Beyond Bollywood: Indian cinema’s new cutting edge

A new wave of Indian independent film is breaking the all-singing, all-dancing stereotype of Bollywood via low-cost, offbeat movies and edgier subject matter

  • Rahul Verma
  • Love, Sex aur Dhokha

    Aiming for a younger ­audience who are disenfranchised by Bollywood … Love, Sex aur Dhokha

    A sleazy shop assistant seduces a vulnerable colleague for a money-spinning sex tape; two hopelessly-in-love students are brutally murdered by the girl’s family; an intrepid TV reporter embarks on an expose of the notorious casting couch. This triptych of stories set in 21st-century metropolitan India unfolds over 98 minutes of blurry, trembling CCTV, mobile phone, camcorder and hidden-camera footage in the film LSD: Love, Sex Aur Dhokha (Love, Sex and Betrayal).

    Surely the only Indian film to reference sex and drugs in both its title and abbreviation, LSD: Love, Sex Aur Dhokha is one of the new wave of Indian indies – edgy, off-beat films challenging the stereotype of Indian cinema as tear-jerking, all-singing, all-dancing Bollywood. It fared more than respectably when it was released in India last year, making £1.25m from its paltry £200,000 budget, and was selected to open the inaugural London Indian film festival (LIFF) in 2010, and thereby act as the flagship for this fledgling cinematic phenomenon.

    In fact, 2010 proved decisive in the breakthrough of Indian indies (or “Hindies” as they have been dubbed in India) into mainstream cinema: LSD and Peepli Live, a deliciously dark satire on media, politics and farmer suicide, made India’s top 10 most profitable films of 2010 in percentage profit, while Dhobi Ghat, an elegant paean to old Bombay, and the slapstick of Tere Bin Laden were critically lauded and box-office successes in the key “metro cities” (Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Bangalore).

    Considering the eye-watering losses incurred by big-budget Bollywood flops such as Kites, Raavan and Veer, it’s no wonder the Indian film industry has woken up to the possibilities of low-cost independent films starring virtual unknowns and directed by emerging talent. Indian indies have been given a helping hand thanks to the patronage of Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan, whose production company Aamir Khan Productions (AKP) is responsible for Peepli Live, Dhobi Ghat, 2007’s sleeper hit Taare Zameen Par and the forthcoming caper comedy Delhi Belly, which premieres at this year’s LIFF before getting a general release.

    Khan has become the figurehead of Hindie cinema more by luck than design. “AKP began by accident. I didn’t intend to produce films until I came across the script for Lagaan – which I loved, and nobody was prepared to produce. The industry thought a film about villagers rising up and playing cricket against the Raj was too unusual and very risky. Since Lagaan it’s been 10 years and we’ve produced six films, and they all have been films nobody else would touch,” he says. “Of these five have been first-time directors and two have been women directors, which is unusual in India. So we’re a production house for young talent and film-makers who want to do different films. Each of the films is off beat and alternative, so unintentionally we have ended up supporting independent cinema.”

    The fact that 46-year-old Khan is one of Bollywood’s top three actors (along with two other Khans, Shah Rukh and Salman) and star of the two highest-grossing films in Indian cinema, 2009’s 3 Idiots (£47m), and Memento-inspired Ghajini (£26m), and 2001’s Oscar-nominated Lagaan – the third Indian film to be shortlisted for an Academy award – has made the public and industry sit up and take notice of Indian indies.

    Cary Rajinder Sawhney, director of LIFF, as well as curator of South Asian content at the London film festival, has high hopes for Delhi Belly. “We moved the festival to tie in with Delhi Belly’s release, as we knew it was right for our audience. Rather than the standard Bollywood audience across four generations, we’re aiming for the younger generation who are disenfranchised by Bollywood of their parents’ era, and want something more cutting-edge,” he says.

    Delhi Belly certainly fits the cutting-edge bill – it’s in English, and has an Adults Only rating in India for swearing and depicting sex. Despite being a household name with a family-friendly image, Khan makes no apologies for backing it. “In genre terms, it’s like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and reflects audiences are changing, and so are film-makers. The writer studied film-making at UCLA and the style of the script is western. Indian cinema is evolving.”

    Sawhney began LIFF to showcase the fact that Indian cinema has more to offer than Bollywood. “As programmer for the London film festival for 15 years, what struck me is how few of the Indian films were picked up for distribution in the UK, or were critically acclaimed.”

    The two-week event aims to broaden the UK’s narrow view of Indian cinema not only through smart programming but also through organising industry workshops between British and Indian film-makers. “We see Iranian or Latin American film lauded at film festivals, yet good Indian cinema is going under the radar,” Sawhney says. These films should be taken as seriously as other world cinema. In the UK it seems the only conception of Indian cinema is Bollywood or Satyajit Ray. There’s been a real surge in new-wave independent cinema, and it’s successful in the box office.”

    Indian independent cinema is a different beast to Hollywood. In India all producers were independent, big or little, until the government granted Indian cinema “industry” status in 2001. This ushered in the era of corporate studios such as Reliance, Eros and UTV, which finance, produce, distribute and market films. (One result of the change was that film-makers no longer depended on the underworld for finance.)

    Film critic Anupama Chopra says the term independent cinema applies, in India, to a film’s creative sensibility. “We’re not talking about finance or distribution, but content and storytelling. These films don’t adhere to the song-and-dance formula we’ve had for many years,” she says.

    India does have a history of arthouse cinema, even if Bengali director Satyajit Ray is the only film-maker most have heard of. “There was a vibrant art house or parallel cinema movement in the 1970s and 1980s,” Chopra, says “with directors like Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani, and brilliant actors Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil. The cinema was challenging, but only occasionally did well commercially.

    “It petered out in the 1980s because audiences stopped going to the cinema because of video. The resurgence in independent cinema is not arthouse in the way we knew it. Now they’re not stories of rural India or exploitation; instead we have a whole generation of directors raised on Bollywood and Hollywood, telling modern urban tales.”

    As with any story on contemporary India, globalisation and the opening up of the economy have been pivotal: “Modern film makers have grown up with satellite TV. It arrived in 1991; before that there was one state-run channel. People who are 20 to 25 have grown watching The Bold and the Beautiful and The Sopranos.”

    In 1997 the first multiplexes arrived (housed in air-conditioned shopping malls) and their rapid proliferation has contributed to the development of more sophisticated, broader tastes. “Before multiplexes,” says Chopra, “you only had single-screen cinemas seating 1,000; to fill that you needed a big movie. Now you can put the big movie in a screen with 500 people and something like LSD, Peepli Live or Delhi Belly in a screen for 200 or even 90 people. Both will sell out.”

    The corporate entities, such as Reliance BIG Entertainment, haven’t hesitated to move with the changing times, and are increasingly prepared to enter into co-productions with independent operators. “One third of the population is under 25,” Mahesh Ramanathan of Reliance says. “Changing societal patterns are influencing cinema, and films made on small budgets that mirror today’s youth and lifestyle can also turn in big box-office numbers.”

    That’s not to say the age of big-canvas, megastar-led, pan-India blockbusters – the four-quadrant film appealing to young and old, male and female – is over. But the financial risk means they will be few and far between, part of a film industry that’s more agile, varied and innovative in its storytelling.”What’s been good to see in the last few years is there have been different kinds of films being made,” Khan says. “Rather than one kind of film, there’s a variety that speaks for the health of the industry going forward.”

    • Delhi Belly screens on 30 June as part of the London Indian film festival (londonindianfilmfestival.co.uk), which runs until 12 July. Delhi Belly goes on general release on 1 July.

    Guardian.co.uk

    Post Comment

    You must be logged in to post a comment.

    celebrex 200 mg danger 7.5 mg prednisone generic wellbutrin identification prednisone 10 mg image lasix 80 mg gouttes prednisone 5 mg chews generic periactin cyproheptadine levitra 10mg fta 4 diflucan 150 mg pret 200 mg viagra dangerous cialis order rx viagra online 150 strattera online advertisements nexium 20 mg generico viagra order internet lasix 500 mg generic lasix 250 mg fiale levitra online bahrain cialis 20mg efeitos kamagra online shopping viagra online tomorrow 600 mg de viagra prednisone 5mg dosage avis zoloft 50 mg refrigerate generic bactrim generic zoloft problems metformin atid 1000mg buy cialis mexico generico levitra farmacias viagra ile mg doxycycline 100mg 10 days viagra online bangalore tetracycline cheap strongest generic cialis clomid online order viagra buy camden lisinopril stada 20 mg edmonton cheap viagra wellbutrin 225 mg augmentin 457 mg cena anwendung viagra 100mg cialis 2.5 mg generic cipro denk 500 mg celebrex 200mg anwendung compare cialis online lisinopril 2.5mg tablets order viagra eu existe priligy generico zovirax oral 200mg real 50mg viagra generique cialis 20 mg zovirax generico order cipro buy propecia cvs augmentin 400 mg dose cialis online 5mg viagra generico spagna augmentin es 600 mg clomid 100mg reussite cost viagra 25 mg xenical 120 mg instructions 40 mg prednisone pack generic cialis 1.89 zovirax comprimido 400 mg generic levitra difference zoloft 50 mg price viagra generic real cheapest super cialis viagra lloyds online cialis 20 mg venda 25mg viagra reviews medicinale xenical 120 mg zoloft 100mg pret levitra 20mg vidal kauf viagra online cialis 10mg last cipro 200 mg flk diflucan buy canada viagra precription online nexium tablets generic generic wellbutrin benefits dividere cialis 10 mg zithromax 1000 mg buy buy synthroid canada nexium sobres 10 mgs strattera kullananlar 10 mg lisinopril 5 mg nedir 25 mg viagra wirkung xenical generico emagrece propranolol 20 mg tablets lisinopril 12.5 mg order cialis 5mg canada 600 mg kamagra cialis buy france zithromax 250 mg packungsbeilage lexapro 10 mg 20 mg 1500 mg tetracycline wellbutrin 75 mg conversion generic doxycycline online stopping prednisone 20 mg order viagra men lexapro and .5 mg buy doxycycline gel lisinopril l0 mg viagra online amex generic viagra product viagra generico torino wellbutrin 100mg tablets buy diflucan without viagra generico comprar generic 5mg lexapro erythromycin eth 400mg buy zovirax australia lexapro 10 mg presentacion augmentin 500 mg filmtabletta viagra 200mg online zoloft cheap cialis generic brands prezzo nexium 40 mg buying levitra jakarta viagra 25 mg effectiveness generic cialis fedex levitra online orders metformin 500 mg dosage 1000 mg metformin hydrochloride cheapest reputable viagra dosage valtrex 500 mg viagra online quebec viagra 800mg kegunaan lexapro 10 mg glucophage 500 mg embarazo rx cialis online order doxycycline 100mg augmentin 875 mg sobres buy levitra mg propecia online store order cipro 500 mg buspar 10 mg information fungsi nexium 20mg cialis online cheap diflucan buy australia generic medicine nexium cheap pfizer viagra cipro xl buy cialis affiliate online doxycycline hyclate 400 mg generic viagra rezeptfrei zovirax order lipactin buy doxycycline mexico nolvadex 30mg wellbutrin 150 mg price 3generic sildenafil viagra nexium 40 mg tabletas synthroid medicine online cheapest viagra chemists cheap wellbutrin buying viagra zithromax online prices propecia generic drug online viagra legal generic of celebrex order synthroid canada lexapro 10mg generico buying zovirax ointment viagra 25mg testimoni online viagra poland cheap soft viagra kjop viagra online nexium 10 mg indicaciones propranolol 10 mg wiki kamagra uk online cheapest viagra 150mg viagra 100mg fta buy clomid metformin cialis online org thailand viagra generic propranolol hydrochloride 40 mg celebrex 200mg walmart buspar 20mg prednisone 50 mg kaina cialis cheap fast cipro 250mg tab cialis discount 20mg buy lisinopril 2.5 mg zithromax 250 mg uses cialis 5 mg prospect buy nexium 10 mg xenical 120 mg online cialis via mailorder lisinopril mylan generic buy lexapro generic cialis 50mg pills cialis mexico buy augmentin price 500mg viagra buy cheapest generic prednisone cvs xenical comanda online generic zovirax buy viagra 800mg usa generic cialis when viagra btmg levitra cheap online zovirax o generico lisinopril 40mg tablet cheap viagra sildenafil thuoc bactrim 480 mg prednisone mg tablets taking 40 mg lexapro buy 25 mg viagra amoxicillin amoxil 125 mg 15mg lexapro pregnancy kamagra 100 gold cheap diflucan 50mg dosage cheapest uk cialis precio strattera 40 mg generic 5mg levitra buying hydrochlorothiazide prednisone 100 mg cipro 500mg 1a viagra bonus buys lisinopril 20 mg sandoz 300 mg of diflucan prednisone 5mg 54 612 cheap fast kamagra tab zovirax 800 mg doxycycline 100mg drinking cytotec generico sirve cialis generico forum zoloft 50 vs. 100mg viagra 50mg verses generic doxycycline 50 mg cheap celebrex order celebrex cheap propecia 0.25 mg buy strattera 18 mg online narucivanje viagra hydrochlorothiazide triamterene generic bactrim 240mg bactrim online strattera 160 mg viagra buy nz viagra online test online yurtdisina viagra lisinopril generic alternative generic levitra facts best buy viagra buy propecia winnipeg 60 and 80 mg cialis 5mg lexapro worked viagra dosage 150mg cialis filmtabletten 10 mg cialis 20mg veron lisinopril 40 mg daily viagra online zenegra glucophage 850 mg metformin diflucan uk buy metformin online order buy celebrex generic generic cialis, 5 mg generic zoloft 100 mg buy viagra kuwait generic levitra advice viagra buy montreal buy lexapro paypal cialis daily cheap costo cialis 2 5 mg kamagra jelly buy misoprostol cytotec buy kostprijs levitra 20 mg generic lisinopril oral amoxil bd 875 mg buy cialis 150 mg lisinopril cheap kamagra guarenteed cheapest generic viagra craigslist kamagra 500 mg generic levitra purchase 1200 mg viagra viagra 25 mg funziona prednisone 20 mg insomnia buy lasix no australia generic viagra generic propecia pakistan zovirax 200mg tablet 2.5 mg cialis review medicamento amoxil 500 mg thuoc phenergan 25mg cialis tadalafil 5mg 5mg generic levitra buy diflucan express buy chinese clomid order cialis 40mg buy nexium generic cialis 20mg order levitra online buy nexium cheaper alternative synthroid buy it cheap price nexium amoxil 250 mg suspension online eczane levitra cialis 20mg originale buy doxycycline hyc generic viagra sublingual cialis 20 mg 4 xenical uk online sildenafil generic viagra buy clomid medication erythromycin 1000mg strattera 70 mg cialis australia online cialis generico fiable viagra generica china zovirax tablet 800 mg erythromycin capsules 250 mg cialis 5 mg information 5mg cialis dose will cialis 5mg 25mg clomid twins buy 40mg cialis 150 mg doxycycline hyclate buy strattera singapore lisinopril 2.5 mg headaches zithromax 250mg capsule generic alli orlistat lasix de 40mg diflucan generico prezzo nolvadex 5 mg propranolol er 80 mg levitra generico foro viagra discount cheap cialis available generic lisinopril fatigue 20mg cheap cialis daily synthroid 0.1 mg clomid 150 mg bfp cialis 20 mg n2 cialis gold 20 mg amoxil 500 mg usos doxycycline dosage 40 mg levitra 10mg australia amoxil 250 mg used diflucan 100 mg pret synthroid generic study viagra online offers buy amoxil uk buspar 120 mg levitra 10 mg durata synthroid cheap price cialis 5 mg torrinomedica cheapest viagra pfizer cialis cipla generic lexapro 15mg preco generic propecia fda clomid steroid online viagra online glasgow generic viagra safety propranolol non generic strattera 100 mg buy clomid order online lisinopril 10 mg hydrochlorothiazide 50 mg generic viagra diflucan 200 mg pret propecia 5 mg dangers clomid 100mg cheap reviews cialis 20 mg korea viagra online cialis 800 mg cialis fass 20 mg buy priligy china generico viagra cialis color generic synthroid viagra 50 mg kopen wholesale kamagra 100mg propranolol 80 mg lp buy propecia brazil xenical buy ireland taking 30mg cialis viagra kobra 100mg synthroid online pharmacy nolvadex canada buy lisinopril 10 mghctz blue sublingual cialis 50mg nolvadex research buy metformin 500 mg tab cytotec 200 mg vidal prednisone 10mg wiki cialis 5 mg statins 2.5mg cialis review augmentin 650 mg prospect strattera 18 mg fiyat green viagra 200mg viagra overnight order buying daily cialis celebrex 200mg nhs nolvadex online australia cheapest levitra uk xenical online usa buspar buy amoxil order online usda generic viagra lasix generic oxycontin 5 mg cialis india cialis caverject 120 mg clomid online purchase bula levitra 10mg lexapro 10 mg 14 comprimidos buy Cialis 10 pills metformin hydrochloride 850mg metformin 500mg sr difference cialis 5mg buy dapoxetine combination cialis prospect 5 mg 20 mg viagra capsules Online Levitra 120 pills amoxil bd 400 mg buy dapoxetine australia 100mg clomid uk zithromax 250 mg dosering generico de celebrex generic strattera adhd levitra 10 mg 12 st nexium 40mg programa walmart generic lexapro 2012 medication online viagra buy cialis 20 mg nexium buy online cialis generic 50mg celebrex 200 mg r prednisone dogs online levitra shop buy lisinopril 20 mg indicaciones lexapro online medication erythromycin order online strattera 60 mg cost levitra de 5 mg cs online viagra 10mg cialis cost lexapro 20 mg buy 550 mg zoloft viagra pharmacy online health online cialis coupons cialis 20 mg buy zovirax zovirax medicament prednisone 5mg bactrim to buy thuoc lisinopril 10 mg generic nexium name celebrex 90 mg Online Levitra 20 mg cheap 5mg cialis brand cialis 5 mg levitra 20 mg filmtabletta cialis online confidential bestel propecia 5 mg bactrim thyroid disorder prednisone dosage 25mg eriacta 100 generic viagra doxycycline 20mg generic cipro antibiotic 500 mg buy tetracycline 250 mg dosis propranolol 10 mg buy 30 mg prednisone buy doxycycline 40 200mg order viagra 25 mg boots online doxycycline generic cialis tablet 100mg viagra uk doxycycline 100mg effects lisinopril 10 mg information celebrex price generic bactrim forte mg cheapest kamagra online kamagra 8000mg purchase generic lexapro buying viagra vietnam viagra online sales buy viagra 150 mg 4 days 10 mg prednisone order zovirax uk generic propecia manufacturers viagra black generic zithromax 9 pills 1000mg cialis mg strengths lisinopril 20 mg iva generic viagra pillen acquista online viagra mail order wellbutrin cialis 20 mg shipping clomid 50mg testosterone cheap xenical online cialis online espana purchase nexium 40mg buy cheap amoxil wellbutrin 750mg guaranteed cheapest kamagra zoloft 50 mg pret cialis 80 mg images 5 m mg cialis nolvadex 10mg tablets