Top 15 all-India, South Asian films to see in 2019

Jan 06, 2019, 05:00 IST | Meenakshi Shedde

Here's my Top 15 all-India and South Asian films to watch out for in 2019

Top 15 all-India, South Asian films to see in 2019
Illustration/Uday Mohite

Meenakshi SheddeHere's my Top 15 all-India and South Asian films to watch out for in 2019.

1. GULLY BOY by Zoya Akhtar, Hindi, starring Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt: Superb rap musical set in Dharavi, inspired by the life of rapper Divine, with powerful minority and feminist undercurrents. World premiere at the Berlin Film Festival, releasing worldwide on February 14.

2. SONCHIRIYA (Golden Bird) by Abhishek Chaubey, Hindi, starring Manoj Bajpayee, Sushant Singh Rajput, Ranvir Shorey and Bhumi Pednekar: Explosive gang wars in a Chambal western, which also addresses caste and gender issues, Chaubey-style. February release planned.

3. AMI O MANOHAR (Manohar and I) by Amitabha Chatterjee, Bengali: Exquisite, black and white debut feature that won a Best Debut award at International Film Festival of Kerala. About the genteel relationship between an older man and a younger woman, set in worlds real and imagined. All shot on an iPhone.

4. PETTA by Karthik Subbaraj, Tamil, starring Rajinikanth, Vijay Sethupathi, Trisha, Nawazuddin Siddiqui: Rajinikanth plays a hostel warden who takes on the baddies. Pongal release on January 10. From the director of Pizza, Jigarthanda, Iraivi.

5. SUPER DELUXE by Thiagarajan Kumararaja, Tamil: Superb film from the director of Aaranya Kaandam. It weaves together different stories, and the high point is Vijay Sethupathi playing a stylish transgender.

6. PHOTOGRAPH by Ritesh Batra, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Sanya Malhotra: A struggling photographer, pressured to marry, convinces a shy stranger to pose as his fiancee. At Sundance Film Festival.

7. NAGARKIRTAN by Kaushik Ganguly, Bengali, starring Ritwick Chakraborty and Riddhi Sen: Haunting love story of the transgender Puti (Sen), who falls in love with the flute player Madhu (Chakraborty), with echoes of Radha-Krishna, in a modern, urban setting. It swept four National Film Awards in 2018, including Best Actor for Riddhi Sen.

8. VIVEK (Reason) by Anand Patwardhan, Hindi, Marathi: The film documents the nation's descent from a secular democracy, into a violent implosion based on caste and religion. At Toronto International Film Festival; Best Documentary at International Documentary Film Festival, Amsterdam. (I include a documentary as an exception among fiction features).

9. BULBUL CAN SING by Rima Das, Assamese: A delicate coming-of-age story, in which even a kiss can have disastrous consequences. Toronto and Busan film festivals.

10.THE RED PHALLUS by Tashi Gyeltshen, Bhutan: A schoolgirl has an affair with a married man, with tragic consequences. Busan and Kerala film festivals.

11.MADE IN BANGLADESH by Rubaiyat Hossain, Bengali, Bangladesh: International co-production about a young woman who struggles to form a union after a fire breaks out in their factory.

12.NAZARBAND (Jailbirds) by Suman Mukhopadhyay, Hindi: About the relationship between Vasanthi and Chandu, both released from jail, after her husband fails to turn up to receive her.

13.YOURS TRULY by Sanjoy Nag starring Soni Razdan, Pankaj Tripathi: A woman falls in love with a railway platform announcer, through his voice. Busan film festival.

14.HAMID by Aijaz Khan, Urdu: Charming, heart-breaking story about Hamid, in Kashmir, who accidentally phones a military officer. Two lives get connected by delicate threads of love and guilt.

15. MOOTHON by Geetu Mohandas, Malayalam, starring Nivin Pauly: A young boy from Lakshadweep travels to big, bad Mumbai, looking for his elder brother. Anurag Kashyap wrote the Hindi dialogues.

Special mentions must be made of Dibakar Banerjee's Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar (Hindi), Shelly Chopra Dhar's risk-taking Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga (Hindi), written by Gazal Dhaliwal, Pia Sukanya's Bombairiya (Hindi, English), Rajiv Menon's Sarvam Thaala Mayam (Madras Beats, Tamil), Vinu Kolichal's Bilathikuzhal (Malayalam), which won a Special Jury Mention at the Kerala Film Festival, Satish Babusenan and Santosh Babusenan's Darkness (Malayalam), and Konarak Mukherjee's Abraham (Bengali).

Meenakshi Shedde is South Asia Consultant to the Berlin Film Festival, award-winning critic, curator to festivals worldwide and journalist. Reach her at meenakshishedde@gmail.com

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