When we talk about “Best Indian Films by Women Filmmakers”, we usually end up discussing works of Mira Nair or Deepa Mehta because they are popular. But what we don’t discuss are equally good films by lesser known women filmmakers. Here’s a look at such films in this post.
Supermen of Malegaon by Faiza Ahmed Khan: This indie film may be popular among film festival circuits and film schools, but it still remains an underrated picture for the masses. Filmmaker Faiza Ahmed Khan tells us the story of what some people in Malegaon do with utmost passion, amidst their poverty-stricken life, in her own style that would make you cheer. A film that promotes parallel filmmaking from the perspective of film lovers who don’t even understand different terminologies of filmmaking, but yet struggle to make an Indian version of Superman. Faiza through her work convinces us that cinema has the ultimate power to unite people irrespective of communal tension, unemployment and poverty.
Liar’s Dice by Geethu Mohandas: Actress-turned-filmmaker Geethu Mohandas’s “Liar’s Dice” is yet another indie feature that may or may not get theatrical release. An effective feature film debut, Geethu’s film explores themes such as hope, conviction and matrimonial bond of Kamala, who sets out on a journey to locate her missing husband with her young daughter and a baby goat. Shot across the picturesque locations of Tibetan border, the film is visually liberating and poignant.
Nalini by Day, Nancy by Night by Sonali Gulati: Women are no longer making or want to make light-hearted rom-coms and that’s proof to the changing times in the industry. While Sonali’s film may be only 27 minutes long, it doesn’t restrict from taking us into the realm of global outsourcing. It focuses on how Indian Call Centres forces its telemarketers to service clients with a fake accent and identity. When I watched it at a film festival few years back, the film received a standing ovation.
Aarohanam by Lakshmy Ramakrishnan: Lakshmy’s directorial debut may not have set the cash registers ringing but it addressed a domestic issue with unparalleled sensitivity. A mother suffering from bipolar disorder goes missing days before her daughter’s wedding. As her son and daughter start looking for her, we come to learn how different the world is when viewed through the eyes of the protagonist. It’s one of those rare Tamil films that didn’t hesitate to go against the grain, challenge clichés and address a medical issue from an optimistic standpoint.
Akam by Shalini Usha Nair: Akam is a very unconventional psychological horror-thriller, which explores the psych of a man who is incapable of differentiating between truth, lies, facts and fiction. A story about a man who believes his wife is not human, the film is not one of those enjoyable, spine-chilling horror flicks, but this one actually pushes you to the edge with a somber and suspenseful narrative.
My Life as a Poster by Shashwati Talukdar: A hilarious mockumentary about the fate of teenagers who move from India and struggle to settle down in the west, “My Life as a Poster” is actually a fictional recounting of the director and her sister’s lives. What’s fascinating about the film is that the entire story is narrated through images of popular Indian film stars, evoking exploration of Indian culture, politics, and feminist philosophy.
Kutty by Janaki Vishwanathan: Critically acclaimed film “Kutty” is a touching story about a young girl’s longing for mother’s love. A simple story devoid of frills and fancies, the film addresses child labour from the perspective of a young girl’s passion for causes. While most of the film may be merely a documentation of harsh realities, Janaki rightly reminds us of the hope element throughout the narrative. Illayaraja’s music aptly elevates the film with tunes that reflect the somber mood of the film to perfection.
Firaaq by Nandita Das: A riveting story set against the backdrop of Gujarat riots, Nandita Das’s “Firaaq” proves that common myth that actors don’t make good directors wrong quite handsomely. A heartbreaking tale about life and loss in the lives of a few characters struggling to come to terms with an unforgettable event – the Gujarat genocide. Nandita makes the film even more powerful with an ensemble of actors who sweep you off your feet. It’s unarguably one of the finest Indian films to come from an actor-turned-filmmaker.
Other notable films include Peepli Live, Talaash and Dhobi Ghat.
For more articles by Haricharan, visit Movie Roundup.