It’s celebration time for the winner of the 67th National Film Awards (for best films from the year of 2019) organised by Directorate of Film Festivals, which comes under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
The Best Actor honour has been shared by Manoj Bajpayee for Bhonsle (Hindi) and Dhanush for Asuran (Tamil).
Chhichhore, starring Sushant Singh Rajput who died by suicide last year, has been adjudged as Best Hindi Film. Kangana Ranaut bagged her fourth National Award – Best Actress for the movies Manikarnika and Panga.
Malayalam movie Marakkar Arabikadalinte Simham won Best Film and also the award for Best Special Effects.
Vijay Sethupathi won Best Supporting Actor for Tamil film Super Deluxe and Pallavi Joshi was awarded Best Supporting Actress for The Tashkent Files.
Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan won Best Director for Bahattar Hoorain. Sikkim has been declared the most film-friendly state. Jallikattu, the Oscar entry from India this year, won Best Cinematography.
Gumnaami, based on the life of Netaji Subhash Bose, won Best Bengali Film and Best Adapted Screenplay.
The National Awards, given out by the Directorate of Film Festivals every year, were not announced last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Here goes the full list of winners:
Best Feature Film: Marakkar Arabikadalinte Simham (Malayalam)
Best Direction: Bahattar Hoorain
Best Actress: Kangana Ranaut (Manikarnika, Panga)
Best Actor: Manoj Bajpayee for Bhonsle and Dhanush for Asuran
Best Supporting Actress: The Tashkent Files, Pallavi Joshi
Best Supporting Actor: Super Deluxe, Vijaya Sethupathi
Best Children Film: Kastoori (Hindi)
Indira Gandhi Award for Best Debut Film of Director: Helen (Malayalam)
Special Mention: Biryani (Malayalam), Jonaki Porua (Assamese), Lata Bhagwan Kare (Marathi), Picasso (Marathi)
Best Tulu Film: Pingara
Best Paniya Film: Kenjira
Best Mishing Film: Anu Ruwad
Best Khasi Film: Lewduh
Best Haryanvi Film: Chhoriyan Chhoron Se Kam Nahi Hoti
Best Chattisgarhi Film: Bhulan The Maze
Best Telugu Film: Jersey
Best Tamil Film: Asuran Best Punjabi Film: Rab Da Radio 2
Best Odiya Film: Sala Budhar Badla and Kalira Atita
Best Manipuri Film: Eigi Kona
Best Malayalam Film: Kalla Nottam
Best Marathi Film: Bardo
Best Konkani Film: Kaajro
Best Kannada Film: Akshi
Best Hindi Film: Chhichhore
Best Bengali Film: Gumnaami
Best Assamese Film: Ronuwa- Who Never Surrender
Best Stunt: Avane Srimannarayana (Kannada)
Best Choreography: Maharshi (Telugu)
Best Special Effects: Marakkar Arabikadalinte Simham (Malayalam)
Special Jury Award: Oththa Seruppu Size-7 (Tamil)
Best Lyrics: Kolaambi (Malayalam)
Best Music Direction Songs: Viswasam (Tamil)
Music Direction: Jyeshthoputro
Best Make-Up Artist: Helen
Best Production Design: Anandi Gopal
Best Editing: Jersey (Telugu)
Best Audiography: lewduh (Khasi)
Best Screenplay Original Screenplay: Jyeshthoputri
Best Adapted Screenplay: Gumnaami
Best Dialogue Writer: The Tashkent Files (Hindi)
Best Cinematography: Jallikattu (Malayalam)
Best Female Playback Singer: Bardo (Marathi)
Best Male PLayback Singer: Kesri, Teri Mitti (Hindi)
Best Film on Environment Conservation: Water Burial
Most Film-Friendly State: Sikkim
Best Book on Cinema: A Gandhian Affair: India’s Curious Portrayal of Love in Cinema by Sanjay Suri
Special mention- Cinema Paharana Manus written by Ashok Rane and Kannada Cinema: Jagathika Cinema Vikasa-Prerane Prabhava written by PR Ramadasa Naidu)
Best Film Critic: Sohini Chattopadhyay
NON FEATURE FILM CATEGORY
Best Narration: Wild Karnataka, Sir David Attenborough
Best Editing: Shut Up Sona, Arjun Gourisaria
Best Audiography: Radha (Musical), Allwin Rego and Sanjay Maurya
Best On-Location Sound Recordist: Rahas (Hindi), Saptarshi Sarkar
Best Cinematography: Sonsi, Savita Singh
Best Direction: Knock Knock Knock (English/Bengali), Sudhanshu Saria
Best Film on Family Values: Oru Paathiraa Swapnam Pole (Malayalam)
Best Short Fiction Film: Custody (Hindi/English)
Special Jury Award: Small Scale Societies (English)
Best Animation Film: Radha (Musical)
Best Investigative Film: Jakkal
Best Exploration Film: Wild Karnataka (English)
Best Education Film: Apples and Oranges (English)
Best Film on Social Issues: Holy Rights (Hindi) and Ladli (Hindi)
Best Environment Film: The Stork Saviours (Hindi)
Best Promotional Film: The Shower (Hindi)
Best Art and Culture Film: Shrikshetra-Ru-Sahijata (Odia)
Best Biographical Film: Elephants Do Remember (English)
Best Ethnographic Film: Charan-Atva The Essence of Being a Nomad (Gujarati)
Best Debut Non-Feature Film of a Director: Khisa (Marathi)
Best Non-Feature Film: An Engineered Dream (Hindi)
AFM 2020 Online has set the ball rolling on an optimistic note, with active participation from a record 562 exhibitors, stakeholders from 78 countries, over 1,450 buyers and 465 film screenings. Jonathan Wolf, Managing Director, American Film Market, tells Pickle in detail as to how the event was pulled off during challenging times
American Film Market (AFM®) began on a bright note with the virtual global industry participation from 78 countries and 42 U.S. states – more countries than any AFM in the last decade. A record number of 562 Exhibitors are registered for AFM 2020 Online from 48 countries with the largest exhibitor presence coming from the United States with 259 companies followed by Italy (59), the United Kingdom (46), Russia (25), Germany (20), France (19), Canada (17), Republic of (South) Korea (14), Japan (12), and Thailand (11).
There are over 1,468 Buyers in attendance from 66 countries — the largest number coming from the United States, followed by Japan, the United Kingdom, Republic of (South) Korea, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, and Canada. Buyers from the world’s leading digital platforms are also in attendance. 465 films from 184 companies and representing 24 countries will be screening in the AFM’s On Demand Theatre.
In keeping with its mission to provide timely information and knowledge, the AFM will present its largest programming lineup to date with 205 speakers from 20 countries across 71 sessions centered on opportunities and solutions for finance, production and distribution in the wake of the pandemic. Panels and presentations in partnership with leading industry organizations and institutions will also take center stage, including AAFCA, BFI,NAACP, NALIP, NIFS, SAG-AFTRA, SAGindie, The Black List, The Film Collaborative, USC Annenberg Hollywood, Health & Society, WGAW, and Winston/Baker.
The AFM2020.Online platform was created to serve AFM’s multiple audience segments and features eight dedicated areas including Industry Offices, LocationEXPO, the On Demand Theatre and MyAFM. One of AFM 2020’s key differentiators is its truly unique and interactive video networking capabilities. With technology provided by the company Filmocracy, participants can meet in the Networking Pavilion with 180 online tables for video discussions on preset topics or meet-ups they can schedule. Filmocracy also supports the two Stages, including session replays, and the Info Center, enabling AFM to provide the “face-to-face” connections that happen organically in Santa Monica. AFM 2020 Online runs from November 9-13
AFM 2020 virtual site map houses eight clickable buildings serving specific delegate needs, powered by different platforms
On Demand Theatre, powered by Shift72, is the place to watch market screenings
Two stages, supported by Filmocracy, host hour-long sessions programmed by AFM, and topics change every 90 minutes
Powered by Filmocracy, participants can meet in the Networking Pavilion with 180 online tables for video discussions on preset topics or meet-ups they can schedule in advance
How were things planned amid the pandemic?
We did some initial discussions and research on what an online market would look like. We made the decision to go online in July. That gave us four months. We had much more time than my colleague Jérome Paillard (Head of Marche, Cannes Film Market) had with his market scheduled in May (Marche happened June 22-26). I don’t envy what Jerome had to go through. But we got to learn a little bit from what he did.
We must have looked at 25 different platforms (and picked Filmocracy). We had to look for platforms that provided pieces of what we wanted to do, so we could put together everything. And the first decision we made was, we didn’t want everyone to feel like they were navigating a website. We don’t want menus and sub-menus and drop down bars and click throughs and searching. You know, there’s a little bit of that here. But for the most part, we wanted this to be engaging, rather than a website. And we also recognized that there are certain things in the physical market that you cannot do online, so don’t try. There are other things in the online market that you can do better than the physical market. So we wanted to take advantage and enhance those things as well. And so, for us, I think the two key decisions were that we were going to make this feel like an event not a navigation exercise, and that we were going to marry together and tie together the best in class of each of the services that we wanted to provide, and then spend our time trying to integrate them as best as possible.
Buyers and Sales & distribution are the heart of AFM…?
Only about a third of our participants are buying and selling. The other two thirds are part of the production community. There are producers, writers, film commissions, lawyers, bankers, sales agents and those who provide production facilities. So, one of the things we had to do in creating the platform was to make sure that we could serve that diverse constituency.
Film Commissions aren’t interested in going to screenings. Buyers aren’t interested in meeting with Film Commissions. So we had to have all these diverse services. Buyers and sellers are the core and the heart. Even though, they represent only a third of our participants, without the buyers and sellers, you don’t have something called a market. You might have a networking event or a conference, but you don’t have a market. So, this was very important to us.
AFM has always been handholding and supporting the global independent film producers…
What’s not good for the independent community is the growth of mega studios to produce in-house. The reason is, actors may be working a lot, directors may be working a lot, set designers everybody else. But the producer is the entrepreneur, the producer is the one that many times has the idea and wants to go out and create and discover the talent. And, what happens with a lot of the in-house productions is producers may do this, but they bring it to the studio and it becomes an in-house production. And the entrepreneur-producer never gets a chance to build his/her own business. Their film is bought and owned by that giant label. So for us, we always believe that the creative process happens best in small pockets. The purpose of the AFM is really to enhance and facilitate that diversity, whether it’s diversity by budget, by language by genre, to make sure that consumers ultimately have the greatest choice. And as long as we have an open marketplace like this, and the artistes and the entrepreneurs can find access to capital and access to the marketplace, the consumer always has choice. And that really is at the heart of what the AFM is.
The global film industry has set aside this week (November 9-13) to connect for deal making, presentations, and education, and to gather marketplace intel from one another. AFM’s engaging online experience, with the types of serendipitous meetings that happen organically in the halls, hotels and parties each year in Santa Monica, will keep everyone in touch and ensure that independent film continues to reach audiences around the world.
Timing of virtual AFM this year…
One, of course, is we are online instead of face to face. The other is there is some uncertainty about when theaters around the world will open. And is that delaying the greenlight of some films that are destined for theaters? We don’t know. You know, I think most are optimistic that theaters will be open around the world by if not spring at least mid summer. And so a lot of the business that’s done at the AFM is done on films that haven’t started shooting yet. So the business is really about films for next fall, next winter a year from now. And so I think there’s a lot of optimism for that and expect to see a lot of business on that piece. In terms of short term, we see the platforms that actually have a shortage of content. Everybody’s staying at home. We’re all consuming more film, and they see lockdown continuing in many countries often on through the spring. There is actually a shortage of content. The market expected to be brisk for films that are going to be released theatrically in the fall, but there may be some areas that are missing in between or films that may not be targeting the market the right way.
What’s it like going around the Networking Platform at AFM?
If you walk into a giant party, and there are hundreds of conversations going on, and you want to talk to people about horror films, and you go to the first group, and its French documentaries, the next group, they’re talking about financing in Spain, and you work for two hours, and you never meet anybody in your topic. Now, I mentioned going to the same party. And there’s a little bubble over every conversation that tells you what they’re talking about. So you can look and see what’s relevant to you what interests you and go straight over there. This is where technology actually can improve, in some ways, improve the face to face experience, and put your right in a conversation with people who have a shared interest.
Did you deploy AI for networking meetings?
AI won’t work here, we actually looked AI. And the problem with AI is it’s only as good as what you’ve told it. It has to follow you for a while to learn from you. And in four or five days, it will learn…We’ve looked at some AI and it’s a long way away from working in an environment like this.
AFM 2020 can be the example of how a crisis can be converted into an opportunity. At a time when the world is gripped by Covid-19 pandemic, American Film Market was conducted in a successful manner by taking the virtual route. As against 350 people who normally work on the physical market, just 19 from AFM executed everything online working from home
Can you throw light on importance of Film Commissions at Location Expo this year at AFM?
Everyone has seen businesses slowing down, productions slowing down. Film Commissions were all about — we have oceans, and we have snow, and we have desert, and we have very easy permits– then it became incentives and how we can provide economics. But now there’s a third message, and it’s critical how each country and location is dealing with Covid on the sets. So if there was an important market for Film Commissions to be at, it’s at the AFM now. We have more Film Commissions now than we did last year.
What are the takeaways for AFM participants?
It’s almost a summary of what we’ve talked about. I think the first is the education. This is the most diverse education in the film industry than anyone has put on in a week. And I usually don’t sort of overstate things. But I do not know of another event that had such a diverse group of senior executives and experienced filmmakers from all over the world. That’s the first part. The second part, of course, is the networking, the ability to meet people. And then, of course, the online screenings. Again, that’s different than being in Santa Monica, where if you miss a screening, it’s one time and you’re done. That’s not the case with online screenings. It will be online through March 2021 for business, if needed.
PICKLE MAGAZINE IN AMERICAN FILM MARKET NEWSSTAND afm2020.online
LOOKING FOR A BUYER OR DISTRIBUTOR …
Do you have a completed film project? Looking for a buyer, distributor or film festival…Here’s an opportunity to get your film listed, pitch and promote it to buyers at AFM 2020
Featured in the pickle website (www.pickle.co.in) and your film project covered in Pickle AFM newsletters to targeted buyers, sales agents and festivals. Pickle AFM India Film Catalogue will have a wide distribution in digital formats before and during AFM Film projects will be featured in Pickle AFM Edition which wlll be available in AFM 2020 Newsstand
To mark the centenary year of sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar and to take his life story to the modern generation, Boxclever Media has been making a documentary. Luke White, Director of Boxclever, appeals for partners to help complete the documentary supported by a British Broadcaster
At Boxclever Media we’re forever searching for the fascinating untold stories of remarkable people all over the world. In the case of Pandit Ravi Shankar, however, we have a man who was already globally renowned for his unparalleled musical talent. He was a true legend of his craft and his life achievements have already been well documented -although not, as we feel, in a format that is accessible to the next generation.
Most of the content that is available online is lengthy archive-based material that feels disconnected from modern-day culture. Through ‘Ravi Shankar: The Godfather of World Music’, it’s our ambition to make sure that Ravi’s story remains relevant, by demonstrating how his music influenced western musicians and his spiritual beliefs, which relate to the power of vibration and the mathematical design of all things within the universe. ‘The highest aim of our music is to reveal the essence of the universe it reflects…Thus, through music, one can reach God’.
This is a project that first took root in 2012, through a chance encounter with British conductor David Murphy, who at the time of meeting was in the midst of co-developing what would prove to be Shankar’s final endeavor- a groundbreaking opera dedicated to his wife Sukanya that fused both East and Western musical styles.
With this documentary we envisage a one-hour presenter-led film that retraces Shankar’s steps from his early childhood, growing up in the ancient city of Banares on the banks of the river Ganges, where his deep love of music and performance began. We follow his journey as he traveled to Europe with his brother Uday’s dance troupe and began to learn the art of showmanship at just eleven.
As the troupe grew more successful over the years, Shankar began to enjoy the luxuries that it provided to him. And so we discover how as a teenager, his focus on music and dance began to waver and he would spend ever more time chasing girls instead! It was fortunate then that Allauddin Khan, one of India’s most eminent musicians of the time should join the troupe. ‘Baba’ as he was known, did not shy away from criticising Shankar, ‘referring to him as a ‘butterfly’ for his fancy clothing and inability to maintain his focus on music.
After the troupe was disbanded, Shankar would later commit himself wholly to the sitar under Baba’s tuition. Now with a shaved head, simple clothes, and a bed of sticks to sleep on, he endured a grueling regime that began at 4 am, and it was not unheard of that might practice for up to sixteen hours in a day. It was this period of relentless devotion to music that enabled Shankar to develop into a legend, whose every improvisation on the sitar became effortless and whose performances have had a profound effect on many millions of people around the world.
‘Perhaps my playing does not cause rain to fall from the skies, but it has made tears fall from the eyes of my listeners’. The documentary is a celebration of Shankar’s life, but also an honest reflection of his character and personal struggles. We will set out to hear from those he met and inspired along the way, including Philip Glass and relatives of John Coltrane and George Harrison. It concludes with a glimpse of Shankar’s final endeavor, the opera ‘Sukayna’ which was sadly incomplete at the time of his death but was premiered at the Royal Opera House in London and is set to continue touring beyond 2020.
As it stands, the film is in pre-production. Boxclever Media has held discussions with UK broadcasters to raise £80K, half of which has already been committed and the remainder must be sought by additional parties. If you would like to support the project please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Never Have I Ever, a charming, delightful and refreshing new Netlix Original Series on a modern-day first generation Indian American teenange girl played by 18-year old Tamil Canadian Maitreyi Ramakrishan has become super sensation and obsession trending globally as number one Netflix film in the USA, Canada, France, India, and many other territories.
Everyone has fallen in love with Never Have I Ever, a 10-episode coming-of-age Netflix dramedy since its Season 1 Premiere on April 27. The majority of the viewers are watching the show in one go. This is the first time a South Asian girl’s story has been the central theme of an American TV show (Netflix Show). It tells the story Devi (Maitreyi) an overachieving high school sophomore who has a short fuse that gets her into difficult situations and hellbent on becoming popular.
Created by executive producer Mindy Kaling, with Lang Fisher serving as executive producer, showrunner and writer. The Universal Television project is also executive produced by 3 Arts Entertainment’s Howard Klein, David Miner, and Tristram Shapeero.
With narration by tennis legend John McEnroe and inspired by The Mindy Project star’s own childhood, the series also features Richa Moorjani, Poorna Jagannathan, Lee Rodriguez, Ramona Young, Jaren Lewison, Darren Barnet.
Maitreyi plays Devi Vishwakumar, an Indian American high school girl, who is dealing with the grief of her father’s sudden death while navigating ordinary high school troubles: grades, boys, romance et all. Devi relates to voice over from tennis legend John McEnroe — because like him (as a tennis player) she struggles to control her anger.
The show has received widespread wow from critics for its characters, script and Maitreyi’s standout performance. Mindy Kaling celebrated the shows success on Instagram recently. “I’m truly in shock. I can’t believe that our show about a complicated little Indian family has been seen by this many people,” she wrote. “We love you guys!”
Maitreyi was born and brought up in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Her father works for the Canadian government and mother is a marketing communication professional and both came to Canada from Sri Lanka during the Civil War. Maitreyi was chosen among 15,000 other applicants for her ability to play herself to the portrayal of Devi.
Never Have I Ever
Where: Netflix When: Any time Rating: May be unsuitable for children under the age of 14
After recent trauma, Devi starts her first day as a high school sophomore determined to shake off old labels and finally become cool.
Episode 2: … had sex with Paxton Hall-Yoshida
Devi hesitates to tell her friends the truth about her awkward interactions with Paxton. The prospect of an arranged marriage puts Kamala under pressure.
Episode 3: … gotten drunk with the popular kids
Devi hopes to win cool points with Paxton at a party, until a surprising turn of events. Hidden emotions emerge for Fabiola. Kamala makes a choice.
Episode 4: … felt super Indian
At Ganesh Puja celebrations, Devi questions how much she identifies with Indian culture, Nalini dodges acerbic aunties and Kamala frets over her future.
Episode 5: … started a nuclear war
Devi allows rumors about her and Paxton to swirl during an overnight school trip. Fabiola opens up to Eleanor, who gets upsetting news about her mother.
Episode 6: … been the loneliest boy in the world
With absentee parents, a shallow girlfriend and no one to hang out with, Ben Gross is lonelier than ever, until an unlikely invitation offers some hope.
Episode 7: … been a big, fat liar
Devi oversteps several boundaries in an attempt to be a better friend. Eleanor’s reunion with her mother leads to multiple revelations and confessions.
Episode 8: … pissed off everyone I know
After another fallout with her friends, Devi grapples with unresolved trauma. A party at Ben’s turns out to be equal parts awkward, awful and amazing
Episode 9: … had to be on my best behavior
Flashbacks unearth painful memories and resentment for Devi. Meanwhile, Kamala is forced to get honest as the family welcomes her suitor at home.
Episode 10: … said I’m sorry
After unwelcome news sparks a fight with her mother, Devi seeks an escape. Mohan’s birthday brings an opportunity for closure — and for new beginnings.
Watch this space for updates on Season 2 of Never Have I Ever
There are no straight answers. But, some of the best movies of the New Millenium, including films that won the National Film Awards and films premiered international film festivals have found no space in the streaming platforms. Some of the titles are available through DVD rentals and servers of film festivals, but not for streaming. We would like comments from film lovers and filmmakers. Send your comments at email@example.com
Aadmi Ki AuratAur Anya Kahaniyan (Hindi, 2009)
Genre: Drama Director: Amit Dutta Starring: Ashok Chaudhary, Bramhaswaroop Mishra, Gagan Singh Seth Not available for streaming
Made by one of India’s most fiercely independent filmmakers, Amit Dutta, this is an uncompromising and intriguing series of three episodes that explore the relationship between men and women and between humans and the spaces they inhabit and the objects that surround them.
High points: Cinema at its most rigorous and pure and marked by a vision steeped in a keen understanding of visual poetry
Adaminte Makan Abu (Malayalam, 2011)
Genre: Drama Director: Salim Ahamed Starring: Salim Kumar Zarina Wahab Not available for streaming
Adaminte Makan Abu (Abu, Son of Adam) is about a poor perfume seller who has only one aspiration left in life – he wants to visit Mecca. He sets about putting together the resources he needs to make the trip but his mission is not as simple as it seems.
High points: Effortless storytelling;evocative cinematography (Madhu Ambat), a flawless screenplay and a pitch-perfect central performance (Salim Kumar)
Ajeyo (Assamese, 2014)
Genre: Drama Director: JahnuBarua Starring: Rupam Chetia, Jupitora Bhuyan, Kopil Bora Not available for streaming
Assam’s leading director JahnuBarua’s Ajeyo (Invincible) is an adaptionof Arun Sharma’s award-winning novel to narrate a tale set in the years before India’s Partition. An idealistic young man in a small village fights social ills against all odds. In present times, his granddaughter, a senior police officer, continues the crusade.
High points: A powerful story told with unwavering control and a sense of how history is never a thing of the past
Arekti Premer Galpo (Bengali, 2010)
Genre: Drama Directed: Kaushik Ganguly Starring: Rituparno Ghosh, Jisshu Sengupta, Indraneil Sengupta, Raima Sen, Baishe Shrabon Not available for Streaming
A sensitive and incisive portrayal of transgender individuals in a conservative society, Kaushik Ganguly’s ArektiPremerGalpo (Just Another Love Story) focuses on a filmmaker who sets out to document the life and work of a real-life actor known for playing female characters in Bengal’s folk theatre.
High points: Multi-layered screenplay, believable characters, insightful portrayals
Asthamayam Vare (Malayalam, 2014)
Genre: Drama, Suspense Director: Sajin Babu Starring: Prakruthi Dutta Mukheri, Shilpa Kavalam, Sanal Aman, Joseph Mapilacherry, Shakkir Not available for streaming
A debutant director pulls an unusual rabbit out of the hat – a Malayalam film without any background score and minimal dialogue. Two boys are arrested after the death of a choir singer in a seminary. What follows is a fragmented narrative that takes place in an unspecified time and location.
High points: Its abstract but evocative setting and the deep, resonant exploration of man’s relationship with nature
Celluloid (Malayalam, 2013)
Genre: Drama Director: Kamal Starring: Prithviraj, Sreenivasan, Mamta Mohandas, Nedumudi Venu, Chandni Not available for Streaming
Director Kamal’s recreation of the life and struggles of the father of Malayalam cinema, J.C. Daniel, Celluloid is solidly crafted biopic that brings to the fore rarely discussed aspects of the early years of cinema in Kerala and their deleterious impact on Daniel’s future.
High points: Prithviraj’s sensitive portrayal of Daniel’s character and a well-researched screenplay
Chauthi Koot (Punjabi, 2015)
Genre: Drama, History Director: Gurvinder Singh Starring: Suvinder Vicky, Gurpreet Bhangu, Rajbir Kaur Not available for streaming
Set during the Sikh separatist movement of the 1980s, ChauthiKoot (The Fourth Direction) blends two stories by Punjabi writer Waryam Singh Sandhu. It captures the fear and foreboding that paralyzed people caught in the crossfire between Khalistani militants and government security forces.
High points: Use of striking minimalism to drive home the cataclysmic effect of politically-inspired violence on ordinary, innocent lives
Court (Marathi/Gujarati/Hindi/English, 2014)
Genre: Legal drama Director: Chaitanya Tamhane Starring: Vira Sathidar,Vivek Gomber, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Pradeep Joshi, Usha Bane, Shirish Pawar Not available for streaming
First-time director Chaitanya Tamhane lays bare the ways of the Indian legal system, mirrored in the hapless plight of a folk poet charged with abetting the suicide of a municipal gutter cleaner. Court makes its point with great force and precision without resorting to conventional dramatic devices.
High points: Sure-handed direction, a fine script and convincing characters
Frozen (Hindi, 2007)
Genre: Drama Director: Shivajee Chandrabhushan Starring: Danny Denzongpa, Gauri, Rajendranath Zutshi, Aamir Bashir Not available for streaming
Shivajee Chandrabhushan’s Frozen is an austerely shot black-and-white film set in Ladakh. A sprightly teenage girl lives with her father, an apricot jam-maker, and her kid brother in a remote Himalayan village. Their life is disrupted when the army moves in and sets up camp yards from their home, bringing conflict within sniffing distance.
High points: Low-key, naturalistic filmmaking is backed by aptly restrained acting.
Kaalbela (Bengali, 2009)
Genre: Drama Director: Goutam Ghosh Starring: Parambrata Chatterjee, Paoli Dam, Santu Mukherjee, Soumitra Chatterjee Not available for streaming
Made largely in the style of the radical political Bengali films of the 1970s, Goutam Ghosh’s Kaalbela documents the unrest that led to the birth of the violent Naxalite movement. The film, based on a 1980s novel written as part of an epic trilogy by Samaresh Majumdar, vividly evokes a turbulent era.
High points: Seamless juxtaposing of past and present and rich visual and aural texturing
Kaaler Rakhal (Bengali, 2009)
Genre: Drama Director: Sekhar Das Starring: Bimal Chakraborty, Usashi Chakraborty, Phalguni Chatterjee Not available for streaming
A rare contemporary Bengali film that directly addresses the political skull duggery that is rampant in rural parts of the eastern Indian state, Kaaler Rakhal is about an itinerant performer who, owing to his poverty is sucked into a twister of ruthless exploitation by those in positions of power.
High points: Highlights a unique cultural aspect of Bengal while exposing the depredations of the political class
Kattradhu Tamizh (Tamil, 2007)
Genre: Drama, Mystery Director: Ram Starring: Jiiva, Anjali, Karunas Not available for streaming
Director Ram’s first film, Katradhu Tamizh is about a young postgraduate struggling to achieve his goals in a social and economic climate that is loaded against the common man. A series of setbacks push him over the edge of sanity. A story told with impressive control and grasp on the medium.
High points: Deceptively simple narrative and solid pivotal performance by Jiiva
Koormavatara (Kannada, 2012)
Genre: Drama Director: Girish Kasaravalli Starring: Dr. Shikaripura Krishnamurthy, Jayanthi, Apurva Kasaravalli Not available for streaming
In Koormavatara (Tortoise, A Reincarnation), an ageing government employee on the verge of retirement is offered a role in a television show in which he has to impersonate Mahatma Gandhi. The spirit of the Father of the Nation percolates into him and poses challenges that are anything but easy to confront.
High points: The film is marked by the quiet, meditative narrative style of Kannada cinema’s most celebrated auteur Girish Kasaravalli
Kutty Srank (Malayalam, 2010)
Genre: Drama Director: Shaji N Karun Starring: Mammootty, Kamalinee Mukherjee, Meenakumari, Wahiida, Saikumar, Siddique, Suresh Krishna Not available for streaming
A body of a nomadic mariner is washed ashore. A Buddhist nun, a Christian woman and a mute lady come forward to claim his body. The film weaves a complex, intriguing portrait of a character while highlighting different locations and cultural and seasonal variations.
High points: Visually stunning and multi-layered narrative; Mammootty’s stellar performance
Ma’ama (Moan) (2018), Garo
Director: Dominic Sangma Genre: Drama Starring: Phillip Sangma, Brilliant Marak, Hailin Sangma Not available for streaming
Dominic Sangma, who makes films in the Garo language, is a Meghalaya filmmaker who has begun to make waves worldwide. His debut feature, Ma’ama (Moan), a deeply personal film that probes loss and longing from the standpoint of an old man – the director’s father – grieving for his long-deceased wife, instantly marked him out as a storyteller of exceptional depth. He explores loss, mourning and reconciliation through the eyes of his father, who lost his wife 30 years ago and continues to live in the hope of being reunited with her one day.
High Points: The director’s uncompromising vision lends the film a meditative quality.
Natarang (Marathi, 2010)
Genre: Drama Director: Ravi Jadhav Starring: Starring, Atul Kulkarni, Sonalee Kulkarni, Kishor Kadam, Vibhavari Deshpande, Priya Berde Not available for streaming
Ravi Jadhav’s directorial debut Natarang, set in the world of Maharashtra’s folk theatre, is the story of a working class man who sets up a theatre. Destiny forces him to defy his own masculinity and society’s expectations to don the role of an effeminate character on the stage.
High points: Flawless adaptation of a successful novel and outstanding performances by Atul Kulkarni and Kishor Kadam
Ozhivudivasathe Kali (Malayalam, 2015)
Genre: Drama Director: Sanal Kumar Sasidharan Starring: Nistar Ahamed, Arun Nayar, Pradeep Kumar, Baiju Netto, Reju Pillai, Abhija Sivakala Not available for streaming
A fluidly constructed cautionary tale with a shocking finale, Ozhivudivasthe Kali (An Off-Day Game) peels off the veneer of bonhomie that five friends on a day off in the country project. As the day progresses, they begin to reveal their true colours – they aren’t edifying at all.
High points: With minimum fuss, the director paints a dark, disturbing portrait of caste and class divides in Kerala
Paruthiveeran (Tamil, 2007)
Genre: Epic, Drama, Romantic Director: Ameer Sultan Starring: Karthi, Priyamani, Saravanan, Ponvannan, Ganja Karuppu Not available for streaming
Set in a Tamil Nadu village, Paruthiveeran tells the story of a petty criminal’s fraught relationship with an upper-caste girl that ends in tragedy. The material is thin but the treatment more than makes up for what the film lacks in depth and range. Riveting all the way.
High points: Strong lead roles backed by solid storytelling.
Shahid (Hindi, 2013)
Genre: Biography, Drama Director: Hansal Mehta Starring: Rajkummar Rao, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Baljinder Kaur Not available for Streaming
Shahid brings to the big screen the life and career of human rights lawyer ShahidAzmi, who, in 2010, was killed in his Mumbai office by right-wing goons. The film lays the facts on the table without pointing accusatory fingers. What emerges is the vulnerability of all crusaders in a system that abhors status quo-breakers.
High points: Rajkumarr Rao’s restrained performance and Hansal Mehta’s sure-footed, empathetic approach to the character
Shabdo (Bengali, 2013)
Genre: Drama Director: Kaushik Ganguly Starring: Ritwick Chakraborty, Raima Sen, Churni Ganguly Not available for streaming
Shabdo (which, in Bengali, can mean either ‘word’ or ‘sound’) is the story of a Foley artist who is trapped in a world of ambient sound and becomes incapable of registering human voices around him, including that of his exasperated wife. An unconventional story told with skill, subtlety and sensitivity.
High points: Director Kaushik Ganguly’s handling of an unusual theme and lead actor Ritwik Chakraborty’s flawless performance
Ship of Theseus (Hindi/English, 2013)
Genre: Drama Director: Anand Gandhi Starring: Aida Al-Khashef, Neeraj Kabi, Sohum Shah Not available for streaming
Among the most strikingly original films to come out of India in years, Ship of Theseus tells three interlinked stories about a visually impaired photographer, a terminally ill monk, and a pushy stockbroker. The film questions notions of identity, belief systems and ways of seeing.
High points: Seamless blend of disparate plot elements, outstanding direction and fine performances
Sonchidi (Hindi, 2011)
Genre: Sci-Fi Director: Amit Dutta Starring: Nitin Goel, Gagan Singh Sethi Not available for Streaming
Sonchidi is a complex, challenging film about a search by two travellers for a flying craft that they believe could liberate them from the cycle of life and death. The theme is of a piece with director Amit Dutta’s continuing cinematic exploration of the interplay of human memories, hopes, apprehensions and desires.
High points: Prahlad Gopakumar’s magnificent cinematography and Amit Dutta’s deeply meditative filmmaking style
Tamizh Padam (Tamil, 2011)
Genre: Comedy, Parody Director: C. S. Amudhan Starring: Shiva, Disha Pandey, Paravai Muniyamma Not available for streaming
Tamizh Padam is a laugh riot that takes parodic pot shots at the conventions of commercial Tamil cinema. Nobody (and nothing) is spared in this acerbic take on the bizarre devices that popular films resort to in order to tell bloated, larger-than-life stories.
High points: The courage of director C.S. Amudhan stands out – he takes on the sacred shibboleths of his own industry
Titli (Hindi, 2015)
Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller Director: Kanu Behl Starring: Ranvir Shorey, Amit Sial, Shashank Arora, Lalit Behl, Shivani Raghuvanshi Not available for streaming
Set in a Delhi in the grip of a ‘development’ frenzy, Titli is the story of a dysfunctional lower middle-class family grappling with inter-personal issues that frequently assume the form of brutal violence. The youngest of three siblings has an urge to escape this hellhole. But can he?
High points: Intelligent use of thriller elements to paint a precise socio-economic portrait of people on the fringes of a rapidly expanding megalopolis
Virumaandi (Tamil, 2004)
Genre: Action, Drama Director: Kamal Haasan Starring: Kamal Haasan, Abhirami, Pasupathy, Napoleon, Nassar Not available for streaming
Written, produced, directed by and starring Kamal Haasan, Virumaandi enjoys cult status and has spawned many imitations. The Rashomon-like plot revolves around two prisoners – one serving a life sentence, the other on death row – and unravels the circumstances that have brought them here.
High points: A gripping storyline and strong acting