films like The kerala story© IMDb

9 Controversial Films You Need To Add To Your Watchlist

Cinema has long been a powerful medium for storytelling, allowing filmmakers to shed light on various aspects of society. In the realm of Hindi films, there have been instances where filmmakers dared to push the boundaries and tackle controversial political and social themes, igniting intense debates and sometimes even provoking unrest.

Controversial Films To Add To Your Watchlist

Ahead, we explore some of the notable Hindi films that caused a stir with their bold themes and made waves in the popular discourse.

Parzania (2005)

Parzania is a critically-acclaimed Indian film released in 2005. Directed by Rahul Dholakia, the film tells the heart-rending and true story of a Parsi family living in Gujarat, India, during the 2002 communal riots. The plot revolves around the tragic events that unfold when the family’s young son, Azhar, goes missing during the violence. Starring Naseeruddin Shah, Sarika and Parzan Dastur, the film explores themes of communal tension, religious intolerance, and the impact of violence on innocent lives. It highlights the human cost of communal clashes and raises questions about justice, unity, and the value of individual lives in times of social and political turmoil.

Watch it here.

Hamid (2018)

Directed by Aijaz Khan, Hamid features a talented cast including Talha Arshad Reshi, Vikas Kumar, Rasika Dugal, and Sumit Kaul. This poignant film is an adaptation of the play Phone No. 786 written by Mohd. Amin Bhat. It beautifully portrays the story of a young boy who develops a unique and heartwarming bond with an army man after his father goes missing in the troubled region of Kashmir.

Watch it here.

Escape From Taliban (2003)

The Ujjwal Chatterjee directorial starring Manisha Koirala is based on the life of writer and activist Sushmita Banerjee and is adapted from her memoir Kabuliwalar Bangali Bou (A Kabuliwala’s Bengali Wife; 1997). Banerjee, an Indian woman, marries an Afghan man, but once they move to his country she is horrified by the oppressive rule of the Taliban and vows to escape with her baby daughter and return to her homeland, or die trying.

Watch it here.

Lakshmi (2014)

Filmmaker Nagesh Kukunoor’s 2014 film Lakshmi is bound to make a profound impact on viewers, much like the powerful story of The Kerala Story. Based on true events, this intense drama revolves around a teenage girl, portrayed by Monali Thakur, who finds herself thrust into the harsh and sinister world of prostitution. The film fearlessly addresses the grim reality of human trafficking and child prostitution, featuring a stellar cast including Monali Thakur, Shefali Shah, and Ram Kapoor. With unflinching honesty, Lakshmi tackles these sensitive issues, delivering a hard-hitting narrative that resonates long after the credits roll.

Watch it here.

Qissa (2013)

In the backdrop of the post-partition era, the Indian-German drama Qissa weaves a captivating story about a Sikh man’s longing for a male child. When the man and his wife welcome their fourth daughter into the world, he makes the unconventional decision to raise her as a son. Directed by Geneva-based filmmaker Anup Singh, the film features the late actor Irrfan Khan, along with Tillotama Shome, Rasika Dugal, and Tisca Chopra in significant roles. Qissa beautifully explores themes of identity, gender expectations, and the complexities of familial relationships in a society undergoing significant cultural and political changes.

Watch it here.

Tahaan (2008)

Similar to The Kerala Story, filmmaker Santosh Sivan’s movie Tahaan also explores the impact of terrorism on innocent lives and minds. Released in 2008, the film depicts the story of a young boy who embarks on a journey to retrieve his pet donkey from a local moneylender. However, his seemingly innocent pursuit takes a harrowing turn. With a stellar cast including Anupam Kher, Sarika, and Rahul Bose, the movie offers thought-provoking performances that leave viewers contemplating their own decisions and the ripple effects they can have. Tahaan’s intense narrative sheds light on the vulnerability of young minds and the harsh realities they can face in the midst of conflict and violence.

Watch it here.

Matrubhoomi: A Nation Without Women (2003)

Matrubhoomi: A Nation Without Women, written and directed by Manish Jha, is a bold film that tackles gender inequality, female infanticide, and male chauvinism. The story follows a woman who faces a traumatic situation after marrying five brothers. With a talented cast including Tulip Joshi, Sudhir Pandey, Piyush Mishra, and Sushant Singh, the film sheds light on these disturbing issues, aiming to spark discussions and raise awareness about the challenges faced by women in society.

Watch it here.

Ugly (2013)

Directed by Anurag Kashyap, Ugly uncovers the dark side of human nature as it explores the case of a missing girl whose tragic fate becomes apparent. The film delves into the unsettling story of her father and stepfather, who is also a police officer, as they accuse each other of kidnapping her. The chilling and intense movie leaves a lasting impact, much like Adah Sharma’s The Kerala Story.

Watch it here.

Layla M (2016)

Starring Nora El Koussour as the titular character, Mijke de Jong directed the 2016 Dutch drama film Layla M. The story follows a young Moroccan-born Dutch woman who rebels against her family and education and becomes a radicalised Islamist in Amsterdam. She not only marries a jihadist, but also heads to the Middle East to join an Islamist cell, which is where she realises there is also prejudice there. De Jong and her coauthor Jan Eilander intended to investigate the radicalisation of European youth in Layla M. The writers were inspired by a true story, and they wrote the script during the Arab Spring and Geert Wilders’ trial. In 2016, the film premiered at the BFI London Film Festival and also earned positive reviews in the domestic as well as overseas media.

Watch it here.