Dhanak trails young, orphaned siblings Pari (Hetal Gada) and Chhotu (Krrish Chhabria) who set out on a journey, with a dream in their heart. Like his other films, Nagesh Kukunoor’s Dhanak seems straight out of a novel. Fairy tale, dream-like, magical and deeply satisfying. There’s something equally majestic and dramatic about the backdrop the director places his stories in. The settings have a character of their own.
Set in Rajasthan, Dhanak is lush visual delicacy, courtesy cinematographer Chirantan Das, who beautifully, captures the land of sand and sun. (Read full review here by Mansi Dutta)
Raam Reddy’s excellent debut feature Thithi is a rare film. There’s great interest in providing textures (ingrained with realism) to the frame and imbuing character details rather than chasing greater narrative aspirations. The film does have a central familial turmoil and a string of conflicts, but what Raam wants us to witness is simplicity and purity of character. Thithi may seem a bit hollow for those expecting broader realization of narrative conflicts. The film is anything but hollow. I am not saying the film’s form is utterly flawless. There might be few unsatisfying aspects. But it takes no didactic approach to comment on the inbred patriarchal issues or other social issues, common in Indian villages. That’s what makes Thithi more profoundly layered. (Read full review here by Arun Kumar)
Vikramaditya Motwane of Lootera and Udaan fame, finally graced the director’s seat again for the first time since 2013. In Trapped he gives us a taut survival thriller starring the talented Rajkummar Rao. It trails a man who gets stuck on the top floor of a Mumbai high-rise building and explores his ordeal and attempts at escape and survival. Whilst providing plenty of edge-of-your-seat thrills, the film makes for a intriguingly interactive experience as you try and solve the puzzle alongside Rao’s onscreen character, of just how to escape with the few household items he has to his avail. The film premiered at MAMI last year and was well received. It will hopefully see a full cinematic release later this year. (By Suchin Mehrotra)
The docufiction was shot in all of 14 days with a skeleton crew of 12 people. It was made on a shoestring budget with money borrowed from family and friends, until producer Amit Verma came on board.
Autohead involves a documentary crew that trails a sexually frustrated auto driver Narayan (Deepak) and his macabre exploits. The film is as much a character study as a dig at cinematic realism, bringing into question the morals and ethics of the crew filming it. Mockumentaries are a rarely explored form in India and debutant director Rohit Mittal does a deft job navigating an engaging storytelling experience through a powerful debutant lead Deepak Sampat. (By Mansi Dutta)