Satyajit Ray – Pather Panchali (1955)

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Sometime in the early years of the century, a boy, Apu, is born to a poor Brahmin family in a village in Bengal. The father, a poet and priest, cannot earn enough to keep his family going. Apu’s sister, Durga, is forever stealing guavas from the neighbour’s orchards. All these add to the daily struggles of the mother’s life, notwithstanding her constant bickering with old aunt who lives with the family. (IMDb)
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Mira Nair – Monsoon Wedding (2001) (HD)

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From Criterion

Cultures and families clash in Mira Nair’s exuberant Monsoon Wedding, a mix of comedy and chaotic melodrama concerning the preparations for the arranged marriage of a modern upper-middle-class Indian family’s only daughter, Aditi. Of course there are hitches—Aditi has been having an affair with a married TV host; she’s never met her husband to be, who lives in Houston; the wedding has worsened her father’s hidden financial troubles; even the wedding planner has become a nervous wreck—as well as buried family secrets. But Nair’s celebration is ultimately joyful and cathartic: a love song to her home city of Delhi and her own Punjabi family. Continue reading

Ritwik Ghatak – Ajantrik aka Pathetic Fallacy (1958)

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Synopsis

The plot of Ajantrik (Pathetic Fallacy) revolves around Bimal and his battered taxi, an old Chevrolet, he calls Jagaddal. Because he treats his car as a living being, many consider Bimal to be mad.

Said Ritwik about the film: “You can call my protagonist, Bimal, a lunatic, a child, or a tribal. At one level they are all the same. They react to lifeless things almost passionately. This is an ancient, archetypal reaction….The tribal songs and dances in Ajantrik describe the whole cycle of life – birth, hunting, marriage, death, ancestor worship, and rebirth. This is the main theme of Ajantrik, this law of life.”

Music by Ali Akbar Khan.
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Nagraj Manjule – Fandry (2013)

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Fandry is a 2013 Indian Marathi language film, written and directed by Nagraj Manjule in a directorial debut. It stars Somnath Avghade and Rajshree Kharat as the film leads. The story focuses on a romance amidst caste-based discrimination. The film set in Akolner, a village near Ahmednagar is about a teenager from a Dalit (lower caste) family, who lives at the village fringe, and falls in love with an upper caste girl.
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Amit Dutta – Aadmi Ki Aurat Aur Anya Kahaniya (2009)

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One of the most exciting films of 2009: Amit Duttas first feature is based on three short stories by Vinod Kumar Shukla and Saadat Hasan Manto. Maybe it indeed is about the problems of masculinity in the modern world (the director says so, at least), but there’s so much more to find in these images. There isn’t one conventional moment in the film. Dutta, one of the most idiosyncratic directors working today, makes every single shot completely his own. Continue reading

Mira Nair – Salaam Bombay! (1988)

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Plot synopsis from AMG:

Shot on-location on the streets of Bombay, Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay is the gritty tale of Krishna (Shafiq Syed, a runaway discovered by Nair), a boy kicked out of his home, and abandoned by the traveling circus he had joined. In desperation, he uses the little money he has to buy a one-way ticket to the nearest city, which turns out to be Bombay. “Come back a movie star,” the ticket agent tells him mockingly. In Bombay, Krishna joins a small community of street kids, and gets a job delivering tea. Soon, everyone in the downtrodden neighborhood knows him as “Chaipau” (tea boy). Krishna wants to save five hundred rupees, enough money to get back into his mother’s good graces and return home. Chillum (Raghubir Yadav), a streetwise young man who deals drugs for the local kingpin, Baba (Nana Patekar), takes Krishna under his wing. The sly but cruel Baba has a mistress, Rekha (Aneeta Kanwar), who works as a prostitute. She has a young daughter, Manju (Hansa Vithal), who has a crush on Krishna, but Krishna only has eyes for the girl they call “Sweet Sixteen,” a virginal teenager who is being forced into prostitution. Eventually, Baba fires the surly Chillum, and Krishna finds himself struggling to keep Chillum alive by supporting his drug habit. Many of the roles in the film are played by non-actors, including the street kids, and an actual madame who allowed Nair to film scenes in her brothel. The Harvard-educated Nair began her filmmaking career working on documentaries. Salaam Bombay, her narrative feature debut, won worldwide critical acclaim, and was awarded the Camera D’Or at Cannes.
— Josh Ralske Continue reading