Monday, 30th October 2017

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'Movie' over the subtitle barrier with these must-watch films in 8 Indian languages

[Fanfare, clapping] They’re all worth a watch!

  • Published 21.02.20, 8:54 PM
  • Updated 22.02.20, 8:26 PM
  • 3 mins read
  •  
A scene from Kashmiri film 'Valley of Saints' Still from the film

Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films."
-Bong Joon Ho

The director, whose film Parasite made history at the Oscars, wants you to give foreign films a chance; and in India, there are over a thousand languages. So if ‘meow’ means ‘woof’ in cat, imagine the amount of entertainment you’re missing out because of tongues that are ‘foreign’ and a few pesky subtitles.

Here’s a look at 8 native-tongued wonders of cinema on International Mother Language day, which UNESCO had declared in commemoration of Bangladesh’s 1952 Bengali Language Movement, in 1999.

[Fanfare, clapping] They’re all worth a watch!

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1. Assamese: Dr. Bezbarua, 1969

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Dr. Bezbarua
Dr. Bezbarua Movie poster
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This Asamiya thriller released in 1969 is the first film of this genre in the Assamese language. The box office hit was directed by National Film Awardee Brajen Barua, and marked the beginning of the success of commercial movies in the Assamese film industry.

“The film brought freedom to the Assamese film industry from the rule of studios and technicians in Kolkata,” film critic Utpal Dutta had said, as reported by Scroll.in

Also worth watching: The unsettling film Aamis/The Ravening (2019) is, in the words of Anurag Kashyap, unlike anything “that has come out of India before”.

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2. Bengali: Nayak (The Hero), 1966

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Uttam Kumar in a famous scene from the film
Uttam Kumar in a famous scene from the film Still from the film
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Satyajit Ray wrote and directed this Uttam Kumar – Sharmila Tagore starrer about a matinee idol en route to receive an award. Tagore plays a journalist unwilling to take the actor’s interview, propelling the film towards a thoughtful, pensive ending. The film won a national award as well as wins and nominations at international film festivals.

Also worth watching: Suchitra Sen’s brilliant acting as a mental patient in Deep Jwele Jaai (To Light a Lamp), 1959

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3. Gujarati: Bey Yaar, 2014

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Still from Bey Yaar
Still from Bey Yaar YouTube/Shemaroo Gujarati
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It’s a familiar story- two friends who are looking to make quick money. But when they steal an M.F. Husain painting from one of their father’s shops, things are bound to get awry. Chako (Divyang Thakkar) and Tino (Pratik Gandhi) embark on a path of redemption, hoping to set things straight by getting the painting back.

Also worth watching: The Good Road (2013) was selected as the Indian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards that year

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4. Kannada: Naandi, 1964

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A still from Naandi
A still from Naandi YouTube/Saregama South
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This romantic drama starred Rajkumar and Harini as a hearing-impaired couple. The film set a landmark being the first Kannada film to be screened in an international film festival. The film was acclaimed for capturing the real-time plights of those with hearing impairments. The film is available on Hotstar.

Also worth watching: Lucia (2013) was a film that pushed the boundaries of parallel cinema

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5. Kashmiri: Valley of Saints, 2012

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Valley of Saints
Valley of Saints Still from the film
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A young Dal Lake boatman is forced to flee Kashmir as war and poverty loom, but their escape is derailed by a military crackdown.

The film is a romance set in the endangered lake communities of Kashmir and blends both fiction and documentary into a memorable melange. The film won the Sundance Film Festival World Dramatic Audience Award in 2012.

Also worth watching: Ashvin Kumar’s new film No Fathers in Kashmir (2019)

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6. Marathi: Chumbak (The Lottery), 2017

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Still from the poster of film Chumbak
Still from the poster of film Chumbak IMDB
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Fate joins a 15-year-old table-cleaning boy Baalu with a middle-aged mentally ill villager in a socially relevant film that does not bore, or preach. This film will warm your heart with all the right things.

Also worth watching: Nadi Vahate (2017) is an atypical commercial film: there’s no villain, no drama, and no triumphant climax

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7. Maithili: Mithila Makhaan (2019)

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A still from Mithila Makhaan
A still from Mithila Makhaan YouTube/Nitin Chandra
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This film is an emotional and thrilling journey of a worker in Toronto who comes back to his Bihar village, which has changed much after 23 years. He dreams of establishing a company which his grandfather started in the 70s before he was tragically killed. The film won Best Maithili Film in the 63rd National Film Awards.

Also worth watching: Lalka Paag (2015) for a social drama based on Rajkamal Chaudhary’s short story of the same title

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8. Odia: Shesha Shrabana (The Last Monsoon), 1976

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Still from Shesha Shrabana
Still from Shesha Shrabana YouTube/odia melody
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Actor Mahasweta Ray debuted in this classic Odia film about caste and love. The film made Ray and actor Prashanta Nanda superstars of the Odia industry.

Also worth watching: Parbati Ghosh directed Chha Mana Atha Guntha (Six Acres and a Third) in 1986 when the Odia film industry was dominated by men.