Like many millennials, I have a complicated relationship with Indian cinema. While we seem to be heading in the right direction with cohesive big productions releaseslike Udta Punjab and Rang De Basanti, that amalgamate good cinema with massy appeal, Dabanng there is also a slew of the Dabangg era films that require an IQ no higher than a pigeon’s to appreciate. But amidst slapstick comedies and commercial holiday cash cows, there have been a few surprisingly remarkable films that embodied boldness or progressive themes and philosophies, not associated with the time period in our country. Take a look at some of our favourite Hindi films below!
1. Om Dar-B-Dar (1988)
Om Dar-B-Dar is the LSD-fuelled trip you didn’t know you needed. The narrative follows Om, a teenage boy who lives in a village. There’s really no point describing the premise further as it’s safe to say that the movie is probably nothing life you’ve seen before. Amalgamating surreal filmmaking with spectacularly crafted nonsense, this cult classic is way ahead of its time and deemed a must-watch.
2. Margarita With a Straw (2014)
Starring Kalki Koechlin, Margarita With a Straw is the moving story of a girl with cerebral palsy who travels to New York on a journey to self-discovery. Even though this film released only a few years ago, the treatment and the journey itself deems it undeniably ahead of its time.
3. Guide (1965)
Guide is one of the most iconic films in Hindi cinema, and for good reason. From Waheeda Rehman’s ambitious character to the themes of divorce and live-in relationships, this film still resonates with viewers today. Dev Anand plays the role of a tour guide who falls in love with a married woman (Waheeda Rehman) and their relationship marks the beginning of an emotional and existential journey for both of them. That’s all you need to know to dive into this film.
4. Ijaazat (1987)
Led by Gulzar’s knack for fantastic, fable-like storytelling, Ijaazat is the story of Mahender and Maya. Succumbing to societal pressure, Mahender wants to marry Maya, the woman he’s seeing. Except for the fact that Maya is a modern urban woman who isn’t ready to settle down. This leads to the couple’s separation and a chance encounter years later. With Naseeruddin Shah and Rekha’s effortless performances and a stellar screenplay, Ijaazat is easily one of the best tales of modern love and separation, that was incidentally written thirty years ago.
5. Arth (1982)
Arth is a tale of self-discovery and the gray area between right and wrong. Starring Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil, it’s one of the best Hindi films to capture complex emotions and nuanced relationships. With progressive themes and prolific undertones, this one should definitely be on your watch list.