Top 10 Indian Documentaries that made a Difference

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The new age films may all be jazzy, out of the world, ostentatious, aiming to break the box office records, but there are those few movies which are truly made to make a difference to our lives and instigate us to ponder the deeper meaning of one’s existence. Here are ten such Indian documentaries that stand out.


This is movie is about seven extraordinary children who make their living out of the dead, as they work at the busiest cremation grounds of Manikarniaka, Varanasi. They collect, snatch or steal used shrouds and sell them for petty amounts to make their ends meet. This real-life, self-narrative was directed by Rajesh Jala. The film depicts the lives of these children who do not know a life beyond the exploitation that they go through. It talks about the stark reality that lies on the other side of the holy city of Varanasi.


This one talks about the much hyped subject of the Green Revolution in India. This documentary forces us to think of the negative outcomes of the so-called boon of a theory that has plagued the minds of the young and old alike in the country. The concept of Green Revolution, which is thought to benefit the mankind indeed manages to do the opposite. The documentary attempts to give an insight into very corporate concept and how misleading it really is and that it is only a way elude the truth that gets us farther and farther away from the real issues at hand. This was directed by Manjira Datta.


This well-directed documentary explores the lives of differently abled people and their sexuality. It talks about how the society off-casts them and treats them as non-entities. This issues of identity crisis, self-respect and sexual discrepancy of such people is dealt with. It attempts to change the mindset of the people who have so far ridiculed the very possibility of these to have relationships and sexual desires. This documentary was directed by Arun Chadha.

7. RED ANT DREAM (Maati Ke Laal)

Drirected by Sanjay Kak, this documentary which is based on the revolutionary Maoist movement in India talks about the issue of Maoist insurgency in India. The film which mainly focuses on the Maoists in Bastar in Chhattisgarh, tribals fighting against industrialists in Niyamgiri in Odisha, and protestors acting in memory of the Leftist revolutionary Bhagat Singh in Punjab. In essence, the film portrays the emotions and struggles of those who believe are being oppressed.


Directed by Fahad Mustafa and Deepti Kakkar, the deals with the problems of power cuts and electricity shortages in the city of Kanpur. This powerful story along with brilliant screenplay probably makes it every bit scintillating. The documentary starts off with hot summer day in the city of Kanpur amidst a power crisis. As the power crisis flares up, the city turns into a place of a riot. In a city with 15 hour power cuts, hundreds of people risk their lives to steal electricity. With the first female chief of the electricity company vowing to eliminate all illegal connections, the lines are drawn for a battle over electricity.


This very interesting documentary on women power, directed by Nisha Pahuja, explores the lives of two lives which are ironically different yet similar worlds. The protagonists of the documentary are two women, one is beauty paegent and the other a member of a women’s wing of a Hindu fundamentalist movement in India. This movie gives us an insight into the determined women of today, who despite all the hardships are out there to get what is theirs.


Gulabi Gang, yet another movie based on women, directed by Nishitha Jain, talks about the women who fight against gender violence, caste oppression and widespread corruption. The film revolves around Sampat Pal Devi, who formed an extraordinary women’s movement in 2006 in the Banda District of Uttar Pradesh. This film depicts the cruel nature of the patriarchal society that we live. The Gulabis visit abusive husbands and threaten to beat them with laathis (sticks) unless they stop abusing their wives. These women shape the future of an India that is repressive to a woman’s dreams and aspirations. The film shows much more of such heroic acts.


Directed by Mrinmoy Bhowmick, ‘I can Love Too,’ deals with the issues and concerns of differently-abled persons, their needs and desire for love and finding a partner. The film portrays the picture of these people and their plight in today’s society, the manner in which they are deprived of basic human courtesy, equal job opportunities, and also when it comes to matter of finding a life partner.


Ritesh Sharma’s The Holy Wives talks about three different communities who become victims of sexual exploitation in the name of caste. The tradition of making women the wives of gods still persists in remote villages. These women, the so-called holy wives are treated like the street whores, used for pleasure at the whims and fancies by the men of the village. The film takes us through the horrendous ordeals that these women undergo.


This film, directed by Prem Kalliat, takes us through the life of transsexual and her life in Bangalore. The documentary talks about the desperate plight of the life of hiijdas in India. It talks about issues like identity crisis, the shallow, dilettante world that we live which refuses to respect a person’s choices and that trivial things prevail even under dire circumstances.



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