I sort of lost faith in Indian cinema as I watched EVERY Salman Khan film rake in the big bucks. But then an amazing thing happened: I chanced upon the trailer of ‘Waiting’ on YouTube, and felt myself turn into a puddle of tears. And that- that opened me up to the plethora of Indie films that really deserve to be seen by so many more people. If you’re like me, and SO done with the commercial, masala flicks or really…just looking for a change in the things you watch – well, this list is for you.
Miss Lovely (2012)
This Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Niharika Singh, Anil George, and Maneka Lalwani starrer is about the criminal underbelly of Mumbai’s C-grade film industry. Fast-paced, raw, and complete with BRILLIANT performances, this movie will make you just a little bit uncomfortable, in the best way.
This beautiful gem of a movie will move you to tears. No seriously. Starring Kalki Koechlin and Naseeruddin Shah, this movie is about two individuals who become friends in the hospital while nursing their respective comatose spouses. In the masterful hands of director Anu Menon, this film brings out the best in Kalki and Naseeruddin, and describes the beautiful fragility of love, life, and relationships.
Mumbai’s King (2012)
Directed by first-time filmmaker Manjeet Singh, this movie premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and received a LOT of appreciation. It follows the lives of Rahul and Arbaaz, two young, street-smart children in the slums of Bombay, as they run away together in an attempt to escape the realities of their lives. Set during the time of Ganesh Chaturthi, the movie is heartwarming, though-provoking, and everything you need if you’re losing faith in Indian films.
I never really thought I’d come across an Indian thriller with an educative, social statement like this. Directed by Kamal.K.M., I.D explores an issue so many of us are unaware of: the seeming ‘disappearance’ of a million Indian labourers and their complete lack identity.
This Marathi film revolves around a lower-caste teenage boy who falls in love with an upper-caste girl. It’s a heartbreaking romance that showcases the hope and innocence of young love, while integrating it perfectly with caste-based racism that is still so prevalent in our country. This film won the Grand Jury prize at the Mumbai Film Festival.
This powerful docu-drama focuses on the sex-selected infanticide in India. Its two protagonists are Kajarya – a woman who kills babies, and Meera, an opportunistic journalist who is really, just looking for her big break. The brilliant part about this movie is that there is no black and white – everyone is a little grey, and the movie makes an important statement without sounding preach-y.
This lesser known, Nagesh Kukunoor gem is a visual and emotional treat. Set in Rajasthan, the movie takes you through the heartwarming conversations of children Pari and Chotu as they walk through the beautiful Rajasthani landscape. The movie went on to win multiple awards, including the Best Children’s Film at the 64th National Film Awards.
Shuruaat Ka Interval (2014)
A collection of short-films revolving around the theme ‘interval’ curated by brilliant filmmakers like Imtiaz Ali, Vikramaditya Motwane, Vikas Bahl, and Anand Gandhi, Shuruaat Ka Interval is a brilliant film that has something for EVERYONE.
Another gritty thriller, Peddlers uncovers the poverty of the people forced to go into the drug-trade. Complete with brilliant cinematography, violence that’ll imprint itself on your mind, and characters written with beautiful depth, Peddlers will quite possibly, be one of the best Indian thrillers you’ll have ever seen.
Ankhon Dekhi (2014)
Directed by Rajat Kapoor, Aankhon Dekhi, a comedy-drama follows the life of a man who after going through a dramatic incident, ONLY believes the things he’s witnessed with his own eyes. Refreshing, with a brilliant cast (Sanjay Mishra is the lead), this movie is proof that our filmmakers offer so much more than item songs.
Sulemani Keeda (2014)
This charming bromantic comedy follows the lives of two writers who are trying to peddle their second-rate screenplay through Bollywood. Hilarious and relatable, Bollywood’s comedies need to take notes from this movie.
An Indie film that was later released commercially, Titli tells the story of the youngest member of a violent car-jacking gang who wants to be free of his ‘family trade’. Speckled with drama, emotion, and romance, Titli was the darling of International Film Festivals offering a heartwarming + refreshing take on gangster-dramas.
Liar’s Dice (2013)
Starring Geetanjali Thappa and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Liar’s Dice is a heartbreaking movie that deals with the economic and emotional cost of human migration.The film went on to receive two national awards, and will leave you both angry, and enlightened.