Beyond bollywood: MAMI's Top 10 Indian films

Updated: Oct 19, 2019, 22:18 IST | Meenakshi Shedde |

It's a crackling good year for Indian cinema, and very diverse, with fiction, documentary and 'docu-fiction' films.

Illustration/Uday Mohite
Illustration/Uday Mohite

Meenakshi SheddeHere are my recommendations of the Top 10 Indian films in the Mumbai Film Festival's India Gold section (competition). It's sort of in order of priority. It's a crackling good year for Indian cinema, and very diverse, with fiction, documentary and 'docu-fiction' films. Enjoy!

1. Aise Hee (Just Like That) by Kislay, Hindi
The ageing, newly-widowed Mrs Sharma finally learns to live for herself. Brilliant. Quietly powerful, daring debut feature that addresses patriarchy, sexism, ageism and right-wing nationalism in India. Won a New Currents Award Special Mention at the Busan Film Festival.

2. Bombay Rose by Gitanjali Rao, animation feature, Bambaiyya
Bombay flower sellers Salim and Kamala are in love; multiple characters are connected by a red rose, including the feisty, bisexual Shirley. Intoxicating visual, aural and musical feast for the senses. This debut feature comes all guns blazing: it was at the Venice, Toronto, Busan and London Film Festivals.

3. Eeb Allay Ooo! By Prateek Vats, Hindustani
Delhi is overrun by monkeys, so the government creates a new job—monkey repeller—to chase them away. Anjani gets the job, but needs do to monkey business to keep it. Delightful, absurdist debut fiction feature approximating a documentary. It was shown at the Pingyao Film Festival.

4. Aamis (Ravening) by Bhaskar Hazarika, Assamese
Dr Nirmali, who is married, has an affair with Sumon, who is studying unusual food habits in North East India. The two bond over food, but their carnivorous love story turns dark and bizarre. The film was shown at Tribeca.

5. Khanaur (Bitter Chestnut) by Gurvinder Singh, Pahari, English, Hindi
Kishan, 17, a carpenter's son, moves from Baragraan village to Bir, making pizzas at a café that includes a foreign clientele. Will he go to the big city, stay or return? Singh's Anhey Ghorhey da Daan was at Venice, and Chauthi Koot was at Cannes in 2015.

6. Maru ro Moti (Pearl of the Desert) by Pushpendra Singh, Rajasthani
Moti Khan Manganiyar is a musically gifted child from a Muslim Manganiyar family in Rajasthan. His father is forced to play for patrons and is humiliated, and so he wants Moti to study singing and carve his own career. Singh's Lajwanti was in Berlin in 2014.

7. Gamak Ghar (The Village House) by Achal Mishra, Maithili
We witness a family's reunions at their ancestral Bihar home over 20 years—birth, death, pujas, feasts—till the house is demolished. Intensely savoured delights, including picking mangoes. This debut feature is a fiction evoking a documentary.

8. About Love by Archana Atul Phadke, Marathi
When Phadke films three generations of her family, she discovers hard-hitting truths. She confesses, "I don't want to marry because I don't want to become like Mom." An unflinching and funny debut documentary feature.

9. Nimtoh (Invitation) by Saurav Rai, Nepali
Tashi, 10, and his grandma are tenants, guarding the landlord's cardamom orchard. But, with the landlord's son's impending wedding, Tashi hopes to be invited. Gentle-paced debut feature. Rai's short Gudh (Nest) was at Cannes in 2016.

10. That Cloud Never Left by Yashaswini Raghunandan, Bengali
Experimental film, set in Daspara, a village of toy makers in Bengal, that observes their inventiveness, and reflects on the nature of film.

Meenakshi Shedde is India and South Asia Delegate to the Berlin International Film Festival, National Award-winning critic, curator to festivals worldwide and journalist. Reach her at meenakshi.shedde@mid-day.com

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