It is a well-known fact that India makes the largest number of films in a year compared to any other country in the world. But the question is, how many among the hundreds and thousands are really worth remembering and would leave a mark on posterity by inspiring generations of filmmakers to come? Nowhere else in the world is the difference between commercial and arthouse films as distinct as in India. While commercial films from Bollywood shine in glamor and popularity among the masses, independent filmmakers suffer in neglect.
However, there have been new champions on the stage for quite some time, and with their ingenious methods have not only tried to do away with this gap but also raised Indian cinema from the bottomless quagmire that it was slowly sliding into. Here is the list of Bollywood movies that dared to be different.
1. Matrubhoomi: A Nation Without Women (2003)
Let me warn you from the very beginning, this is going to be one of the most disturbing films you will ever see. There is no blood, there is no gore and yet this is going to be a cathartic experience. Manish Jha imagines a future where rampant female infanticide has dwindled down the sex ratio to such an alarming proportion that women are nowhere to be seen. Containing undertones from ‘The Mahabharata’, the story depicts the plight of a girl Kalki (Tulip Joshi) who is married off by her father to five brothers where she is repeatedly preyed upon by all the members of her family including her father-in-law. This is one of those films that make you cringe because you know that Jha’s dystopia might as well be our reality in the future given the misogyny operating within our society.
2. Ankur (1974)
Shyam Benegal is credited to have been the pioneer Indian alternative cinema. ‘Ankur’, his first feature film starring the gorgeous Shabana Azmi not only helped define a new age in Indian cinema but also carried a very relevant social message. The film is a scathing critique of casteism, caste-related exploitation and oppression, and patriarchy.