Watching a non-Hindi language Indian film can feel a bit like traveling off the beaten path. It’s like you ditched the touristy things and went local, stayed in an Airbnb instead of a hotel. Hindi cinema has dominated the popular consciousness for so long, that it has, over the years, become our default choice of movie watching. But that might be changing. Some of the coolest films made in India in the last few years haven’t been in Hindi. The fact that the highest grossing Hindi film, Baahubali: The Conclusion, is the dubbed version of a Telugu film, shows that we are open to the idea of watching a film that's not originally made in a language we understand, and that has actors we aren't familiar with.
Earlier, even if the intent was there, there was the problem of access — apart from the rare screenings at film festivals, Satyajit Ray’s films hardly ever got shown anywhere outside Bengal. But today, a Tamil gangster flick is a few clicks away, thanks to digital platforms such as Netflix, Amazon and Hotstar. Just like driving to a secluded hill in Maharashtra is possible, thanks to the GPS on your phone.
To make it easier for you, we have drawn a list of the best of such films from the last five years: from a Tulu language oddity, to a genre mash-up from Guwahati, to an unapologetically bonkers crime epic set in the gold mines of Bengaluru - our picks of the best regional films since 2014. Not all of them are available on streaming right now but we hope will land up on one of the platforms sooner or later.