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Spotlight on India

Spotlight on India

“The director is the only person who knows what the film is about.” ––Satyajit Ray

As part of this ongoing series, we are delighted to present some of the most memorable, pioneering Indian classics. From the likes of renowned auteurs such as Satyajit Ray, Mani Kaul, and Saeed Akhtar Mirza, our selection will spotlight the greatest Indian cinema, both past and present, and from every corner of the country.

THE STRANGER

Satyajit Ray India, 1991

Satyajit Ray’s last film, Agantuk is a philosophical work that ponders about the evolution of civilisation and human nature. Based on his own short story Athiti, this film comments on the state of the world where the value of material wealth far exceeds that of humanity, trust, and love.

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THE HOME AND THE WORLD

Satyajit Ray India, 1984

An adaptation of the eponymous novel by Rabindranath Tagore, Ghare Baire deftly juxtaposes and explores the early 20th century nationalist movement and the emancipation of women—a recurrent theme of Satyajit Ray’s work.

DUVIDHA

Mani Kaul India, 1973

A pioneering voice of New Indian Cinema, director Mani Kaul devoted the third entry in his filmography (and his first movie in color!) to tackling a folk story on screen. Marriage, rural life, and the fragility of oneself are just some of the key themes dissected in this haunting piece of cinema.

ANKUR

Shyam Benegal India, 1974

Set amidst a complex mesh of feudal power structures and gender oppression, Shyam Benegal’s directorial debut Ankur is a powerful film about the caste system and agency of women. This film also marks the debut of the powerhouse actress of Indian parallel cinema, Shabana Azmi.

OUR DAILY BREAD

Mani Kaul India, 1970

Minimal action, unique frames, and unusual editing make Mani Kaul’s debut feature Our Daily Bread a path-breaking work of Indian New Wave cinema. The film takes a radical departure from narrative cinema and uses a languid pace instead of dialogue to present the overburdened existence of women.

PARTY

Govind Nihalani India, 1984

Based on a Marathi play by Mahesh Elkunchwar, Party is a timeless political and social satire by Govind Nihalani. In the process of unravelling the hypocrisy of the intellectuals and artists of urban Indian society, the film also reveals the angst, and loneliness of the privileged.

AWAARA

Raj Kapoor India, 1951

Raj Kapoor’s watershed film belongs to the Golden Age of Hindi cinema, combining multiple genres and serving as a social critique of class in newly independent India. A milestone in introducing global audiences to Bollywood, the film also launched Kapoor’s illustrious Chaplinesque character.

NASEEM

Saeed Akhtar Mirza India, 1995

The delicate relationship between a teenage Muslim girl and her ailing grandfather reveals the melancholic story of an increasingly volatile fabric of Indian society. A deep sense of foreboding comes alive in this brave political film set against the backdrop of communal conflict in Mumbai of 1992.