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.

    buy promethazine online canada venlafaxine hcl er 75mg prazosin hcl 2mg cap teva jasmine pilchard gosnell pregnant levamisole hydrochloride wormer generic cialis 200mg plavix 75mg generic name binozyt 500 mg xenical orlistat 120mg capsules augmentin dosage for children ear infection phexin azithromycin xlpharmacy medications for ocd generic viagra england ciprodex otic drops celebrex dosage dose side effects indapamide side effects lozol medicine clavamox dogs dosage tablets crestor side effects rhabdomyolysis lawsuit orderpharma topix forum overseas fioricet buy arthrotec 75 mg price viagra online overnight delivery usa how to get azithromycin clopidogrel side effects stroke where to buy elimite over the counter florinef medication cost eszopiclone lunesta lipothin no rx cialis super active for sale euthyrox side effects abilify side effects weight gain tadapox available in kerala styletadarise morphine pills 60 mg celebrex medications buy name brand viagra purchase metronidazole no perscriptions mexico pharmacy testosterone ferility drugs for sale in canada viagra in hyderabad pharmacy technician job description aciphex side effects and interactions fucidin cream uses restonite reviews on garcinia kamagra side effects vigra price diltiazem hydrochloride 2 cream 8mg suboxone strips effects of nifedipine for preterm labor viagra gratis valium overdose suicide rythmol dosage zithromax chlamydia treatment sildenafil citrate msds motilium dosage for babies colchicine online no prescription efecto del cialis en la mujer cephalexin 500mg side effects picareta em ingles performance ranitidine zantac eq pill cutter for viagra doxylamine side effects blood pressure zyloprim medication interactions over the counter viagra substitute arimidex bodybuilding aromatase inhibitor levitra coupon 3 free pills duphaston 10mg tabletki z packs antibiotic for sale primatene mist side effects ciprotab 500 purchasing cytotec online amlodipine besylate side effects ed donepezil 10 mg price lortab hydrocodone 7.5 lexapro mail order us pharmacy tylenol side effects long term eldepryl manufacturers yasmin birth control weight gain ropinirole hydrochloride tablets rabeprazole 20 mg ingredients viagra delhi viagra opinie how to buy cialis 5 mg suprax coupon codes ed hardy perfume amazon viagra on line best price reviews prevacid vs prilosec nexium buy prednisone 20mg fast diamox sequels picture cephalexin 500mg capsule antibiotic buy diflucan with mastercard bactrim antibiotic side effects with alcohol micardis coupons canada buy viagra in lanzarote yasmine bleeth now legitimate india pharmacies walmart pharmacy 36526 mexitil mexiletine mexitil baclofen antidote valtrex on sai levaquin for sinus infection dosage chlamydia discharge men zantac coupons rebates atarax dosages birth control shipping propecia online prescription paroxetine hcl 20 mg tablet buy viagra online australia viagra online canada pharmacy review generic lexapro versus brand reviews promethazine no prescription where to buy viagra in singapore cialis kaufen 10mg where to buy lantus solostar medoflucon 50 shades cialis 5mgs pay pal pharmacy where to buy viagra in kuching 273 torsemide side effects captopril drug generic name periactin syrup viagra with dapoxetine online does aarp pay for viagra quick ship cialis viagra recreational cheap nizagra brand cialis pillscheap finasteride gel trimetabol sirop de artar free cialis sample pack cephalexin 500mg sildenafil citrate tablets 50 qsymia price imitrex migraine medication dosage catafast powder game zenerx reviews in medical journals ampicilina 500mg para que sirve lopid gemfibrozil 600 mg viagara for men vitamix reviews youtube no perscription amonoxicilin from uk subutex side effects dose extenze review information truth about enzyte adalat mexico buy viagra in nagpur metallica one youtube nexium otc levofloxacin 500 mg tablets cheap viagra as advertised on sirius ciprobay 500mg acquistare viagra 25 mg donde comprar venaglaxine finasteride pas cher peoples coupon code pharmacy technician certification online metoprolol tartrate 25mg used for can you use keflex for sinus infection vitamix vs blendtec videoviyagravoltaren albendazole side effects dogs cialis shipped from usa promethazine 25mg medication use viagra charlotte nc xalatan eye drops levitra better than viagra cipro side effects antibiotics medication over the counter antibiotic eye drops buy abortion pill online now buy viagara pills furadonin wikipedia enfurosemide when will cymbalta go generic how does colcrys medication work buy retin a online no prescription octreotide infusion protocol edukacijski fakultet travnik chloroquine malaria vivax tesco viagra over the counter novolog insulin sliding scale buying clomid in australia non drowsy benadryl hytrin online without prescription levitra promo code cialis guenstig glucovance 5 500 espanol buy ampicillin no rx haldol decanoate magnesium oxide chemical formula euroclinix uk map how to get prednisone walgreens otc asthma medicine amlodipine medication classificationamoxicilanamoxicilinamoxicillin bisoprolol fumarate 5mg tab micardis 40 mg cost buy cialis from a reputable co nexium side effects treatment viagara cipa approved online buy bisoprolol hctz online finax cereal venlafaxine hcl er 37.5 mg safe propecia progesterone cream and weight loss medameds complaints against attorneys canadian primatene voltaren 75mg for toothache viagra or similar products nosipren prednisona 5mg para north drug mart canada pharmacy online pharmacy that takes discover toprol xl generic medication genuine cialis from canada primatene mist inhaler canada oxybutynin chloride 5mg tabs metformina 850 dosis recomendada de biotina alli side effects funny pinamox pinewood apartments buy ventolin no prescription amoxicillin 500mg online orders viagra side effects alcohol jasmine pilchard gosnell facebook toradol 10 mg buy testosterone pentrexyl ampicilina 500 mg para que sirve sildenafil ranbaxy software engineer salary range rocket power characters fluconazole 150 for sale online lanoxin 0.125 mg daily medameds physician assistant flomax medication side effects pastile e 200 bactroban cream mupirocin calcium cream 2 uses optimmune ophthalmic ointment for dogs in genetics cost for cialis from walmart the most trusted viagra sites onadron damla folcres finasteride tablets buy lysiopril in mexico how effective is viagra metoprolol tartrate side effects leg cramps phenegren no prescription ordering fineciastride clavamox without rx pravachol without prescription phenergan with codeine abuse can cialis fail no prescription canadian pharmacy pharm online diane stretton family nexium walmart tadalafil cialis 500 mg aricept side effects donepezil buspirone hcl 15mg reviews chlamydia symptoms in women pictures beautiful naprosyn medication and alcohol medrol side effects sertraline side effects doctor mesterolone steroid use online pharmacy 365 pills scam uti antibiotics for sale buy amitriptylin with no prescription rumalaya oil buy stromectol from india medication for type 2 diabetes online betagesic tablets with windows cozaar blood pressure pill cialis kaufen ohne kreditkarte can you get high off indomethacin cordarone amiodarone side effects purchase viagra fast in australia zyban vs chantix treatment discover card login page account login laxifen tabletas apple is prednisone from overseas safe buy lamisil tablets withut prescription viagra super active coupon code price comparison viagra cialis levitra mobicox tabletas de coco famciclovir for shingles treatment priligy di malaysia healthy men medameds prices of silver drug prices at algodones mexico laxadin tablets at walmart cyclo progynova tablets donormyl ingredients in tylenol coumadin blood thinner warfarin long term viagra side effects cialis generico prezzi ivermectin wormer for swine sofilex antibiotics generic pay pal cialis e fegato antibodies without a precription buy buspirone for cats canada speedy rx meds douleur regle viagra for sell online gabapentin on the counter propecia before and after results provigil medication assistance colchicine online canada malaseb pledgets 60ct thyroxin without priscription purchase cialis daily cost of mircette birth control pillsmobic buy kamagra spain maestro viagra black therapy dogs international vistaril medication side effects capoten contraindications to breastfeeding ajanta viagra anafranil drug reviews cabergoline drugs forum septra ds 800 160 cheap generic viagra co uk vimax pills what to use instead of alli diet drug generic viagra uk generic orlistat india cockapoo puppies for sale best otc erection allegra d side effects allergies salzarex vardenafil and tadalafil cordarone prospect park rumafen gel nail medrol dose poison ivy cardinal health locations xenical side effects forum viagra side effects viagra vs cialis vs levitra fluconazole 150 fun dosage 20mg zestril without prescription costco pharmacy price list 2014 tegretol 200mg en espanol proviron cycle length viagra wonderful special for men lisinipril no rx 2 5mg kamagra polo chewable tablets ed meds online in usa canadian generic cialis 1st place microcidal vs microstatic furnace does aetna pay for cialis levlen birth control pill flucomed 150mg to gramsfluzol paypal pharmacy no prescription ibuprofen 800mg dosage apo sildenafil 50 mg himcolin cream puffs flexeril medication information prednisone for poison ivy breastfeeding mail order amoxicillin rohypnols dubai what is glucotrol glipizideglucovance remeron side effects remeron sleep mupirocin calcium cream 2 and yeast infections propranolol dosage for stage fright sales cialis increasing testosterone levels in men trazodone sleep desyrel medication buy cheap adderall dosage quinine sulfate leg cramps ibuprofen vs acetaminophen for toothache why was tetracycline discontinued phexin bd tablets for kids grathazon kaplet indiana vyvanse 40 mg street price aspirin for dogs dose albuterol inhaler for bronchitis sureway construction management ltd paypal propecia pill north pharmacy canada lasix atarax drops for paediatric use levaquin antibiotic and alcohol stromectol ivermectin buy thyroxine india viagra for sale in alaska diazepam for dogs with seizures viramune 200mg ibuprofen obestat meridiano cyproheptadine order online dormidina side effects carafate side effects reviews pheromones for men reviews ranitidine for infants how long to work taking zyrtec with promethazine dose antifungal nizoral walgreens pharmacy online zithromax online in us can you get high on indomethacin canadian pharmacy baclofen otc can i buy cialis in france ventolin inhaler salbutamol doctor effexor and weight gain taking nolvadex gynecomastia aricept and generic name buy synthroid from mexico surrey kt12 viagra buy tranexamic acid no prescription usa buying fluoxetine over the counter trusted cialis by mail furosemide hcl mechanism of action amiloride hctz 5 50 dostinex mg direct rx online buy 500mg flagyl no prescription manly 100 sildenafil citrate 100mg mobic 7.5 mg for headaches fluconazole over the counter walgreens premarin buy viagra alternative pfizer viagra terbinafine 250mg side effects for dogs where eagles dare actress viagra brand without prescription paroxetine 10 mg and weed where to buy cialis in hong kong synthroid no prescription online tricor medication canadian phamacy fentanyl patch dosage xenical philippines advertisement mircette birth control pill kamagrafast crookshanks cabgolin medicine cabinet serta icomfort insight mattress clozaril side effects dose keftab patent medicine series 7 rx pharamacy lynoral ethinyl estradiol levonorgestrel benicar lawsuit new jersey lung specialist in chennai i want to buy original viagra cipa canadian approved pharmacies hoodia p57 adalat tv serial kamagra paypal uk a cialis no brasil buy celexa online without prescription no prescription viagra canada online benazepril medications tizanidine 2mg medication ingredients nexium 40 how to buy lasix and potassium independent online pharmacy reviews duphaston side effects on fetus motilium for sale best antibiotic for uti fluoxetine hcl 10mg for cats precose dosage calculations why is alli available amaryl medication informationambien pharmacy store online cialis mobicool coolers levaquin lawsuit settlements new jersey buy disulphiram no prescription microcidal 125mg to ml bentyl dosage for children onlain igri tabla seroflo 250 side effects astromenda uninstall.exe betanoid 0 5mg melatonin aviane birth control effectiveness valium money pak rocket launcher avedox fcebokcom cialis generic sold in u s cymbalta and neurontin and weight gain feldene flash nifedipine dosage preterm labor ed pharmacy sample pack real viagra online without prescription cialis 5mg online without prescriptions flomist spray leukeran side effects pharmacy rx advair coupons $20 advair coupon rp cialis pentrexyl 500 mg dosage viagra pour femme a vendre lipitor 40 mg cialis for slae cheap ranitidine medication fosamax generic kamagra price in malaysia champix smoking tablets vicodin withdrawal symptoms domperidone and newzealand pharmacy 365 pharmacy topamax dosage for weight loss yahoo answers alternatives for doxycycline canada pet meds rx one pharmacy canada non generic enalapril side effects in cats comprar misoprostol en mendoza finasteride dosage increasefinasterinefineviagraflomaxtra clonidine side effects clonidine hcl tizanidine side effects betnesol side effects buy azithromycin single dose fasigyn fortesta cheap blue pill cialis online india glucophage 500mg information where to buy bactrim antibiotic