Indian Cinema: 5 Best Off-Beat Movies

This nomenclature baffles me. I mean the ‘mainstream cinema’ and the ‘offbeat cinema’.

How could somebody sideline technically, creatively, and skillfully perfect thing from the ‘Mainstream Cinema’. For me it’s the off-beat cinema (going by the standard nomenclature) that actually deserves the tag of mainstream cinema as it is where the skills of a filmmaker are truly tested.

That is the reason all the genius filmmakers ranging from Satyajit Ray to Shyam Benegal to today’s Anurag Kashyap, Vishal Bhardwaj and Dibakar Bannerji have their heart lying in Offbeat cinema – the authentic cinema – that makes you think, that leaves an impact and that rules your memory for long, very unlike the so-called mainstream cinema.

Anyway, I am not here to change this nomenclature. So,my list of five best off-beat movies goes like this.

Well it’s not very long since when I’ve logged in into the world of this classic cinema so I can’t boast of a good bank of offbeat movies that I have watched in recent times but yes whatever I’ve watched it can make a good list especially when the task is to choose only five movies out of plenty.

Here goes my list:

Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda – This Shyam Benegal classic is based on Dharmavir Bharti’s novel of the same title. I don’t know how many of you have seen this movie but I am sure that if you admire good work you’ll love it for sure for everything ranging from the story that presents a girl’s heart from three different perspectives – one who marries an old man as her lover lacks courage to accept her (Jamuna played by Rajeshwari Sachdeva), second a girl who marries a man on her lover’s insistence but he can’t accept her husband and third a laborer who is ready to defy world only on a misunderstanding that her lover is interested in her.

The strength of the movie lies in the narrative style, successfully done by Rajat Kapoor who plays both a raconteur and protagonist in the movie. This movie shakes you, brakes you and most importantly impresses you.

Ankur – Ankur is another Shyam Benegal’s masterpiece, though poles apart from Suraj Ka Satvan Ghoda. The movie marks the debut of lead pair – Shabana Azmi and Anant Nag – who played their part to perfection in their first venture. The plot of the movie is inspired from a real story of Hyderabad and that’s the reason the ace film maker chose the same location to shoot the film. The story touches you, cinematography intoxicates you, acting impresses you and direction amazes you. Overall the movie makes you think and catches your attention towards the underprivileged people, especially in the rural areas.

Ek Ruka Hua Faisla – hah! This one’s a real thriller. Once you start watching this, you can’t dare to take your ass off from the couch (not even when you feel urge to go to washroom, thank God I watched it on YouTube and I could pause it!) Directed by Basu Chatterjee, it is a remake of American motion picture, 12 Angry Men but it can’t take the credit off from Basu who made sure that the movie doesn’t lose the Indian touch. I won’ reveal the story. All I will say is you won’t regret watching this. Bole to pura paisa vasool.

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron – Directed by Kundan Shah, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro is a story of two photographer friends – Vinod Chopra (Naseeruddin Shah) and Sudhir Mishra (Ravi Baswani) – who try to reveal the dark side of the real estate. This dark comedy eventually achieved the cult status for satirical depiction of indifference in social strata. Though the movie was based on a serious subject, humor remains to be the essence of the movie.

All actors (though none of them were big stars at that time) including Naseeruddin Shah, Ravi Baswani, Om Puri, Pankaj Kapur, Satish Shah, Bhakti Barve, Satish Kaushik, Ashok Banthia, Neena Gupta – delivered brilliant performances.

One of the most outrageously funny scenes in Hindi cinema, the Mahabharata play episode of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, where Duryodhana seems least interested in the Draupadi’s ‘Cheer Haran’ but Yudhishthir pushes him to do it! –

Dedh Ishqiya – I’d plenty of options for number 5 but I chose this one for three reasons:

  1. I have just watched it.
  2. Vishal Bhardwaj is among the pioneers of off-beat cinema in modern times.
  3. It deserves to be in the list.

The movie makes it to the top five in my list for elegant Urdu poetry, classic comeback of Madhuri Dixit, witty dialogues, excellent chemistry between Khalujaan (Naseeruddin Shah) and Babban (Arshad Varsi) and hot Humma Quereshi who dropped bold dialogues with the ease of a knife over the butter.

With it I conclude my list of five best off-beat movies that at least a true movie-buff should watch.

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2 thoughts on “Indian Cinema: 5 Best Off-Beat Movies

  1. Thanks Arvindji, I admire your writing.

    As I’ve mentioned in my post, I have recently developed a love for parallel cinema and I mainly watch on recommendations. I have watched Ardh Satya and it’s amazing. Yes, I am looking forward to watching Aadharshila.

    Thanks for dropping by.

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