Beyond Bollywood: The Best Regional Indian Films of 2018

Bollywood may have stolen the limelight with big ticket releases such as Zero and Thugs of Hindostan as well as hits like Andhadhun and Badhaai Ho, but the regional movie industries have some gems to share. Whether it’s Tamil, Punjabi or Marathi titles, here’s a list of regional films from India that you shouldn’t miss.

Vada Chennai (Tamil)

This gangster saga of epic proportions is set in North Chennai and has Dhanush as Anbu, a carrom champion whose fate leads him to become a thug. The movie follows his trials and tribulations as he is placed as a pawn in a deadly game. There's love, there's betrayal and above all, there's a story that is magnificently told by director Vetrimaran. The cast also boasts of Ameer, Kishore, Samuthirakani, Aishwarya Rajesh, Daniel Balaji and Andrea Jeremiah, who is the dark horse in this narrative.

Pyaar Prema Kaadhal (Tamil)

In an interesting take on modern-day relationships, here we encounter Sree, a man smitten by Sindhuja, his colleague. Their friendship turns into a live-in relationship, after which things go downhill. Director Elan succeeds where many have failed previously. He manages to create a strong female protagonist and explores the dynamics as well as vulnerabilities of love through a prism rarely used before.

Savarakathi (Tamil)

A superb movie where multiple genres melt subtly. We see director Ram playing barber Pichai who gets into a skirmish with a local don Manga (a brilliant Mysskin, who has also written and produced this alongside his brother GR Adithya who is the director). The don swears revenge and the barber's 15 minutes of bravado results in him having to run for his life. Laced with humour, the film also touches you as it shows a common man trying to protect his family while fending off a ferocious enemy.

Merku Thodarchi Malai (Tamil)

A farmer has only one dream — to buy a piece of land. It comes true but the path from there is not easy. Directed by Lenin Bharati and produced by Vijay Sethupathi, the movie tries to become the voice of the voiceless and expose the truth about the sufferings of farmers. Exquisitely shot and beautifully told, the film comes at a perfect time when farmer protests across the country have finally grabbed the attention they deserve.

Sudani from Nigeria (Malayalam)

In probably one of the finest feel-good movies in recent times, director Zakariya Mohammed shows the relationship between Majid, a football manager and his player, Samuel. Their bond grows when Samuel starts staying with Majid's family after getting injured. Soubin Shahir excels as Majeed while Nigerian actor Samuel Abiola Robinson is perfectly cast as Samuel. But it is the motherly figures of Savithri and Sarasa stay with you much after the movie ends.

Swathanthryam Ardharathriyil (Malayalam)

It starts a slow and suddenly Swathanthryam Ardharathriyil makes you sit back and pay attention. Probably the finest prison break drama in India, it features Angamaly Diaries’ Anthony Verghese as well as Vinayakan and Chemban Vinod Jose. There’s not a single dull moment once the movie picks up pace and you have a solid, nail-biting thriller in front of you. Tinu Pappachan, a long-time collaborator of Lijo Jose Pellissery, makes his directorial debut with this movie and delivers. We’re sure Bollywood’s going to take notice as well.

Eeda (Malayalam)

Set in the Kannur district of Malabar, this is a story filled with political intrigue that takes its inspiration from Romeo and Juliet. Here the couple in question belong to two rival parties. Things get heated and blood spills as the young couple try to defy odds and lead a life together. Director B Ajithkumar, who is also a National-award winning editor, leads a credible cast featuring the talented Shane Nigam and Nimisha Vijayan and delivers a narrative rich in metaphors.

Goodachari (Telugu)

Adivi Sesh has made a name for himself for coming up with stylish movies rich in content. If Kshanam was a watershed moment for the Telugu film industry, Goodachari takes it one step ahead with its story as well as the execution. This time Adivi Sesh plays a spy who finds himself at the receiving end of the very organisation he wishes to serve after he is falsely accused of a grievous crime. Now he has to clear his name but time is running out. In an era of rampant jingoism, director Sashi Kiran Tikka's Goodachari comes as a breath of fresh air.

Naal (Marathi)

Probably one of the finest Marathi movies in recent times, Naal is worth the watch because of its meticulous treatment of a subject that evokes emotions like nothing else. Chaitanya is a little child who is raised in his maternal house. He is a curious kid and director Sudhakar Reddy Yakkanti gives us a glimpse of his world that changes when he comes across a certain truth. Naal has been produced by Nagraj Manjule who also stars in it.

Daana Paani (Punjabi)

This movie might not match up to the grandeur and scale of some of its regional counterparts, but it is a heart-warming tale that deserves credit mainly because of its story and some brilliant performances. Directed by Tarnvir Singh Jagpal, this has Jimmy Shergill playing a soldier during the Indo-Chinese conflict of 1962. He returns to his village carrying a piece of news that changes his life forever. Daana Paani's laurels are multiple but most importantly it makes you reconnect with your roots.

Katheyondu Shuruvagide (Kannada)

Kannada movies have had some kind of rejuvenation in the recent years and Katheyondu Shurivagide is another glorious addition to this. The romantic drama shows the relationship between a resort owner and his guest. Things happen unexpectedly and sparks fly and right when you are about to dismiss it as just another regular love story it becomes a matured take on a cliched theme. Director Senna Hegde, along with leads Diganth and Pooja Devariya, has come up with a breezy romantic entertainer that also teaches you something valuable about love and life.

C/O Kancharapalem (Telugu)

This charming little gem of a movie, made on shoe-string budget, is about the various facets of love and its ever changing nature. Incredibly done and masterfully narrated, C/O Kancharapalem has been directed by debutant Maha Venkatesh who makes sure the audience is also involved in the journey undertaken by the characters and that it is one worth remembering. A year where we saw several behemoths biting dust at the box-office, this movie assures that Indian cinema is in safe hands.

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