With a new encore release and streaming premiere, Telugu -language blockbuster SS Rajamouli RRR has proven to be a gateway drug for American viewers eager to watch more Indian films. The category may be broad – India has dozens of different film industries, each with their own language and sensibilities – but there are many classic and contemporary entry points available for streaming. The Criteria Channel features some of the work of legendary directors like Satyajit Ray and Guru Dutt, while Netflix features several versions of the film Baahubali Rajamouli, a pair of sword-and-sandals epic on a mythological scale, for anyone interested in a particular culinary addition. .
Making a list of recommendations that feels complete or exhaustive is a difficult task, given the sheer volume of Indian cinematic production (about two thousand films per year), so the whole rundown may be influenced by desires, preferences, and even. gap in knowledge. That said, it also feels in line with the joyous enthusiasm of RRR to share a list of personal favorites from the new year, whether they align with Rajamouli’s over-the-top, maximalist aesthetic or swing in the entirely opposite direction.
These 10 films cover a variety of industries – none of which are Bollywood, the mainstream Hindi -language industry, which takes quite a bit of conversational oxygen as it does now – but they run a stylistic gamut, and paint a fuller picture of many Indian ways. the cinema is still left to explore.
One of the easiest films to recommend to Rajamouli fans recently is a very funny insect action thriller. Egah. Reincarnation drama was a rarity in Indian cinema (at least in the 1940s), however Egah pushing the concept to the extreme delightfully absurd by having the disabled protagonist return to extract revenge not in a human avatar, but as a housefly with the boastful cadence of a professional wrestler. It may exist on a much smaller scale than other Rajamouli works, but it acts just as large and unashamedly.
Where to watch: The original Telugu and Tamil versions continue to jump between streaming services, hence for now, Telugu dub is only streaming on the Indian Aha platform, while Malayalam dub. Ealah available for rent or purchase digitally on YouTube and Google Play.
While the routine is stylish and over-the-top (at least compared to many Hollywood movies), Pa. Ranjith Kaala based on grassroots activism and contemporary caste and economic politics, it tells the story of a Tamil leader who protects his people in Mumbai’s sprawling slums. However, the biggest selling point is the 68 -year -old Rajinikanth – aka “Super Star Rajini,” one of the most respected players in India – who still remains confident with his newcomer in his 20s. . The fiery screen presence also matches the raucous hip-hop dance numbers at the film’s opening, which paves the way for an exciting experience that explores life and energy in some of Mumbai’s forlorn, forgotten corners.
Where to watch: Kaala available to stream on Amazon Prime.
Anhey Ghorey Da Daan/Alms for a Blind Horse (2011)
This will be the stylistic swing of it. While perceptions of Indian cinema abroad tend to be grandiose action musicals, the arthouse scene is also vibrant. Case in point: Gurvinder Singh’s Punjabi-language Anhey Ghorey Daan, a ghostly story of hardship faced by farmers of the oppressed Dalit caste, and a story that moves through shadows and empty spaces. It is a work of poetry that evokes Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami, but feels entirely Indian in his conception of society’s struggle.
Where to watch: Anhey Ghorey Daan available to stream on MUBI.
Gamak Ghar/The Village House (2019)
Another contemporary minimalist work, burning slowly in the Maithili language Achal Mishra follows families through several generations as they gather in village houses in eastern India, whether to celebrate the birth of a child or mourn the death of a parent. Through its changing aspect ratios, quiet night conversations, and long shots that take time, the film Mishra – a thematic cousin close to David Lowery. Ghost Storybut by restraining Yasujirō Ozu – exploring the dynamic between places and memories they continue.
Where to watch: Gamak Ghar available for rent or purchase digitally on Projectr.
If minimalism isn’t your cup of tea, then India’s 2021 Oscar entry is a mess Jallikattu it may be as desired. Lijo Jose Pellissery is one of the best soap operas in contemporary Indian cinema. Her Malayalam -language film is about a bull running around through a village while the villagers chase the village heavily with images of stunning, sacred, and hell that can absorb into your skin. As with many stories about the natural environment and about human nature and how it unfolds, Pellissery’s 90-minute saga of sound and fury is a complete spellbinder.
Where to watch: Jalikattu available to stream on Amazon Prime.
Nagraj Manjule is the best Indian director working today. Second grade effort, Sairat, plays like a spiritual sequel to an effective debut, Fandryabout a Dalit teenager who enjoys being with his “upper caste” classmates. Sairat focusing on a teenage couple who elopes, although many structures stand firmly in the way. However, while the film has a lively romantic energy at first (especially during the diegetic musical number “Zingaat”), the film also portrays the reality of a pleasant life while fleeing persecution, and a way that can transform even the most stellar lovers. spiritual on the outside.
Where to watch: Sairat available for rent or digital purchase on Apple TV, YouTube, and Google Play.
Letters From A Country Far Away (2020)
The only short film on this list, Suneil Sanzgiri Letters From Your Far Country it may be abstract, esoteric, and filled with archival records, but it is an accurate encapsulation of what is going on in this contemporary Indian political era. Shot on expired 16mm film stock and using narrative tools of English characters and poetry written for the fall revolution, this volatile avant -garde work – which belongs to India’s wave of “parallel” experimental cinema – combines digital rendering with blurred images of various era. The Indian protests, connecting the dots between the historical revolution and the political struggle that still exist.
Where to watch: Letters From Your Far Country available to stream on The Criterion Channel.
Bulbul Can Sing (2018)
Cinemas from the often-overlooked state of Assam on India’s eastern border have re-emerged in recent years, thanks to director Rima Das and her debut feature in the Assamese language, Village rockstars (India’s submission to the Oscars in 2019), about a small town girl who has big musical dreams. Das follow up, Bulbul Can That, is a tender film that subverts the premise of its ancestors by telling the story of a teenage girl whose relationship to music is more complex, given the deep roots of patriarchal traditions embedded in every facet of culture. It focuses on a trio of best friends coming to terms with sexual identities against a rural Assam background in a cultural clash story that Das paints, for the most part, with grounded, observational naturalism, while allowing occasional formal flushes to capture beauty. , longing, and desire.
Where to watch: Bulbul Can That available for streaming on Netflix.
To Let (2017)
The debut of the famous Chezhiyan cinematographer director, Jelly it is an intimate Tamil drama that follows a lower-middle class family of three. The film explores the ways in which humans are given or rejected based on the space around them, because they are suddenly evicted and forced to rent a new apartment. Set against the predatory real -estate industry in Chennai – the result of a recent IT boom – the film is about what it means to “house” when physical space becomes fragile, not permanent, and educated by the cruel desires of a moody landlord, whose decision it is. can come down to technical prejudice. Chezhiyan, however, isn’t as concerned about sermons as he is as he explores how being denied basic dignity can free your senses, appealing to Ken Loach’s working class spirit as he tells his story through walls, household objects, and small changes. in human behavior.
Where to watch: Jelly available to stream on Amazon Prime.
Sudan from Nigeria (2018)
Indian films may be heavily influenced by anti -colonial themes, but they don’t often consider racism itself – especially anti -Blackness – that makes Zakariya Mohammed’s Malayalam -language sports comedy a fresh air. If either RRRTales of male friendship or romance are fun languages, then funny and touching. Sudanese from Nigeria as an appropriate follow -up. It tells the story of a Nigerian refugee and footballer, Samuel (Samuel Abiola Robinson), who moves to Kerala and plays for a local team run by Majeed (Soubin Shahir), a poor man who loves the sport often prevents him from being unhappy. family. When Samuel broke his leg, he was placed under Majeed’s care, as red tape and a horrible immigration system prevented him from returning home. With no common oral dialect, these two frustrated athletes are forced to overcome obstacles because they love the game (and ultimately, the difficulty together) in a film knowing that some language – like cinema – connects people beyond words.
Where to watch: Sudanese from Nigeria available for streaming on Netflix.