Having been born and brought up in Mumbai, the home of Bollywood, I am a huge movie buff. Bollywood is one of the largest centres of film production in the world; it churns out almost 1,000 movies per year on an average. It’s no surprise then that along with the ‘popular’ cinema, ‘off-beat’ or ‘parallel’ cinema has also grown in leaps and bounds. With the growth of the Internet and technological marvels, the audience too is demanding more from the movie industry in terms of scripts and performances.
My Top 5 Off-beat Hindi films, in no particular order, are detailed below. Watch them and you will not regret it. You might only feel sorry you did not catch them sooner!
Khosla Ka Ghosla [2006 – Director Dibakar Banerjee]
This movie was Dibakar Banerjee’s directorial debut and, other than Anupam Kher and Boman Irani, boasted of no other known stars. The movie was shot almost entirely in Delhi and made on a small budget. But the kind of impact it created blew everyone away, including me. The story was quite simple – a real estate agent usurps a plot of land belonging to a middle-class man and demands money in exchange of the plot. But the treatment Banerjee gave it made it an outstanding movie. The nuances of each of the characters in Kamal Khosla’s family, the marvellous portrayal by Boman Irani and the scheme hatched by the theatre guys to get the plot back – all these made the movie stand out.
In addition, there are the dialogues that have stayed with me long after the movie, including one of the most famous questions in the Hindi film industry ‘Tum broker ho ya party?’ Not surprisingly, the movie won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi for 2006. Khosla Ka Ghosla is an education in itself in the real estate industry. And it is also an education in how the most creative ideas can fool even the most ‘intelligent’ person!
Joggers’ Park [2003 – Director Anant Balani]
This movie, released more than 10 years back, probably had a storyline which was a bit ahead of its times. A retired judge, played brilliantly by Victor Bannerjee, is attracted to and eventually falls in love with a young model who reciprocates his feelings. I loved the movie because one of its main characters was the lovely Joggers’ Park in Mumbai. And for the way the director handled the delicate relationship between the two protagonists. Nowhere did it come across as vulgar or insensitive. You empathised with the characters and wanted them to stay together happily ever after. The movie also had one of the finest ghazals by Jagjit Singh [Badi Nazuk Hai Ye Manzil’].
If Victor Bannerjee looked so handsome in this movie at his age, I can only imagine how handsome he must have been in his heydays! Joggers’ Park makes you think; it makes you question society’s norms of family needs vis-a-vis individual desires. Is sacrificing for the family always a good thing?
Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. [2007 – Director Reema Kagti]
This movie had one of the most stellar star casts of recent times including Abhay Deol, Shabaza Azmi, Ameesha Patel, Boman Irani, Arjun Rampal, Ranvir Shorey and one of my favourite actors Kay Kay Menon. It is one of those movies which you go watch without any expectations whatsoever but come out pleasantly surprised. Six couples are on their honeymoon and take a four-day bus journey to Goa. The movie tracks their experiences and lets us in on each of their stories. Despite there being so many characters, each of them has been nicely fleshed out. For instance, Kay Kay Menon stands out for his traditional views while Ameesha for her vivacious and extroverted nature.
There is also a bit of suspense at the end for the viewers. I enjoyed most of the songs in the movie especially Sajnaji where almost all the characters seem to have gone berserk while dancing. Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. portrays the fears and dreams of couples on a honeymoon quite accurately.
Main Meri Patni Aur Woh [2005 – Director Chandan Arora]
This has to be one of the most underrated off-beat films. I loved and enjoyed watching the movie for several reasons. Firstly, Rajpal Yadav plays his role of a short, middle-aged man who has insecurities about his height splendidly. Rituparna Sengupta as his tall, devoted wife is quite brilliant. And then the movie has Kay Kay Menon! Add to that, Mohit Chauhan’s superb rendition of ‘Guncha Koi’ and it was a sure-fire formula for me to like the movie.
It is shot in Lucknow, and we get a glimpse of daily life there – people riding the horse carriages on their way to work, the stately Lucknow University where Yadav works and the terraces where people gather to have a good time. Main Meri Patni Aur Woh is a feel-good movie which will make you believe in love. And the goodness of people.
Dor [2006 – Director Nagesh Kukunoor]
After the triple success of Hyderabad Blues, Rockford and Iqbal, I though Nagesh Kukunoor could not come out with a better movie. But he did. And how! The lead actors Gul Panag and Ayesha Takia carried this movie entirely on their shoulders. A stray incident in a foreign country links the two ladies living in Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan respectively. How they meet and resolve the issue forms the crux of the movie. In addition to the mind-blowing performances, Kukunoor has also captured the landscapes quite well – contrasting the snow and the hills of the north with the barren flat lands of the desert.
Dor reinforces your belief in the power of good overcoming evil. And it does that without appearing preachy. It also informs you that sometimes, unfortunately, a woman is another woman’s worst enemy. I loved the movie for the acting and the sheer strength of the script. And for the motivational song ‘Yeh Honsla’.
What I loved about all the 5 movies is the fact that all of them have been shot locally, with small budgets and mostly 'non-stars'. They are no-frills, no-nonsense kind of movies which make you identify with its characters. Who, amongst us, does not fear the real estate mafia? Or question societal norms? We all do. We all have some idiosyncracies in us like the couples on a honeymoon. We all share Yadav's insecurities because we have some of our own.
In addition, all the movies have wonderful performances by the actors which has done justice to an amazing script. And each of the movies has a nice soundtrack which keeps playing in the background as you enjoy the movie.
This post is a part of the Miss Lovely Activity in association with BlogAdda.
Another off-beat film, Miss Lovely, directed by Ashim Ahluwalia is scheduled for commercial release on 17 January 2014. It is set in the lower depths of Bombay’s “C” grade film industry. It follows the devastating story of two brothers who produce sex horror films in the mid – 1980s. A sordid tale of betrayal and doomed love, the film dives into the lower depths of the Bollywood underground, an audacious cinema with baroque cinemascope compositions, lurid art direction, wild background soundtracks, and gut-wrenching melodrama.
You can check the trailer of the film here: http://vimeo.com/82285130#at=17