This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Shambhavi Saxena. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

6 Brilliant Indie Films You Need To Watch (Instead Of The Clichéd Masala)

More from Shambhavi Saxena

By Shambhavi Saxena:

Independent cinema often gets typecast as the reserve of highbrow grad students and urban elite, but really it’s a fantastic field for telling the stories that mainstream media routinely glosses over, or does a poor job of. In India, the indie-film scene is a burgeoning phenomenon in its own right, and annual events have been promoting some really great cinema. Each year, new and innovative indie films, in both, documentary and feature format, are expanding our relationship with cinema. And if you’re hankering for a slice of this super-interesting genre, here are six indie films that you should definitely watch:

1. Sonita

The history of rap music is revolutionary, and even today it offers up comment about racial violence in the USA (like Noname’s “Casket Pretty“) or the militarisation of Kashmir (like MC Kash’s “Heart Of A Rebel“). And this film by Iranian director Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami brings us back to the revolutionary charge of rap music. It follows a teenager named Sonita, who is an Afghan refugee living in Iran. She’s got so much fire, and dreams of becoming a musician, but her family has other plans in store for her – to sell her off as a bride. Exploring one of the many faces of an entrenched patriarchy, Ghaem Maghami’s documentary promises to be a moving account of a young woman’s quest for self-hood.

2. Kammattipaadam

With much of the drama and intensity we’ve come to know and love of Malayalam cinema, director Ravi Rajeev’s film is the gangster epic for all you action-buffs. It follows the story of two friends – a young savarna man named Krishnan, and a Dalit man named Ganga – in a time and a place where divisions of caste are as violent as they are prominent. The upper-caste mafia uses Dalit gangsters to usurp land, and as tensions build, they have an impact on more than just human relationships, but the social terrain itself.

3. A Syrian Love Story

From British filmmaker Sean McAllister, comes a documentary about the Arab Spring – the revolutionary protests and demonstrations – that spread across several Middle Eastern countries in 2010-2011. However, this one is rather different from most that you’ve seen. The larger-than-life politics forms the backdrop to the moving story of Amer and Raghda, who are comrades and lovers, navigating the difficult circumstances that surround them.

4. A Korean In Paris

With a dream-like vision of the Parisian landscape, seen from a listless young Korean man’s point of view, Jeon Soo-il’s film promises to be an interesting, eclectic experience. Sang Ho, who doesn’t speak a word of French, winds his way through the European city to find his wife, who mysteriously disappeared during their honeymoon two years ago. If you’re a fan of the weirdly aesthetic, you’re definitely going to want to watch this one.

5. Lathe Joshi

In India, the collision course of skilled labour and highly mechanised work has meant several different things for several different populations. But for Lathe Joshi, the protagonist of this film who becomes trapped in a prison of automatic actions and statistics and numbers, globalisation has a devastating effect not just on his economic independence, but also on his very sense of identity. Directed by Mangesh Joshi, this film is bound to push you to think about the tense and changing landscape of India, and what it means for the average person.


6. The Island Funeral

Thailand’s veteran filmmaker and the country’s first female director, Pimpaka Towira weaves a complex and layered story in this film. It follows a young Thai woman named Laila, who leaves Bangkok for the Southern province of Pattani to visit her aunt. Accompanied by her brother and his friend, she discovers that over the years Pattani has been ravaged by religious conflict.

So if you’re looking to get away from all the masala-dhamaka of commercial Indian cinema, run to the hills. These six films, and many more, are going to be screened at the fifth edition of the Dharamshala International Film Festival. Since its inception in 2012, the festival aims “To create a truly meaningful, non-partisan cultural platform to engage and involve all communities that inhabit the area—Indians, Tibetan refugees and expatriates—in order to promote mutual understanding, foster harmony and offer exposure to contemporary forms of creative expression.” This year it will also feature a special Children’s Film Programme, curated by Monica Wahi.

“Bringing independent cinema to the mountains,” goes the festival tag line, and this year it will be held at a brand new venue – the Tibetan Children’s Village in McLeodganj. The festival starts on Nov. 3, and is spread over four days, and is definitely something you should put on your itinerary this coming winter season!

For the full festival programme, click here.

You must be to comment.

More from Shambhavi Saxena

Similar Posts

By Rishabh Kumar Mishra

By Sas3 Tranimal

By V

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below