5 Breakthrough Regional Movies of 2019 That were Film Festival Favourites
2019 has been an exemplary year for cinema. Not only did Bollywood have films that set high standards globally for what Indian cinema is, but we saw films from various corners of the country that broke barriers of geography and language to make noise at the forefront.
These films got the audience talking about them for days. Some won international awards. Some opened film festivals. In a nutshell, these films connected with people for their fresh and original storytelling and unique content.
Let us take a look at five important films that stood out from the crowd.
1. Moothon: This film was one of the opening films of the JIO MAMI Mumbai Film Festival and also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival. This Malayalam film starring Nivin Pauly, Sanjana Dipu, Shashank Arora, and Sobhita Dhulipala is about a 14 year old child from Lakshadweep, who sets off to Mumbai in pursuit of Akbar, his elder brother, navigating through the dark underbelly of the city.
This is director Geetu Mohandas' second feature film after Liar's Dice. The film goes on a journey, revealing heartbreaking but true plots, that keep you hooked on to the story. Cinematographer Rajeev Ravi's visuals leave an imprint on your mind.
Critics also say Moothon is the birth of star Nivin Pauly, who has shed off his boy next door charm to give this unforgettable performance.
2. Aamis: National Award winning director Bhaskar Hazarika's Assamese film has been one of the most talked about films since its screenings at the Tribeca Film Festival, MAMI Mumbai Film Festival and its theatrical release in November.
Aamis is the story of Nirmali, a pediatrician in her late 30s who is lonely as her husband, a senior doctor does relief work in surrounding areas, leaving her alone to take care of their son. She befriends Sumon, a PHD student researching food habits in the Northeast. Sharing the mutual liking for food, Nirmali and Sumon bond over platonic food-tasting ‘dates'. But as their taste buds become more curious, their friendship takes a bizarre turn. This film, presented by Anurag Kashyap received very strong reaction from audiences and ace filmmakers alike. Shriram Raghavan said, “It’s like, you know, Lunchbox, made by someone like Edgar Allan Poe or Hitchcock.”
3. Iewduh: This film made by Pradip Kurbah from Meghalaya won the Kim Ji-seok Award at the 24th Busan International Film Festival in Korea, becoming the first Indian film to do so. The film explores the lives of the people living in the alleyways of Shillong's Iewduh market, also known as Bara Bazar. The film grapples with the complexities of life beyond what is seen from the outside.
From addiction to violence, terminal disease to menial jobs, the lives of these characters are interwoven with arcs that are much more than their struggles. People’s dreams and aspirations find space in the film.
“They are not heroes in the typical sense, but they are heroes nevertheless,” Kurbah said in an earlier interview with Scroll, about the inspiration behind the film. The film is in Khadi, Jayantia, Garo and Hindi much like the diversity in the Iewduh market.
4. Jalikattu: Angamaly Diaries and Ee.Ma.Yau. director Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Jalikattu is the tale of a bull escaping and the violence that follows in a village. The film about the people of a village trying to tame a beast but also navigating rivalries between themselves. This Malayalam film got a lot of appreciation at the Toronto Film Festival where it premiered. It was known for subtly using its storytelling and visuals to make a strong political statement.
It also won Lijo the Best Director award at the International Film Festival of India 2019.
5. Kastoori (Musk): Vinod Kambli's powerful Marathi film is about a boy in a school uniform who cleans toilets. This semi-autobiographical film deals with casteism and oppression of the marginalized. Gopi, the boy in the story is the topper in his class, especially in Sanskrit, but is subjected to casteist slurs, taunts and ridicule for smelling like a gutter. His father is an alcoholic and hence little Gopi takes his place for jobs like sweeping streets, cleaning septic tanks and even conducting a postmortem. Gopi and his best friend, Adim, another Dalit boy, want to invest in musk flavoured perfume. It is not feasible, but the boys are determined.
Kastoori or Musk shows the truths people don’t usually want to see. Kambli, who was inspired by Nagraj Manjule after watching Fandry, made this film in 2017 with a shoestring budget of 75 lakh from the contribution of many people who came together to make the film a reality.
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