If 2019 was the year of Malayalam Cinema, and 2020 was the year of, well, not much, then for this writer, 2021 belongs to Tamil Cinema. While Kollywood made its share of fan-appeasing star vehicles in movies like Master and Annatthe, there has also been some very hard-hitting movies that left both the critics and the viewers impressed. Tamil Cinema in 2021 has been most praised for its exploration of caste discrimination, and it has been a year when one of its own – Jai Bhim – made international headlines ranking over The Shawshank Redemption in IMDb. Jai Bhim: Suriya’s Acclaimed Film Enters IMDb’s Top Rated 250 Movies; Soorarai Pottru Also Among 8 Indian Films In the List.
In this special year-ender feature, we look at 7 Tamil films of 2021 that left us the most impressed of the lot, including a couple of masterpieces and some enjoyable entertainers, and where to watch them online. PS: Couldn’t fit in PS Vinothraj’s Koozhangal, India’s official entry for Oscars 2022, into our viewing schedule as the film hadn’t had a commercial release yet. Sigh!
Yogi Babu in Mandela
Madonne Ashwin’s fantastic satire about a barber from a lower-caste whose single vote changes the fate of a village is filled with some very likeable moments, including a heartening climactic standoff, and a terrific performance from Yogi Babu, who had quite a great year! Mandela is streaming on Netflix.
Dhanush in Karnan
The actor in Dhanush continues to awe us in Tamil Cinema’s yet another attempt to foray into caste politics. Mari Selvaraj’s Karnan, based on true life incidents, is violent but powerful, hard-hitting yet emotional, and is replete with some splendid frames, with Dhanush delivering yet another potential National Award performance. Karnan is streaming on Amazon Prime Video. Karnan Movie Review: Dhanush’s Versatility and Mari Selvaraj’s Brilliance Make an Epic Combo!
Arya and Pasupathy in Sarpatta Parambarai
While Bollywood was going gaga over an average boxing drama in Toofan, Kollywood went ahead and gave us the best sports drama of the year in Pa Ranjith’s Sarpatta Parambarai, starring Arya and Pasupathy. A period saga, the movie merges an engaging underdog boxing tale with caste dynamics, and pepper it with well-written characters, good performances and superb scenes. Sarpatta Parambarai is streaming on Amazon Prime Video. Sarpatta Parambarai Movie Review: Arya’s Boxing Drama Delivers Knockout Punches Despite Predictable Beats.
Sivakarthikeyan and Priyanka Mohan in Doctor
Nelson Dilipkumar’s Doctor isn’t as pathbreaking like some of the films in this list and it knows that. Its aim is to entertain you, and Doctor does a commendable job at that, even if the proceedings get stretched after a point. The comic touches are done well, Sivakarthikeyan is excellent and Yogi Babu often steals the show with his one-liners. Not to mention, Anirudh Ravichander’s peppy score, including the viral “Chellamma“. Doctor is streaming on Netflix. Doctor Movie Review: Sivakarthikeyan’s Film, Streaming on Netflix, Is a Very Entertaining Comic-Thriller.
Suriya in Jai Bhim
If this writer has to pick up the one Indian movie that stood out from the rest, it would be Jai Bhim. TJ Gnanavel’s legal drama is based on a real-life case handled by Justice Chandru, with Suriya essaying the character with immaculate finesse, and Lijomol Jose excellent as Sengeni. Jai Bhim may not be the most technically brilliant film of the year, but what it does so excellently is deliver a story so powerful and so heartrending, hitting all the strong notes, and invoking a conversation on police atrocities and mistreatment of caste minorities. Jai Bhim, like Karnan, Mandela and Sarpatta Parambarai, reminds you how Cinema can be such a brilliant medium to educate on barriers if done right. Jai Bhim is streaming on Amazon Prime Video. Jai Bhim Movie Review: Suriya Puts His Best Foot Forward in This Powerful and Increasingly Relevant Legal Drama.
A Still From Kadaseela Biriyani
Nishanth Kalidindi’s directorial debut is a revenge story that is told in a manner so winning that it begs for multiple rewatches. It has flaws, but the positive overhaul the negatives by miles, be it the fine performances from the entire cast to its immersive storytelling. And what’s more, in a year, where nearly every week had a Vijay Sethupathi film coming out, this is the only one that left us impressed even if the actor, who serves as a narrator, only had a cameo. Watch Kadaseela Biriyani on Netflix if you have missed out on this gem.
STR and SJ Suryah in Maanaadu
After a couple of underwhelming movies, Venkat Prabhu is back to rollicking form with his latest directorial, Maanaadu. Blending a comic-thriller with sci-fi elements, Maanaadu is thrilling while it lasts with its easy accessible use of time-loops and effective performances from STR, Kalyani Priyadarshan and a scene-stealing SJ Suryah. Maanaadu is streaming on SonyLIV.
(The above story first appeared on The Hamden Journal on Dec 27, 2021 02:57 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website thehamdenjournal.com).