Tag Archives: Aditya Vikram Sengupta

Best Offbeat Indian Cinema of recent times (10+1 list)

Best Offbeat Indian Cinema of recent times

written by Souranath Banerjee

Offbeat Indian Cinema, huh?

The term ‘offbeat’ generally conveys a certain idea of non-commercial, arty, not-for-the-masses kind of movies; those
intellectual films which almost invariably wouldn’t do much business in the box office but will probably travel around several festivals and Offbeat-Indian-Cinemasurvive exclusively on the blessings of a handful of niche audience and critics.

Well, that more or less covers everything except for the most essential fact, that most often these so-called ‘offbeat’ films are the real trendsetters, so unique and revolutionary in their treatment and storytelling that they are responsible for the evolution of meaningful Cinema around the globe!

And this particular list of Offbeat Indian Cinema (many are in regional languages), although some of them might have been lost in the popcorn-culture a tad too quickly for my personal discomfort, but then again, all of these films are undoubtedly the most important Indian Cinema of our recent times!

Here we go! (Listed according to their year of release)

10. Ankhon Dekhi (2013)

Language: Hindi

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3yKUHI2mE4

Offbeat-Indian-CinemaRevolves around a simple yet philosophical concept of a man’s belief, as he decides to believe only what he sees with his eyes!

Brilliantly written, directed and acted by Rajat Kapoor, the film that succeeds in recognising the true talent of performer Sanjay Mishra.

And most importantly this movie sets the stage for one of the most prominent Indian producer of today – Manish Mundra,  who in the following years have given us such brilliant films like MasaanDhanakWaiting and Newton.

9. Qissa: The Tale of a Lonely Ghost (2013)

Language: Punjabi

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pAByInA4kM

Offbeat-Indian-CinemaAn uniquely metaphorical film based on the post-partition era of India and Pakistan. A Sikh desperate for a male heir, but then when his fourth daughter is born, he declares her to be a boy and obsessively brings her up in the same fashion!

The first collaboration between director Anup Singh and actor Irrfan Khan which resulted in such a brilliant piece of story telling and powerful acting.

Tillotama ShomeTisca Chopra and Rasika Dugal – absolute brilliant performances by all!

8. The Lunchbox (2013)

Dabba (original title), Language: Hindi

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sK3R0rvnlPs

Offbeat-Indian-CinemaWritten and directed by Ritesh Batra, this film is essentially a love story between an unhappy housewife and a middle-aged man, and they depend on the Mumbai’s famous ‘dabba’ delivery system to share their delicious little love-notes.

Probably the most commercially popular in this list, this unique love affair is crisp, real and yet as romantic as a fantasy.

The performances of Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur and Nawazuddin Siddiqui makes the movie a true memorable experience.

7. Ottaal (2014)

Language: Malayalam

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNuJPc8u8WM

Offbeat-Indian-CinemaVisually the most eye-pleasing film in the list; a soulful story of a little boy and his grandfather and their beautiful fishing village somewhere in the backwaters of Kerala. But then there is ‘The Trap’ that awaits.

Superb direction by Jayaraaj, the story adopted from Anton Chekhov’s story Vanka.

The songs, the water, the innocence of the village – and the beauty of nature captured by M.J. Radhakrishnan in the most cinematic way ever!

6. Court (2014)

Language: Marathi

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sc8z7zav9A

Offbeat-Indian-CinemaWritten and directed by Chaitanya Tamhane, the film which won the National Award (Golden Lotus Award) and was the official entry from India for the Oscars 2016! 

(Click for Review)

The film is a sarcastic take on the Indian dysfunctional legal system that revolves around a folk-singer’s prosecution!

A script so powerful and so confidently executed, superb performances, the most unique court-room drama ever made.

5. Asha Jaoar Majhe (2014)

Language: Bengali

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFObwB9TAwc

Offbeat-Indian-CinemaLabour of Love, winner of two National Awards and many International ones, probably the most sensitive and poetic film in this list.

(Click for the review)

Directed by Aditya Vikram Sengupta, the story of a married couple who yearns to meet and spend time together but couldn’t because of their work timings. The best thing that happened to the Bengali Industry in the recent times!

4. Visaaranai (2015)

Language: Tamil

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mnzK2KIz9U

Offbeat-Indian-CinemaDirected by Vetrimaaran, this was India’s official entry for the Oscars last year!

Based on a true story, four state-immigrants who experience the tragic police brutality as they were forcefully arrested, illegally detained, tortured and threatened to admit crimes of which they have no knowledge whatsoever!

Dark, gritty and dangerously realistic, the movie emphasises on the corruption of the Indian police department and the helplessness of the common man.

3. Chauthi Koot (2015)

Language: Panjabi

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFS-ETnMSw4

Offbeat-Indian-CinemaMid 1980s, politically turbulent Punjab being the backdrop, the film focuses on one particular family that (like most of the other Punjabi families of the time) gets crushed in-between the Indian Army and Sikh separatists.

Brilliantly written and directed by Gurvinder Singh, (his debut film being Anhey gorhey da daan), this movie brilliantly portrays the agitation and terror of the innocents of that era.

2. Thithi (2015)

Language: Kannada

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_NltD4Stv4

Offbeat-Indian-CinemaA man, 101-year-old – dies. His sons and their sons and their family (the next three generations) prepare for his funeral, after the customary eleven days. The film is based on their actions and reactions over the old man’s death.

Smooth flowing, realistic and immensely engaging; a story of a seemingly every-day village life but told with such conviction.

Superb direction given by Raam Reddy, impactful performances, winning multiple awards – probably the best film in the list!

  1. Aligarh (2015)

Language: Hindi

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JezwsQKpXuU

Offbeat-Indian-CinemaBased on a true story of Dr Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras, a professor who taught Marathi at Aligarh Muslim University, and was suspended from his job because of his sexual orientation!

(Film Review)

Masterfully directed by Hansal Mehta and such powerful performances by Manoj Bajpayee and Rajkummar Rao.

Manoj Bajpayee (according to me) deserved the National Award for his role as Professor Siras.

and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most innovative one. A must watch)

+1. Kaul (2016)

Language: Marathi

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsR8pclAW1Y

Offbeat-Indian-CinemaWritten and directed by Vasudev Keluskar, this film is one of a kind – experimental, surrealistic, mysterious and stunningly visual!

The tale of a village school teacher who tries to maintain his sanity when assigned with an incredible responsibility that might change the fate of our universe!

Exceptionally well edited, shot in style playing with lights and shadows, sold performances – overall an exceptionally courageous example of story telling!

A few names of Offbeat Indian Cinema which are deserves the applause are Shahid (2012), Ship of Theseus (2012), Titli (2014), Killa (2014), Margarita with a Straw (2014), Talvar (2015), Haraamkhor (2015), Hotel Salvation (2016) and Trapped (2017).

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com

BEST BENGALI FILMS 2015 – 2016 (10+1list)

Best Bengali Films 2015 – 2016

written by Souranath Banerjee

Hello to all you Bengali ‘nak uchu’ snobs who consider Bengali Cinema/Literature/Music as the epitome of art and creativity – well, glad to announce that I am exactly like you!

And when ever we Bengalis talk about Cinema, we time travel to the memorable glorious past of Bengali Cinema – the days of Satyajit RayMrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak and then coming back to the present we proudly allude to the likes of Rituparno GhoshBuddhadev DasguptaGautam GhoseAparna Sen.

Such legendary directors and their invaluable contribution to World Cinema make us feel honoured and content, and why not?

Similar Interest: Best Bengali Films 2012 – 2014

Similar Interest: Best Bengali Classic Comedies of all times

However this current list is of more recent times, the last two years to be exact (2015 – 2016), a list of the best Bengali films from exceptionally talented directors who are very much the present and the future of Bengali Film Industry!

Best Bengali Films 2015 – 2016 – let the countdown begin!

10. Double Feluda (2016)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1V7VWYKbeI

Best-Bengali-Films-2015-2016Sandip Ray have made his latest film on none other than two back to back mystery stories originally written by Satyajit Ray, based on the famous detective character Feluda!

And guess what, Sabyasachi Chakraborty is back in and as Feluda and still rocking! And then of course we have Saheb Bhattacharjee as Topshe and Paran Banerjee as Sidhu Jetha. I only wish that somebody could replace Mr.Lalmohan Ganguly aka Jatayu aka Santosh Dutta as well. I guess some people are just irreplaceable!

9. Belaseshe (2015)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0zUrtioA2g

Best-Bengali-Films-2015-2016Directed by Shibprasad Mukhopadhyay and Nandita Roy, probably the best film that explores the intricate emotional values of various human relationships, be it married or unmarried, short time or a life-long companionship!

Brilliant chemistry between Soumitra Chatterjee and Swatilekha Sengupta straight after they shared the screen in Satyajit Ray‘s Ghare-Baire in the year 1984.

8. Byomkesh O Chiriakhana (2016)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rjc4ogHSOo0

Best-Bengali-Films-2015-2016It seems that the Bengali-audience can never have enough of their favourite detective Mr.Byomkesh Bakshi.

Directed by Anjan Dutt, this thriller revolves around the murder of a judge and this time Jishu Sengupta plays the role of the typical ‘bhodrolok’ sleuth to perfection. And Saswata Chatterjee as Byomkesh’s friend/assistant Ajit and Usashi Chakraborty as Byomkesh’s wife Satyabati.

7. Shankhachil (2016)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stkkOMmchpo

Best-Bengali-Films-2015-2016Acclaimed director Goutam Ghose‘s latest film won the National Award for Best Bengali film of 2016!  

It’s a India-Bangladesh joint venture and the story is also based on consequences of partition and how people get affected by it still today.

Commendable performances by child artist Shajbati and then of course Prasenjit Chatterjee, Kusum SikderDipankar Dey all have given their best. 

6. Eagoler Chokh (2016)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oZZkXdFRS0

Best-Bengali-Films-2015-2016Based on Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay‘s story and directed by Arindam Sil this is the best detective thriller among the endless Bengali-detective movies that had been churned out in the last year.

The investigator Shabor Dasgupta played perfectly by Saswata Chatterjee slowly connects the dots as he cracks a murder case of a young woman.

Ebar Shabor, by the same director and based on the same detective character is also worth your time.

5. Chotoder Chobi (2014)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8xRKKtL2Oo

Best-Bengali-Films-2015-2016An emotional heart-touching love story between two people born with genetic defect causing dwarfism.

Directed by Kaushik Ganguly, this slow-pace drama won a National Award in the ‘Best Film on Other Social Issues’ category.

Unique concept, superb direction and brilliant natural performances by Debalina Roy and Dulal Sarkar. Mr.Dulal Sarkar was also awarded best-actor at Goa International Film Festival last year.

4. Nirbashito (2014)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iang3nizjTE

Best-Bengali-Films-2015-2016A biography of a writer in exile, a story about her isolation, her hopes and her helplessness – officially not based on the life of controversial Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen but rather inspired by her life post exile.

Directed and also performed by Churni Ganguly, the film won the National Award for Best Bengali film of 2015 and also was India’s Oscar nomination in the category “Best foreign film” in 2015!

3. Open Tee Bioscope (2015)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhYpZrYrUBw

Best-Bengali-Films-2015-2016Adolescence, adventures and experiences, friends and infatuations – Kolkata seen through the eyes of a young boy.

Superb performances by the young actors Riddhi Sen,  Surangana Banerjee,  Dhee Majumder.

Directed by Anindya Chatterjee and Shoojit Sircar, if you want to experience the nostalgic North Kolkata of the 90s, this is the film you should watch!

2. Cinemawala (2016)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9_lUiinpFo

Best-Bengali-Films-2015-2016This film beautifully takes on two different tussles – one, as the digital media threatens the single screen movie theatres specially in the small towns and the secondly, the universal clash between a father and his son.

Brilliantly performed by Paran Banerjee and Parambrata Chatterjee and directed by Kaushik Ganguly, an emotional tale that Cinema-lovers cannot miss. 

  1. Praktan (2016)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMJPxLAjuXU

Best-Bengali-Films-2015-2016

A married woman meets her ex husband while they are on a journey from Mumbai to Howrah by train – a beautiful film about relations and relationships.

Directed by Shibprasad Mukhopadhyay and Nandita Roy, probably the most popular Bengali film of the last couple of years portraying a brilliant chemistry between Prasenjit Chatterjee and Rituparna Sengupta.

and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most innovative one. A must watch)

+1. Asha Jaoar Majhe (2014)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFObwB9TAwc

Best-Bengali-Films-2015-2016Also known as Labour of Love, this is one unique film that won two National Awards and was appreciated in many festivals around the world.

(click for the review)

Directed by Aditya Vikram Sengupta, starring  Ritwick Chakraborty and Basabdatta Chatterjee this is one of the best non-comercial visual treat that happened to the Bengali Industry in the recent times.

A few other films that are also worth your time are Srijit Mukherji‘s Rajkahini (2015), Suman Mukhopadhyay‘s The Last Poem (2015), Pavel‘s Babar Naam Gandhiji (2015) and Suman Ghosh‘s Kadambari (2015).

 Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com

Asha Jaoar Majhe (2014)

Asha Jaoar Majhe review.

Written by Souranath Banerjee.

My Ratings: 4.6/5.

In the early days when Cinema was born, like any infant it didn’t know how to speak. The era of the silent films emphasized on the very fact that cinema was essentially a visual medium.

But then dialogues were introduced as a side-effect of our technological elevation and since then Cinema hasn’t stopped talking.

labour-of-love-poster5And thus in the midst of such immense verbal chaos, when you come across a film that doesn’t need any dialogues and is capable enough to tell a story purely on a visual level – it turns out to be a pleasant surprise.

Asha Jaoar Majhe (English title: Labour of Love) is one such film.

With only two characters (Ritwick Chakraborty, Basabdatta Chatterjee), a handful of locations and NO dialogues; Asha Jaoar Majhe poetically portrays a single day in the life of the lonely lovers.

A married couple who works in separate shifts for a living, they almost never meet each other but still their lives are connected in more ways than one could possibly imagine.  

Labour-of-Love-PosterThe woman (Basabdatta Chatterjee) goes for work in the morning and by the time she comes back, the man (Ritwick Chakraborty) is gone for his night shift job. They share the same old house, the same keys, same bed, same towel, same food and the same loneliness.

A dream to be together with each other. 

Asha Jaoar Majhe is a slow film which unfolds in it’s own reluctant pace; with leisurely camera movements and often torpid real time shots of sunsets, flying pigeons, boiling water on a frying pan, paddling of a cycle or even the wet footprints getting dry.

Labour-of-Love-Poster1But the real brilliance of the film lies in the amount of details the writer/director Aditya Vikram Sengupta has managed to capture in the mundane actions of the day to day life of the couple.

The cracks on the walls, the semi-melted soap, the bindi on the mirror, the raw fish in the fridge, the textures of the clothes hanging on the rope, the mobile ringtones – shown with such precision and are so well linked that at the end they all make perfect sense and gives a feel of tranquility to the film.

Anish John did a superb job as a sound designer since a film without dialogues is very much dependent on it’s surrounding sounds.

Labour-of-Love-Poster2The City of Joy is shown in a realistic yet artistic way that perfectly suits the mood of the film. Kolkata with it’s political slogans and tram-ropes, narrow lanes and old houses is almost treated as the third character of the film.

Asha Jaoar Majhe won the 62nd National Film Awards for the best director and audiography. It also won the best debut director award in the 71st Venice International Film Festival among many other international awards.

A lyrical cinema that reminded me of Kar Wai Wong famous romantic film In the Mood for Love (2000).

To a Cinema-lover Asha Jaoar Majhe is like a long deserved vacation far from the noisy polluted city life to some unknown green valleys, you close your eyes and take a deep breadth of fresh air – the experience of experiencing purity!