It’s the year of Indie films which have done exceptionally well at the Box Office. Here’s the top 4 movies you should have caught on the big screens. These are not art films or parallel cinema. They are mainstream films, but independent in nature, and have appealed to both critics and masses.
“Shanghai” is a political thriller directed by Dibaker Banerjee and adapted from a novel, which stars Abhay Deol, Emran Hashmi, and indie it-girl Kalki Koechlin. A urban redevelopment project kicks off to turn the fictional city Bharatnagar into Shanghai. An activist and social worker kicks-off a campaign against the project forewarning the citizens it’s consequences. The same night he is brutally killed in a hit and run. The ensuing investigation is full of political intrigue which keeps you on edge. The film also sets out a symbolic message about Indian buearacracy, the industrialization, and the political system that will leave you asking: “Is India progressing?” Dibaker never lets the tension slip as he paces scenes with a tight screenplay and engaging perfomances.
“Paan Singh Tomar”, directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia, is one of the best biopics of Hindi cinema. In it, Irrfan Khan portrays the life of the Tomar, a seven time Indian national steeplechase champion during the 50s and 60s. He joined army at a very young age and that’s where his talent was first recognized. After a premature retirement from the army, he settled down in his native village and resorted to banditry after a land feud. Khan’s performance is flawless in a complex role. He plays the role of an naïve, charming athlete, who turns into a menacing outlaw after a feud to protect himself, his family, and his honor. It’s refreshing to see that filmmaking with realism, depicting the story of a common man with sincerity.
Shoojit Sircar’s “Vicky Donor” is a light hearted comedy with a well-crafted script and great performances by newcomers Ayushmann Khurrana and Yami Gautam . The subject of sperm donation is bold and something south asian cinema has not explored before. Portrayal of an ultra-modern grandmother who knocks back a few drinks and wants a iPhone, the Bengali-Punjabi parental clash, and Dr. Chaddha’s euphemisms make the film very unique yet it had enough mass appeal to be a commercial success. Vicky Donor is the surprise entertainer of the year. It is the warmest, funniest comedy in a very long time.
“Kahaani” is another thriller, directed by Sujoy Ghosh, based in Kolkata. The film explores feminism and motherhood. The film begins with Vidya Bagchi , played by Vidya Balan, landing at Kolkata international airport and hailing a taxi to a police station. At the police station, she files a missing person’s report for husband, who came to India on an assignment without contacting her. From there, different characters, with varying degrees of connection to Vidya are revealed as she pursues her husband. Cinematography by Setu captures Kolkata in its true essence. The minute character details in Bob Biswas, a contract killer who doubles as an insurance agent, or Inspector Chatterjee, who Bengali-fies Vidya into “Bidya”, show the effort put into the story and the screenplay. The experience of the film is greatly enhanced by letting the story unfold by itself as the story reveals these subtle details.
Contributed by CSAFF Programming Director, Mili Ghosh. In addition to her duties here at CSAFF, Mili runs Memories in Motion, a boutique choice for high-end productions of weddings and conceptual love/film stories.
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