The eight films you must watch at the Habitat Film Festival
A Death in the Gunj
Konkona Sen Sharma’s directorial debut is a poignant reflection on family, marriage gender and class in the garb of a mystery. It takes us back to 1979 and to the remote Anglo-Indian town of McCluskieganj in Jharkhand, where a young family visits an older couple over Christmas vacation. Drama and suspense ensue. Praised for its cinematography and mood, the film promises to deliver with its ensemble cast, including Om Puri, Kalki Koechlin, Tillotama Shome and Ranvir Shorey.
Nagraj Manjule’s film is a Marathi teenage love story in rural Maharashtra: the daughter of a politician falls in love with the son of a fisherman from the Pardhi community. It’s dangerous but they are bent on their Sairat or “ardour”in this tale of romance, gumption, caste and power. It starts first-time actors Rinku Rajguru and Akash Toshar who have earned been lauded for their acting.
Man with the Binoculars
An Assamese film that tells the story of a widower - a retired geography teacher - changes dramatically after his son gifts him a pair of binoculars. Deep in rural Assam, amid its stunning landscapes, the binoculars become a metaphor for exploring emotional distance and personal relationships.Director Rima Das also stars in the film.
Although it’s named for Benares’ Mukti Bhawan, where many go to die hoping that their demise in the holy Hindu city will lead them straight to salvation or mukti, this is a story of much more than that. It’s also the story of an elderly man who checks in to Mukti Bhawan and his son, a grudging companion who is torn between his many duties; and it’s the story of Benares where faith and profit mingle seamlessly.
Chronicles of Hari
Shrunga Vasudevan plays Hari, a young male actor who finds it increasingly hard to go back to being a man the mornings after he plays female roles in Karnataka’s traditional Yakshagana theatre. Hari’s story - caught between two sexual identifies, neither of which he fully belongs to - viscerally captures the transgender experience. Vasudevan’s acting has earned rave reviews in this directorial debut by Ananya Kasaravalli, daughter of Kannada filmmaker Girish Kasaravalli.
Acclaimed filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s latest is adapted from a short story by Narayan Bandyopadhyay but carries the clear mark of Dasgupta’s work. Set in rural Bengal, it tells three stories - an erstwhile aristocrat who still longs for his sumptuous former life, his mistress who dreams of escaping in search of more adventure, an eccentric postman-turned fortune teller and a poor teenager who scrapes together a living from tightrope walking. All these stories intertwine in a surprise ending.Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s latest, although adapted from a short story, carries his characteristic mark.
Rajkumar Rao plays an ordinary, struggling young man in Mumbai in Vikramaditya Motwane’s dystopian thriller — he gets trapped inside his own 35th floor apartment in a high rise in Mumbai. He gets locked in, his phone dies, the electricity gives way and his neighbours are too far below to hear his cry for help. It’s a thrilling tale of survival that takes a refreshing yet chilling look at the mundane.
Soz - A Ballad of Maladies
Soz profiles the poets, musicians and other artistes whose counter-narratives have been dwarfed by the political chaos in the Valley. Filmmakers Tushar Madhav and Sarvnik Kaur spent three years documenting the angst and imagination of a generation of artistes who, amid Kashmir’s roiling politics, resist via art, from Sufiana to hip-hop. In Hindi, Kashmiri and English.