The next set of Indian films on Channel 4 prove that diversity remains the watch-word of their programming team, with offerings that range from a slacker ‘bromance’ comedy to a Kolkata-shot Hindi film from Bengali director Goutam Ghose to a mini-series of Marathi films.
First up, that ‘bromance’. Sulemani Keeda (street slang for ‘pain in the arse’) is a quirky comedy-drama from writer-director Amit Masurkar’s. The 2013 film fits the new trend in Indian cinema towards movies with more realistic stories, dialogue and settings, that eschew top star names.
Also known by its English title, Writers, Sulemani Keeda (pictured above) is about a screenwriting duo who dream of writing the next Bollywood blockbuster, but waste their days, until they encounter Gonzo Kapoor (Karan Mirchandani), the ageing playboy son of a famous producer, who is keen to break in to the movies.
From comedy to tragedy with Goutam Ghose’s 1984 film Paar, which begins with the murder of a schoolteacher by a cruel landlord that sparks an unexpected revenge killing.
Ghose’s powerful condemnation of the ruthless exploitation of the poor in the Indian state of Bihar features two key actors of the 1980s’ New Wave of Indian cinema: Naseeruddin Shah (as farmer Naurangia) and Shabana Azmi (as his pregnant wife Rama).
Their characters are forced to escape their village when Naurangia responds violently to the death of the local schoolmaster (Anil Chatterjee). The couple flee to Kolkata, desperately seeking work and shelter. But all they find is a heartless city with nowhere to stay and even less hope of employment. And so, deciding to return to their village and face the consequences.
Counting back a decade the next film in the season will be the 1973 NFDC-funded Garm Hava – director MS Sathyu’s exploration of the plight of Muslims at Partition in 1947.
The Palme d’Or-nominated film deals with a subject that’s rarely tackled in Indian cinema and centres on Salim Mirza (Balraj Sahni), a shoe manufacturer whose family has lived in Agra for several generations.
Next is the first of five films that celebrate India’s Marathi-language cinema. Fandry (2013) is a hard-hitting drama from first-time writer-director Nagraj Manjule. It tells the story of teenager Jabya (first-time actor Somnath Awghade) and his family, who are Dalits (members of the lowest, ‘Untouchable’ caste) living in a village in Maharashtra.
Embarrassed by his father (Kishor Kadam), Jabya escapes into a dream world with a story that is based on the director’s own life story.
Ek Cup Chya (A Cp of Tea) by Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukthankar, a directorial team that make socially relevant films in Marathi. In Ek Cup Chya, Kashinath Sawant (played by Marathi actor and poet Kishor Kadam) is a bus conductor for the State Road Transport Corporation. He lives in a village in the coastal region of Maharashtra and leads a happy life with his wife Rukmini (Ashwini Giri), their two daughters, two sons and Kashinath’s ageing mother.
But when they suddenly receive a huge electricity bill they can’t pay and lose their power the bus conductor’s complaints to the Electricity Board are met with total indifference and suggestions that bribes – ‘a cup of tea’ – are required for action, Kashinath discovers the only recourse to justice is through the newly passed Right to Information Act.
Finally, for this post at least, is the third Marathi movie – Vihir (The Well). The 2009 film is a gentle, thoughtful drama about adolescence and coming to terms with loss, from the young writer-director Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni.
Teenage cousins Sameer (Madan Deodhar) and Nachiket (Alok Rajwade) are best friends. When tragedy hits Sameer he is forced to make sense of the sudden loss of the cousin he adores.
• Sulemani Keeda – Tuesday 14 October, 00:45 – 02:20
• Paar – Thursday 16 October, 01:25 – 03:45
• Garm Hava – Tuesday 21 October, 00:45 – 03:00
• Fandry – Thursday 23 October, 00:55 – 02:45
• Ek Cup Chya – Tuesday 28 October, 01:45 – 03:55
• Vihir – Thursday 30 October, 00:55 – 02:45