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A Journey Into Indian Cinema

MUBI Special

“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 year-long selection will spotlight the greatest Indian cinema, past and present, from every corner of the country.

3 Idiots

Rajkumar Hirani India, 2009

Hugely successful at the box office both domestically and overseas, this buddy epic sees director Rajkumar Hirani mix slapstick with coming-of-age drama while dissecting the many sides of modern bromance. A big time entertainer, featuring some of Bollywood’s most accomplished song-and-dance scenes!

Om Dar-B-Dar

Kamal Swaroop India, 1988

Indian new wave filmmaker Kamal Swaroop’s debut feature is a postmodern portrait of day-to-day life in the town of Ajmer. Told through idiosyncratic imagery, unusual dialogues, and irreverence, this film is a cult-classic of Indian experimental cinema.

The Vagabond

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.

Gumnaam

Raja Nawathe India, 1965

This classic mid-60s Indian suspense thriller is a hugely enjoyable adaptation of Agatha Christie’s mystery novel And Then There Were None. A musical murder mystery with a totally legendary soundtrack: The cult dance number “Jaan Pehechan Ho” famously appears in Ghost World!

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.

The Stranger

Satyajit Ray India, 1991

Satyajit Ray’s last film, The Stranger is a philosophical work that ponders about the evolution of civilization 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.

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.

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.

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Cult classics to modern masterpieces. The newest directors, to the greatest. Spend less time searching for great films, and more time watching them.