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Watch out for these promising upcoming Bollywood indie films

A smattering of small budget Bollywood films is set to hit the silver screen over the next six months. We take a look at some of the most promising ones...

As far as filmmaking goes, bigger does not necessarily mean better. True that the industry relies heavily on star power and big banner-backed movies mostly do great business, but one cannot ignore how some of the epic films in the history of Indian cinema were made on a shoestring budget. In the current scenario, too, many low-budget films with ambitious storylines and without big names are not only getting the critics’ nod, but also doing decent business at the box office. On this note, hitlist takes a look at some of the upcoming small budget films that look promising...

Manjhi: The Mountain Man

Manjhi: The Mountain Man

Director: Ketan Mehta
Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Radhika Apte ]
Plot: A villager carves out a path between the mountains by chiseling away at it for 22 years. He is motivated to take up this Herculean task after the death of his wife, who meets with an accident and dies as she cannot be taken to the nearest medical care centre due to conveyance problems.
Attraction quotient: It is based on the true, gritty story of Dashrath Manjhi from Bihar, who is famously known as India’s Mountain Man.
Release: August 21

Chauranga

Chauranga

Director: Bikas Mishra
Cast: Soham Maitra, Riddhi Sen, Tannishtha Chatterjee
Plot: Santu, 14, wants to go to school like his older brother Bajarangi. When the latter comes on vacation from his boarding school, he exposes the latter to the dreams of city life. Santu starts nurturing defiance and courting a few dangerous infatuations that can topple the equations of caste in the village.
Attraction quotient: It is inspired by a real-life incident and was screened at the NFDC Screenwriters’ Lab 2010 at Locarno Film Festival and Film Bazaar Goa as well as several prestigious events.
Release: October

Dhanak

Dhanak

Director: Nagesh Kukunoor
Cast: Hetal Gada, Krrish Chhabria, Vipin Sharma and Vibha Chibber
Plot: A 10-year-old girl endeavours to get her little brother’s eyesight restored before his next birthday. They set out on a journey through the sand dunes of Rajasthan and come across the many colours of life in their search for superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who on a poster, promises his viewers “new eyes”.
Attraction quotient: It bagged two awards at the Berlin International Film Festival as well as one in the Best Film prize in the Children’s Feature Film Competition at a Poland fest.
Release: September (tentative)

Masaan

Masaan

Masaan

Director: Neeraj Ghaywan
Cast: Richa Chadda, Vicky Kaushal, Shweta Tripathi, Sanjai Mishra
Plot: Set in Banaras, it is about four interlocked stories that transcend sexual, moral and caste traditions.
Attraction quotient: It won two awards at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year — the FIPRESCI, International Jury of Film Critics prize and Promising Future prize in the Un Certain Regard section.
Release: July 24

X: The Film

X: The Film

Director: Eleven names on board
Cast: Rajat Kapoor, Huma Qureshi, Swara Bhaskar, Radhika Apte
Plot: A filmmaker runs into 10 of his ex-girlfriends as he spends one surreal night at a film festival after he meets a mysterious girl who seems to have something to do with every woman from his past.
Attraction quotient: It has jointly been
helmed by 11 directors and film critics — Qaushiq Mukherjee, Suparn Verma, Sandeep Mohan, Sudhish Kamath, Raja Sen, Anu Menon, Abhinav Shiv Tiwari, Hemant Gaba, Nalan Kumarasamy, Pratim D Gupta and Rajshree Ojha.
Release: November (tentative)

Umrika

Umrika

Director: Prashant Nair
Cast: Suraj Sharma, Prateik, Adil Hussain, Smita Tambe
Plot: A young village boy discovers his brother, who was long believed to be in the US, has gone missing. He starts sending home letters on his brother’s behalf to save their mother from heartbreak while continuing to locate him.
Attraction quotient: The film won the audience award in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition section of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.
Release: October (tentative)

Titli

Titli

Director: Kanu Behl
Cast: Shashank Arora, Ranvir Shorey, Prashant Singh, Amit Sial
Plot: Centered on Delhi’s dystrophic underbelly, Titli, the youngest member of a car-jacking brotherhood plans to escape the ‘family’ business.
Attraction quotient: It was first screened at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival where it was the official selection in the Un Certain Regard section, and has since travelled to 22 international film festivals, winning eight awards and opened to box-office success in France and Germany.
Release: October 16


Voices

Neeraj Ghaywan, director, Masaan
Presenting Masaan in my homeland is extremely special for me. It is a film deeply rooted in our heartlands, our small cities and small towns. The Jagran Film Festival opened with this film and I take immense pride for having made it with utmost honesty and a lot of heart.

Kanu Behl, director, Titli
It’s a wonderful time for the resurgence of Indian cinema on the global stage. And I am happy that Titli is a part of that movement. But before anything else it was always meant to speak to an Indian audience. It’s a film about us and I am excited that it’s going to meet its
own people.

Shiladitya Bora, CEO, Drishyam Films, which has produced Masaan, Umrika, Dhanak and X: The Film
The Indian audience generally has a perception that films which do great in festival circuits are slow art house films and will not perform well at the box office. This, however, is not completely true. The idea is to tell engaging stories and also to have a timely release backed by adequate amount of marketing and publicity.

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