gave due credit to R&AW agents, who risked their lives for the country, and scored some political points about nuclear proliferation.


Where to watch? Disney+Hotstar

An outstanding family drama, directed by Rahul V Chitella, with finely calibrated emotions and precarious relationships in a home that is happy from the outside but hiding its problematic bones.

The Batra family is about to move out of their tasteful Delhi bungalow and are in the midst of packing amidst a whole lot of big and small crises playing around them, in which the members of the clan and household help are caught up.

Before expressing a wish that the whole family celebrate Holi together, Kusum Batra (Sharmila Tagore) drops the bomb that she is relocating to Pondicherry.

Worse, her adopted son (Manoj Bajpayee) discovers a document that shatters the life he has built with the family.

The film is as elegantly to look at and enhanced by Sharmila Tagore and Manoj Bajpayee's performances.


Chor Nikal Ke Bhaga
Where to watch? Netflix

A love story, hijack, heist and revenge drama are rolled into one in Ajay Singh's film.

Neha Grover (Yami Gautam Dhar) is an air hostess who falls in love with a charming passenger, Ankit Sethi (Sunny Kaushal), after a few dates.

Claiming to be in trouble, he persuades Neha to help him smuggle some diamonds into India, but the plane they are on gets hijacked, and diverted to Kullu.

The hijackers demand the release of a terrorist leader.

Full of unexpected twists and devilish plotting by the mastermind of the plot, the film was implausible but also very entertaining.


Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai
Where to watch? ZEE5

Manoj Bajpayee's performance is a master class of acting.

Loosely based on the Asaram Bapu case, the self-styed godman with thousands of followers, was accused of sexual assault by a minor girl, causing a scandal.

On one side were Asaram's followers and on the other, a teenager (Adrija Sinha), who had the courage to confront a powerful man, with the support of her parents.

No lawyer dares to take the case, which P C Solanki (Bajpayee playing the real-life character), a humble but astute Jodhpur lawyer decides to fight.

With his in-depth knowledge of law, he defeated all the top lawyers hired by the Baba's family.

Witnesses are brazenly murdered, Solanki intimidated by armed goons but he does not give up, and eventually sends the abuser to jail.

Director Apoorv Singh Karki presented the film in a straightforward manner but an underdog story almost always appeals to viewers.


Where to watch? Netflix

An absurd comedy is not the easiest to pull off, so this one directed by Yashowardhan Mishra scores for effort.

Only in mofussil India can an MLA (Vijay Raaz) can have the police force of the town of Moba, somewhere in Madhya Pradesh, looking for two jackfruits stolen from his garden.

Much to her annoyance, Inspector Mahima Basor (Sanya Malhotra) is given the job of tracing the jackfruit.

In a patriarchal society, Mahima is at a disadvantage already, and her low caste status compounds her problems.

The daughter of the MLA's gardener goes missing and nobody cares about her, when jackfruits are more important than women.

Even when the plot wanders, the film retains its tinge of humour because of Ashok Mishra's brilliant colloquial dialogue to which English subtitles simply cannot do justice.


Where to watch? Amazon Prime Video

The idea of this film is so preposterous that it is worth a look just to see how Nitesh Tiwari manages it, working with a story by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, which equates a man's coming of age with lessons learnt (or maybe not) from history.

Ajay (Varun Dhawan), popularly known as Ajju Bhaiyya, is a history teacher at a Lucknow school, popular not for his teaching (abysmal) but for the flamboyant image he has created for himself.

To enhance his image further, he marries the rich and pretty Nisha (Jahnvi Kapoor) but she has a health condition, which makes him treat her with deplorable indifference.

In danger of being suspended for slapping a legislator's son, Ajay comes up with the crazy idea of going on a World War II pilgrimage and showing students, via video, what happened back then.

Ignorant and out of his depth, Ajay has to depend on the well-travelled and better educated Nisha for everything from information to food.

The WWII tourism takes Ajay and Nisha to Paris, Normandy, Amsterdam, Berlin and Poland, and Tiwari recreates in black-and-white some scenes from that era.

The locations and the actors are good enough reasons not to reach for the remote.


Jaane Jaan
Where to watch? Netflix

Sujoy Ghosh's adaptation of the Japanese novel The Devotion Of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino (which also inspired Drishyam) is set in cold, grey Kalimpong, where a Maths teacher Naren (Jaideep Ahlawat) obsesses over his neighbour Maya (Kareena Kapoor) but does nothing more than go to her restaurant each morning to buy the same dish.

When Maya's evil husband (Saurabh Sachdeva) turns up and threatens her and her daughter, he ends up dead on their floor.

Naren offers to get rid of the corpse and help them cope with the cops.

The investigator Karan (Vijay Varma) turns out to be Naren's classmate, and pokes around enough to make Maya panic.

But no one had anticipated Naren's calm, mathematical, brain.

The story, the performances and the moody atmospherics make this one a repeat watch, which cannot be said about many films these days.


Where to watch? Netflix

Vishal Bhardwaj's Khufiya, based on former R&AW insider Amar Bhushan's book Escape To Nowhere, is about the hard working staff of India's external intelligence agency, who often have to sacrifice their personal lives because of their risky work.

One such agent with the counter espionage unit is Krishna Mehra (Tabu), always grim and alert, takes on the mission of exposing the traitor who caused the death of her asset and lover, Heena (Azmeri Haque Badhon), in Dhaka.

The mole passing defence secrets to the CIA is Ravi (Ali Fazal), and to get to him, his traumatised wife Charu (Wamiqa Gabbi) is recruited.

More than the expert and ruthless spy games, the dead drops, betrayals and complicated plots, what is more interesting about Khufiya is the empathy that develops between Krishna and Charu.

It's a complicated but solid espionage thriller with first rate performances.


The Archies
Where to watch? Netflix

If the connection to the beloved Archie comics is ignored, Zoya Akhtar's film is a competently made teenage drama in which the Anglo Indian youngsters of the fictional town of Riverdale gather to save their Green Park from the grubby hands of developers.

Set in the 1960s, the costumes, props and sets give a retro feel, and the choreography is lively.

The film received as much attention as it did because of its actors -- industry kids Agastya Nanda (Archie), Suhana Khan (Veronica) and Khushi Kapoor (Betty).

Apart from the names, the characters have little in common with the comics, and that led the film to get some hate from those who grew up reading them, and learnt about the world of Western teenager -- dating, proms, fast food -- that today's youngsters take for granted.

The star kids may or may not be good actors yet, but they can dance!


Mast Mein Rehne Ka
Where to watch? Amazon Prime Video

Jackie Shroff excels in the role of a lonely 75-year-old Kamath, whose life changes when he is attacked and robbed in his flat.

It brings into his life the equally lonely but garrulous Canadian, Parkash Handa (Neena Gupta), whose home was also burglarised.

The thief, Nanhe (Abhishek Chauhan), a just-sacked tailor, is in desperate need of money to fulfill an order, and has the loan shark on his back.

His romance with a beggar (Monica Panwar) is sweet and innocent.

Vijay Maurya's film creates the warm world of these four characters, whose worlds collide, in a city like Mumbai, where nobody cares about anything but themselves.

A simple, charming, funny and enjoyable film.

There's a bonus sighting of Rakhee Sawant, seen in a movie for a change in a role that suits her, instead of screeching on TV.

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