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10 Lesser-Known Hindi Movies That Will Make You Re-evaluate Society

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Apart from big Bollywood blockbusters, there are many lesser-known films of parallel cinema which you should watch to understand society and life in a better way. So, here are 10 lesser-known movies for you to watch this summer.

1. Saaransh

Director: Mahesh Bhatt

Cast: Anupam Kher, Madan Jain, Rohini Hattagadi, Soni Razdan, Suhas Bhalekar

“Saaransh” was India’s official entry for the 1985 Oscars in the best foreign language film category. It is a soul touching movie with a beautiful message – the victory of life over death and courage over fear.

This film depicts the story of an elderly couple whose son dies at a young age in New York. Their life takes a new turn when they try to protect their pregnant and unmarried renter from a powerful politician. What happens next is a must watch.

Fast fact: It is the debut film of Anupam Kher.

2. Apna Asmaan

Director: Kaushik Roy

Cast: Irfan Khan, Shobhana, Rajat Kapoor, Anupam Kher and Dhruv Piyush Panjauni

This film conceptualises a message for parents who have overambitious dreams for their child.

Ravi, a plastic salesman and his wife Padmini have a son named Buddhi, who is autistic (a type of developmental disorder characterised by troubles with interaction and communication and which shows restrictive and repetitive behaviour.)

One day, in a TV interview, a scientist Dr Sathya claims of inventing a controversial drug called “brain booster” which can cure mental problems. In order to cure their son, Ravi takes this drug and reluctantly injects it in Buddhi, which gives him intellectual strength but the situation turns worse.

3. Matrubhoomi: A Nation Without Women

Director: Manish Jha

Cast: Tulip Joshi, Sudhir Pandey, Sushant Singh and Piyush Mishra

This is cinema in its purest form. It depicts the situation of a village with no women due to female foeticides.

Due to the unchecked practice of female foeticides somewhere around 2050, a village becomes solely populated by males desperate for wives. A wealthy father of five boys finds out about a single young woman, named Kalki living in some distant village and buys her from her father and marries her to all his five sons. What happens next is a dark tale of dirty Indian tradition and patriarchy.

4. Lakshmi

Director:  Nagesh Kunkunoor

Cast: Monali Thakur, Satish Kaushik and Shefali Shah

A film that deals with the hard-hitting realities of human trafficking and child prostitution in India.

Lakshmi, a 14-year-old girl, is kidnapped from her village and thrown into prostitution, where she undergoes the journey of extreme pain and suffering. At last, against all odds, she decides to put her perpetrators in jail.

5. Under Trial

Director: Aziz Khan

Cast: Rajpal Yadav, Mukesh Tiwari, Kader Khan, Prem Chopra

A man is accused by his wife of raping his own daughters. The film revolves around an interesting twist in the family relationship.

6. Identity Card

Director: Rahat Kazmi

Cast: Tia Bajpai, Vipin Sharma, Saurabh Shukla,  Shoib Kazmi and Ragubir Yadav

This film is a depiction of police interrogation and tension that prevails in Kashmir. A journalist along with her friend and guide is detained by the Special Task Force. Later, she explores the life of ordinary Kashmiris and various social issues faced by them.

7. Aakrosh

Director: Govind Nihalani

Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Smita Patil, Om Puri and Amrish Puri

This film went to win 1980’s National Film award for the best feature film in Hindi and several Filmfare awards. It is also in the list of 60 films that shaped the Indian film industry spanning six decades.

Allegedly based on a true incident reported on page 7 of a local newspaper, the story revolves around a peasant, oppressed by his landowners and foremen. His wife is raped by a foreman who then has him arrested to hide his own crime. The film is a scathing satire on the corruption in the judicial system and the victimisation of underprivileged by the able and the powerful.

8. Paar

Director: Goutam Ghose

Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi and Om Puri

A depressing and cruel account of the exploitation of lower caste labourers in feudal Bihar. A labourer kills his own landlord’s brother to avenge the murder of a benevolent master. The family then flees to Kolkata, suffering many problems.

9. Shahid

Director: Hansal Mehta

Cast: Rajkumar Rao, Kay Kay Menon and Prabhleen Sandhu

Based on the life of lawyer and human rights activist Shahid Azmi, who was assassinated in 2010 in Mumbai. This film is an inspiration to every person fighting for justice and particularly for those who aspire to become a lawyer.

10. Kya Yahi Sach Hai

Director: Yogesh Pratap Singh

An international award-winning film directed by former IPS officer Yogesh Pratap Singh. It depicts the life of an honest IPS officer who is removed from service by a conspiracy of minister and bureaucrats. A must-watch movie for every civil service aspirant.

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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.

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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 Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’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.

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