When it comes to streaming the best local and international films, Hotstar is on fire.
Being a streaming service that caters to one of the largest regions in the world has allowed Hotstar to secure a metric ton of entertainment. This is great news if you’re a subscriber, but also bad news if you’re time poor and have no idea where to start. Fortunately, we’ve done the hard work for you and collated a shortlist of the best films of both Bollywood and Hollywood for you to enjoy.
1. Sanju (2017)
Movie star Sanjay Dutt (Ranbir Kapoor) has had a dramatic and controversial real life, which is fully explored in Sanju, a biographical epic directed by Rajkumar Hirani. Brought into being by some frank conversations with Dutt’s wife, Manyata, Sanju is a collection of gem anecdotes that offer an insider’s look into the Bollywood actor’s tryst with drugs and his trials and tribulations in the Arms Acts case (not to mention the 1993 Mumbai blasts). That being said, Sanju is an emotional rollercoaster biopic that expertly blends surreal humour and a superlative dramatic performance from Ranbir.
- Ranbir Kapoor as Sanjay Dutt
- Paresh Rawal as Sunil Dutt
- Vicky Kaushal as Kamlesh Kanhaiyalal Kapasi
- Anushka Sharma as Winnie Diaz
2. The Shape of Water (2018)
Set against the bleak scenery of 1960s America at the height of the Cold War, this otherworldly fantasy tale from Guillermo del Toro is like The Creature From The Black Lagoon meets Beauty and the Beast. The Belle, in this case, is a mute janitor working at a secretive government lab that’s running tests on an amphibious humanoid whose biological secrets elude the fascists running the facility. When the management notice a unique connection forming between woman and beast, communication becomes the new focus (before dissection). As the bond strengthens between these two unlikely allies, an escape plan begins to take shape. And it’s watery… funnily enough.
- Sally Hawkins as Elisa Esposito
- Doug Jones as The Asset
- Michael Shannon as Richard Strickland
- Richard Jenkins as Giles
3. Aiyaary (2018)
Boasting an impressive ensemble cast and partly inspired by the infamous Adarsh Housing Society scam, Aiyaary delivers as an intriguing Neeraj Pandey action thriller. What we have here is the deadly tale of a steadfast, duty-bound Indian Army officer (Manoj Bajpayee) compelled to chase down his protege (Sidharth Malhotra) when the latter turns rogue. With the fate of the country’s government and army in the balance, old friendships must be cast aside as a high-stakes game of cat and mouse begins.
- Sidharth Malhotra as Major Jai Bakshi
- Manoj Bajpayee as Colonel Abhay Singh
- Rakul Preet Singh as Sonia Gupta
- Anupam Kher as Tariq Ali
4. Logan (2017)
Forget everything you think you know about Marvel comic book films. The R-rated Logan stands apart from the crowd, thanks to its confronting violence and wonderfully bleak tone. And while we’re adjusting expectations, you’d best cast aside any hopes of seeing the X-Men do their thing, too. In this near-future hellscape, a weary Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and dementia-plagued Professor X (Patrick Stewart) are the last mutants standing. Forced into hiding and chasing a last-ditch effort to leave mutant-phobic America behind for good, their escape plans are upended when a young mutant arrives, pursued by dark forces.
- Hugh Jackman as Logan Howlett/Wolverine/X-24
- Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier/Professor X
- Dafne Keen as Laura Kinney/X-23
- Boyd Holbrook as Donald Pierce
5. Kaala (2018)
This sociopolitical action drama written and directed by Pa. Ranjith centres on a gangster from Tirunelveli, the benevolent slum king of Dharavi named Kaala (Rajinikanth). He’s fighting the good fight (literally, with violence) in an effort to keep the region safe from mighty politicians and the land-grubbing local mafia. As the situation descends into chaos and loved ones are caught up as collateral damage, a determined Kaala must dig deep to ignite the flame of rebellion within his people, inspiring them to defend their homes and livelihoods, irrespective of the odds.
- Rajinikanth as Karikaalan “Kaala”
- Nana Patekar as Haridev Abhayankar
- Samuthirakani as Vaaliyappan
- Easwari Rao as Selvi
6. Thor Ragnarok (2017)
Taking inspiration from Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor Ragnarok is a Marvel Cinematic Universe tale that oozes its own unique style and a wicked sense of humour. After a coup attempt made by Hela (Cate Blanchett), his long-lost sister and the Goddess of Death, our favourite son of Odin is unceremoniously flung from Asgard to the opposite side of the universe. Lumped with the treacherous Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and deposited on a planet of lost things, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) must race against the clock to retake the Asgardian throne and prevent the apocalyptic prophecy of Ragnarok.
- Chris Hemsworth as Thor
- Tom Hiddleston as Loki
- Cate Blanchett as Hela
- Idris Elba as Heimdall
7. Baahubali 2: The Conclusion (2017)
If you’re into big-budget epic Indian fantasies you really can’t go past the top-grossing Baahubali 2. When Kattappa (Sathyaraj) weaves the sordid tale of Amarendra Baahubali (Prabhas) to Mahendra Baahubali/Shivudu (also Prabhas), his lineage as the prince of Mahishmati is revealed. Vowing revenge against Bhallaladeva (Rana Daggubati), his uncle and the tyrannical ruler of the Mahishmati Kingdom, Shivudu begins a desperate quest to reclaim what is rightfully his. Equal parts Ben-Hur, Shakespeare and Kung Fu Hustle, Baahubali 2 is an entertaining onslaught of classic Indian mythology updated to include gravity-defying violence.
- Prabhas as Amarendra Baahubali and Mahendra Baahubali/Shivudu
- Rana Daggubati as Bhallaladeva
- Sathyaraj as Katappa
- Anushka Shetty as Maharani Devasena
8. War of the Planet of the Apes (2017)
Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his fellow ape pals just can’t seem to catch a break. Though this tight-knit simian tribe seeks nothing more than survival in a post-pandemic world, they’re once more drawn into war against a ruthless Colonel (Woody Harrelson) who cannot accept that ape, not human, is inheriting the Earth. Callously ambushed, the tribe suffers a defeat that threatens to push the typically level-headed Caesar towards ruthless eye-for-an-eye vengeance. Once the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the Colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle to determine, once and for all, which of their species deserves to claim this planet.
- Andy Serkis as Caesar
- Woody Harrelson as the Colonel
- Steve Zahn as Bad Ape
- Karin Konoval as Maurice
9. Judwaa 2 (2017)
Two brothers (twins) born to an honest businessman are separated at birth when their father exposes a smuggling racket and a kingpin. One of the brothers is thought to be dead, only to resurface stronger after living life on the streets to reunite with his family over a sequence of events and a twist of fate. Genetically bound, the brothers’ lives interlink in strange ways and a comedy of errors. They eventually come together to destroy the smuggling nexus and save their family from a downfall that awaits them.
- Varun Dhawan as Raja and Prem
- Jacqueline Fernandez as Alishka Bakshi
- Taapsee Pannu as Samaira
- Anupam Kher as Bakshi
10. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri (2017)
If you want something done right, do it yourself. That’s the attitude of Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand), a grieving mother who decides to hold the local police (very) publicly accountable for their inaction. It’s been seven months since their perfunctory investigation has turned up zero culprits and just as many leads. Securing the three largest advertising spaces that line a major entry into town, Mildred proceeds to highlight the ineptitude of Ebbing law enforcement – specifically, Bill Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), the town’s revered chief of police. When his second-in-command, the pea-brained and quick-to-violence Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell), catches wind of the issue, this small-town disagreement explodes into all-out war.
- Frances McDormand as Mildred Hayes
- Woody Harrelson as Bill Willoughby
- Sam Rockwell as Jason Dixon
- John Hawkes as Charlie Hayes