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Hidden Gems: 10 Worthy Indian Films That Deserve the Spotlight but Went Unnoticed

As the 94th Oscars loom, anticipation electrifies the air, promising a night of cinematic splendor and star-studded magic

Reflecting on past Oscar seasons, we reminisce about the outstanding contributions of Indian cinema that, despite their excellence, never secured a spot among the nominees. From the captivating narrative of Irrfan Khan's "The Lunchbox" to the profound philosophical exploration in Sanjay Mishra's "Ankhon Dekhi," these films showcased remarkable storytelling and craftsmanship, deserving of international acclaim.

As we pay tribute to these cinematic treasures, it's evident that their absence from the Oscars nominees' list does not diminish their impact or significance within the Indian film landscape. These ten films, each a masterpiece in its own right, serve as a testament to the rich diversity and creative talent prevalent in Indian cinema, transcending borders and captivating audiences worldwide.

Here a look at the List of Top 10 oscar worthy indian films that went unnoticed,

1. Black Friday (2004)

Streaming on Disney+ Hotstar

Adapted from Hussain Zaidi's novel, "Black Friday: The True Story of the Bombay Bomb Blasts," this film chronicles the lead-up to the devastating 1993 Bombay bombings, which claimed 257 lives and injured 1400. Focused on terrorist Tiger Memon, the plot delves into his orchestration of the attacks following the 1992 city riots, aiming to retaliate against the victimization of Muslim minorities. The narrative unfolds as underworld leaders convene in Dubai, culminating in the decision to execute the explosions as a message of retribution. Subsequently, the film portrays the ensuing police and CBI investigations, highlighting Yaqub Memon's eventual surrender and disclosure of crucial information to authorities.#1 on the List of Top 10 oscar worthy indian films that went unnoticed.

2. A Wednesday (2008)

Streaming on Netflix

In this gripping thriller, the narrative unfolds from dual perspectives within law enforcement, set against the backdrop of an ordinary Wednesday between 2 pm and 6 pm. Mumbai Police Commissioner Prakash Rathod, portrayed by Anupam Kher, faces a pivotal moment on the eve of his retirement when an anonymous caller, played by Naseeruddin Shah, delivers a chilling ultimatum. Threatening the city with five strategically placed bombs set to detonate simultaneously in four hours, the caller demands the release of four terrorists and prompts media coverage. As Rathod mobilizes his teams to defuse the situation and locate the explosives, the storyline takes unforeseen turns, highlighting the clash between the common man's resilience and the failures of governance. "A Wednesday" masterfully captures the tension and moral complexities inherent in confronting terrorism within a flawed system.#2 on the List of Top 10 oscar worthy indian films that went unnoticed.

3. Udaan (2010)

Streaming on Netflix

In Vikramaditya Motwane's directorial debut, a poignant coming-of-age tale unfolds, delving into the tumultuous relationship between a troubled son and his abusive father. Expelled from boarding school, Rohan (played by Rajat Barmecha) is thrust back into the stifling confines of his hometown Jamshedpur, where he must confront his father, Bhairav Singh (portrayed by Ronit Roy), and his younger half-brother, Arjun (Aayan Boradia). Bhairav, an alcoholic patriarch, derides Rohan's artistic aspirations and forces him into a soul-crushing routine of menial labor at his metalworking factory, all while pursuing an engineering degree. As Rohan's spirit wanes under the weight of his father's tyranny, he resolves to break free from this suffocating existence and pursue his dreams with unwavering determination.#3 on the List of Top 10 oscar worthy indian films that went unnoticed.

4. Gangs of Wasseypur (2012)

Streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video

Anurag Kashyap's two-part crime saga offers a raw and gritty portrayal of the coal mafia in Dhanbad, Jharkhand, focusing on the volatile rivalry among three families. Spanning 68 years from 1941 to 2009, "Gangs of Wasseypur" traces the evolution of power struggles, gang wars, and vendettas that engulf the region's underworld. Beginning with a pre-independence scramble for control over coal reserves, the narrative delves into a web of dirty politics, betrayal, and retribution. With an ensemble cast including Jaideep Ahlawat, Richa Chadda, Manoj Bajpayee, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Pankaj Tripathi, Huma Qureshi, and others, the film immerses viewers in a world of relentless brutality and shifting loyalties. 41 on the List of Top 10 oscar worthy indian films that went unnoticed.

5. Kahaani (2012)

Streaming on Netflix

In this gripping thriller, Vidya Balan takes the lead as a pregnant software engineer on a desperate search for her missing husband amidst the vibrant backdrop of Kolkata during the Durga Puja festivities. Assisted by police officer Satyaki "Rana" Sinha, portrayed by Parambrata Chatterjee, she embarks on a journey fraught with twists and turns, uncovering startling truths along the way. As the suspenseful narrative unfolds, themes of feminism and motherhood emerge, shedding light on the challenges faced by women in a patriarchal Indian society. Balan's compelling performance anchors the film, which skillfully weaves together elements of mystery and social commentary. #5 on the List of Top 10 oscar worthy indian films that went unnoticed.

6. The Lunchbox (2013)

Streaming on Netflix

A Mumbai dabbawala's delivery mix-up sparks an unexpected connection between Ila Singh (played by Nimrat Kaur) and a widower, Saajan Fernandes (portrayed by Irrfan Khan), in this heartfelt and charming drama. Hoping to rekindle romance in her marriage, Ila prepares delicious meals for her husband, but fate intervenes when Saajan receives them instead. Through exchanged letters and food, they forge a deep bond, sharing their life stories and struggles. However, Ila's discovery of her husband's infidelity prompts a plan for her and Saajan to leave the city together. Yet, when the time comes to meet, destiny takes a surprising turn. #6 on the List of Top 10 oscar worthy indian films that went unnoticed.

7. Ankhon Dekhi (2014)

Streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video

Ankhon Dekhi invites audiences into the heart of a middle-class neighborhood in New Delhi, where we meet Rajesh Bauji (played by Sanjay Mishra), a man in his late 50s leading an ordinary life. Following a minor incident involving his daughter and her boyfriend, Bauji makes a radical decision to only believe in what he can personally witness, rejecting all else. This seemingly simple choice sets off a chain reaction, leading him to quit his job, renounce religious beliefs, and embark on a journey of self-discovery. Through Bauji's poignant interactions and introspective monologues, the film explores profound philosophical themes, challenging viewers to contemplate existentialism and its myriad manifestations. Ankhon Dekhi weaves a whimsical yet deeply insightful narrative, offering a unique perspective on the complexities of human existence. #7 on the List of Top 10 oscar worthy indian films that went unnoticed.

8. Parched (2016)

Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

"Parched" boldly confronts stereotypes, outdated norms, and oppression through its unapologetic narrative, shining a spotlight on the tragic lives of four women in a remote Gujarat village. Rani (played by Tannishtha Chatterjee), Lajjo (portrayed by Radhika Apte), Janki (essayed by Lehar Khan), and Bijli (brought to life by Surveen Chawla) navigate their existence burdened by the weight of patriarchy. As they grapple with their individual struggles, their bonds deepen, offering the audience a poignant insight into the pervasive social injustices they endure. Through their interactions and collective experiences, the film poignantly illustrates the profound impact of societal norms and cultural expectations. Ultimately, "Parched" serves as a powerful call to action, compelling its characters and viewers alike to confront and challenge the systemic oppression that stifles their lives. #8 on the List of Top 10 oscar worthy indian films that went unnoticed.

9. Tumbbad (2018)

Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Drawing from an ancient myth rooted in the titular village of Maharashtra, 'Tumbbad' stands as a remarkable example of what can be achieved within the horror genre in Bollywood when executed with precision. The narrative unfurls the legend of an unnamed Goddess of Prosperity who birthed 160 million deities. In a surge of avarice, her eldest son, Hastar, endeavored to plunder her boundless riches in gold and grain, only to be apprehended and cursed to remain trapped within her womb, forsaken of worship. However, when a family constructs a temple dedicated to the malevolent deity and seeks to claim his cursed wealth, they encounter catastrophic repercussions. Skillfully melding elements of mythology with horror, the film utilizes this backdrop to vividly portray the depths of human greed. 'Tumbbad' emerges as one of the most deserving Indian cinematic endeavors that could have merited an Oscar nomination. #9 on the List of Top 10 oscar worthy indian films that went unnoticed.

10. Ratsasan

Streaming on Hotstar

In "Ratsasan," Arun, an aspiring filmmaker, faces rejection in pursuing his script on a serial killer. Forced by family pressure, he joins the police force. When real-life murders mirror his research, Arun becomes determined to catch the culprit. The film maintains tension, particularly pre-interval, though falters slightly post-intermission with melodramatic inclinations. Director Ram Kumar navigates these pitfalls adeptly, though the climax extends longer than necessary. The antagonist's backstory, while familiar, adds a unique dimension. However, the portrayal of an egotistic superior officer feels grating. Violence is depicted through effective editing and music, creating a chilling atmosphere without relying on graphic visuals. Ghibran's haunting score and San Lokesh's tight editing enhance the suspense, keeping audiences on edge. Amala Paul's romantic subplot is efficiently handled, with the investigation taking precedence. Overall, "Ratsasan" proves to be a competent thriller, propelled by its gripping narrative and atmospheric presentation. #10 on the List of Top 10 oscar worthy indian films that went unnoticed.