The parallel movie movement in India emerged during the 1940s & 50s through the regional cinema of Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen. Their brand of movies were realist and chronicled of social change taking place as India entered independence.
The Indian parallel cinema movement owes it to the Italian neo realist and the French new wave cinema. Ray in his book Our Films, Their Films acknowledges the contributions of the pioneers of French new wave- Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut and Italian neo realism- Vittorio De Sica who’s Bicycle Thieves is known to have set Ray’s pursuit in motion.
Incidentally, FTII established at Pune in 1961, The Film Finance Corporation (FFC) est.1960 and the National Film Archives of India (NFAI) est.1964 catalyzed the emergence of 'New Wave Indian Cinema' which now burgeoned in Hindi film industry. FTII graduates Mani Kaul, Saeed Mirza, Mahesh Bhatt and others like Shyam Benegal emerged as important luminaries of this change.
Now, the term “Independent cinema” is rarely used in India. When filmmaker Rajat Kapoor favored to use of this term in reference to such movies in an interview a few weeks back, it sounded sensible. A feature that hadn’t generally been associated with these movies till now was the independence in its conception .The fact that these movies are mostly produced outside a major film studio or simply put the way independent movies are understood in Hollywood, where this term actually finds its origin.
According to wiki, in a broad sense an independent movie is identified by lower budgets, a limited release designed to build word-of-mouth or to reach small specialty audiences and realism. It can thus be contended that the independent movies of the west and the parallel movies of India can be considered under the same ambit.
But why does there arise a need to replace the term? It is a majority view of the directors of such films that the very term “parallel” robs its makers of any commercial aspirations the film might have had and a reach to the masses, a way Bollywood finds to alienate them ab initio.
I am listing out 10 Indies released in India in the past year that should be given a view.
Jigri Dost Productions’ Little Zizou
It is an All-Parsi film featuring the best names from this outstanding community and an ode to the same. The plot revolves around the various habits, social issues, merits and demerits of the community, and hits hard on important issues, both in general and in particular, in a serio-comic style of narration, which certainly beautifies this beautiful story further.
Bandra West Pictures’ Barah Aana
One of the films which certainly deserved more attention, Barah Aana is the fantastic story of three different people who because of their personal reasons try their hand at kidnapping people. The convincing story line and level of performances certainly bring life to this plot. Arjun Mathur, discovered in Luck By Chance, gets a bigger canvas to prove his mettle, and does well.
ZEE Motion Pictures’ Gulaal
Directed by Anurag Kashyap, who compiles this out and out political drama in full form bringing out "all his frustration" as he puts it, into the script, which projects true but depressing scenarios about extremism and the radical nature of politics in India taking Rajasthan as its backdrop.
Mavrick Productions’ Aloo Chaat
Aloo chaat is some unassuming fun. Robby Greval, the director gives us quirky characters and you should laugh at even stereotypical situations because no harm is meant. Aftab in this one is immensely watchable too. A pat on the back for some witty writing.
R.S. Entertainment’s The President Is Coming
The President Is Coming is a story about 6 young and indians who will do anything to become the one to shake hands with the then US president Bush is as eccentric as it sound. It’s unpredictably evil turning every stereotype on its head. It’s a witty satire worthy of guilty guffaws.
Kaleidoscope Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.’s Chintuji
......and bollywood laughs at itself. Rishi Kapoor plays a take on himself in this nice hearted gem! And kudos to him he plays himself courageously. And it’s the honesty that gives the movie a push over amateurish writing.
Kaleidoscope Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.’s The Stoneman Murders
The Stoneman Murders is a far from perfect film but it is a bold film nevertheless. Director Manish Gupta drives this investigative movie on serial killing often to tense moments. Hitting the chords none Indian movie on this theme has. Kay Kay Menon (as often is the case) is part of this.
Phat Phish Motion Pictures’ Quickgun Murugun
A totally out of the world, comic roller coaster ride about the "adventures of a vegetarian cowboy", Murugan, taking on the baddies Rice Plate Reddy and Rowdy MBA ,across various villages in South India, across time and finally across the streets of Mumbai with the bimbette Mango Dolly as sidekick. It is guaranteed that you cannot, absolutely cannot stop laughing!
Seven Entertainment Ltd.’s Sankat City
Sankat City is an above average and under-excellent comic caper which certainly owes its goodness to great actors(Kher, Menon) being a part of it and it’s not so goodness to the cliched and over coincidental plot, which though has a good comic element to entertain, fails to make this an outstanding film.
Vertika Films’ Mohandas
Yet unseen but highly acclaimed. Exemplifies whatever the article talks about. Left the theaters too soon, never found in DVD stores (what do you know? not even on torrents).........and I REST MY CASE.
It is worth to note, the films called parallel today are very different from those of 1970s. These movies have now shifted focus to urban India besides contrasting changes in themes. And if there is a common thread that ties the two, it is this. In the coming times, as cinemas evolve further the so called parallel movies are only to survive as independent movies.