As far as the behemoths of Bollywood go, 2014 witnessed a seesaw of balance with several lows and few highs.
However, on the brighter side, smaller films sans a glittering star cast or bigshot production houses managed to make their presence felt not only critically but also at the box-office; no matter how abysmal the figures were in comparison.
On top of that, even an otherwise neglected genre like documentary sneaked in a quiet emergence. Looks like 2015 will continue this encouraging trend as several low-budgeted projects — which have been globetrotting courtesy film festivals — have been lined up for the year. hitlist digs in to point out a few of those high-on-content projects that are expected to release soon...
Director: Bikas Mishra
Lowdown: Set in a village where caste system decides a person’s fate, the film revolves around a family which is denied its basic rights. Produced by Onir and Sanjay Suri, the film won hearts as well as the Best Film prize at the Mumbai Film Festival. It has been showcased at film festivals in Berlin, Locarno and Goteborg, amongst other places.
Director: Kanu Behl
Lowdown: A stunning directorial debut that went on to garner the support of an established production house like YRF, the film was part of the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes. Co-produced by Dibakar Banerjee, this semi-autobiographical movie walks through the unexplored underbelly of the capital city and the various facets of a sticky neighbourhood.
Release: Mid 2015
Director: Dr Biju
Lowdown: Also called Names Unknown, this South Indian film is about a father-son duo who scavenge for a living. After premiering at Montreal Film Festival last year, it travelled through to film festivals in Mumbai, Kerala and Kolkata. It even bagged the National Award for Best Film on Environment Conservation/Preservation.
Release: January 9
Director: Avinash Arun
Lowdown: A Marathi film, originally titled The Fort, is set in Konkan and sees the world through the eyes of a young boy named Chinmay (played by Archit Deodhar). His rustic childhood, characterised by the loss of his father, makes for a compelling yet simple story. It won the prestigious Crystal Bear at Berlin Film Festival.
Director: Chaitanya Tamhane
Lowdown: This Marathi feature film with a universal theme made a splash by bagging the Lion of the Future award at Venice Film Festival. Following this, it was not only screened at international events but also won several awards. The screenplay thrives on the deficiencies of a judiciary that result in harassment of commoners.
Release: April (tentative)
'Margarita with a Straw' (English)
Director: Shonali Bose
Lowdown: Starring Kalki Koechlin, Revathi and Sayani Gupta, the project made its film festival premiere in Toronto last year. Since then, it has been in news for its sensitive portrayal of a woman with cerebral palsy as well as her sexual awakening. Kalki bagged the Best Actress Award.
Release: April 10
'Liar's Dice' (Hindi)
Director: Geetu Mohandas
Lowdown: Exploring the after-effects of migration through two protagonists — played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui and the National Award-winning Geetanjali Thapa — the film is a heart-wrenching tale of dreams and losses. It’s India’s official entry to the Oscars this year and has been showcased at feted film festivals in Sundance, New York, Rotterdam and Sofia.
'Crow’s Egg' (Tamil)
Director: M. Manikandan
Lowdown: Originally titled Kaaka Muttai, this film is co-produced by Dhanush and features unfamiliar faces. After premiering at the Toronto Film Festival last year, this directorial debut has been successfully travelling on the film fest circuit. Interestingly, the humble story premises around two young boys’ desire to taste pizza.
Director: Anup Singh
Lowdown: Starring known accomplished actors like Irrfan Khan, Tillotama Shome and Tisca Chopra, it was initially slated to release in October last year but will now hit the marquee next month. Produced by NFDC, this grim period film was first noticed in Toronto before embarking on a tour.
Director: Prashant Nairs
Lowdown: This project marks Suraj Sharma (of Life of Pi fame)’s third movie outing and Hindi film debut. Co-produced by Manish Mundra and Swati Shetty of Samosa Stories, the film revolves around a boy who learns about his missing brother in the US but doesn’t have the heart to let his mother know. It was the only film with Indian roots to showcase at Sundance Film Festival this year.
Release: Mid 2015
Last year saw the commercial release of documentaries like Gulabi Gang, The World Before Her and Katiyabaaz. In 2015, we look forward to many more…
Director: Abhay Kumar
Lowdown: A film on the state of education in our country, it follows students with an aim to understand their environment better. The pressure to perform and the resulting isolation is captured without being preachy. It was screened at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam last year.
Release: Mid 2015
'Proposition for Revolution'
Director: Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla
Lowdown: Co-produced by Anand Gandhi (of Ship of Theseus fame), the documentary earmarks the events following the rise of the popular anti-corruption drive in New Delhi and its political repercussions. The film focuses on the course of actions taken by Aam Aadmi Party — especially Arvind Kejriwal — while it was busy creating one of the greatest political upheavals in Indian history.
Release: Mid 2015