India

Madhushree Dutta – Scribbles on Akka (2000)

In this short film on the life and work of the 12th century saint-poet, Mahadevi Akka, her radical poems, written with the female body as a metaphor, have been composed and picturised in contemporary musical language. Mahadevi, framed as Akka – elder sister, while leaving the domestic arena in search of God also abondoned modesty and clothing. The film explores the meaning of this denial through the work of contemporary artists and writers and testimonies of ordinary folk who nurtured her image through centuries in their folklore and oral literature. A celebration of rebellion, feminity and legacy down nine hundred years. Read More »

Mani Kaul – The Cloud Door (1994)

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Quote:
In an ancient castle in Rajasthan the King overhears the parrot in its cage whispering erotic descriptions to his young daughter Princess Kurangi. Enraged, he pulls out a knife and attacks the cage. Kurangi defends the bird by arguing that its speech is all learnt. Young women descend into the waters of a pool. Kurangi clutches the green parrot with its long tail against her bosom. Her clothes fall on the steps as she enters the waters with the parrot. The bird suddenly spreads its wings and flies off travelling over the mountain top to a far place.
The parrot has been captured by a bird catcher. When Ratnasen passes by its cage, he is startled to hear the parrot speak his love’s name: “Kurangi”
If Ratnasen would free the parrot from his sleepy master, it would be willing to show him the way to the palace and lead him through the secret passages to Kurangi’s chamber. The two reach the palace and the bird flies off to tell Kurangi of her lover’s approach. Ratnasen scales the tower to finally reach her chamber in the clouds and spend a night of’ love. THE CLOUD DOOR has been adapted from three sources: Bhasa’s Sanskrit play ” Aimaraka “(5th-7th century) Malik Mohammed Jayasi’s Sufi epic love poem ” Padmavat ” (13th century) and the erotic Indian tales “Suksaptiti” (writer unknown). Read More »

Shakti Samanta – Singapore (1960)

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Synopsis:
Ramesh is responsible for looking after rubber exports in Singapore on behalf of his employer, Shyam, based in India. When Ramesh suddenly disappears, Shyam travels to Singapore to unravel the mystery behind his absence, and is himself embroiled in a mystery, as well as arrested for a murder, he claims he did not commit. Read More »

Aditya Vikram Sengupta – Asha Jaoar Majhe AKA Labour of Love (2014)

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Quote:
There’s very little in common between Asha Jaoar Majhe and In The Mood For Love, but somehow Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s debut feature reminded me a lot of Wong Kar Wai’s classic romance. Perhaps it’s to do with the abiding images of the two protagonists walking/cycling along narrow city alleys with little spoken yet a lot communicated through music; just the plaintive shehnai music in the background here, and the aching melancholy of Yumeji’s theme there. Like In The Mood For Love, Asha Jaoar Majhe is a quiet, almost silent film, yet each of its frames is resonant with unspoken feelings. Can you tell a story with just everyday images and situational sounds? Sengupta does it seamlessly. Read More »

Satyajit Ray – Charulata AKA The Lonely Wife (1964)

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Quote:
The opening shots of Satyajit Ray’s Charulata bypass melodrama for the feel of a fairy tale, with bored housewife Charu (Madhabi Mukherjee) flitting about her spacious Victorian home like Rapunzel amusing herself in her tower. Even shots that stay still for less than a second frame Charu behind bars, be it bedposts or the wooden blinds she jerks open in order to peer at the bustling city life below. Never again does the camera move as swiftly nor as giddily as it does when Charu, armed with a pair of binoculars, hustles along each window to follow the movement of a man she finds interesting. The scene ends as quickly as it came to life, nothing more than a fleeting distraction from the tedium of her sheltered existence. Read More »

Ranjan Palit – In Camera (2010)

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In this meditative and strident overview of the career of Ranjan Palit, award-winning documentary cameraman, the filmmaker himself shows us the images and questions that have haunted him throughout his 25-year career. Celebrated for films that document the struggles of powerless people to save their homes and ancestral traditions, Palit still questions the good he has done for them and wonders if he’s merely turned their lives into images and then memories that are destined to be forgotten. Read More »

Basu Chatterjee – Sara Akash AKA The Whole Sky (1969)

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from IMDb:
Agra-based collegian Samar Thakur, lives in a joint family consisting of his dad, mom; brother Amar and his wife; as well as a married sister, Munni, who has been estranged from her husband. His parents force him to marry Prabha, who is a matriculate, much to his chagrin as this interferes with his future plans. The marriage does take place, and he soon finds that she is not only incompatible with him, but also not well versed in household chores – leading to arguments, abuse and neglect – that may result in the end of this marriage. Read More »