Underrated Tamil films of 2018

A month back, I decided to do regular year-ender listicle and I had already published My Favourite Tamil Songs of 2018 as well as The Most Disappointing Tamil Films of 2018. But I’ve seen a lot of ‘best film’ posts and this year, the number of good films was way too many that the people themselves know which films these are. If you still insist on a list, here are my quick 10 favourites (in the order they released)

  1. Irumbu Thirai
  2. Kaala
  3. Kadaikutty Singam
  4. Pyaar Prema Kaadhal 
  5. Merku Thodarchi Malai 
  6. Chekka Chivantha Vaanam
  7. Pariyerum Perumal
  8. 96
  9. Ratsasan
  10. Vada Chennai

Any regular film lover would’ve seen most of these films so I didn’t really want to stick to the regular year-ender post on my picks for ‘the best Tamil films of 2018’. There were a few gems which also made its way to the big screens this year but didn’t get the recognition it deserved, so here’s a post for the most underrated Tamil films of 2018.
PS: Kindly note that these films are in the order in which they released this year. Unlike other listicles which would contain films I had watched, I wasn’t able to catch all the films I’m mentioning here. So the following is actually a list of films that were compiled by me along with a couple of my fellow film fanatics.

Mannar Vagaiyara

Yes, it’s been a while since Vemal had given a hit and his last film in 2018 Evanuku Engeyo Macham Irruku was nothing short of a fiasco, but let that not make you forget the fact that he gave a film in January that had everything needed for a quintessential rural masala flick. Mannar Vagaiyara which sported a good cast, though dwelling a bit into caste and has some run of the mill scenes, it’s definitely a film you wouldn’t mind watching at all.

Nimir

Of course, Nimir was a remake of the 2016 Malayalam-language film Maheshinte Prathikaaram. Though the film was compared and critiqued for not being made in an ‘as a matter of fact’ manner that made the original film such a hit, the film did have some heartwarming moments with some stellar performances. With Udhay giving his best ever performance, Nimir was a film that had its heart in the right place.

Madura Veeran

Vijayakanth’s son, Shanmuga Pandiyan debuted with Sagaptam which, we all can agree on, was a disaster. But the young actor worked on his looks and acting and came up with a commendable role in this year’s Madura Veeran which also marked the directorial debut of ace cinematographer PG Muthiah. Once again set in a rural backdrop, Madura Veeran has everything you’d expect in such a film and more with some brilliant performance from Samuthirakani. Despite its minor flaws, it’s a film you should watch when it premieres soon on TV.

Padaiveeran

Named similar to the film above this one, Padaiveeran also incidentally released on the same day as Madura Veeran. Sort of a coming of age film, this Vijay Yesudas starrer was a lovely slice of life film surrounding a bunch of villagers and the evils of caste. With a good dose of love, friendship and humour, the film also has some solid performances which include that of the legendary director Bharathiraja.

Savarakathi

Even in his most serious films, Mysskin had made sure there’s a pinch of humour and his style of humour is not mainstream, yet enjoyable. Imagine a film made completely like that? Despite being directed by the filmmaker’s brother GR Adithya, Savarakathi, a movie surrounding a barber and a rowdy in a cat and mouse scenario, had the Mysskin stamp all over it. Though being a comedy film, it also has a lot of fine touches; like the title itself, which can be a device used to make a man handsome in the hands of a barber or as a weapon used to kill a man in the hands of a criminal. Watching directors act is always eye-pleasing and both Ram and Mysskin have given a brilliant performance.

Sila Samayangalil

The odds of you not knowing this film is likely high considering Sila Samayangalil didn’t get a theatrical release. Despite winning accolades in film festivals and even being one among the top ten shortlisted films for the 74th Golden Globe Awards, the film saw a release in Netflix under the title Sometimes. Based on the story of seven people who turn up at a testing facility to check if they are HIV-positive or not, this chamber drama is riddled with beautiful expositions. With superb performances from many including Prakash Raj, Ashok Selvan, Sriya Reddy and MS Bhaskar, Sila Samayangalil is a film that will leave you wishing you had seen it on the big screen. With this year too seeing much-awaited films, that are certified to be good, such as Sigai and Oru Pakka Kathai coming to OTP platforms before a theatrical run, it’s quite disheartening to see the fate of such good films.

Oru Kuppai Kathai

This film should’ve easily gotten the best title award, if there’s one, right off the bat. Based on the life of a garbage collector, Oru Kuppai Kathai is a neatly made underdog tale of love, betrayal, and redemption, that could’ve been much better. Starring National Award winning dance choreographer Dinesh Kumar in his acting debut, the film discusses a topic Tamil cinema hasn’t really shined the light on and that too in a non-judgemental and bold fashion.

Asuravadham

If I had to choose my favourite from this list, the Sasikumar starrer Asuravadham would easily be my pick. Story-wise, Asuravadham is one of the countless run-of-the-mill revenge sagas we’ve seen in Tamil cinema over the years, but it’s the treatment that makes this film stand out. Just as the title says, it’s the story of vanquishing of a demon and the reason behind it and how it’s done makes the film makes the violence justifiable. In a genre that would have heroes mouthing pages and pages of lengthy monologues, Sasikumar’s lines in this film would actually inside a fortune cookie! Loved Govind Vasantha’s music in 96? Check out Asuravadham for his amazing background score which also happens to be his first Tamil film to release.

Manusangada

Manusangada’s fate is the classic one that most films which win awards at film festivals face in their homeland. Yet another rural flick that speaks against the evils of caste, Manusangada establishes the fact that even death can’t be a great leveller when it comes to our country. With some extraordinary shots, the film would feel like an extension of the questions Pariyerum Perumal had raised.

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