Tag Archives: Chaitanya Tamhane

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

The New Wave of Marathi Cinema (10+1list)

The New Wave of Marathi Cinema.

written by Souranath Banerjee

The New Wave of Marathi Cinema is right here right now, exploding this instant, getting more ingenious and innovational every year – but first, let’s get back to the time when it all started!

Flashback. It was in 1913 when a man from Trymbakeshwar (Nasik) called Dhundiraj Govind Phalke (popularly known as Dadasaheb raja-harishchandra-posterPhalke) made the first ever Indian Cinema, a short film named Raja Harishchandra!

Yes, it was a silent film but still essentially a Marathi one, since all the actors and the director himself were from Maharashtra; and then the screenplay, the prologue in the beginning of the movie and even the explaining of the plot details are all in Marathi!

Then followed a number of interesting films including a famous classic biography called Sant Tukaram (1936), directed by the famous director-duo Vishnupant Govind Damle and Sheikh Fattelal.

And over the years there were many acclaimed Marathi directors who made cinema that won the heart of both the audience and the critics across the country. The likes of –

jait-re-jait-posterShyamchi Aai (1953) and Mahatma Phule (1954) by director Pralhad Keshav Atre.

Me Tulas Tujhya Angani (1960), Rangalya Ratree Ashya (1962), Ektee (1968) and Mumbaicha Jawai (1970) by director Raja Thakur.

Samna (1975), Jait Re Jait (1977), Umbartha (1982) and Ek Hota Vidushak (1992) by director Jabbar Patel.

And then there were the entertaining Blockbuster hits like Maherchi Sadi (1991) and the popular horror flick Zapatlela (1993); and a few commercial comedy films like Pandu Hawaldar (1975), Ashi Hi Banwa Banwi Dombivli-fast-poster(1988) and Dhum Dhadaka (1985).

But the sign of the upcoming New Wave of Marathi Cinema came with the release of films like Kalat Nakalat (1990), Bangarwadi (1995), Not Only Mrs. Raut (2003)Saatchya Aat Gharat (2004) and Dombivli Fast (2005). 

Yes, the time has come for experimental, off-beat, innovative, new-generation Marathi Cinema, and here is the list of the best Marathi films of the last decade or so.

10. Shwaas (2004)

Film clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlg5yScPQ18

shwaas-posterA six year old village boy goes to the city (Pune) along with his grandfather for the treatment of his eyes. But the doctor have some tragic news for them.

Directed by Sandeep Sawant, this is a film based on the emotions of a brilliantly touching grandparent – child relationship.

Such powerful performances – a film that will surely wrench your heart to it’s limit.

9. Harishchandrachi Factory (2009)

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

harishchandrachi-factory-posterDadasaheb Phalke aka Dhundiraj Govind Phalke made the first cinema in India – a silent, black and white film in 1913 known as Raja Harishchandra.

Directed by Paresh Mokashi, this is the biopic on Mr.Phalke who was a visionary, an artist, a film maker and an entrepreneur, and this particular film is about his adventurous endeavours towards making the first ever film of India. 

8. Natarang (2010)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWzxFgP2f8g

natarang-posterMaharashtra has a rich tradition of theatre and thus when acclaimed director Ravi Jadhav did finally make a film based on the brilliance of Marathi theatre it was undoubtedly one of the most successful regional films of the year.

The film worked both commercially as well as artistically; a visual treat brilliantly supported by the music of the talented composer duo Ajay Atul.

Atul Kulkarni was nominated for Best Performance By An Actor in the prestigious Asia Pacific Screen Awards 2010 for this film!

A few other Marathi films from the same director are Sound of Heaven: The Story of Balgandharva (2011) and Balak Palak (2012).

7. Deool (2011)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfzctPCpb2A

deool-posterAn innocent villager claims the arrival of God in his village!

Initially ignored by all but soon the rumour starts to spread and businessmen and politicians doesn’t seem to miss this opportunity to cash in on people’s faith and belief.

Directed by Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni, written and brilliantly performed by Girish Kulkarni, a must watch indeed.

6. Shala (2011)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IFxDCci564

shala-posterA marvellous take on young hearts, school romance, the nostalgic moments of having an infatuation or a crush on somebody, the innocence of experiencing love for the first time – and all that combined together!

Directed by Sujay Dahake, this is one film that creates the magic of that divine first love – so pure and blissful. Superb performances by the child actors – a must watch.

5. Killa (2014)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ORlbsJLJuQ

killa-marathi-posterA coming-of-age film based on a young boy who arrives at a new place along with his single mother and is forced to adapt to a new village/school environment.

Subtle yet cinematic, mature believable performances and great story telling.

Directed by well known Bollywood cinematographer Avinash Arun – a superb directorial debut.

4. Dr. Prakash Baba Amte: The Real Hero (2014)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnqioO1v8fs

dr-prakash-baba-amte-posterA well crafted biography made on the Dr.Prakash Baba Amte and his wife Manadakini, who has given their entire life for the welfare of others (for humans and animals).

(Click for Review)

Well directed by Samrouddhi Porey, and tremendous performances by Nana Patekar and Sonali Kulkarni, the film not only touched the important aspects of Amte’s life but also has stressed the emotional moments with enough dignity.

3. Katyar Kaljat Ghusali (2015)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iTazEogwiY

katyar-kaljat-ghusali-posterWhen two musical dynasties fight for supremacy there can be only one winner – Music itself!

Directed by Subodh Bhave, this is an unique musical (based on a play by the same name) that has a string of brilliant songs and powerful story telling!

Shankar Mahadevan and Sachin Pilgaonkar are the spine of the film – superb performances!

2. Natsamrat (2016)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bp1Hv_-hLUY

Natsamrat-poster2Directed by Mahesh Manjrekar, this one is an emotional
story of an aged couple who has become a nuisance to their own children, a mere botheration and a reason of embarrassment in their modern lifestyle.

(Click for Review)

An unique blend of Theatre and Cinema – Nana Patekar with one of his best performances ever!

A few other Marathi films from the same director are Kaksparsh (2012) and Astitva (2000).

  1. Sairat (2016) 

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

sairat-poster1The story of Romeo and Juliet, Laila and Majnu, Heer and Ranjha – retold and rediscovered with the backdrop being somewhere in the interior of Maharashtra!

A fisherman’s son and a local politician’s daughter fall in love and dare to defy their families and caste barriers.

Directed by Nagraj Manjule, this is one of the best films I have seen in recent times!

Another Marathi film from the same director Fandry (2013).

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

+1. Court (2014)

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

court-posterDirected by Chaitanya Tamhane, a Marathi film that won the National Award (Golden Lotus Award) in the Best Feature Film category and innumerable prestigious International awards as well. 

(Click for Review)

A court-room drama that revolves around folk-singer Narayan Kamble’s unique prosecution – a script deliberately underplayed and yet so effective to it’s purpose!

A few other Marathi films that have made their marks within these recent years Mee Shivajiraje Bhosale Boltoy (2009), Jogwa (2009), Mumbai Pune Mumbai (2010)Yellow (2014), Time Pass (2014), Elizabeth Ekadashi (2014), Rege (2014), Double Seat (2015).

Poster courtesy: www.marathifilm.inmarathistars.com.

Court (2014)

Court review.

My Ratings: 4.3/5.

Debutant writer/directer Chaitanya Tamhane‘s film Court recently won the National Award (Golden Lotus Award) in the Best Feature Film category. 

court-posterThe film and it’s director have also won numerous prestigious awards in various national/international film festivals – thanks to producer Vivek Gomber for his belief in uncompromising, intelligent cinema.

Yes, Court is no doubt an astutely sarcastic take on our country’s judicial system. 

A script so uniquely underplayed and yet so effective to it’s purpose – something very rare in Indian cinema.

A court-room drama that revolves around folk-singer Narayan Kamble’s (Vira Sathidar) prosecution, he being accused of singing songs that provoked a sewage worker into committing suicide! Abetment of suicide in judicial terms.

Court-poster1Geetanjali Kulkarni the public prosecutor, Vivek Gomber the defense lawyer, Pradeep Joshi the judge and a few other supporting characters – perfect casting and brilliant performances.

But what really makes the film Court outstanding (apart from the script) is the way it’s been shot.

Intelligent establishing shots, long takes of day-to-day events, numerous reaction shots of people and detailed production design – all these make the film so real that it adds a certain voyeuristic quality to it. Honestly at times it felt like i was actually sitting in the same court room where the aged folk-singer is on trial.

Court-poster3Very believable characters with glimpses of his/her personal lives (shown just enough to give an essence of that character).

And a special mention of the superbly sarcastic ending where the film cleverly conveys the message that no matter how much noise you make, it’s impossible to wake up the judicial system of India.    

A marathi film (story and characters all based in Maharashtra) but Court is also multilingual – characters speak Marathi, English, Gujarati and Hindi.

116 min of thought provoking cinema with a documentary type realism – very much recommended.