Bollywood is not limited to fairy tales of love and family. There is more. In recent times, there have been a number of experimental films that are healthy with sensitive issues, making them uncomfortable as a comfortable talking point. Films that speak and depict characters that need to be discussed and reflected upon. Neeraj Ghaywan, Nachiket Samant, Ashish Aryan, Chaitanya Tamhane and Apurva Dhar Badgaiyann are among the many Indian filmmakers who are shaping film conventions. Here are 5 such films that push us out of our comfort zones.
Neeraj Ghaywanen Masaan
Neeraj Ghaywan is an emerging modern master of independent film and pioneering, critically acclaimed ‘Masaan’ award-winning directors. After supporting filmmaker Anurag Kashyap in the film ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’, Ghaywan established himself as a very special filmmaker, his personal experiences now integrating Dalit stories into a short like “Geli Puchhi” when he gave us the first blue collar of Hindi cinema, queer and dalit heroin. He also knows how to pack a lot of time. Her short “Juice,” for example, constantly showed us how patriarchy allows women to serve and nurture others. He also directed the second season of Netflix’s acclaimed “Sacred Games” series.
Nachiket Samant’s comedy duo
Yoodlee’s “Comic Couple” was director Nachiket Samant’s effort to humorously address some of the uncomfortable social realities. The film thematically explored areas that are rarely ventured into in ordinary Roma communities. Through the careers of his main characters and the careers of the comedy couple Deep (Saqib Saleem) and Zoya (Shweta Basu Prasad), he questioned whether freedom of expression really exists and showed how intolerance, intolerance and violence affect human lives. But in no way did it become a didactic procedure. Samant developed a passion for filmmaking while working with the organizing committee of the Pune International Film Festival, had regular relationships with international filmmakers and even went to help the Italian filmmaker Marco Amenta. His courage to say what he doesn’t say is his greatest strength and avid filmmakers look forward to the next film.
Court of Chaitanya Tamhane
Chaitanya Tamhane is easily the head of a new wave of independent Indian cinema. In 2014, ‘Court’, a Marathi court drama, was the official presentation for the 88th Academy Awards in India and revealed the flaws of the Indian legal system through the eyes of a folk singer. The film won numerous awards at film festivals and is now winning excellent critics and awards from Tamhane for its second feature film, ‘The Disciple’, which premiered at the 77th Venice Film Festival. As an investigative journalist, Tamhane brings the same hunger for truth to his films and reveals the reality without a hint of rawness. He is a master of nuances and contradictions and is on his way to becoming a film legend.
Ashish Aryan-en Kanpuriye
Small towns have become a gold mine of inspiration for many directors in recent times, but when Ashish Aryan directed ‘Kanpuriye’, the story of three dreamers trapped in harsh reality (Aparshakti Khurana, Divyenndu, Harsh Mayar) was the focus of his experiences. He grew up in Kanpur and wanted to represent a young man whose dreams were driven by Hindi cinema but the reality was plain and ordinary. And yet, still, somehow their lives went on. He wanted this resilience when Aryan wanted to capture him in the movie “Kanpuriye” and he is calm because those in charge like him can tell “realistic” stories about characters who are closer to life than Fantasy. He is among the new directors, rather than filming in the studios, and they prefer to shoot with actors who are not conventional stars and still find an audience. As he once said, “good content finds an audience, be it in Theaters or OTT platforms”.
Apurva Dhar Badgaiyann’s Shaman Bahaar
The Yoodlee production, “Chaman Bahaar,” shows that a wrong idea of masculinity and love can almost destroy lives. The director of the premiere, Apurva, came up with the idea for the story in 2012, when a friend from Chhattisgarh told him how they would visit a colony especially “to see a girl”. Similar stories from the time when small Indian villages were not affected by the First World created a board about the film “Chaman Bahaar” where a local paan trader (played by Jitendra Kumar) begins to develop a unique passion for the rich. school girl (Ritika Badiani). The dialect, locations and characters were faithful to the environment and much of the training to capture the essence of a place in Apurva came from the help of veteran director Prakash Jha in the films “Aarakshan” and “Rajneeti”. As a director, Apurva creates gray characters, makes bad choices, and creates unrest among audiences who are only evil or heroes. But this kind of storytelling is about to stop, as more and more filmmakers like Apurva.