8 Indian Indie Films You Need to Watch Right Now
Written By Jaspreet Kaur Sangral
You know India to be an exotic, colorful, gusty, magical land of some sort, where ancient wisdom meets spirituality meets modernity. But, let’s just poke the bubble of common perception because there’s so much more to this country than ayurveda, yoga and butter chicken! The country is like an onion with multiple layers of complexities, ideologies and elucidations. A wonderful bunch of complex subjects! Wait, did I just say complex subjects? Then where are the filmmakers utilizing the opportunity by making remarkable films on these complex subjects?
That’s exactly why I am writing this article right now – to introduce you to some of the most exceptional pieces of Indian indie cinema we’ve seen in the last 5 years or so. Here’s the list –
Masaan (2015) – This critically acclaimed gem from Neeraj Ghaywan has made India proud on so many international platforms. Masaan handles sensitive issues like caste system and gender inequality so beautifully that by the time the film ends, you are left laughing and crying, both at the same time. Nothing has been beautified or uglified for cinematic influence – the reality is shown in its truest form and that’s the real beauty of Masaan.
Court (2014) – A courtroom drama without much drama! You might ask what’s exciting about that. And I’ll say the pragmatism. Chaitanya Tamhane’s Court is a story of a 65-year-old Marathi folk singer/poet, Narayan Kamble who gets arrested for a peculiar reason – after being motivated by one of his performances, a sewage cleaner commits suicide. The film brilliantly shows the sad reality of our judicial system, all the while commenting on the country’s education system and the questionable freedom of speech and expression.
Chauthi Koot (2015) – Every household of Punjab during 1980s knew what fear, uncertainty and helplessness felt like. The innocent people were forced to pick a side. They were the ones who were being tormented by the security forces from one end and the militants from the other. The film recreates that dreadful environment almost effortlessly. Even though the narrative of Chauthi Koot unfolds at a leisurely pace, you stay put at the edge of your seat, getting a bit more perturbed with each passing moment.
Lipstick Under My Burkha (2016) – Burkha is a cloak-like outer garment traditionally worn by Muslim women to cover their face and body. However, in context of this particular film, more than the piece of clothing, Burkha represents the norms of repressing the dreams and desires of women, irrespective of their age or status in the society. The film focuses on the lives of four women, struggling to live the life they deserve by hiding their true aspirations and yearnings from the face of the society.
Thithi (2016) – Who would’ve guessed that a film made on simple lives of destitute villagers living in a remote part of Karnataka could end up being such an entertainer. Thithi’s biggest achievement as a film is that it doesn’t feel or look like a film throughout its runtime of 2 hours and 4 minutes. Even the actors in the film are not really actors, they are actual villagers handpicked by the makers from the nearby areas. Thithi is essentially a satirical drama with a wonderful dose of effortlessness and humor.
A Death in the Gunj (2016) – Attempting a thriller as your directorial debut is brave, very brave indeed. But can you really call A Death in the Gunj a thriller? Maybe not. An Anglo-Indian family and some of their friends come together for a vacation in the middle of an idle town, McCluskiegunj which is located in Jharkhand. While most of these people are loud and boisterous, frail-looking 23-year-old Shutu comes across as a loner, with a troubled mind seeking answers. The film questions the notions of manhood and deals with the concept of insensitivity, in an exceedingly sensible environment that never gets too forced or preachy at any given point of time.
Qissa (2013) – One man’s blind desire to further the family lineage overpowers his ability to think rationally. He raises his third daughter as Kanwar Singh, the son he always wanted. Backed up by Irrfan Khan, Tilottama Shome and Tisca Chopra’s power-packed performances along with excellent cinematography, Qissa has the ability to torment your peace of mind for a really long time.
Ajji (2017) – A 10-year-old girl is brutishly raped by a local goon in the slums of Mumbai, but surprisingly, no one wants to take any legal action against the crook since he comes from a political background. Eventually, the girl’s Ajji (grandmother) decides to avenge the brutality. What happens next is a series of events which she forces herself to go through, in an attempt to desensitize her psyche as the means of preparation for the final act of justice. Ajji is definitely not for everyone owing to its gruesome and traumatizing treatment that leaves a haunting mark on its viewer’s mind. A revenge drama of its own kind that makes you feel miserable, heartbroken, moved and empowered, all at the same time.