(Updated: July 15, 2020) Online streaming platforms are slowly but steadily building up their library of regional content. You might find a decent number of Tamil and Malayalam films but Kannada titles are few and far between. Here are some of the best Kannada movies on Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hotstar and YouTube, worth your time :
1. Thithi (2016) – Netflix
Raam Reddy takes great interest in providing textures (ingrained with realism) to the frame and imbuing character details rather than chasing greater narrative aspirations. The film does have a central familial turmoil and a string of conflicts. But what Raam wants us to witness is simplicity and purity of character. Thithi may seem a bit hollow for those expecting broader realization of narrative conflicts. The film is anything but hollow. I am not saying the film’s form is utterly flawless. There might be few unsatisfying aspects. But it takes no didactic approach to comment on the inbred patriarchal issues or other social issues, common in Indian villages. That’s what makes Thithi more profoundly layered.
2. Uturn (2016) – Netflix
The mystery thriller followed Pawan Kumar’s highly-acclaimed psychological thriller Lucia. U-Turn is about a journalist who finds herself in the middle of a series of co-incidental events while on a project about a busy Bengaluru flyover.
The film will amaze you with its brisk screenplay even while going against against many of Indian cinema’s unwritten rules like song sequences.
3. Shuddhi (2017) – Netflix
Shuddhi nails the strong female protagonist routine. It tears through all the usual shallow commercial ploys employed in the social justice genre. The movie works its way through the rape-ridden underbelly of India, wherein it establishes itself as a grueling battle between the underdogs and the system that is trying to oppress them.
It resonates with its title as it attempts to cleanse the evils of the world through a representation of the same with dramatic yet grittily realism. The movie wonderfully highlights a journey of both material and spiritual capacity. It paints the town red with its unorthodox plot and flamboyant style which in turn stands in stark contrast to the desolate and bleak cinematographic choice.
4. Kahi (2016) – Netflix
The dark drama revolves around the lives of four youngsters — a dancer, a writer, a drug peddler and a psychopath and the series of events that threads them together in the end.
The end is left pretty open for the audience gasping for breath already, to think over and interpret themselves.
One of the best Kannada movies online right now, Kahi was also helmed a debutant director (Aravind Sastry). But it couldn’t, unfortunately, sustain at the box office like other unconventional films of 2016, despite winning critical acclaim.
5. Godhi Banna Sadharana Mykattu (2016) – Hotstar
The film which reads ‘wheatish complexion, average build’ in Kannada, named so because of similar ‘missing persons’ announcements made daily on Doordarshan, is about a typical 21st century corporate professional (Rakshit Shetty) who discovers the not-so-ordinary life of his missing father, thereby rediscovering himself while on a hunt for the latter.
Debutant Hemanth M Rao helmed the super hit film, that won veteran actor Ananth Nag accolades for his outstanding performance as a father suffering from Alzheimer’s in the film.
It was also, arguably, the best music album of 2016, with music director Charan Raj’s wonderful compositions.
6. Humble Politician Nograj (2018) – Amazon Prime
Humble Politician Nograj is a striking political satire that is extremely comical and devastatingly real at the same time. It’s a film that educates the audiences about something that they already have ingrained in their subconscious mind. We all know that politicians are corrupt. But the film just hammers in the point. Moreover, it gives us quite a silly and loveable character as the anti-hero of the film. He is corrupt to the core and funny to the bone. There is no way you can actually hate the guy.
With this, the film takes a jibe at the state of the Indian polity today. Social media politics is mostly fueled by memes rather than debates. Election debates also seem akin to diss tracks rather than logical statements or arguments. Humble Politician Nograj tries to put all of this craziness in plain view. It tells us that we have accepted such conduct as the norm. Instead of targeting politicians, the film actually scoffs at the audience who stays silent or just laughs off such antics.
7. Katheyondu Shuruvagide (2018) – Amazon Prime
Katheyondu Shuruvagide is a beautifully crafted experience that provides us with visual, auditory and emotional exaltation. The film wants you to sit back and unwind as you witness a touching, real and an emotionally propelled story about two broken people. It takes you along with the two protagonists as you slowly and surely get engulfed in their lives. You soon start rooting for them and wishing that they came together in order to complete each other.
If you are a big fan of high octane action, then you might not, particularly like this one. This movie won’t give you sudden jolts of excitement. It won’t gut-punch you with a smattering of emotional scenes either. It acts out like a fine beverage, that goes down slowly, but surely pleasures the soul. If you are up for a slice-of-life romantic piece that will make you smile but not laugh; make a tear or two roll down but not make you cry, this one is for you.
8. Rama Rama Re (2016) – YouTube
The film plays around with the complex ideas of life and death – and the dualities created by their interaction. The story follows a convict on death row, who, upon escaping from prison, becomes part of a larger journey. It wouldn’t be wrong to say, that this is a film of dichotomies – between good and bad, life and death, hope and despair. Portrayed subtly, the narrative unfolds simplistically, without any moral undertones or preachy endeavors. With crisp editing and masterful cinematography, every frame is rendered with a unique characteristic quality. Written and directed by D Satya Prakash, the film relies on the strength of its story and music (done by Vasuki Vaibhav), and it delivers well.
9. Mungaru Male (2006) – Hotstar
If you are wondering what makes the sweet plot of Mungaru Male great, it is definitely the splendid cinematography, crisp editing and brilliantly written dialogues. They embellish the story, which revolves around Preetham, a fickle-minded youngster (played by Ganesh) who is navigating his love life. On that journey, he toys with the possibilities of the ephemeral and the permanent, and the film follows him into that tussle.
10. Nathicharami (2018) – Netflix
This National Award winning film follows the journey of a widow who, while mourning the loss of her husband, comes to realise her desires in the process. Revealing the keen sense of vulnerability that the woman is going through, the film treats the plot with great amount of sensitivity. This film proves as a highly gender-sensitive piece of cinema that is extremely pivotal for the development of society.
11. Pushpaka Vimana (1987) – Hotstar
This classic is a story about the trials and tribulations faced by a father, who wants to gift his daughter a toy plane with all the love his heart can hold. What lands him in trouble is the turn of events that follows. It is an adaptation of the screenplay of the South Korean film Miracle in Cell No. 7 (2013). With beautiful visuals and a complimenting background score, Pushpak Vimana is a sensorial treat and an evocative masterpiece.
12. Ondu Motteya Kathe (2017) – Netflix
With a well written and executed script, this film narrates the story of a 28-year old Kannada lecturer whose introversion coupled with superstition leads to a comical turn of events. It was deemed as ‘The Kannada film of the year’ by The Hindu in 2017. Riddled with the beauty of life, the film is a rollercoaster ride of emotions.
13. Aa Karaala Ratri (2018) – Hotstar
This suspense thriller is based on a Kannada play by Mohan Habbu, which was translated from the tragic English play Lithuania by Rupert Brooke. Set in a village in the 1980s, it follows the events that take place in a family’s life after a fortune teller tells them something special is in store for them. With all technicalities in place and rendered brilliantly, the story flows through the film effortlessly, making for a riveting watch.
14. Devaki (2019) – Amazon Prime
Devaki is an utterly poignant film about a single parent living in Kolkata, who’s daughter goes missing one day, forcing her to set out on a journey of finding her whilst discovering the stark realities of Kolkata. High on emotionality, the female-centric film is unique for its majestic qualities. With brilliant cinematography by HC Venugopal, the city comes alive and plays a character throughout the film. Starring Priyanka Upendra in the lead role, the film also relies heavily on its star cast, all of whom stay true to their respective performances.
The story is embedded with elements of universality, as it deals with the bond shared between a mother and a daughter. Showing the dingy lanes of Calcutta, which are home to the malpractises of human trafficking and child prostitution, the film unveils the other side of the benign and the beautiful.
There we are! These are some of the best Kannada movies on Amazon Prime, Netflix and Hotstar, with subtitles. What did we miss? Which are your favourites? Tell us in the comments below.
By Sanghmitra Jethwani, Arun Kumar, Deepjyoti Roy