Movies are an integral part of India. Be it the popular Bollywood which makes mostly Hindi movies, or the other regional –woods like Tollywood (Bengali), Kollywood (Tamil), Mollywood (Malayalam) and so on which makes movies in regional languages, cinema touches many people. The movies made can be split broadly into two categories: mainstream cinema and off-beat cinema. Mainstream movies are your run of the mill Bollywood movies. They either use well established or upcoming stars, are easy going on the story line (possibly with a bunch of plot holes), and have song-dance routines. Typically these are happily ever after movies, and are meant for enjoyment with friends and family as a welcome break from the drudgery of life. Their main motive is to reach out the most to the average movie goer and make as much money as possible. Off-beat movies are also called parallel cinema or art movies. These are not your average light hearted movies. Most of them involve shunning of the song and dance routines, which makes it difficult for everyone to watch. The movies are thought provoking, and dark. Some may make you laugh, but will utilize dark-comedy or satire to do so. Typically they deal with realism, or the morals and motivations of the characters. Off-beat movies generally don’t perform that well financially. It is easy for most mainstream movies to make millions for their makers and have wide viewership. Off-beat movies on the other hand are critically acclaimed and well made, but do not gather in as much revenue. These are generally viewed as a means to showcase talent, or experiment. That doesn’t mean however that they must be taken lightly. Some of the most interesting and thoughtful movies have been off-beat movies. Since people need to develop a taste for such movies, sometimes off-beat movies are made with a touch of mainstream masala. This may be in the form of having famous and popular actors, addition of songs that go with the plot (and do not have uncalled group dance sequences), or some sweetening of the story line. I would like to share 5 such movies with you that I believe are a must watch to develop a taste for more serious off-beat movies. Dev D: This is a modern adaptation of the old Bengali novel Devdas by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. The novel has been famously adapted into movies with Ashok Kumar and Shahrukh Khan as the titular character. Devdas and Paro are childhood friends, and develop romantic feelings for each other after Devdas leaves his village for schooling. When he comes back, he is not allowed to marry Paro as she is from a family of lower status. While Paro moves on, Devdas drowns himself in alcohol at the court of Chandramukhi, with the help of his friend Chunni. Soon she develops feelings for him, but Devdas does not return them. The alcoholism takes a toll on him and he visits Paro one last time before he dies.
This modern adaptation is quite different. Paro (Mahie Gill) is much more confident and bold unlike the soft spoken versions before. She can match Dev (Abhay Deol) in his passion and wants him physically just as much as he does. While the parents approve of his match with Paro, a misunderstanding causes the jealous Dev to not marry her. Paro harbours no more feelings for him and moves on. Chandramukhi (Kalki Koechlin) on the other hand is a teen, who has to shift as her boyfriend makes an MMS of her performing oral sex on him. When this becomes public, her family first leaves the country. After her dad’s suicide, she comes to back to the country and lives with his family in the village. Unable to come to terms with culture shock and misogyny, she runs back to the city where she becomes a prostitute under Chunni. Dev meets Chunni over drinks and drugs, and begins to spend time with Chandramukhi. What is wonderful to see is how both the women are strong willed and ready to take control of their lives, and how Dev is brought back on his feet by them. The movie has a wonderful soundtrack by Amit Trivedi which complements the psychedelic take on the novel. Aks: Aks is the story of Manu Verma (Amitabh Bachchan) and Raghavan (Manoj Bajpayee). Manu Verma is a cop who is given the job to protect the Indian Defence Minister on a foreign trip. Raghavan is a skilled (albeit psychopathic) assassin who manages to kill the minister. Manu and his partner team up to catch Raghavan at the cost of his partner’s life. There is a fight in the jail when Raghavan is sentenced to death, and the two end up shooting each other. While Raghavan is presumed death, his soul latches on to Manu and tries to take control over his body. The movie is about this fight of the two souls in a body, and how Manu has to now save his family and his world from the evil spirit within him. The movie features wonderful performances by both the actors. No Smoking:
Directed by Anurag Kashyap, it is one the lesser known movies that utilize a fantasy dream world. The movie is the story of Kay (John Abraham) who not only is a chain smoker, but a narcissist. His wife (Ayesha Takia) cannot deal with it anymore and threatens to leave him unless he quits smoking. Left with no option he is lead to a rehab centre called the Prayogshala (Laboratory in Hindi) by his old friend Abbas (Ranveer Shorey) who started to smoke with him in the first place. He signs a contract with Shri Shri Shri Prakash Guru Ghantal Baba Bangali Sealdah Wale (Paresh Rawal) so that he would do ANYTHING asked to quit smoking. He is blackmailed into threats that for each time he smokes a worse punishment will dealt onto him. This includes from hearing loss, making his brother with a sick lung to breathe in a gas chamber full of cigarette smoke, cutting of fingers and killing of his wife. One he realizes that the Guru’s disciples have infiltrated his life to ensure that, he has to come up with a plan to escape them. The movie uses fantasy lucid dreams, the concept of karma and souls as well. Delhi Belly:
An air hostess (Shenaz Treasurywala) agrees to make a delivery for her colleague’s friend as her friend is unwell. She gives the package to her boyfriend (Imraan Khan) and his debt-ridden roommates (Vir Das and Kunaal Roy Kapur). The package contains smuggled diamonds which are to be delivered to a local gangster, but is mixed up with a stool sample when one of the roommates gets diarrhoea after some street food. Hence the name Delhi Belly. Taking this as insult, the gangster kidnaps the air hostess. The film is about the hilarity that ensures as they sell off the diamonds and try to rescue the girl. This is a relatively short film that features no intermissions. The movie contains generous use of Hindi curse words, and potty humor. The movie is made by newcomers Abhinay Deo, Akshat Verma. It is one of the few Bollywood movies to have most of its dialogue in English, with generous Hindi curse words thrown in. Gangs of Wasseypur:
Gangs of Wasseypur was shot as one movie which was 319 minutes long. Since it would be difficult to release a movie over 5 hours long, it was split in to 2. The movie is set in the Wasseypur and Dhanbad cities in the Bihar state. Sardar Khan’s (Manoj Bajpayee) father was killed by Ramadhir Singh (Tigmanshu Dhulia) who is a coal magnate and politician. Khan swears vengeance upon Singh, and promises to not kill him but make his life miserable. While he becomes a gangster in his own right, he is not able to fully deal in and gets the shot to death. After his and his older brother’s deaths, and spurred on by his mother (Richa Chaddha) the youngest heir ( Nawazuddin Siddiqui ) takes on the family business as he tries to exact the vengeance his father couldn’t. The movie is more just than the vengeance over dead family members, but deals with the politics of the region and how people come together or fall apart. The movie has generous use of the local regional language, and curse words. The soundtrack shuffles from rustic songs, old family songs, and some eclectic dance numbers. This one is a must –watch film that cover over 30 years of story. This post is a part of the Miss Lovely
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. Miss Lovely, an off-beat film directed by Ashim Ahluwalia 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. Miss Lovely is scheduled for commercial release on 17 January 2014. You can check the trailer of the film