Indie films from Lucia and Miss Lovely last year to Gulab Gang and Her this year are finding favour with the audience
Last year was a landmark one for Indian independent films with festival and box office darlings such as Anand Gandhi’s Ship of Theseus and Pawan Kumar’s Lucia releasing to widespread acclaim. Hansal Mehta’s Shahid and Ashim Ahluwali’s Miss Lovely also set found an audience. Apart from Indian films, there were foreign ones such as Fruitvale Station and Behind the Candelabra, both based on true stories, that found favour with the audience. So what can discerning viewers of cinema look forward to this year?
Her, director Spike Jonze’s first stab at a solo scriptwriting effort has made all the right noises since it released late last year. Recently released in India, it follows the life of Theodore Twombly, played by Joaquin Phoenix, living in futuristic Los Angeles who falls in love with his Operating System, voiced by Scarlett Johansson. Currently up for five Academy Awards, it jostles for screen space with debutant director Soumik Sen’s Gulab Gang. A female-oriented drama, it follows the story of a group of women fighting social injustice in central India. It helps that it features nineties icons Madhuri Dixit Nene and Juhi Chawla in the lead.
Among the upcoming releases, Amit Kumar’s Monsoon Shootout is one of the most anticipated ones. An unusual thriller, it features a rookie cop confronted with a tough decision to make and little experience to base it on. Nawazuddin Siddiqui, fresh from the success of The Lunchbox will be a treat to watch. He will also star in Mountain Man, Ketan Mehta’s ode to Dashrathi Manji, the man who toiled for over two decades to singlehandedly build a road through a mountain.
From across the seas comes J C Chandor’s All is Lost, a gripping tale of survival at sea. With Robert Redford in an award-worthy performance and a script that has little dialogue and no other cast member, this is certainly one to mark on the calendars. There’s also some Academy Award action in the form of former winner and current nominee Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, a touching tale of a father-son road trip.
Another Academy Award representative soon to hit the theatres is award-winning director Ashgar Farhadi’s Le Passé, another in the genre of domestic drama that he first dominated with A Separation. It follows a couple undergoing a divorce and the various realities that they must confront. In French with English subtitles, it stands alongside another renowned foreign language film about to hit the Indian marquee, Bekas. Karzan Kader’s Kurdish feature draws liberally on the influence of American popular culture across the world. It is the story of two boys who set out on a donkey named Michael Jackson, in search of Superman.
With all this and more, Indian audiences are certainly spoilt for choice. And what’s even more exciting is the list of independent films currently in development. Kumar’s reworking of Lucia in Hindi for a national, and maybe global, audience will certainly top that one.