Stories from real India at IFFI
From the nuclearisation of South Asia to folk musicians to tribal clashes, diverse stories from real India are among the 20 non-feature films at the 35th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) here.
Films being showcased in the Indian Panorama section are in Malayalam, Hindi, Hindi-Punjabi, Tamil, Manipuri and Marathi. Ten films are in English, with one coming as an English-Gujarati mix. One is without any dialogue.
In an industry that otherwise focuses on entertainment and creating a happy make-believe world, these stories speak of the stark reality of India, with little of the melodrama, sentimentalism and musical action that otherwise goes into feature films.
Besides commercial cinema, India has long had a high-minded Indian art cinema (called by film critics as New Indian Cinema or the Indian New Wave). In India, it's also called "art films" as opposed to mainstream commercial cinema.
In a country of a billion people, so many stories are just waiting to be told. And films being showcased at the 12-day long IFFI that started Monday suggest that independent films are fast becoming the future of art cinema in India.
This time, the non-feature film bouquet includes Agni by KR Manoj, 30, a long-time activist of Kerala's film society movement, reflects on rape and its aftermath.
The 14-minute Malayalam film is in black-and-white and says it "shuns the easy, condescending or patronising orthodox 'feminist' line".
Satyajit Bhatkal's Chale Chalo...The Lunacy of Film Making is a feature-length documentary that tells the story of the making of the Bollywood blockbuster film Lagaan.
Says Bhatkal, 40, "As a member of the Laagan production team, I sensed the drama in the process of making it and began shooting what was happening in and around the set."
Hindi-Punjabi film Chaurus Chaand is about revolutionary and poet Avtaar Singh Sandhu, who was gunned down in 1988 by militants.
English-language films from India range from The Green Warriors - Apatanis (which looks at the unusual tribal sustainable agricultural practices in Arunachal) to I Couldn't Be Your Son, Mom (about a gender crisis) to Invisible Parsis: The Poor of a Prosperous Community by Kaevan Umrigar, and Sanjivan Lal's Is God Deaf? (on religion-linked noise pollution).
Dhananjoy Mandal, 37, of Howrah looks at an often-misunderstood nomadic tribe that kills crows for their meat in A Journey With The Kakmaras.
Manipuri film Nongdi Tarak-Khidare looks at the Naga-Kuki ethnic clashes of the 1990s, and highlights how social unrest impacts innocent people.
Some other non-feature films being show-cased at this year's IFFI include noted socio-political documentary maker Anand Patwardhan's War and Peace, and others dealing with the trivialization of the media and Sunni Muslim folk musicians of western Rajasthan.