Unconventional Indian English movies also known as Indian crossover films, have always managed to make an impact on the audience’s lives. Unlike the typical Indian movies highlighting glitz and glamour, these movies focus on the new generation of Indians, NRIs, their lifestyle, their problems, their trials and tribulations. Here are some of the best unconventional movies that truly stand-out among their counterparts.
Ben Kingsley, Rohini Hattangadi, Roshan Seth, Saeed Jaffrey, Virendra Razdan, Anang Desai, Candice Bergen, Edward Fox
Though this movie needs no introduction, it is a biopic based on the life of ‘The Father of Our Nation’, Mahatma Gandhi and his struggle to bring independence to India. This internationally acclaimed movie which starred Ben Kingsley as Gandhi, won eight Academy Awards including the Best Picture.
Monsoon Wedding (2001)
Naseeruddin Shah, Lillete Dubey, Shefali Shah, Vasundhara Das, Parvin Dabas
Directed by Mira Nair, this is a typical Bollywood style movie with romance, comedy and drama infused all together. An international co-production but filmed entirely in Delhi, this films depicts the lives of NRIs and the NRI weddings.
Being Cyrus (2006)
Saif Ali Khan, Naseeruddin Shah, Dimple Kapadia, Boman Irani, Simone Singh
Directed by Homi Adajania, this is a psychological narrative drama depicts the life of a dysfunctional Parsi family. Naseeruddin Shah and Dimple Kapadia, the main characters of this film have acted par excellence while the story is narrated by Saif Ali Khan, who portrayed the role of Cyrus Mistry.
Bride and Prejudice (2004)
Aishwarya Rai, Martin Henderson, Anupam Kher, Nadira Babbar
An Indian adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’, this is a romantic-musical film directed by Gurinder Chadha. Scripted mostly in English, it also has some Hindi and Punjabi dialogues to spell bound the audiences.
Bend it like Beckham (2002)
Parminder Nagra, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Keira Knightley, Anupam Kher
One of the most unpredictable hits of 2002, this is a comedy-drama film directed by Gurinder Chadha. It depicts the life of a Punjabi family living in England and how they cope with the cultural clashes and family traditions.
Naseeruddin Shah, Corin Nemec, Sarika, Raj Zutshi
Parzania which means heaven and hell on earth, portrays the struggle of a Parsi family after they lose their 10 year old son during the Godhra racial riot. Though it was a low budget movie, it went on to win the 2006 National Film Awards (India) as well as the Silver Lotus Award and Golden Lotus Award.
Mr. and Mrs. Iyer (2002)
Rahul Bose, Konkona Sen Sharma
This is not a typical Bollywood film rather a slow yet deeply moving one. Directed by Aparna Sen and beautifully enacted by Rahul Bose and Konkona Sen Sharma, this movie’s story is set amidst the backdrop of communal violence, religious fundamentalism and love. The story that revolves around emotional and racial conflicts, won international acclaim all around the globe.
English August (1994)
Rahul Bose, Salim Shah, Tanvi Azmi
Directed by Dev Bengal, this humorous film is adapted from the novel ‘English August’ by Upamanyu Chatterjee. Enacted by Rahul Bose as Agastya Sen, ‘English August’ shows the journey from education, development and maturing of a young hero. It revolves around the hero, a civil servant, who has a sense of dislocation and spends his time all day by getting doped.
Konkona Sen Sharma, Brinda Karat, Ankur Khanna
Directed by Shonali Bose, ‘Amu’ is based on a novel written by her.The story revolves around the horrifying genocide during 1984, the anti-Sikh riots. Brinda Karat, the communist politician and a Rajya Sabha member, debuted with this film. The plot of this story depicts Amu, a 21-year-old Indian American woman who returns to India to find her roots and is horrified when she discovers that she is not who she is, but is an orphaned victim of the anti-Sikh riots.
Aishwarya Rai, Naveen Andrews, Nandita Das
Directed by Jag Mundhra, Provoked is a 2007 English language film, directed by Jag Mundhra. This film is based on the true story of Kiranjit Ahluwalia, who is convicted of killing her husband. This film explores the dark side of marriage as such domestic abuse and marital rape. This is a film that would move many and make a difference in our lives.
The Last Lear (2007)
Amitabh Bachchan, Preity Zinta, Arjun Rampal, Divya Dutta, Shefali Shah
Premiering at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival, ‘The Last Lear’ an Indian film in English language was directed by Rituparno Ghosh. The film which won the National Award of India for Best Feature Film in English in 2007 has been produced by Arindam Chaudhuri of IIPM and is based on Utpal Dutt’s play ‘Aajker Shahjahan’. Penned by Rituparno Ghosh, ‘The Last Lear’ is a real work of art which earned many accolades after being showcased at a Gala Presentation.
The Great Indian Butterfly (2010)
Aamir Bashir, Sandhya Mridul
Picturised in the backdrop of beaches and beautiful land of Goa, this movie depicts the life of stressed out bickering urbanite couples. Written and directed by Sarthak Dasgupta, this is a slow and steady film that talks about finding inner peace, love and happiness in life.
Mistress of Spices (2005)
Aishwarya Rai, Dylan McDermott, Anupam Kher, Zohra Sehgal
Based upon the novel ‘The Mistress of Spices’ by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, this film has been directed by Paul Mayeda Berges and the screenplay has been written by both Gurinder Chadha and Berges. The story of this film revolves around the main female character portrayed Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, who is an Indian orphan immigrant as well as a shopkeeper, clairvoyant, and the mistress of spices.
The Namesake (2006)
Tabu, Irrfan Khan, Kal Penn, Sahira Nair
Directed by Mira Nair, ‘The Namesake’ is based upon the novel of Jhumpa Lahiri and which is further adapted by Sooni Taraporevala as a screenplay. The film depicts the cross culture struggle of a first-generation immigrant couple and their American-born children.