Getting past the fear of subtitles is the first step to broaden one’s horizons when it comes to discovering and appreciating films produced from every region of our country. Nothing manages to do this more than when a film, from any region of our country, is recognized and awarded by the international community of critics and film connoisseurs. Here is a list of Top 5 Internationally Recognised Indian films that stand tall on their own merit and begs to be watched time and time again leaving you, come back for more.
1. The Lunchbox (2013)
Hardly a time goes by when the powerhouse, that is Irrfan Khan, is not missed by the Film Fraternity. No film makes us appreciate this woeful fact more than Lunchbox. It is one of those rare films that was critically acclaimed while simultaneously performing well at the box office. The simplistic nature of the movie only serves to enhance the impact it has on its viewers.
Strong performances from both the leads, Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur, outstanding support from Nawazuddin Siddique, a master at the craft himself, leaves one with no surprise that the film received widespread accolades at the national and international stage. Lunchbox, deservedly won awards at the famed Cannes Film Festival in its International Critic’s Week, Reykjavik International Film Festival, Dubai International Film Festival, and Asia-Pacific Film Festival. It was also nominated at the British Academy Film Awards and London Film Festival.
Written and Directed by Ritesh Batra, Lunchbox is the tale of a middle-aged single man, Saajan Fernandes (Irrfan Khan), who develops an unexpected friendship with a newly married woman, Ila Sehgal (Nimrat Kaur), looking to bond with her distant husband. Mumbai’s famed Dabbawalas, a system of personally delivering lunch from households to office goers plays an integral part in the story as a whole. The relationship between Saajan and his replacement, Aslam Sheikh played by Nawazzudin Siddique and the budding romance between him and Ila form the crux of the story.
A feel-good cinematic experience, that makes you feel warm inside and root strongly for Irfann’s character to finally find happiness, is a film that will get you hooked on to it from the first frame and will leave you wanting more.
2. Kannathil Muthamittal (2002)
Mani Ratnam, being a household name in the Indian Film Industry, always has high expectations attached to any film made by him. Even so, Kannathil Muthamittal surpassed all expectations and was universally appreciated for its plot, direction, and music.
Internationally, the film won awards in the Westchester Film Festival (2004), RiverRun International Film Festival (2004), Film Fest New Haven (2004), and Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (2003) amongst others.
The film takes us on a journey with an adopted 9-year-old girl, Amudha(Keerthana) searching for her birth parents. This journey at times feels almost private and intrusive to the viewer, as we witness the emotional turmoil the child goes through, the pain of her adoptive parents, news reporter Indira (Simran) and the writer Thiruchelvan (Madhavan), trying to fill the void in their daughter’s life.
Woven into this brilliant narrative and surely one of Mani Ratnam’s greatest directorial masterpieces is Ravi K Chandran’s dream visuals, A R Rahman’s ethereal heart-wrenching music, and the breathtaking performances of every actor involved, especially the child protagonist, all in the backdrop of the turmoil and civil unrest going on in Sri Lanka at that time.
At the risk of sounding like a cliche, this is a movie that every film lover must experience in all its cinematic glory, at least once in their lifetime.
3. Naa Bangaaru Talli (2013)
It’s always a matter of pride for regional Indian movies when they are not only acclaimed by their corresponding film industry but also recognized at the national and international level. So it has been the case with the bilingual Naa Bangaru Talli, a unique attempt from the Telugu Film Industry.
Directed and written by Rajesh Touchriver, the film was recognized by the Indian Film Fraternity, winning multiple categories in the prestigious National Awards and also the regional Nandi awards. It was nominated in numerous international film festivals like the Beijing International Film Festival (2014), Myrtle Beach International Film Festival (2014), Asia Pacific Screen Awards (2014), and the Indian Film Festival of Ireland (2014). It won the Best Feature Film award in the acclaimed Trinity International Film Festival (2013). Director Rajesh also won the award for Best Filmmaker of the year along with receiving the Best Movie of the Year and Award of Excellence for this film in the Indonesian Film Festival (2013).
Films that are centered on Father-Daughter relationships must be very well executed for them to have an impact on the viewers. Naa Bangaru Talli more than achieves this and manages to draw the audience into the plot right from the get-go. Srinivas (Siddique), a social worker from Amalapuram is a very proud father. His daughter, Durga (Anjali Patil), who excels in academics is heavily inspired by her Father’s work and following in his footsteps, is always vocal in protesting the brutalities against women. The audience soon finds out that all is not what it seems with Srinivas. The ways in which this revelation affects the relationship with his daughter are explored in detail for the remainder of the film.
Both Naa Bangaru Talli and its Malayalam counterpart, Ente, promises to give its viewership, a satisfying thought-provoking experience.
4. Parched (2015)
Premiering at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, Parched immediately opened to rave reviews from the critics. It won multiple awards in the Stockholm Film Festival (2015), Los Angeles Indian Film Festival (2016), Indian Film Festival of Stuttgart (2016), and Jaipur International Film Festival (2017). It was also nominated in the reputed Santa Barbara International Film Festival (2016), Asia Pacific Screen Awards (2016) to name a few.
The story taking place in a desert village of Rajasthan revolves around four women, Rani (Tannishtha Chatterjee), a widow single-handedly supporting her mother-in-law and teenage son, Janki (Lehar Khan), a child bride married to Rani’s son, Lajjo (Radhika Apte), a close friend of Rani’s and Bijli (Surveen Chawla), an erotic dancer who sometimes serves as a companion to Rani and Lajjo. Kishan (Sumeet Vyas), a progressive man, tries to give the women of the village some dignity and a degree of independence and freedom by offering them work in handloom crafts. The rest of the film portrays the sufferings faced by the women in their individual lives and whether they manage to free themselves from the shackles of the conservative and patriarchal village men.
Director Leena Yadav’s attempt to explore the Female Psyche amidst age-old backward traditions of severe patriarchy, mental abuse, and marital rape, make this viewing a disturbingly honest one and an experience that will be remembered long after its time.
5. Sairat (2016)
No other film has perhaps propelled the Marathi Film Industry to the center stage of Indian Cinema and made both critics and audiences alike sit up and take notice of it like the film Sairat. Despite being a low-budget film with virtually no publicity on the national and international stage, the film won awards in the Asian Film Festival Barcelona (2016) and was nominated in the Berlin International Film Festival (2016).
Nagraj Manjule who had already directed the critically acclaimed film, Fandry, proved that he was second to none in the Indian Film Industry when it comes to direction. Newcomers Rinku Rajguru and Akash Thosar were so nuanced in their respective performances that it was hard to believe, this was their debut.
Casteism, a social evil, prevalent in our Indian society forms the main focus of the movie. Nagraj shows his craftsmanship by taking this many-times-done subject, showing it in a much more impacting light, all while driving the familiar evil deep into our hearts. The film taking place in a rural setting tells the love story of two young college students, Archana “Archi” Patil (Rinku Rajguru) and Prashant “Parshya” Kale (Akash Thosar). As they are from different castes and monetary statuses, their falling in love sparks a bloodthirsty conflict between their families and friends.
The film deserves all the praise and accolades it received, just for its hauntingly silent and gut-wrenching final few minutes. Brilliant Direction, Cinematography, stellar performances of the ensemble along with the epic symphonic musical masterpiece from the duo Ajay-Atul, make this movie a multi-watch event.