J Hurtado's 13 Favorite Indian & Pakistani Films Of 2013-2014
2012 was a banner year for Indian film, both in the multiplexes and on the festival circuit. The last two years have struggled to keep up with the overwhelming quality of that year's crop. In fact, films that I put on my "best of" list back in 2012 are still appearing on "best of" lists in 2014 in India! Miss Lovely got a cinema release both in India and the US in 2014 in spite of being a product of 2012, Gangs of Wasseypur was still doing festival rounds well into 2013 and has an American cinema release scheduled for next January in spite of premiering at Cannes in 2012, and Eega, one of my favorite films from any country over the last decade had an incredible festival run, including a warmly received spot at Fantastic Fest 2013!
However, that doesn't mean that the last two years haven't had similar successes to offer, just that they haven't all arrived at once. I never make "best of" lists for the end of the year, it seems arrogant and contrary to the spirit of the artform, however, I'm happy to tell you about my favorites. You may or may not agree, but you'll definitely want to track these down if you can!
I present the following in no particular order.
James Marsh contributed to this story.
Anurag Kashyap's Ugly premiered at Cannes in 2013, Sundance in 2014, and just hit Indian cinema screens on December 26th. At every turn, the film has impressed global critics and further cemented Kashyap's place as the most unique contemporary voice coming out of India.
Ugly is the story of a little girl lost, well, more appropriately, it is the story of all of the assholes fighting each other to be her savior. If you follow the national news in India with any kind of regularity, you'll see that the nation is inundated with depressing stories of humanity rotting. Gang rapes, terrorist attacks, religious tensions, and most of all, the insidious corruption that has crippled the nation at every turn.
Kashyap has made movie miracles with his ability to walk the fine line between Indian cinema and world cinema. Unlike many other independent filmmakers in India whose eyes are planted firmly outside of their country, Anurag Kashyap understands and embraces his cinematic antecedents and uses their tools to his own advantage to make films that feel fresh and familiar to both Indian viewers and foreigners. It's a tightrope from which pretty much every other Indian filmmaker has fallen, but Ugly shows that Kashyap is a master just coming into his prime.
His upcoming film, Bombay Velvet, features two of Bollywood's biggest stars in Ranbir Kapoor (Barfi) and Anushka Sharma (Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, PK) and is planning one of the widest openings ever for an Indian film in the US. The film is being edited for an international audience by Thelma Schoonmaker, Martin Scorsese's longtime partner, and promises to be something else.