In 2014 The Lunchbox was the only independent Indian film to be released in UK cinemas. An endearing tale about love, loneliness and the ritual of eating, The Lunchbox was an unlikely international success story, a ‘crossover’ Indian film, signalling the consolidation of the ‘Hindie’ (Hindi + Indie) new wave. While the international success of The Lunchbox implied the Hindie new wave had reached a critical mass, this was not the case. Independent Hindi cinema has continued to flourish, producing edgy, alternative works including most recently Court (2014), Sunrise (2014), Titli/Butterfly (2014), Placebo (2014), Ugly (2014), Piku (2015) and the forthcoming Brahman Naman (2016).
However, over the past years a cinematic abyss has opened in the UK in which many independent Indian films have not reached UK cinemas. The distribution-exhibition picture for Independent Indian cinema in the UK is a miserable one, beset by Bollywood’s monopoly over the multiplex model, questionable film programming, and a wider cultural ignorance about Indian cinema. Masaan, the most coveted Indian indie film of 2015, was not released in UK cinemas, even though it was a film lauded at the Cannes Film Festival.
In this context, the forthcoming season of Indian films at HOME is altogether essential. Not just Bollywood will plug audiences into the vibrant contemporary Indian independent scene, including non-Hindi cinema from the South, with the hope of looking at Indian cinema through an alternate prism.
The season is curated by Omar Ahmed, University of Manchester, and takes place at HOME, Manchester later in 2017.