Mumbai Cha Raja, Miss Lovely, Gattu, Supermen of Malegaon: Top 10 independent films of 2012

A list of 10 best independent films, which left an impact at various national and international film festivals during 2012

In a year when big-budget, star-studded Bollywood films and the Rs 100 crore club made headlines, there were some small-budget independent movies that managed to attract eyeballs with their strong storyline and visual appeal, and without any backing from studios or actors. Here’s a list of the top 10 independent films, which left an impact at various national and international film festivals during 2012:

Kshay: Shot completely in black and white, Kshay directed by debutant Karan Gour, is a psychological drama about obsession. Rasika Duggal’s portrayal of an obsessive housewife was outstanding. The film played in four festivals including last year’s Dubai International Film Festival and won awards and critical acclaim from Western critics.

Ship of Theseus: Known for writing soaps like Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki, debutant director Anand Gandhi addressed questions such as redemption and death in his first feature length film Ship of Theseus with the support of stunning performances by its actors. The movie made quite a stir at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Gattu: A heartwarming tale of childlike innocence hidden within us. Gattu was made with the help of Children’s Film Society of India. The story of a young boy obsessed with kite-flying, Gattu may be yet another children’s film but in essence it highlights the power of hope. Directed by Rajan Khosa, the movie was held in high regard by critics and film reviewers all over the world.

Mumbai Cha Raja: Manjeet Singh’s Mumbai Cha Raja explores the underbelly of Mumbai during the rainy Ganesh festival. Touted to be India’s answer to Slumdog Millionaire, this film is a perfect blend of joy, sorrow and misfortune. It was the official selection at the Toronto International Film Festival 2012, the Abu Dhabi Film Festival New Horizons Competition and the 14th Mumbai Film Festival’s Indian Competition.

Miss Lovely: Ashim Ahluwalia’s Miss Lovely traverses through a long forgotten era of C-grade Bollywood horror and porn films. Starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Niharika Singh, the film competed in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. It also won two awards at the 14th Mumbai Film Festival this year.

Supermen of Malegaon: The film takes us through the lives of people who are united over a single goal to produce a Malegaon version of Superman by spoofing Bollywood films. Before its theatrical release in June this year, the film bagged 15 awards at various film festivals.

Good Night Good Morning (GNGM): Yet another film shot completely in black and white, GNGM plunges into the psyche of the viewers by highlighting the strong desire to be loved. Following screenings at several international film festivals, the tragicomedy saw a theatrical release in India on January 20 and opened to mostly positive reviews.

Shuttlecock Boys: The film was made by first-timers. Most of the cast members are non-actors and didn’t have any formal training. Shuttlecock Boys revolves around the lives, successes and failures of four friends who hail from a lower middle-class background in Delhi. It made its way to festivals including the Gotham Screen International Film Festival, New York, the Seattle South Asian Film Festival and the Chicago South Asian Film Festival.

Delhi in a Day: Prashant Nair’s debut feature, set against the backdrop of a rich family in Delhi, makes a strong statement on the socio-economic strata without deviating from the crux of the plot. The film had flashes of comedy to shine a light on the uncomfortable realities of contemporary life.

Peddlers: Crime-thriller Peddlers is an ode to Mumbai that narrates a raw story of three characters that share an almost appalling behaviour since childhood. The film was screened as part of the 2012 International Critics’ Week, an independent film event which runs parallel to the Cannes Film Festival in southern France.