From Virus to Gangs of Wasseypur, we’ve assorted some of the best Indian thrillers on Amazon Prime streaming across languages — Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali.
Mysteries, whodunnits, suspense dramas — thriller as a genre fascinatingly unifies different narrative techniques and possesses the power to draw your attention from the get-go. If it’s a good thriller, you are thoroughly invested in its details and characters and try to solve the maker’s intricate puzzle. Several Indian filmmakers, particularly in the recent past, have upped the stakes in the genre with their meticulous eye for detail. In fact, most of these filmmakers predominantly hail from film industries whose movies were generally overlooked compared to the mainstream Bollywood.
Among all the OTT streaming platforms, Amazon Prime Video has a vast catalog of Indian titles. Satiate your movie cravings with some of the best Indian thrillers currently streaming on Amazon Prime. Take your pick and stream away! Note: These films were playing as of April 11, 2022.
Best Indian Thrillers On Amazon Prime
1. Andha Naal (1954) – Tamil
S. Balachander’s murder-mystery thriller was a commercial failure but went on to win the second Best Feature Film in Tamil at the 2nd National Film Awards in 1955. It also acquired a cult status over the years. In 2013, CNN-News18 counted it in 100 Greatest Indian Films of All Time list.
Balachander was inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s enigmatic drama Rashomon (1950) which he watched at a film festival. Later, he wrote a play in that narrative style. Javar Seetharaman who plays the prominent detective role in the film, co-wrote the screenplay. Known as rare Tamil cinema that was made without song or dance sequences, Andha Naal employed certain film noir tropes. The greatest Tamil actor Sivaji Ganesan gained critical acclaim for the portrayal of his shady protagonist Rajan. Pandari Bai who plays his wife also offered a fierce performance.
2. Sonar Kella (1974) – Bengali
Apart from being a great filmmaker and a musical composer, Satyajit Ray has a talent for writing popular fiction. One particular genre that interested him was detective fiction, most of it featuring the charismatic private investigator Feluda. Sonar Kella aka Golden Fortress was Ray’s first of two Feluda movies, based on his own novels.
The narrative revolves around a little boy’s memories from his past life, where he supposedly lived in a golden fortress. This leads to a newspaper article which attracts attention of the tale’s antagonists. Soon, the boy’s father seeks the help of Feluda. Subsequently, they take a long train trip to find the truth behind the boy’s memories. Soumitra Chatterjee offers a subtle and riveting performance as Feluda. Ray masterfully maintains the tension and thrill in the movie’s three parallel narrative threads.
3. Nayakan (1987) – Tamil
The gangster epic — inspired by Mario Puzo’s Godfather — brought together three great personalities of Indian cinema. Kamal Haasan, Illayaraja and Mani Ratnam. It’s the story of a downtrodden young, rebellious guy becoming a savior of fellow downtrodden people. The film is partly based on real-life Tamil gangster Varadarajan Mudaliar. The nuance Kamal Haasan brings to the central role (Velu Naicker) is up there with Brando’s Corleone. While Mani Ratnam had creative freedom in Mouna Raagam, it was only in Nayakan that he fully developed his directorial voice. His penchant for sharp angles, light and darkness, sweeping set-ups were well established here.
This was P.C. Sreeram Mani Ratnam’s second collaboration. Both were at an early phase of their career. It was with Nayakan that they started their journey of capturing slice of life with all its layered features. There are few dated and mediocre elements in the film. But, Nayakan was much ahead of and different from the films of its time.
Watch Nayakan on Amazon Prime
4. Maqbool (2003) – Hindi
Maqbool is based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth and came at a time when classical interpretations were all out of date. And this movie proved how wrong the trends were. Vishal Bharadwaj proved to be a master at presenting Shakespeare to address the Indian socio political themes. He later adapted Othello and Hamlet as Omkara (2006) and Haider (2014) respectively.
Maqbool was graced not only by a riveting plot but by fine-tuned pacing, direction and ace performances from Irrfan Khan, Pankaj Kapur, Tabu, Piyush Mishra, Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah. The crime/thriller takes its core from the original play but adds a lot of its own flair and originality to it. Truly, a reinterpretation done perfectly.
Watch Maqbool on Amazon Prime
5. Manorama: Six Feet Under (2007) – Hindi
Drawing inspiration from Roman Polanski’s classic Chinatown, Navdeep Singh’s neo-noir is an intense, dark, edge-of-the-seat thriller. An intricate, thoroughly consuming storyline unfolds across the winding dark alleys of Rajasthan as the viewer, along with the protagonist, set out to uncover a murder mystery. There’s much to appreciate in this underrated gem of a film with a socio-political context and philosophical undertones.
It’s a bit convoluted, but it was a unique neo-noir that was rare in Indian cinema at the time. Fiercely executed and with performances top notch (Abhay Deol, Vinay Pathak, Gul Panag, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Raima Sen), Manorama: Six Feet Under will leave you satiated if you’re in the mood for a good thriller.
6. Shanghai (2012) – Hindi
Costa Gavras’ Z (1969) talked of a different time, a different political situation during the turbulent 1960s Greece. But the fact that Dibakar Banerjee managed to transplant the European setting to modern India is a showcase of his talent in scriptwriting and direction. The core narrative itself would resonate across the world to transcend any social or cultural barriers. Dibakar’s pacing is incredible and he never wastes a moment. With some incredible performances by Emraan Hashmi and Kalki Koechlin, the movie manages to stun, thrill and amuse, as Dibakar’s attention to detail is evident here, in a mature, serious thriller, which ranks as one of his best films.
Watch Shanghai on Amazon Prime
7. Gangs of Wasseypur (2012) – Hindi
The 5-hour-plus magnum opus is clearly Anurag Kashyap’s best work to date. The story spans close to seven decades and chronicles the dominance between warring factions in the small, coal-rich town of Wasseypur. Novel-style storytelling deals with themes like political corruption, family legacy, revenge, cultural strife, etc. The scope and ambition with which Kashyap treats this saga of betrayal and deceit are much subtle and deeper than the usual rise-and-fall arc. Kashyap’s visual acuity sets the stage for some of the best set-pieces in this gangster thriller. For all its stomach-churning violence, gore and profanities, the characters and dramatic scenes are effectively realized. One of the best Bollywood thrillers, Gangs of Wasseypur is a perfect mix of history, social commentary, and crime-genre entertainment.
8. Chotushkone (2014) – Bengali
Srijit Mukherji is a prolific Bengali filmmaker who’s had an equal number of hits and misses. The filmmaker often excels in the thriller genre, and made one of the best Indian serial-killer thrillers titled Baishe Srabon back in 2011. Chotushkone is another excellent dramatic thriller, featuring a great ensemble cast that includes Parambrata Chatterjee, Aparna Sen, and Goutam Ghose.
It has a classic mystery/thriller set-up with four popular filmmakers coming together to meet an unknown prospective producer. They are asked to make an anthology film with death as a recurring theme in their stories. Mr. Mukherji uses thriller aspects to look into an artist’s creative process. The intricate screenplay demands a second viewing to contemplate its subtext. Chotushkone features the narrative device of film within a film, which Mukherji later employed in films like Vinci Da and Uma.
9. Titli (2014) – Hindi
Film’s titular character wants to break free from his gangster family and start life afresh as a law-abiding citizen. However, things change when he gets married. Titli captures the gloomy essence of Eastern Delhi to full tilt. Moreover, it features a solid rendering of its fairly dark subject.
Kanu Behl’s narrative is largely concerned with the men on the streets, who are part of a dynamic criminal underworld. It also doubles up as a character study of an individual who tries to escape the grim backstreets for a brighter future. Shashank Arora is bewitching in the titular role. This is one of the most well realized Bollywood dramatic thrillers out there!
Watch Titli on Amazon Prime
10. U Turn (2016) – Tamil, Telugu, Hindi
The mystery thriller followed Pawan Kumar’s highly-acclaimed psychological thriller Lucia. U-Turn is about a journalist who finds herself in the middle of a series of coincidental events while on a project about a busy Bengaluru flyover. The film will amaze you with its brisk screenplay even while going against many of Indian cinema’s unwritten rules like song sequences.
However, the answer to the mystery might divide viewers. The ending is not only far-fetched, but also cliched and convoluted. The original Kannada version is clearly the better one with a strong performance from Shraddha Srinath.
11. Trapped (2016) – Hindi
After the success of Lootera and Udaan, Vikramaditya Motwane gave us another winner in Trapped, one of the finest survival thrillers from Bollywood starring the talented Rajkummar Rao. It follows a man who gets stuck on the top floor of a Mumbai high-rise building and explores his ordeal and attempts at escape and survival. Whilst providing plenty of edge-of-the-seat thrills, Trapped makes for an intriguingly interactive experience as you hope to find an answer to this puzzle alongside Rao’s on screen character.
Mr. Motwane particularly excels in capturing the deteriorating mindset of his totally isolated protagonist. He shows us a concrete jungle that separates individuals rather than bringing them together.
12. The Hungry (2017) – Hindi
The Hungry, directed by Bornila Chatterjee is a contemporary retelling of the Shakespearean tragedy, Titus Andronicus. The movie is purely an art-house film that puts a lot of effort into the characters as well as the storyline. In the backdrop of a New Delhi wedding, The Hungry gets the perfect environment to explore the emptiness and self-destruction that contrasts with the extravagant wedding setting.
The film is quite mysterious and homicidal in its own right as it jumps from timeline to timeline while maintaining immaculate consistency in both plot and performance. It concentrates on the lives of various characters who are in some way or another linked to each other either by bloodline or by the threads of destiny.
13. Theeran Adhigaram Ondru (Theeran – Chapter One) – Tamil
Vinoth’s cop-action flick would have been more riveting if it had avoided the cliched, annoying romance and dance numbers. Theeran is based on the true incident of a high profile case, successfully handled by TN police in the 1990s. A young, idealistic cop is entrusted with the task of solving a series of murders. It seems to be the handiwork of the notorious Baawariya criminal tribe (from Rajasthan). The narrative tracks down the TN police force’s painful attempts to nab the deadly gang in their own domain.
Director Vinoth deftly and authentically portrays the functioning of police bureaucracy. The usual commercial glorification of police characters are largely amiss. Karthi plays the titular role with aplomb and Abhimanyu Singh is terrific as the gang’s leader. The stunt sequences in the parched lands of Rajasthan are well choreographed. Theeran would have been a great action thriller, if only it had scissored the irritable romantic track.
14. Raazi (2018) – Hindi
A taut spy thriller helped by an edge-of-the-seat narrative and a fine ensemble of actors, Raazi is a wartime tale set in 1971. It chronicles the true story of a young Kashmiri girl trained as a spy sent behind enemy lines ahead of the Indo-Pak war. Alia Bhatt as Sehmat renders some fine, jaw-dropping moments and her character transition is smooth. She brings out the innocence and brazenness with equal conviction. Watch Raazi for Meghna Gulzar’s compelling storytelling, supported by brilliant performances (Jaideep Ahlawat, Vicky Kaushal, Shishir Sharma, Rajit Kapur, Amruta Khanvilkar). I wish Vicky Kaushal had more to do.
Amidst the spate of jingoistic dramas, Raazi is a welcome relief that looks into the grim realities of the spy game.
Watch Raazi on Amazon Prime
15. Magamuni (2019) – Tamil
Santhakumar’s Magamuni is a hard-hitting revenge thriller which revolves around two twin-brothers separated when they were young. Aarya brilliantly plays the contrasting dual roles. Maga is a cab driver who also works as a paid-killer for a local politician. Muniraj lives in a small village. He is a soft-spoken guy who invests himself in organic farming.
Magamuni is not a simple tale of separated twin brothers crossing each other’s paths. The film benefits from a nuanced screenplay where each character was written with great depth. It’s what makes the thriller aspect of the narrative unbelievably gripping. Prior to Magamuni, Santhakumar made the path-breaking character-driven Tamil thriller Mouna Guru (2011).
16. Virus (2019) – Malayalam
Aashiq Abu’s Malayalam thriller is an extremely humanizing and moving portrayal of a crisis which shook an entire state. This Medical thriller is based on the Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala. It largely unfolds like a docudrama which revolves around the life stories of those who suffered and those who stood up to the unrelenting virus that didn’t have a cure.
The desperation, struggles and utter hopelessness have been re-enacted and visualized with such dedication and finesse that it seems impossible to isolate the movie as a fictional piece. Besides, the film’s atmosphere of dread and tension resonated much amid the tough pandemic.
Watch VIRUS on Amazon Prime
17. Kavuladaari (2019) – Kannada
Kavaludaari is a thriller as well as a character-driven neo-noir written and directed by Hemanth M Rao. The film revolves around a traffic cop who tries to solve a decades-old murder case with the help of a retired police officer and a compulsive journalist. Hemanth’s director is particularly clever when he establishes the facts of the case. This includes a distinctly visualized scene where the protagonist goes through the old case files.
Kavaludaari does disappoint us towards the end which drags us into politics and personal revenge. Nevertheless, for the large part it stays on track and remains a gripping police procedural.
18. Arishadvarga (2019) – Kannada
Starting with Pawan Kumar’s Lucia (2013), Kannada filmmakers have repeatedly proved their mettle in crime/thriller genre. Arishadvarga denotes the six emotional states – lust, anger, greed, pride, jealousy, and attachment – which prevent a human from achieving salvation. Director Arvind Kamath attributes these six traits to his six characters in the film. The narrative’s central mystery is the murder of a movie producer in Bengaluru. The case is assigned to a determined police detective who strives to solve the intricate puzzle involving six individuals.
It’s a film full of unreliable narrators and the thrilling narrative flow keeps us guessing. Arishardvarga does suffer a bit from too many flashback sequences. Yet it’s commendable for its bold and unflinching tone.
19. Agent Sai Srinivas Athreya (2019) – Telugu
Swaroop RSJ’s funny detective thriller mystery is a breath of fresh air amidst the over-stylized Telugu masala features. Naveen Polishetty offers a witty performance in the titular role, who despite being a clever sleuth tries and fails in establishing himself as the Nellore Sherlock Holmes. Naveen has also co-written the script with Swaroop.
The duo fascinatingly balances comedy and edge-of-the-seat thrill. The film is a bit marred by pacing problems. Moreover, like an average Indian thriller, it over explains its narrative threads. Yet, thanks to the satisfying mystery and Naveen’s hilarious, fast-talking dialogues, the film is engaging throughout. Eventually, the mystery/thriller also provides a much-needed social commentary on religious superstitions.
20. Vinci Da (2019) – Bengali
Srijit Mukherji’s Vinci Da is a distinct psychological crime thriller. It tells the story of a struggling make-up artist who is funneled into becoming an accomplice of a justice-crazed serial killer. Lately, Mr. Mukherji’s films suffered due to over dramatic portions. However, Vinci Da is crisp and to the point. The story is like no other you have ever seen and leaves some poignant images in the viewer’s minds.
The solid performances and the crisp dialogue are what hold the film together during most of the second half. But it is amazing to witness such artistic talent and strokes of brilliance in what is essentially a crime thriller.
Watch Vinci Da on Amazon Prime
21. Thadam (2019) – Tamil
This investigative suspenseful thriller has a lot going for it. The edgy cinematography stands atop some great acting as we delve deeper and deeper into the detective drama. The plot revolves around a murder for which two lookalikes are suspected and both of them could have been equally guilty or equally innocent. There are not many clues that the movie gives us initially but the final reveals are quite satisfactory. The movie, with its great execution, kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. It is definitely worth a watch and also manages to squeeze a very prevalent social issue into the plot.
Thadam is now all set to be remade in Hindi featuring Sidharth Malhotra in the lead. The still untitled Hindi remake is due for release in 2021.
22. C U Soon (2020) – Malayalam
Screen thrillers are a tricky thing to do. Even Hollywood has experimented with the form a lot, though there have been only few successes such as Searching (2018) and Host (2020). However, within the many film industries in India, it was clear that only Malayalam cinema can attempt such a thing and make it work.
C U Soon starts off as a cyber love story that soon takes a mysterious turn when the girl goes missing. One of the best Indian movies of 2020, Mahesh Narayanan’s C U Soon keeps you on the edge with his gripping storytelling tactics. The fast-paced romance thriller is wonderfully supported by solid performances from Fahadh Faasil, Roshan Mathew and Darshana Rajendran and never lets you off the hook until the final payoff.
Watch C U Soon on Amazon Prime
23. Palasa 1978 (2020) – Telugu
Karuna Kumar’s raw and riveting period thriller tackles the hard subject of caste oppression and Dalit resistance. The film revolves around two brothers, Mohan Rao and Ranga Rao, who are engaged in a fierce political battle with the dominant caste Hindu landlords. Director Karuna Kumar was inspired by the Telugu novel Antarani Vasantam (The Untouchable Spring). He was also clearly inspired by movies such as Subramaniapuram (2008) and Gangs of Wasseypur (2012).
Palasa 1978 is yet another groundbreaking Dalit mainstream cinema. Particularly, in the celebrity stars-controlled Telugu cinema, the protagonists often hail from a few dominant castes. The film also benefits from the action/thriller structure which elevates the central character’s grim life journey.
24. Joji (2021) – Malayalam
Written by Syam Pushkaran and directed by Dileesh Pothan, Joji is loosely inspired by MacBeth and Koodathayi cyanide murders. The versatile Fahadh Faasil plays the titular character, the black sheep of a wealthy Panachel family. Joji is the youngest offspring. He lacks courage but shows a knack for deception. When the patriarch of the family falls sick, Joji’s greed pushes him towards crime.
Joji excellently uses the dread-filled pandemic atmosphere to create tension. The film might be less gratifying than Pothan’s first two films – Maheshinte Prathikaram and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyu. Yet it’s an intriguing riff on Macbeth, employing a very unique and grounded domestic setting.
Watch Joji on Amazon Prime
25. Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar (2021) – Hindi
A lot of critics who’ve reviewed Dibakar Banerjee’s recent film misconceive it as a chase thriller. Of course, the title is partly suggestive. What Banerjee rather offers is a gripping character portrait of two characters hailing from vastly contrasting backgrounds. The narrative does have a few flaws, in terms of pacing and writing. But he fascinatingly subverts our expectations throughout the film. Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra astound us with their grounded performances. The filmmaker’s trademark black humor adds more intrigue to this thriller.
There you go! That was our list of the best Indian thrillers streaming on Amazon Prime. We might have failed to include some of the familiar and good Bollywood thrillers like Ek Hasina Thi (2004) and Karthik Calling Karthik (2010) and the super-popular Drishyam 2 (2021, Malayalam). If you’re looking to explore further, check out Hit (The First Case), an engaging Telugu suspense thriller, and Gatham (Telugu), a cleverly designed indie film made on a shoestring budget of 1 crore. Besides, there are decent crime/thrillers like Imaikka Nodigal (2017, Tamil) and Bannerghatta (2021, Kannada). Tell us in the comments if you think we’ve missed out on anything exciting, that deserves a mention on this list.
Join us on Instagram for a new movie recommendation everyday.