NO ONE KILLED JESSICA
‘No One Killed Jessica’ is a fast paced thriller set in the hub of political power, New Delhi. It is the story of two women and their relentless pursuit of justice that mobilizes an entire nation to prove that in democracy there is no greater power than the power of the people.
The film, No One Killed Jessica, showcases an important social issue where powerful and influential people of the society like politicians abuse the law at their own will. The film is based on the true story of Jessica Lal, a Delhi-based model, who was shot and killed in 1999 at a restaurant in New Delhi by Manu, the son of an influential politician.
Mission Kashmir, is a 2000 Bollywood hit, directed by the famous Indian director, Vidhu Vinod Chopra. The movie is based on the India-Pakistan-conflict with a central focus on the tragedy of children suffering from war. The film follows the life and tragedy of a young boy named Altaaf after his entire family gets killed by police officers. The boy is adopted by the cop who killed his family - when Altaaf finds this out, he flees from his foster parents house and seeks revenge. The film revolves around transformation of love into hatred in the background of widespread terrorism in Kashmir.
Jodhaa Akbar is a love story between the Mughal emperor, Akbar (Hrithik Roshan), and a Rajput princess, Jodhaa (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) during the sixteenth century. With great power and balance of strength and wit, Emperor Akbar soon extended his empire to extend from Afghanistan to the Bay of Bengal, and from the Himalayas to the Godavari River. And on the way made friends with the Rajputs, the most belligerent Hindus. But unaware of the storm that was going to be brought into his life when he married Jodhaa, Rajput princess. Which started Akbar on the new adventure of his life, the adventure of true love.
MUGHAL-E-AZAM - AN EPIC RELIVED
Mughal-e-Azam is an Indian epic film, reminiscent of the older style of Indian cinema. It was produced and directed by K. Asif and released in 1960. It took nine years to finish and was the most lavish production for its time. Its imposing grandeur, breathtaking beauty and, most important of all, its emotional energy remain undimmed by the tides of time. Forty-four years after it was first released, "Mughal-e-Azam" comes to us in a colour version.
LAGAAN - THE CRICKET-CENTRIC BRITISH INDIA
This is the story about the resilience shown by Indians when India was under the British Raj. The movie, which is set in the Victorian period of the British Raj, revolves around the peasants from a barren village who are oppressed by high taxes imposed by the British. When the peasants attempt to persuade the officers to reduce the taxes, the officers put forth a proposition to the peasants. One senior officer offers them to cancel their taxes for three years if their village team beats the British team at cricket. After accepting this proposition, the villagers face the arduous task of learning the game and playing for a result that will change their village's destiny. The film gathered critical acclaim and awards at several international film festivals, along with winning many Bollywood awards.
Monsoon Wedding is an award-winning film, released in 2001, directed by Mira Nair and written by Sabrina Dhawan. The film depicts various romantic entanglements during a traditional Punjabi wedding in New Delhi.
As the romantic monsoon rains loom, the extended Verma Family reunites from around the globe for a last-minute arranged marriage in New Delhi. Monsoon Wedding traces five interesting stories, each navigating different aspects of love, as they cross boundaries of class, continent, and morality. The film celebrates a contemporary India, never seen on screen before.
Water (2005), written and directed by Deepa Mehta, a film set in 1938 Colonial India, explores the lives of widows at an ashram in Varanasi, India. Against Mahatma Gandhi's rise to power, WATER begins when 8-year-old Chuyia is widowed and sent to a home where Hindu widows must live in penitence. Chuyia’s feisty presence deeply affects the lives of the other residents, including a young widow, who falls for a Gandhian idealist.
Upon its release, the film created waves internationally and is a must see to get a close encounter with India in the 20th century.
‘Parineeta’, meaning ‘The Married Woman’ is a Bollywood musical adaptation of the 1914 Bengali novella, ‘Parineeta’ by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. The film transports the viewer to an era that the modern generation is alien to. The look of the 1960s, the atmosphere, the ambience... ‘Parineeta’ recreates the bygone era with flourish. Set in the backdrop of Kolkata, a city full of culture and colour, the story revolves around two childhood lovers facing parental opposition. ‘Parineeta’ is an excellent attempt by Bollywood to elucidate the thinking of India and Indians in the 20th century, and gives insights into how and why the concept of arranged marriages originated and survived.
MISTRESS OF SPICES
The Mistress of Spices (2005) is a film by Paul Mayeda Berges, with screenplay by Gurinder Chadha and Berges. The story is based upon the novel ‘The Mistress of Spices’ by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.
The film tells the story of an Indian woman who possesses the special power to help people through spices. In her practice of this spice art, she also follows a few strict rules. She has a spicy prescription for almost every problem, except love that strikes none other than her own ascetic self when a handsome young stranger enters her life accidentally and stirs up all her dormant emotions. See how the spices react to the unfolding of this love story.
“1947: Earth”, released in 1998, is accredited as one of director Deepa Mehta’s best production. Based on Bapsi Sidhwa's novel, “Cracking India”, Earth is a partition saga and the second part of a linked trilogy by Mehta; it was preceded by Fire (1996) and followed by Water (2005).
The film begins with the end of the British Raj. It narrates the story of the British finally preparing to quit their empire in India and the searing process of splitting British India into India and Pakistan. Earth is a film that sees the tragedy of separation through the eyes of a group of friends based in Lahore, and how they split along with the nation between India and Pakistan.
Fire is a 1996 film directed and written by Deepa Mehta, starring Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das. It is the first of Mehta's "Elements" trilogy. It is followed by Earth (1998) and Water (2005). The movie is loosely based on Ismat Chugtai's 1941 story ‘Lihaf’ (The Quilt), and is the first Indian film to explicitly show homosexual relations. After its 1998 release in India, right-wing Hindu groups staged several violent protests, setting off a flurry of public dialogue around issues such as homosexuality and freedom of speech. However, with its superb direction, unique and non conventional story line and excellent actors, the film was a world wide success. This is a must watch for those trying to understand various aspects of India and the undercover Indian culture.
Devdas is a 2002 Hindi film based on the Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay novella “Devdas”. This is the third Bollywood remake and the first colour film version of the story in Hindi. The film is directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and stars Shahrukh Khan and Miss World Aishwarya Rai. Devdas narrates the story of love beyond all else, even life! The saga of a man who could not win the love of his life…
At the time of its release, Devdas was the most expensive Bollywood film ever produced. Devdas was India's entry for Hollywood's Oscar in 2003. The movie was also screened at the Cannes Film Festival 2002. The film won 10 awards at the 2002 Filmfare Awards in India.
Paheli is a Bollywood movie, directed by Amol Palekar. Paheli is based on the short story written by Vijayadan Detha and tells the story of a wife (Played by Rani Mukerji) who is left by her husband (Played by Shahrukh Khan) and visited by a ghost, disguised as her husband, who is in love with her and takes her husband's place.
The movie opened the ninth Zimbabwe International Film Festival at the Libertie Cinema Complex in Harare. The film was screened at both the Sundance Film Festival and the Palm Springs International Film Festival. It was nominated as India's official entry to the 79th Academy Awards.
MANGAL PANDEY: THE RISING
Mangal Pandey: The Rising (Indian title) or The Ballad of Mangal Pandey (International title) directed by Ketan Mehta, is a film based on the life of Mangal Pandey, an Indian soldier, known for his role in the Indian rebellion of 1857. It was Mangal Pandey, a sepoy, whose actions sparked the famous Indian rebellion of 1857. The rebellion is known as "The Indian Mutiny", "The Sepoy Mutiny" or "The Sepoy Rebellion" by most of the English-speaking world. Some Indians refer to it as the "First War of Independence" in India.
With powerful acting by Aamir Khan and Rani Mukherjee, the film attracted global recognition when it was released in 2005.
Slumdog Millionaire is a British film directed by Danny Boyle, and co-directed in India by Loveleen Tandan. It is an adaptation of the novel Q & A (2005) by Indian author Vikas Swarup. Slumdog Millionaire tells the story of a young man from the slums of Mumbai who appears on the Indian version of ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’ and exceeds people's expectations, raising uncertainties of the game show host and of law enforcement officials.
The film was nominated for 10 Academy Awards in 2009 and won 8 Oscars, the most for any film of 2008. It also won 5 Critics' Choice Awards, 4 Golden Globes, and 7 BAFTA Awards.
Black is a Hinglish film (Hindi and Indian English) released in 2005 and directed by the renowned Bollywood director Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The film revolves around a blind, deaf and mute girl, and her relationship with her teacher who himself later suffers from Alzheimer's disease and forgets everything about his past.
The film was screened at the Casablanca Film Festival and the International Film Festival of India. It won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi and 11 Filmfare Awards. Time Magazine (Europe) selected the film as one of the 10 Best Movies of the Year 2005 from across the globe.
‘Border’ is a 1997 blockbuster Bollywood film based on the India - Pakistani war of 1971. Directed and produced by J. P. Dutta, this multi-star war epic stars many Bollywood celebrities. The movie is an adaptation from real life events that happened at the Battle of Longewala fought in Rajasthan during the war. The story highlights the courage of Indian soldiers depicted by a band of 120 soldiers of Punjab regiment of Indian Army who successfully defended their post all night, against a Tank regiment of the Pakistani Army, until assistance came from the Indian Air Force the following morning. The film was a commercial hit in India and won numerous awards including Filmfare award for ‘Best Film of the year’.
GANDHI MY FATHER
Gandhi, My Father, is a 2007 Indian film by Feroz Abbas Khan. The film explores the troubled relationship between Harilal Gandhi and his father, Mahatma Gandhi. The film is a true story revealing the difficult father-son relationship and how the father figure of India, Mahatma Gandhi, never actually understood his young son’s anguish and dilemma of living up to the expectation created by his fathers heroic public image.
An interesting aspect of the promotion of this film was that to show respect to Mahatma Gandhi, there was no advertising by way of posters or banners on city walls in India. The production team feared that posters stuck at accessible heights could be accidentally or intentionally disrespected by passers by.
TAJ MAHAL - AN ETERNAL LOVE STORY
‘Taj Mahal - An Eternal Love Story’ is a 2005 Hindi film directed by Akbar Khan. The film brings to life the romance of Emperor Shah Jahan and his Empress Mumtaz Mahal - the romance that eventually turned into an eternal love story.
The film shows how the Taj Mahal is not just the story of a mausoleum, it is the story of a family; it is not only romance, it is also a tragedy. The Moghul period was an amalgamation of fierce battles, bitter revenge and sublime aesthetics. Moghuls loved with passion and hated with equal passion. The film depicts the violence, as brothers destroyed each other and sons rebelled against fathers in their rivalry for the throne. The greatest love story of all times was thus splattered with the blood of ambition – leaving an impression of grief on what we see as the splendid Taj Mahal.
BOSE - THE FORGOTTEN HERO
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero (also known as Bose: The Forgotten Hero) is a 2005 film directed by renowned director Shyam Benegal. The movie recollects the last five years in the life of an instrumental leader in India’s independence movement, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. The film starts at the point where Bose resigns from his position as the president of Indian National Congress and ends with a radio announcement of his death, in between giving flashback sequences showing snapshots of Netaji’s life and his role in India’s independence movement. The music for the movie is by A. R. Rehman.
THE LEGEND OF BHAGAT SINGH
The Legend of Bhagat Singh is a Bollywood historic film about Bhagat Singh, a prominent freedom fighter who fought for India’s Independence. Directed by Rajkumar Santoshi, and music by A.R. Rehman, the film won two National Film Awards, including the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi.
his role in the struggle for India’s Independence. Having witnessed the atrocities and tortures inflicted by the British upon Indians, Bhagat Singh decides to rebel and later joins the gang of Pandit-Ji alias Chandrashekar Azad. Thereafter, he becomes the leading force of the group and one day gets arrested for throwing bombs in the Assembly. In jail, Bhagat Singh goes on a hunger strike because of the inadequate conditions offered to the prisoners. How Bhagat Singh succeeds in getting justice for the prisoners and how he is executed by the British narrates the tragic end of Bhagat Singhs life.
‘The Namesake’, a revolutionary direction by Mira Nair (known for directing Indo-English movies), was released in March 2007. The film, provides an insight into the trapped minds of Indo-Western Indians and a different outlook on the thoughts and apprehensions of this growing sect of Indians world wide.
Jumping between the equally colorful and vibrant cities of Kolkata and New York, The Namesake maps the lives of a Bengali Brahmin family, the Gangulis, who came to the U.S. from India to experience a world of limitless opportunities - only to be confronted with the perils and confusion of trying to build a meaningful life in a baffling new society! Living in America, the Gangulis haven't transformed into Americans.
Their son, Gogol, on the other hand, is a first-generation American teenager, who must learn to tread a razor-thin line between his Hindu roots and his American birthright, in search for his own identity. As Gogol attempts to forge his destiny - rejecting his given name, dating a rich American girl, heading to study architecture at Yale - his parents cling to their Bengali Hindu traditions. But their paths keep crossing with both comic and painfully revelatory consequences... until Gogol begins to see the links between the world his parents left behind and the new world that lies in front of him.
Based on a novel by Punjabi writer Amrita Pritam, this visually rich but ideologically and emotionally uneven film by a first-time director takes on a serious historical subject rarely treated in mainstream cinema. It is a story of riot, mayhem, human suffering and hope. The film documents the historic partition (the division of India along religious lines into India and Pakistan) as the single largest uprooting of people in contemporary history, where more than a million people lost their lives.
Partition of India and Pakistan has perhaps been the most widely explored subject in Indian cinema. However, what makes the film "Pinjar" different is its focus on a practice that unfortunately became quite common during the partition of India - the abduction of women, by men from other religious communities who forcefully married these women and forced them to convert their religion. The practice was widespread between Hindu, Muslim and Sikh communities. These abductions and forced marriages were a way to "settle scores" and increase the hold of religion in the country.
'Chokher Bali', is adapted from Rabindranath Tagore's novel 'Binodini', where a beautiful, educated and vivacious young widow called ‘Binodini’ forms the key character. Directed by Rituporno Ghosh, Chokher Bali literally means ‘Sand in the Eye’.
The story is set in the early 1900's against the backdrop of political resistance during the Bengal partition when the society was full of unrest. Binodini, the child widow played by the Indian beauty, Aishwarya Rai, is out to wreak vengeance on the society, who she believes is responsible for her pitiful state of existence.
Binodini, who is from a poor family doesn't have enough money to give dowry for her marriage. Her parents propose her marriage to two medical students – however, neither of them agrees to the proposal. In that era it was a disgrace to keep an unmarried daughter over 12 years at home, so Binodini is married off to a poor sick man who dies soon after. Thereafter, Binodini is forced to lead the life of a widow and face the ordeals, until she learns the art of seduction and seduces a married man. The complexities in relationships are beautifully highlighted in the film through extra-marital affairs and social consequences of the same.
Through Binodini, Director Rituporno Ghosh analyses the social structure in India in the early 1900s and questions the entrapment that transcends an individual. The film also succinctly symbolizes the individual rebellion of a lone crusader who uses her sexuality as her 'voice' and 'weapon' to liberate herself from this entrapment.
Based on a real life incident, ‘Provoked’ is the story of a battered Punjabi housewife and mother of two in London, Kiranjit Ahluwalia, (played by Aishwarya Rai), who is unable to bear the brutality of her alcoholic husband. The torture leads her to set her husband on fire and kill him. Kiranjit is charged with murder awarded life-imprisonment. Yet, the lady feels liberated!
Although she gradually learns to accept her life within the jail, her case is taken up by a non-profit group of Asian social workers. They bring her plight to the attention of the media by organizing rallies and gathering public support. And as luck would have it, Kiranjit's cause is taken up in an English court and an unprecedented judgment pardons the accused and redefines the word 'Provocation' in the British law forever. The script is a touching saga of pain, desperation and hope.
The story has been conceptualized and directed by Jagmohan Mundhra and the film stars the Indian beauty Aishwarya Rai, Naveen Andrews, Miranda Richardson, Robbie Coltrane and Nandita Das. With music from legendary A.R. Rahman, the screenplay is by Carl Austin and Rahila Gupta.
RANG DE BASANTI
‘Rang de Basanti’ is a film about awakening, about standing up for ones beliefs, where the spirit of rebellion transcends time and age.
More than just a technically brilliant flick, Rang De Basanti has a well crafted story that entertains you, makes you think and stirs you deep inside. Parallels are drawn between characters in two time periods and as the story moves towards its conclusion, the barrier of time begins to dissolve and the characters become one in spirit. The plot of the movie straddles two eras: one - a contemporary setting revolving around a group of friends in modern India; and second - the pre-independence India, revolving around famous freedom fighters.
In India, the colour (Rang) of spring (Basanti), which is yellow - represents sacrifice and freedom. When someone says, "Rang De Basanti" (Paint me Yellow) it means that person is ready to be sacrificed for a great cause. This famous pre-independence war cry, explains the name of the film.
The film draws parallels between Indians ruled by the British and Indians ruled by corrupt politicians in current times. The message is subtle at first, but echoes piercingly before it reaches its finale with the transition of the five friends from meaningless to meaningful existence.
Music by A.R. Rehman is foot tapping and very much with the mood of the subject, giving you a sense of freedom from within, a freedom to think independently, regardless of time.