Oftentimes, a film’s story is accentuated by the presence of inanimate characters that often carry the narrative to fruition. In this regard, Indian cinema taps into the nuanced characteristics and idiosyncrasies of its cities which undeniably become an unspoken character; breathing in life and culture into a particular narrative.
From the likes of Wake Up Sid! to Delhi 6, we hold on to films that remind us of home, give us a sense of what it means to feel belonged, or revive an old forgotten love affair that we have all at a certain point fostered with the cities that we live in. In shaping public perception of a city’s life and in altering the city’s culture and energy, here are Homegrown’s picks of offbeat Indian films that have reinforce the unique identities of Indian cities.
I. Once Again, Mumbai (2018)
Starring the stellar Shefali Shah and Neeraj Kabi, this slice-of-life film views Mumbai through a distinct lens. An accidental phone call between a renowned film star (Kabi) and his caterer (Shah) sparks a clandestine affair between the two love-lorn middle-aged Indians still struggling to find their individuality in the maximum city. There are far too many films in the past that make a conscious attempt to include and romanticise Mumbai as a silent character, key to its plot. Once Again, however, holds an alternate view.
The narrative offers a small glimpse into the very intimate moments of an affair between two individuals that seem almost trivial in the grand scheme of chaotic urban life. The plot sways between the slow, nuanced moments of love to the fast, hard-hitting realities of urban life.
II. Finding Fanny, Goa (2015)
Placed against the slow, winding lanes of South Goa’s charming old settlements, Finding Fanny is a tale of love, loss and selfhood that unravels in small, whimsical moments. The story follows the journey that an ageing postman, Ferdie embarks on, to seek the forgotten lover from his youth — Fanny. Armed with an unseemly, yet comical group of friends, well-wishers and neighbours, the story follows the individual life of the characters on this road trip while they all head towards a common yet uncertain destination.
Despite setting the story in a fictitious Goan village named Pocorim, Finding Fanny quite accurately captures the intertwined lives that Goans often endure. The story brings together a cross-cultural intervention to its narrative by making the film accessible to both Hindi and non-Hindi speaking audiences.
III. Masaan, Varanasi (2015)
This Neeraj Ghaywan classic explores the idea of life and death using Varanasi as a visual metaphor to aid the narrative. The story explores the parallel lives of laymen living and depicts them struggling to make ends meet in the city while exploring love and other complex challenges set forth by society.
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