Tag Archives: shahid

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

Aligarh (2015)

Aligarh review

written by Souranath Banerjee

A cinema not just about gay rights, it’s about humanity. 

My Ratings: 4.2/5.

On the night of 8 February 2010, two men forced their way into a house in Aligarh where two adult people were having consensual sex. These hired goons who later claimed to be from a TV channel, took pictures and videos while illegally invading the privacy of aligarh-poster-1someone’s bedroom, and in the process humiliating and even beating up the residents.

It was the house of Dr. Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras, and he was ambushed by these local TV-channel camera crew while having sex with a rickshaw puller; gay sex to be specific.

And effectively the very next day, the 64 year old professor Dr. Siras, specializing in Marathi literature and also the head of the Department of Modern Indian Languages at Aligarh Muslim University, was suspended from his post because of his illicit misconduct resulting to such a scandal.

Fortunately such an act of atrocity, discrimination and injustice was noticed and denounced by those few, who still believe in terms like justice and equality. With the help of efficient lawyers a case was filed against the University and eventually the verdict was in favor of Dr. Siras. But probably, the man was too heart broken to enjoy his victory.

aligarh-poster-3The film Aligarh is a sincere account of Dr. Siras’s life; a calm and composed man by nature, a poet who won the literary award by Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad in 2002. He loved to listen to Lata Mangeshkar songs with a few many drinks at night till he gets drunk.

And Manoj Bajpayee as Dr. Siras has given the performance of a lifetime. Such emotions in his eyes, the way he talks in a slow intellectual manner, his overall body language, even the way he moves his feet enjoying the song ‘Aap Ki Nazron Ne Samjha’ in Lata Mangeshkar’s voice – pure brilliance! 

Rajkummar Rao surely did support Bajpayee very well, the young reporter’s role was rewardless yet so important from the film’s perspective. Ashish VidyarthiSumit GulatiDilnaz Irani all were at their best. 

Almost 2 hours of screen time, slow paced, long single takes,  aligarh-poster-2emotional and brutally honest; the sheer authenticity and conviction of storytelling is enough to make this biopic a special one.

And exceptionally well directed by Hansal Mehta (this is even better than Mehta’s earlier two triumphs Shahid and City Lights).  

Based on the last two months of a man who was the victim of the university campus politics, framed by his own colleagues out of utter jealousy, a man whose life was turned upside down just because he was a homosexual.

‘I spent two decades here. I love my University. I have always loved it and will continue to do so no matter what. But I wonder if they have stopped loving me because I am gay’

Dr. Siras was a man who loved his life and expected to be loved back.

The film Aligarh has managed to keep alive his sentiments, it has the same poetic feel that so resembles Dr. Siras’s nature.

Poster courtesy:  www.bollywoodmdb.comwww.goldposter.com

Best of Bollywood 2014.

Best of Bollywood 2014.

written by Souranath Banerjee.

It’s time to ride the flashback roller coaster in search of some meaningful cinema in Bollywood that released in the year 2014.

The phase ‘meaningful cinema’ itself is debatable since everyone interprets cinema in their own way. For me a film that successfully walks the thin line between quality content and entertainment always wins the race.

So, let the race begin.

1. Queen

queen-posterMost entertaining film of the year and an award-winning performance by Kangana Ranaut.

(Click for the film review)

Girl power punched with fun and friendship.

Awesome music by Amit Trivedi, Vikas Vahl’s superb direction – a great story of a girl who learns to live her life Queen style!

film trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGC6vl3lzf0

2. Highway

highway-posterBrilliant performance by Alia Bhatt – so natural and spontaneous that she has even managed to eclipse a much senior actor like Randeep Hooda.

(click for the film review)

The film takes you in a tour of the whole North India; the combination of Imtiaz Ali’s direction and A.R.Rahman’s soulful music – a treat for film lovers.

Film trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o66nNnGZ5Rg

3. Haider

Haider-poster

Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider is a film that doesn’t shy off from it’s attempt to show the real Kashmir (set around 1995), the daily agony of the locales and their struggle to survive the police, the military and the numerous violent groups inflicting terror.

(click for the film review)

A combination of Hamlet and Kashmir that is definitely worth your time.

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xakmvJ0WPa4

4. Ankhon Dekhi

ankhon-dekhi-posterThis film deserves a lot more appreciation, a beautiful story of a man with a strange conviction – he wants to believe only what he sees with his own eyes!

Rajat Kapoor skillfully directs this family drama and Sanjay Mishra gives the best performance of his life.

A rare gem – entertaining and thoughtful cinema.

film trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3yKUHI2mE4

5. City Lights

Citylights-posterAfter the National Award winning film Shahid, (director) Hansal Mehta and (actor) Rajkummar Rao comes together with yet another promising film.

(Click for the film review)

A remake of the British film Metro Manila, uncomfortably real and raw, the film forces us to look at poverty and despair from disturbing proximity.

Film trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fyO8OFK9yw

6. Ugly

Ugly-poster

Anurag Kashyap‘s Ugly is a thriller that revolves around the kidnapping of a little girl and the rigorous search that follows. A nasty tale of mayhem, greed and corruption that doesn’t spare anybody – no one comes out clean and innocent.

(Click for the film review)

Probably the most dark film recently made in Bollywood.

Film trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fyO8OFK9yw

7. PK

pk-poster

The much awaited film PK is the latest Aamir Khan flick directed by none other than Rajkumar Hirani; a blockbuster that seems to have broken all the records in box-office collection.

(Click for the controversial film related article)

A light-hearted comedy with an important social message! A film surely worth a watch.

Film trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fyO8OFK9yw

8. Miss Lovely

Miss-lovely-posterThe underground sleazy film industry of the 1980’s is never been explored before in such gritty details.

Ashim Ahluwalia (the director) has captured the dark underbelly of the C grade industry with brilliant realism.

Anil GeorgeNawazuddin Siddiqui and Niharika Singh have all given superb performances.

film trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzoAOoHdACk

9. Filmistaan 

filmistaan-posterA fresh take on the popularity of Bollywood and also the India-Pakistan tension.

(Click to see the film review)

Filmistaan deals with pretty sensitive issues but always with a divine comic touch.

Great acting performances overall; especially the dynamic and hilarious Sharib Hashmi.

Film trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-0LWnz8Ut0

10. Children of War

Children-of-War-posterHistory often gets blurred with time but such courageous films revive them and voices the truth.

(Click to see the film review)

The film successfully recreates the horrific crimes orchestrated by Pakistan over the Bangladeshi (Bengali) people in the pre-independence era of Bangladesh in 1971. Great effort by director Mrityunjay Devvrat.

Film trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzIa0wYfUwU

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

+1. Mary Kom

Mary-kom-poster

Mary Kom, the biographical film on a farmer’s daughter from Manipur, who become a boxer and creates history by being the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the six world championships.

(Click to see the film review)

Directed by debutant Omung Kumar and produced by Snajay Leela Banshali – one of Priyanka Chopra‘s best performance till date.

Film trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzIa0wYfUwU

And some honorary mentions are Finding FannyMardaaniKya Dilli Kya Lahore2 StatesBhoothnath ReturnsDedh IshqiyaHolidayHawaa HawaaiLakshmi and of course Sulemani Keeda

Best of Bollywood 2012 and 2013 (10+1 list)

Best of Bollywood 2012 and 2013.

written by Souranath Banerjee.

Best of Bollywood 2012 and 2013 is the list of my most favorite Hindi films (in Hindi language) in the recent times.

Kind of a flashback of the last two years and if you have missed any of these films (though i very much doubt it) no need to feel guilty. Watch them as soon as possible and you will be forgiven.

This list is especially for my friends who are foreign based or foreign to Bollywood films and many a times ask me to suggest some meaningful Bollywood cinema … well, this list is all you need.

10. Kai po che (2013)

Kai Po Che poster

Very rarely it happens that a film turns out to be better than the book it’s based on.

Rajkummar Rao, Sushant Singh Rajput and Amit Sadh have given their best performances – after ‘Rock on’ this is again a great film by derector Abhishek Kapoor.

A story of friends and friendship beautifully told.

9. Gangs of Wasseypur (2012)

gangs of wasseypur poster

Anurag Kashyap at his best, Gangs of Wassypur is an epic story of violence between two families.

A raw desi masala tale of revenge and betrayal that takes three generations to come to a resolution.

Manoj Bajpayee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Huma Qureshi, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Piyush Mishra … entertainment unlimited.

8. Paan Singh Tomar (2012)

paan singh tomar poster

A biographical drama on the life of the famous Indian athlete Paan Singh Tomar who turned into a decoit in his later days.

The film won that years’s National Award in the ‘Best Feature Film’ category and Irfan khan won the National Award for the ‘Best Actor’.

Tigmanshu Dhulia gives us probably the most unique and brilliant film of the year 2012.

7. Shanghai (2012)

shanghai posterThe best political thriller of Bollywood till date.

A remake of the Greek director Costa-Gavras’s political drama ‘Z’ or rather adopted from the same novel written by Vasilis Vasilikos Shanghai keeps up to it’s promise.

Yet another feather on Dibakar Banerjee’s cap – superb performances by Abhay Deol and Emraan Hashmi.

6. Kahaani (2012)

kahaani poster

Kahaani which literally means ‘story’ is indeed one of the best mystery stories of that year told by director Sujoy Ghosh.

Vidya Balan, the helpless pregnant lady desperately searching for her husband in Kolkata – a search that gets too dangerous and ends with a twist to remember.

If you haven’t seen this film yet you are missing something.

5.The Lunchbox (2013)

The LunchBox poster

Arguably the perfect choice for the Oscars from India last year (though the Gujarati film Good Road was sent instead).

A terrific film – simple yet crisp and full of soul.

Top rated performances by Irfan khan, Nawazuddin Sidiqui and Nimrat Kaur – what an extraordinary debut film by Ritesh Batra!

4. Bhaag Milkha bhaag (2013)

bhag milkha bhag poster

Another biographical film adds to this list – Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s take on one of India’s all time legend athlete Milkha Singh.

A brilliant film that received the national award for ‘Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment’.

Farhan Akhtar bagged almost all the popular awards as the Best Actor – splendid performance.

3. Barfi! (2012)

Barfi poster

Barfi! was the film India sent to the Oscars in 2012.

Salute to the director Anurag Basu for such wonderful concept and direction.

Ranbir Kappor and Priyanka Chopra have given their performances till date.

A fun filled film that will make you laugh and cry at the same time.

2. OMG Oh My God (2012)

Oh My God Poster

In such a religiously frantic country like India you have to give credit to the film that raises its voice against religious corruption and that too in such an entertaining manner.

A common man who dares to take God to the court room!

Paresh Rawal and Akshay Kumar’s superb performance and Umesh Shukla’s direction – a real OMG film in a good way.

1. Shahid (2013)

shahid poster

You can guess a film’s worth when that film has won National Awards in both ‘Best Director’ and ‘Best Actor’ category.

Very recently saw the film and i was a spellbound.

Hansal Mehta has evolved into a fine director and Rajkummar Rao – what natural acting man!

Watch it. You won’t regret.

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

+1. Ship of Theseus (2013)

ship of theseus poster

Won the National Award for Best Feature Film – this film is truly an unique experience.

Three different stories brilliantly woven into one, arty and matured, intelligent and honest.

Anand Gandhi has paved a new path to sophisticated cinema and raised the bars for the other film-makers.

The success of this film has proved that the concept of Bollywood audience only craving for hard-core commercial masala films is only a myth.

Lets hope and wish for a better future of Bollywood in the coming years.