Breaking The Mould: 5 Mainstream Indian Films That Advocate For Social Change

Breaking The Mould: 5 Mainstream Indian Films That Advocate For Social Change

Prior to the establishment of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) in the early 1950s, The British Raj had a long drawn history of film censorship. As nascent Indian cinema continued to grow, the British followed by the new Indian government feared that film would become a potential medium for disseminating communal dissent.

In today’s independent India, films continue to come under row for threatening the security, morality, and the religious sentiments of the country with socially-driven films coming under particular scrutiny.

As the nation continues to be clouded by conservative thought, independent social narratives seldom see the light of day. Despite the constrictions faced by the film fraternity, several commercial and independent filmmakers have been able to achieve the remarkable feat of producing challenging narratives that take a long, harsh look at the community and society that this new Indian regime is fostering.

We’d like to take a look at some socially-driven films that offer a distinct perception of contemporary India.

I. Nayattu (Malayalam, 2020)

With releases as distinct as The Great Indian Kitchen, which dissects patriarchal structures, the Malayalam film industry has had an empowering year with stories that shatter warped public notions. The film, directed by Martin Prakkat, packs in a police procedural drama within a suspense thriller that pans out in the form of an escape flick. The narrative subtly hints at caste politics and the power that it holds to shake up governments.

Nayattu is streaming on Netflix India

II. Aruvi (Tamil, 2016)

For a film that is equally high on emotions and social commentary, Aruvi delivers a seamlessly powerful performance. The story begins with the protagonist Aruvi (Aditi Balan) being framed for her anti-national actions. What unfolds is an emotional and thrilling narrative that revolves around Aruvi’s journey and the events leading up to this very moment.

Aruvi is streaming on Prime video.

III. Aligarh (Hindi, 2015)

Based on a series of true events, Aligarh attempts to retell the tale of a queer Aligarh University professor and a sting operation that exposes his sexuality to the orthodox community he lived in. The film makes several bold strides towards exploring the important role that sexuality plays in establishing one’s identity.

Aligarh is streaming on Eros now

IV. Jai Bhim (Tamil, 2021)

One of the most powerful attempts to point out caste disparities in a commercial Indian film, Jai Bhim shines as one of the hardest-hitting political films of 2021. Led by actor Suriya, the film has garnered a mammoth 9.6 on IMDB as well.

The courtroom drama follows the trial of a pregnant woman from an oppressed tribal community who seeks justice for husband who has been a victim of police assault and a brutal murder committed by the regime. The story is said to have been based on a real incident that took place in 1991.

Jai Bhim is now streaming on Prime video

V. Sara’s (Malayalam, 2021)

Sara’s is Malayalam cinema’s second release of the year that focuses on women’s reproductive rights. The storyline strongly appears to be swayed by the writer’s unconscious biases, however, it portrays a commercial narrative that endorses independence and the sole authority a woman holds over her body and reproductive rights.

Sara's is now streaming on Prime video

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