Movie buffs around the world have a popular misconception that Bollywood is a synonym for Indian cinema. But the Indian film industry is rather an umbrella term which comprises of Hindi films, regional movies and art cinema. Being the world’s largest filmmaking nation produces more than 1500 movies per year in different languages. Netflix, which reaches around 125 million subscribers in 190 countries around the world, made its Indian entry rather late, in January 2016. And when it happened, the in-house curators were as perplexed as the non-Indian moviegoers watching the world’s second most populous nation’s cinematic realm.
Netflix took its time to list some of the best flicks from the prominent regional film industries like Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, and Bengali, fighting a tough battle with rivals like Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar and Voot. While other streaming platforms are far ahead with impressive regional content, Netflix is yet to catch up. But the world’s leading streaming platform has managed to list some of the best picks from regional cinema.
Based in Chennai, the capital city of Tamil heartland, Tamil Cinema, which is fondly called Kollywood, has a wide reach across the nation as well as among the Tamil diaspora in the U.S., Singapore, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Japan, the Middle East, parts of Africa, Oceania, and Europe. So with all that said, here’s the list of really good Tamil movies on Netflix that are available to stream right now.
14. Mersal (2017)
Written and directed by Atlee Kumar, ‘Mersal’ features one of the biggest stars in Tamil Cinema, Vijay, as Maaran, a doctor who declares war against corruption in the healthcare sector. When he is mistakenly arrested for the murder of his colleague, Dr Arjun Zachariah, Maran discovers that the real killer is a doppelganger. Maaran goes deep into the mystery and finds out that the real culprit behind the murders is a magician named Vetri. The plot thickens when Maaran and Vetri realize that they are estranged twin brothers. Both the doctor and the magician form an extraordinary sibling pact to join their skills to hunt down the man behind their legendary father’s brutal murder. ‘Mersal‘ offers the thrill and excitement of a revenge drama with peppy numbers to appease hardcore Vijay fans. The movie also became one of the top grossers last year.
13. Mr. Chandramouli (2018)
‘Mr. Chandramouli’ tells the story of a talented boxer and his dad. Raghav, played by Gautham Karthik, is a boxer who wants to make it big in the boxing ring. He looks forward to hitting a good sponsorship deal. Raghav lives with his loving and carefree dad Chandramouli, played by Karthik, who supports him in his dream journey. But the father-son duo entangles with the evil plot of a greedy business tycoon. Chandramouli and Raghav’s love interest, Madhu, played by Regina Cassandra, are killed according to the businessman’s scheme. Now Raghav is on a rage to hunt down the real mastermind behind the killings; even the revenge comes at a cost of his boxing career.
12. Kabali (2016)
‘Kabali’ features one of the biggest superstars in Indian Cinema, Rajinikanth in the titular role, Kabaleeswaran. Set in the diaspora of Tamil population in Kuala Lumpur, ‘Kabali’ closely follows the racial tensions and social hierarchy within the gang war between Kabali and Tony Lee, portrayed by Winston Chao, a local kingpin. Kabali is elevated as a revolutionary figure who fights for the rights of Malaysian Tamils. But his enemies join hands and put him behind the bars on fraudulent charges.
The movie turns into a revenge drama when Kabali returns from the prison to settle scores with all those who were involved in a vicious conspiracy which ruined his family. A vengeful Kabali wages a personal and ideological war on his enemies simultaneously with guns blazing and unidentified dead bodies. ‘Kabali’ earned positive reviews for its balanced storytelling and searing political rage against racial demons lurching within modern societies.
11. Sarvam Thaala Mayam (2019)
Tamil Cinema has a rich tradition of musicals and the 2019 flick, ‘Sarvam Thaala Mayam’ is the latest entrant. Written and directed by renowned cinematographer Rajiv Menon, the movie has also released as ‘Madras Beats’ in some countries. The musical drama follows the chain of events unfold when the worlds of a renowned Mridangam maestro Vembu Iyer, played by veteran actor Nedumudi Venu, an expert Mridangam maker Johnson, played by Kumaravel, and his son Peter Johnson, played by G. V. Prakash Kumar, collide. Peter is a die-hard fan of the Tamil cinema superstar, Vijay and is also an aspiring mridangam player. The movie garnered positive reviews for its rhythm and subtle portrayal of the regressive caste system still prevailing in the society. The movie has the original score and background score rendered by Academy Award-winning composer, AR Rahman.
10. Goli Soda 2 (2018)
‘Goli Soda 2’ is a sequel to the 2015 hit movie ‘Goli Soda’ directed by Vijay Milton. Unlike ‘Goli Soda,’ the sequel received mixed reviews. Made on a small budget, ‘Goli Soda’ was one of the blockbusters in 2015. The movie garnered rave reviews for its stunning portrayal the class dynamics in the society, told mostly through debutante actors. Like its predecessor, ‘Goli Soda 2‘ tries to draw a picture of class difference prevailing in the society through the lives of four youngsters from different classes. Their dreams of making it big in the worlds are shaken by the class prejudices. The movie sheds light on the grave identity crisis of youth hailing from underprivileged classes to mark their places in the mainstream of modern Indian society.
9. Billa (2007)
Director Vishnuvardhan and Tamil superstar Ajith Kumar venture into the gangster genre with the breathtaking thriller ‘Billa.’ Set in the Bangkok underbelly in Malaysia, ‘Billa’ has an intertwined plot structure with the international Don, David Billa, played by Ajith Kumar, lock horns with various enemies who are craving for his blood. The movie follows the Indian cop, DSP Jayprakash, played by Prabhu, who is the only witness of a deadly accident in which the real don, Billa, is believed to be killed.
When the officer comes across Velu, a small-town thief and a doppelganger of Billa, he asks him to infiltrate the gang as Billa to leak information. The gang is still unaware of original Billa’s death. But Velu finds himself in a deathtrap when he is framed by the authorities for killing the same cop who assigned him for as a mole. The plot becomes more tricky when a seductress who wants to avenge the death of her brother, tries to kill and then falls for the doppelganger, Velu.
8. Maari (2015)
Written and directed by Balaji Mohan, ‘Maari’ features one of the most promising actors in Indian cinema, Dhanush, who made his Hollywood debut last year with ‘The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir’ directed by Ken Scott. The movie follows Maari, played by Dhanush, a local don based in the capital city of Chennai. The local legend says that Maari had murdered the goon who was in power eight years back and took over the area as the local don. Maari earns a living with the help of the ongoing legend.
But when a cunning cop, Arjun, played by Vijay Yesudas, takes charge, he challenges Maari’s claim of 8-year-old murder. He digs deeper into the case and emerges with solid evidence to put Maari behind the bars. He contrives with a local girl Sridevi, played by Kajal Aggarwal, who has a personal score to settle with Maari. By the time Maari returns from Jail, Arjun has wiped out his legacy as a dare-devilish don who can protect and punish the local inhabitants in the area. Now, its Maari’s turn to reclaim his throne and win the heart of his old nemesis, Sridevi.
7. Kaththi (2014)
‘Kaththi’ is another blockbuster with the doppelganger plot at its core. The movie is directed by AR Murugadoss and superstar Vijay plays two roles, Kathiresan and Jeevanandham, the lookalikes. Muragadoss puts in the burning social issue of farmer suicides within the mold of a mass entertainer. ‘Kaththi’ follows Jeevanandham, an activist who fights against a mighty multinational company with political connections to save farmers’ land.
When the company tries to forcefully take over the fertile agricultural land in the village for an ambitious commercial project, Jeevanantham organizes the farmers to agitate against the encroachment. But at the drastic turn of destiny, Kathiresan finds himself at the place of Jeevanatham, shouldering the future of hundreds of helpless farmers. He realizes that there is no way out from the battle for justice and he has to start it from where Jeevanandam left abruptly.
6. Spyder (2017)
‘Spyder’ is another AR Murugadoss directorial which is made simultaneously in Tamil and Telugu. Both versions have the Telugu superstar Mahesh Babu in the lead role. ‘Spyder’ also has the surprise characterization of director SJ Surya as Heath Ledger’s joker-like psychopathic villain, Sudalai. Mahesh Babu plays a cunning intelligence officer who comes in between the deadly scheme of the villain. He has to save the city and its innocent inhabitants from the imminent danger before the psychotic serial killer, Sudalai unleashes horror. Sudalai loves to heat people scream of pain and suffering and plots a deadly scheme to stage his death opera. The cat and mouse game ensues reveals the inner demons of both the cop and the villain.
5. Anjaan (2014)
Set in the narrows alleys of Mumbai underworld, ‘Anjaan’ follows a handicapped man named Krishna who travels all the way to the metropolis in search of his brother, Raju Bhai. The brother goes missing under mysterious circumstances and Krishna learns that Raju Bhai was actually a daredevil gangster. To make circumstances more chaotic, there are people still roaming around to kill Raju Bhai. Now, Krishna has to find the dubious connection between the disappearance of his brother and the dreaded don Imran Bhai, and also save himself from the machetes and guns mistaking him as his criminal brother. Directed by N. Linguswamy, ‘Anjaan’ features the heartthrob of Tamil cinema, Suriya in double roles, both as Krishna and Raju Bhai.
Read More: Best Sci Fi Movies on Netflix
4. Mugamoodi (2012)
‘Mugamoodi’ is Kollywood’s foray into the superhero bandwagon. Written and directed by Mysskin, who has been hailed as a cult filmmaker in Tamil Cinema, ‘Mugamoodi’ first-of-kind movie in Indian regional cinema. The movie features the life of Anand, a simpleton who is fed up with the injustice and corruption reigning in the society. Being a martial arts specialist, Anand turns towards his Kung fu skills and a mask to raise a vigilante called ‘Mugamoodi.’
In between, he falls for Police Commissioner Gaurav’s daughter and tries to impress the girl with his martial art skill. When her father Gaurav messes up with the Kung fu master-turned local don, Angusamy, a.k.a. Dragon, and his rampaging gang, Mugamoodi, he gets the deadliest enemy of his life. Now, he has to save his love and his own life from the dreadful tricks of the dragon. The movie has lightning Kung fu fight sequences and is dedicated to the legendary Bruce Lee.
Read More: Best Family Movies on Netflix
3. Solo (2017)
Bejoy Nambiar’s bilingual flick, ‘Solo’ is an anthology of four segments with the South Indian heartthrob Dulquer Salman playing four different characters. The movie has an interesting plot structure based on the four elements of nature — Earth, Fire, Wind and Water, each narrated with different manifestations of Lord Shiva, the Indian god of destruction. Each segment is introduced with a short graphic of Shiva and a poem connected to one of the four elements. The movie, which was made in Tamil and Malayalam simultaneously and intended to cash on Dulquer Salman’s immense fan following as an angry young man, however, met with a mixed response upon release.
2. Pa Paandi (2017)
The comedy-drama, ‘Pa Paandi’ is the directorial debut of actor Dhanush with veteran actor Rajkiran plays the titular role of Paandi, aka Power Paandi. The movie is a heartwarming journey of a 65-year-old man in search of his first love who broke up 40 years ago. Their intense love story unfolds with a Tamil village as the backdrop in a crispy flashback. The movie garnered rave reviews for Rajkiran’s stunning performance as the retired action choreographer who hit the road on his old Enfield motorcycle in search of lost love.
Read More: Best Dance Movies on Netflix
1. Puriyaatha Puthir (2017)
‘Puriyaatha Puthir’ is a tense psychological thriller featuring the sensational actor Vijay Sethupathi in the lead. Directed by Ranjit Jeyakodi, the movie follows Vijay Sethupathi’s Kathir, a music director based in Chennai. Kathir is smitten by a love at first sight spell when he sees Meera, a gorgeous music teacher. They start an affair which plunges into a whirlpool of cyber crimes within no time.
All of a sudden, Kathir starts receiving Meera’s private photos and images from an anonymous source. When Kathir’s friends and Meera become subjects of viral photos and videos, Kathir has to find the culprits behind the photos and videos. ‘Puriyaatha Puthir’ keeps the viewers on the edge of the seats for most of the running time and has a stunning performance from Vijay Sethupathi.
Read More: Best Indian Movies on Netflix