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

6 Films You Should Watch If You’re So Done With ‘Golmaal Again’ And ‘Judwaa 2’

More from Soumadri Banerjee

We often underestimate the medium of cinema and the way it can tell powerful stories. They can help shed light on rifts which were previously hidden in plain sight. In doing so, these films become something else – they become conversations.

While mainstream Bollywood blockbusters often overlook this aspect of filmmaking, initiating conversations is a good first step in helping us rethink and re-examine our positions within the world and perhaps also think of solutions.

The Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) was started in 2012 to give a platform for good alternative cinema to the local community. Today, DIFF has become one of India’s most promising film festivals and draws audiences from across the world.

Here are 6 films from this year’s DIFF that you cannot afford to miss if you have a passion for thought-provoking films and if you are willing to partake in interesting conversations.

1. Newton

The Amit Masurkar film has already been selected as India’s entry for the Best Foreign Film Category at the Oscars next year. Rajkummar Rao has won much critical acclaim for his role as a naïve but sincere rookie government clerk trying to ensure free and fair elections in the conflict-ridden jungles of Chhattisgarh. Dark and satirical in its approach, the film offers a deliberation on the nature of ‘democratic’ elections in the world’s largest democracy.

2. A Death In The Gunj

Konkona Sen Sharma’s directorial debut received much critical acclaim when it was released commercially in June. The film, set in 1979, follows an extended family gathered at a remote rural home to celebrate New Year in the town of McCluskiegunj, Jharkhand. At the centre of the story is shy and sensitive Shutu, played by Vikrant Massey, who is mocked and bullied by his entire family. Even when he’s present, he’s invisible. We think of family as a protective and accepting unit but “A Death In The Gunj” offers that rare insight about the darkness that may lurk behind the façade of cheery and happy family dynamics.

3. White Sun

What does a country look like after 20 years of war and unrest? What does it for it  to reach peace? Set in Nepal, these are powerful questions that Deepak Rauniyar’s film raises. But the film is careful with its social commentary that’s crafted it around its richly layered characters. Chandra, a Maoist rebel, returns to his village to bury his royalist father. He attempts to reconnect with his ex-wife Durga, a fiercely independent lower caste woman, who, at the same time, stands accused of polluting her father in-law’s funeral rites. The film offers a fantastic glimpse into the lives of people trying to pick themselves up after years of war, and  have to contend with the contradictions that are inherent to the traditions that bind them.

4. Abu

It is hard to imagine what it would be like to grow up as a gay man in the confines of a conservative Muslim household. Arshad Khan’s film offers us just that glimpse – the challenges that come with growing up in a family where homosexuality is considered to be shameful and a sin. The title, which translates to ‘father’ in Urdu, was inspired from the death of Arshad Khan’s own father. A stunningly deep and personal tale of self-discovery which also tackles difficult subjects such as homophobia, xenophobia and spans multiple generations, this is one film you cannot afford to miss.

5. Memories Of A Machine

Women’s sexuality is still not a comfortable topic for many. There is still a culture of shame and stigma attached to women expressing their sexual desires. Shailaja Padindala’s 10-minute short film gives us the opportunity to have this much-needed conversation. The film focuses on a woman who is asked questions related to her sexuality and in the process, we get to know her struggles of self-discovery and what it feels like to be sexually curious within a very traditional south Indian surrounding.

6. Honeygiver Among The Dogs

“Honeygiver Among The Dogs” is a fascinating ‘Buddhist noir’ from Bhutan by director Dechen Roder. If the idea of a ‘Buddhist noir’ doesn’t already have you excited, the film’s plot centres around an undercover detective, Kinley, who has to investigate the case of a missing nun. During this course, he has to make a risky alliance with a woman who has been branded a demoness by her village. The film not only reinvents the noir genre by setting it within its specific cultural context but also treads into territory previously unexplored by Bhutanese filmmakers.

So if you want a reprieve from the typical masala blockbuster churned out by Bollywood, and if you like films with challenging subject matters, now would be a good time to check out these out.

As the festival states, “Momos in one hand, cappuccinos in the other, film lovers find their way to screenings, Q&A’s with filmmakers, panel discussions and masterclasses. All of the town’s diverse communities come together to make the festival a success.”


You must be to comment.

More from Soumadri Banerjee

Similar Posts

By Vanshika Gadekar

By Yusuf Abidin

By Ranjeet Menon

    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        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