By Aditya Savnal. Posted on January 19, 2016
For film buffs in India, the new year began on a great note, with Netflix finally making its much awaited debut in India. The world's top streaming content service provider was launched with a subscription fee of as low as Rs. 500 which enables users to watch movies & shows on a single screen at any given time. Besides this, there are other plans which at a slightly higher price, enable users to watch content across multiple devices.
The arrival of Netflix gives Indian viewers easy access to shows and movies that would otherwise have been illegally downloaded. While the catalogue on offer In India is extremely limited & the list of Indian films even more so, hopefully that will change in the days to come. The entry should also serve as a boon for the independent film maker, and provide them with a good alternative to the established distribution & exhibition model.
Like every curious movie buff, we were keen to know what Indian films are on offer on the platform. We found these 15 films that we think you must-watch. Even if you have seen them already and though many of these are also available on YouTube, you can watch them again. After all, it's free for a month. :-)
Director Anand Gandhi's debut feature is undoubtedly one of the most acclaimed and interesting indies to have emerged out of India in the last few years. The film which attempts to dissect questions of existence and death through the interlinked stories of a monk, a photographer and a stockbroker won several awards at international festivals including Tokyo, Hong Kong and Dubai International Film Festival.
The film also won National awards for Best Supporting Actress (Aida El-Kashef) and Best Feature Film, marking Gandhi as one of the most promising Indian filmmakers to have emerged in recent times.
Srinivas Sunderrajan's follow up to his interesting mumblecore debut feature film The Untitled Kartik Krishnan Project was an equally unconventional and interesting feature. The film which tells the story of a mahout on a quest to recover got a limited theatrical release in India and had won the Jury Prize for Best Narrative Feature at South Asian Film Festival in New York in 2011.
Bedabrata Pain is truly a passionate filmmaker and this film is a manifestation of that same passion. Pain is a globally renowned scientist who worked with NASA for 15 years and has as many as 87 invention patents to his credit. Yet he renounced an illustrious career to pursue his long harboured dream of filmmaking which he realised with Chittagong.
The National award winning film which stars Manoj Bajpayee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Jaideep Ahlawat tells the story of famed freedom fighter Surajya Sen who led a band of youngsters to overthrow the British regime in India. Sadly, despite the presence of known names like Bajpayee, the film didn't garner much attention upon its release and remains largely unseen. But you can now watch it on Netflix for an extremely affordable price.
The Good Road came into the limelight when it beat The Lunchbox as India's official entry to the Oscars that year. The film which stars Sonali Kulkarni and Ajay Gehi tells several hyperlinked stories, all of which take place on a highway near Kutch, hence the name.
Director Nitin Kakkar's delightful film is the story of an aspiring actor (Sharib Hashmi) who after being kidnapped by terrorists, finds refuge in the home of a Pakistan citizen who sells pirated DVD's for a living. Sharing a common passion for Bollywood films, they soon develop a bond that goes beyond the confines of borders and hatred.
The film had won the National award for Best Hindi Feature Film in 2013 besides being an official selection at Palm Springs and Busan International Film Festival.
Directed by Avinash Kumar Singh, Listen Amaya is the story of Leela - a single mother (Deepti Naval) who runs a cafe cum bookstore in Delhi and befriends Jayant (Farooque Sheikh), much to the chagrin of her daughter Amaya (Swara Bhaskar). The film was an official selection at New York Indian Film Festival, London Asian Film Festival and Chicago South Asian Film Festival among a host of other international festivals.
The film also bears the distinction of being the last film to cast the well known pair of Deepti Naval and the late Farooque Sheikh who had earlier starred in several landmark films including Chashme Baddoor.
Directed by Rajat Kapur, Ankhon Dekhi tells us how individuals interpret things and form their own perceptions. Backed by a strong screenplay, honest performances & believable characters, the film undoubtedly is one of the most delightful films to be made in recent times. It also is a testimony to Kapur's efficient remarkable directorial skills and tells us why he should direct more often.
Directed by the late Prashant Bhargava, Patang is the story of family and its conflicts, set against the kite flying festival of Ahmedabad. The film which was premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival and was screened at other international festivals including Chicago and Vancouver, was never released theatrically in India. However thanks to Netflix, you can watch this much acclaimed film in the comfort of your home.
Mentored and curated by the likes of Imtiaz Ali, Vikas Bahl and Vikramaditya Motwane, Shuruat Ka Interval is an anthology film consisting of 8 short films helmed by different directors and deals with theme of the movie interval. The film was released theatrically in 2014 through PVR Director's Rare and Humaramovie.
Based on a Punjabi novel of the same name, Anhey Ghorey Da Daan (Alms For A Blind Horse) narrates the plight and problems of the farmers, landlords and the working class of Punjab. The film won a National award for cinematography and for its director Gurvinder Singh.
Directed by Ashvin Kumar, Inshallah, Football is a documentary film that narrates the troubles faced by an aspiring footballer in the early 90's who was denied the right to travel abroad on the pretext of his father being a militant. The film was made in 2010 and faced several issues with the censor board before it could finally see the light of the day.
Deepti Kakkar and Fahad Mustafa's Katiyabaaz tells the true story of the first female chief of the Govt. electricity board of India fighting the illegal electricity mafia. Shot in the bylanes of Kanpur amidst hordes of loosely hanging electric wires and huge power transformers, Katiyabaaz is engaging and as authentic as a documentary can be.
The film was premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival and won the National award for Best Investigative Film in the year 2013. Following this, the film was released theatrically by Phantom Films.
Nagraj Manjule's stunning debut feature narrates the story of a dalit boy infatuated by a upper caste girl studying in his class. Manjule uses this love story as a pretext to portray the miserable lives and humiliation faced by people of lower castes residing in the interiors of India.
Besides winning National awards for Best Debut Director and Child Actor, Fandry also won the Best Film award at MAMI 2013 and Indian Film Festival Of Los Angeles.
Director Hansal Mehta's gritty film narrates the real life story of lawyer and human rights activist Shahid Azmi who was assassinated in Mumbai in 2010. The film which features Rajkumar Rao in the titular role won him a National award for his terrific performance, besides winning a National award in direction for Mehta.
Directed by Karan Gour, Kshay is the story of Chhaya (Rasika Duggal) whose desire for an unfinished sculpture translates into a lifelong obsession. The film which features an impressive performance by Duggal won the Asian New Talent Award at Shanghai International Film Festival and was also screened at Los Angeles Indian Film Festival in 2012.