The tone of Yaariya 2 is infectiously nurturing. The characters are not intellectually elevated . But they know the worth of every heartbeat that flows from one loved on to another. A worthy remake of a smart city-slick Malayalam film Bangalore Days , about three siblings and how by staying together they overcome personal hurdles.

Subhash K Jha Picks The 7 Underrated Films  Of The Year

These are the underdogs of 2023 swallowed up by the big sharks.

1. Dhak Dhak: Why was this gem of a film being released with so little fanfare? If I were a producer, I would announce the coming of Dhak Dhak from rooftops. Coming as it does with almost zero promotion, this film took you completely by surprise. It is one of those rarest of rare chick flicks(hate calling it that) where the men are not shown to be idiots just to make the women look good.Where do I begin to raise a toast to this work of multitudinous achievements? It is on the surface a story of four unhappy women finding a shared joy in a biker’s expedition all the way to the highest point of Leh.Unchai,anyone? Except that this is an exceedingly sorted work about self-discovery, not a silly bikers’ fantasy, but a genuine exploration of what is important in life: the journey,destination , or perhaps the people whom you meet during that journey?Dhak Dhak is brimming with good samaritans, as our quartet of ladies Mahi(Ratna Pathak Shah), Uzma(Dia Mirza), Sky(Fatima Sana Shaikh) and Manjari(Sanjana Sanghi), each played with immaculate restraint and sensitivity, take off on that forbidden flight to their secret dream, it is as though we are pillion on their roaring bikes.Pile on.You won’t regret it.

2. Apurva: At 90 minutes of playing time Apurva is an edge-of-the-seat experience. And never the seat’s edge is at home(on OTT).At times the violence gets unbearable. But then it is not a pretty world out there. Nikhil Bhat who is currently being lauded globally for his no-holds-barred killer thriller Kill, seems to be fascinated by sociopathic violence. He pulls a racy punch in Apurva. A cleverly designed slasher thriller underscored…or shall I say thunderscored… by a message on the need for women to protect themselves from sexual violence without depending on police or partner, Apurva had me gripped to the bloodied end. The fascinating Chambalesque outdoor location(shot with menacing verve by Anshuman Mahaley) serves as a gritty landscape for lawlessness. Thi is a no man’s land where outlawry is a way of life.

3. Three Of Us: This is cinema that celebrates stunning silences. The background music is muted to the point of invisibility. What we hear is the four main actors in conversation with one another and with themselves. There are heartstopping moments in Shailja’s meditative search for her childhood in a village where time is frozen but not squandered. The threads that bind working class relationships are woven in this gem of a film with a calm dexterity. The gentle, tranquil mood(no overt background music to heighten the drama) stays with the viewer long after the film is over.The only point at which the narration lost me was when a sea nymph appeared before Shailja. Their conversation had no relevant to me.Three Of Us is a precious piece of life on celluloid.The characters are so remarkable in their ordinariness, it is like meeting people whom we would otherwise pass on the road without a second glance. Our loss, entirely. It always helps when a film’s director is also its cinematographer. The images that go on screen are the ones visualized by Avinash Arun, and there is no contamination in the vision.

4. Bheed: This one came too close to the actual trauma of the Lockdown for comfort.Assuredly this angry mediatation on a real palpable immediate chunk of history makes us uncomfortable, as cinema was always supposed to. nubhav Sinha, God bless his fearless soul, decided with Mulk to move away from the bheed, no pun intended. Look where he has reached now! The black-and-white photography could have been somewhat gimmicky in lesser hands. Sinha and his incredibly articulate camera person (Soumik Mukherjee) use the b&w palate to tremendous efficacy to let us know how desperately bleak the scenario was at that time when all gates were shut on thousands of migrants as they tried to reach home.Na ghar ka na ghat ka….Anubhav Sinha doesn’t drill into the despair of these foot soldiers as they trudged home for days without water and food (and yes, sanitary napkins) for tears. There is no room for sentimentality in this saga of survival by instinct.

5. Afwah: In the smoothly political language of an auteur on a night out for dark adventures, Sudhir Mishra writes out a celluloid exposition on religious intolerance and political opportunism. While the politics of green and saffron runs through the film with a frenetic force, this is also a kind of a road movie, a very twisted road movie no doubt, where two strangers are thrown together(literally) when one of them is attacked. It is not a rumour that Afwaah is a ballsy gripping thriller. This is one rumour that is true. Sudhir Mishra is back in form with a film that has a lot of unexplored anger and resentment swimming underneath.

6. Selfiee: Although a remake, this film has a life energy flow and rhythm of its own. The adaptation is astute and adroit, charming and wickedly film. Whether playing the humble superstar with folded hands in front of his fans, a concerned team leader , or a doting husband to his ‘twinkl’ing wife(Diana Penty, very charming in the little that she has to do) Akshay makes us forget his listless performance in his last 6-7 films. It was self-defeating—or should I say, selfie-defeating?—to ignore this film on the basis of Akshay Kumar’s recent duds. This is how a remake should be done. Instead of being a blind scene-by-scene copy of the eminently watchable Malayalam film Driving Licence, Selfiee extracts its own energy from the source material and gives us a rollicking film.

7. Yaariyan 2: The tone of Yaariya 2 is infectiously nurturing. The characters are not intellectually elevated . But they know the worth of every heartbeat that flows from one loved on to another. A worthy remake of a smart city-slick Malayalam film Bangalore Days , about three siblings and how by staying together they overcome personal hurdles. Yaariyan 2 is not just a big improvement on the first Yaariyan , it is also a lot better than some of the big-budget fiascos that have been thrust into our numbed faces for quite some time, perhaps from the prehistoric ages, who knows how long we’ve been tortured by listless ‘Ail’-listers?