Bollywood has undeniably dominated the Indian film scene for as long as anyone can remember. But new independent Indian films, known as ‘indie’ films have started to emerge and are gaining traction. They have come out of India’s parallel cinema movement and are funded independently without the backing of any major studios.
In 2013, several indie films gained national and international recognition. The Lunchbox, about the intricate lunchbox delivery system in Mumbai was nominated for BAFTA in 2015. Miss Lovely, also set in Mumbai, about two brothers who produce X-rated horror movies in the 1980s, received a great reception both in India and internationally. And then there was Lucia by director Pawan Kumar, who paved the way to an alternative form of funding independent films in India by crowdfunding using his blog and other social media platforms.
But what are ‘indie’ films? No one seems to have a clear idea. Film director, Manjeet Singh says it’s all “independent thought and independent money”. Another Indie film director, Ajay Bahl defines them as “a reaction and a pretty intense one to the Bollywood masala films, so, it thrives on it’s non confirmation of that style“.
However, although there is talk that the ‘indie’ movement is set to take over from Bollywood, what seems to be happening is Bollywood is appropriating this new strand of filmmaking, welcoming it into its folds. Given that Bollywood has suffered considerable financial losses over the last years, it is no wonder that they have woken up to the possibility of sponsoring these new alternative films. Unfortunately, this means the ‘indie’ scene is increasingly dependent on the Bollywood distribution structure and on financial backing from their studios.
In order to be truly independent, the movement needs to establish it’s own structure with production houses, cutting-edge filmmakers, festivals, venues, independent film press and organisations dedicated to finding talent and building up audiences. Alternatively, it could follow Pawan Kumar’s model of crowdfunding and distributing the film online via Distrify.
Nevertheless , film critic Anupama Chopra claims that with ‘indie’ cinema “We’re not talking about finance or distribution, but content and storytelling. These films don’t adhere to the song-and-dance formula we’ve had for many years.”
Here is a link to 10 of the best Indian indie films:
Also check out Jamura Blog about the independent film scene in India with interviews, articles and film news: