Thrillers are always popular among the youth and the class audience (especially the multiplex audience). As such it has several subgenres like action thriller, romantic thriller, mystery thriller, suspense thriller, et al. Thrillers are meant to give us thrills with the plot elements which are aimed to surprise us. Among the thrillers, those centred around children make for a popular watch as the kids induce sympathy easily from the audience.
While Bollywood is known for making thrillers for a long time and dozens of films of this genre release every year, Tamil Cinema and to an extent Malayalam Cinema have become factories of thrillers. One after another, high quality thrillers have been delivered by these film industries in various flavours. We know how the Malayalam film Drishyam went on to become one of the most loved family thrillers. Tamil film Ratsasan is considered a classic.
The great Bengali Cinema which has been a darling of cinema lovers is known for producing realistic thrillers. Kannada Cinema has been slowly gaining popularity thanks to films like KGF and Tollywood (Telugu Cinema) though not known for thrillers lately, they have been producing some good thrillers on a consistent basis for the last couple of years. Marathi Cinema is also doing quite well.
Here are 19 high quality Indian thrillers that are centred around children.
1. Penguin (Tamil/Telugu)
Penguin is a film that might fail in its larger than large scope of the story that’s handled by a debutant, it’s an impressively constructed thriller with some striking visuals and top of the line performances from Keerthy Suresh and Master Advaith. The film revolves around a pregnant mother’s quest to find her missing elder kid.
2. Ratsasan (Tamil)
Ratsasan is one of the greatest serial killer thrillers of all time that has come from India’s factory of thriller films - Tamil Cinema. It revolves around a serial killer who kills teenage girls for reasons known only to him and a police officer who in the past researched about serial killers to make an authentic serial killer thriller.
3. Pihu (Hindi)
My God! What a horrifyingly amazing performance by that two year old kid Myra Vishwakarma! Her innocent face cannot leave the mind’s eye of mine. Watching the film gives a heart in the throat feeling. It’s a modern day fairy tale and a harsh lesson for parents of little kids. A must watch. Gut wrenching but essential watch for every urban parent.
4. Kshanam (Telugu)
Kshanam starring Adivi Sesh is a slickly constructed thriller that revolves around a man who comes back to India to search for the daughter of his ex-girlfriend who went missing (mysteriously killed). The tempo of the film slowly builds and by the climax, it packs a surprisingly brilliant punch.
5. Forensic (Malayalam)
A series of murders targeting young children, a child psycho on the prowl and a team of police and forensic experts chasing an unknown assailant. All these dots are joined together in the climax. With ample homework done on many forensic procedures, the team gave a nail-biting thriller. But the film did show the goriness of children's death and made us cringe - not for the faint-hearted parents.
6. Anveshanam (Malayalam)
Anveshanam is an eye-opener for parents with young kids. The film shows us how an act done in haste can have devastating repercussions and may shatter the entire family. The gripping thriller revolves around a happy family who loses the elder son in a freak incident. It takes us through a roller-coaster ride of emotions keeping the thriller elements intact.
7. Ponmagal Vandhal (Tamil)
A thriller in the garb of a court room battle that throws light on the child kidnapping, abuse and murder. After committing the crime, how the affluent gets away right from under the nose of the law and what it takes to bring the criminals to face the legal proceedings forms a major thread in the film. The film is ambitious in the sense that it reopens an old case to take the story forward and to prove the innocence of the accused.
8. The Great Father (Malayalam)
A too familiar screenplay saved by the swag of the megastar, but definitely keeps us occupied and worth a watch for the message it conveys. Many children are murdered and another child becomes a victim of brutal sexual assault, and the father steps in to prove himself to be the super-hero that his daughter adored. The cat and mouse chase begins, and the masked killer and the hero are enjoying the hot pursuit. A stylishly made thriller.
9. Kia and Cosmos (Bengali)
Kia and Cosmos is a bilingual film made in Bengali and English revolves around Kia a 15-year old autistic teenager. Kia lives with her single mother. Her journey of becoming an investigator starts when her pregnant cat Cosmos disappears. She believed it wasn’t an ordinary disappearance but a murder and started to investigate the matter. Thus she sets for an incredible journey from Kolkata to Kalimpong. The movie goes beyond its genre and emerges as a work of art.
10. Mitin Mashi (Bengali)
Based on Suchitra Bhattacharya’s novel, the film revolves around Pragya Paromita AKA Mitin, a professional detective. The story starts when a Parsi couple seeks help of Mitin to investigate the kidnapping of their child and rescue the boy. Powered by an engaging storyline and sleek execution, Mitin Mashi is a family entertainer. If you like lighthearted yet nail-biting thriller, this one is a must watch for you.
11. Talvar (Hindi)
Meghna Gulzar directorial takes its inspiration on the sensational 2008 Noida double murder case. The crime involving a young teenage girl and a servant boy gets more twisted when the girl’s parents become two of the accused. The gripping narration presents three different perspectives of the case that either sees the victim’s parents as the culprit or innocent.
12. Kahaani 2 (Hindi)
Vidya Sinha (Vidya Balan) is a working mother who lives in a small town of Bengal with her paralyzed daughter Minnie. Her only desire is to make Minnie walk again. Things took a certain turn when Minnie gets kidnapped and Vidya meets with an accident. Soon, it is revealed that Vidya is an imposter, and she is not the mother of the child! What follows is an incredible story of love, humane bonding, and deception.
13. Ugly (Hindi)
This one should come with a warning: NOT for faint-hearted people. Ugly helmed by Anurag Kashyap is one of the grittiest and twisted thrillers made in Bollywood. The involvement of a child in this gut-churning drama only makes it more disturbing. Kali, a ten-year-old girl gets kidnapped and her father and police officer stepfather start an investigation but soon they start to accuse each other. As the story begins to unveil its layers, things get hideous. The rotten truth exposes at the end.
14. Goyenda Junior (Bengali)
Bickram, a 16-year-old orphan, a fan of detective novels has a natural flair for solving crime. The boy, who now lives with his police officer uncle one day visits his uncle in his office where his talent is recognized by a senior police officer Sanjay. Impressed by his skill, Sanjay asks Bickram to assist him with the investigation of a murder case which is apparently termed as a 'perfect crime' as the murder looks like a natural death. A fresh approach to classic who-done-it thriller, the film is an enjoyable thriller for all.
15. Goyenda Gogol and Gogoler Kirti (Bengali)
Gogol series based on Bengali author Samaresh Basu’s stories is an amalgamation of thriller and children movies. The series has a little boy Gogol in the centre who with his sheer observation power solves intricate criminal cases. A student of class VI, Gogol is a gadget freak and always carries a compass, magnifying glass, a tab and other necessary things in a small bag-pack for solving cases. Sounds cute? However, it is also quite thrilling to watch little Gogol investigating cases.
16. Devaki (Kannada)
You might have seen it with Sridevi’s Mom. Or even another Bollywood thriller starring RavinaTandon - Maatr. But the way Devaki presented the subject of child abuse/mother’s quest for vengeance etc. is simply haunting. The ex-heartthrob Priyanka Trivedi who is now Priyanka Upendra is in top form as a mother with a mission. And the narration makes you stick your eyes to the screen.
17. Rakshas (Marathi)
The Marathi fantasy thriller tells the story of a young girl who goes on to search for her missing father is at once magical and heartbreaking. Strong performances and exotic narration makes this a must watch.
18. Railway Children (Kannada)
Telling even a little word about this gem of a film is an irredeemable sin as it'll spoil the fun if watching it. Just one word for it. WATCH!
19. Mardaani (Hindi)
A gritty thriller where a policewoman who chases the case of a kidnapped teenage girls uncovers the secrets of human trafficking. A film that is the need of the hour that makes one introspect the reason why many end up in flesh trade. The organised crime that trafficking and prostitution is, it requires a police officer with the nerves of steel to bring the culprits to book.