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Ozhivu Divasathe Kali (An Off-Day Game) | © Niv Art Movies
Ozhivu Divasathe Kali (An Off-Day Game) | © Niv Art Movies
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UnBollywood: Indie Films To Watch Out For In 2016

Picture of Aritra Chakrabarty
Updated: 5 November 2016
The last few years saw a slew of independent films (Miss Lovely, Shuttlecock Boys, The Lunchbox, Peddlers, Kshay, and Ship of Theseus, to name a few) coming out of India. This change has been noticed abroad with many of these films winning acclaim at almost all major international film festivals, including Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Toronto and Sundance.

The best part of this wave, reminiscent of the ‘Indian New Wave’ of the 1960s, has been the response of the intelligent audience. The fact that various issues and perspectives are finding the cinematic medium of expression through experimental filmmakers suggests a favorable environment for indie cinema. This year also has its own share of such independent films, exploring the various facets of our society. Thus, here is a list of the top indie films for cinema lovers to be excited about and watch out for in 2016.


The national award-winning director of Fandry, Nagraj Manjule, has chosen a musical for his next venture – a musical already selected for the 66th Berlin International Film Festival. The plot revolves on the theme of passionate love, which is impossible to attain. The teaser will hook you with its use of beautiful imagery and music, composed by Ajay-Atul. From the look of the trailer, it feels much like its predecessor and has young adults as the main protagonists. However, unlike Fandry, where love was one of the many elements in the tale, Sairat is a true love story, exuding passion. It has been planned for release in the first week of April.

Mugerilal B. Tech

This upcoming thriller drama film is a take on reality and aspirations. Mungerilal is the son of a frugal farmer, on whose life the film is based. Expected to attend B. Tech School, Mungerilal has passions that he would rather pursue. The movie cast includes debutants Vishal Singh, Vikrant Anand, Chadni, Sonam Mishra, Ratan Rathore and K. Kumar. The movie has been awaiting release for a while now.

Tope (The Bait)

Bengali director Buddhadeb Dasgupta has chosen a short story by Narayan Gangopadhyay, the renowned 20-century author. Tope focuses on how the artistic community is often used as bait in the present society to serve personal interests. The original story is about what the hunter uses as bait to catch the prey and whether the bait knows about its fate. The modern adaptation is placed in the context of artistic community. The cast of the film includes theater veteran Sudipto Chatterjee, Paoli Dam, Ananya Chatterjee and Chandan Roy Sanyal.

Ozhivu Divasathe Kali (An Off-Day Game)

Young Kerala director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan (who received a state award for his movie Oral Pokkam) has followed a similar trend, choosing a short story by Unni R. Ozhivu Divasathe Kali is a story about society, the caste system and class divide. The story digs out the deeply rooted disparities and discrimination that exist and can be brought out if provoked. The movie tells the story of four friends who go on a trip on an election day, with the incidents developing from there. An Off-Day Game portrays male attitudes and prejudices towards norms and customs. The film has won several awards at the Kerala State Film Festival.

Brahman Naman

Bollywood has had a stereotypical view of sex-comedies (case in point – Mastizaade and the Kya Kool Hain Hum series) that tend to go down the path of objectification and relies on the use of overt humor to drive the point. Indie filmmaker Q, (known for his controversial cult hit Gandu and critically acclaimed Tasher Desh) in his current outing, presents Brahman Naman, a smart, raucous sex comedy that’s raunchy and endearing in equal measure.

Naman (Shashank Arora, star of Cannes hit Titli) is a know-it-all nerd. He and his best friends, Ajay and Ramu, form the intellectual trio of Bangalore University. The trio are bent on losing their virginity and commit to crazy acts, driven by raging hormones. They spend majority of their time on the quizzing circuit and use their prize money on booze in their local hangout while fantasizing about the neighborhood belle. The film is a roller coaster ride, showing the quirkiness of boys and their transformation into men (when they lose their virginity!).


Written and directed by Leena Yadav, Parched has three women protagonists in Rani (Tannishtha Chatterjee as a widow), Lajjo (played by Radhika Apte) and Bijli (Surveen Chawla as an erotic dancer). Set in the backdrop of Gujarat’s rural landscape, the women defy conventional norms to remove themselves from servitude. Within the confines of their boundaries, struggling to find space, the women share their thoughts about men, sex and life. Their unquestioning acceptance of patriarchy waivers when Rani has to find a bride for her 15-year-old son, which leads the trio on a journey in a world dominated by patriarchy, in which their sexuality is both despised and coveted. The cast also includes Adil Hussain and Lehar Khan. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival 2015.