In our own way, we have developed a perception of our country. It’s usually drawn from our own experiences and rightly so! But isn’t our human nature to influence or be influenced? From the time humans can understand each other, there have been some sort of medium to share stories.
Over the time, media has become a major medium to educate, inform and entertain the general mass. While mainstream film industry has tried its hand in exploring certain social structure, educating and engaging the audience to break down the stigma, documentaries don’t blur the realities.
Documentaries usually show us the harsh realities of the world we live and these 10 documentaries are surely going to change the way you perceive our country.
1. Inside the Mahakumbh
This documentary by National Geographic shows the Maha Kumbh Mela in its full glory. The Mela is not only the world’s largest religious festival but it is also believed to be the largest gathering of humans in one place, at one time on earth. The documentary covers the 55-day celebration that occurs once in every 12 years. The host not only covers the aspects of religion but also diversity and spirituality. It’s a must watch.
2. Children Of The Pyre
The documentary directed by Rajesh Jala shows us the story of seven children who make their living out of cremating the dead. At the Holy Land of Varanasi, in Manikarnika, one of the busiest cremation ground in India, the film shows us how the children facing adversities and struggle with disdain to just live.
3. India Untouched
You might have thought that the malpractice of casteism is not as much as it was before Independence. But this documentary shows us a harsh reality. Filmmaker Stalin K explored the topic of casteism and untouchability that has not subsided over the years. Spanning eight states and four religions, this film will make it impossible for anyone to deny that Untouchability continues to be practiced in India.
4. The Forgotten Volunteers – Indian Army WWII
The award-winning BBC documentary series shows us the role played by over two and a half million Indian army in the Second World War. By the end of the war, it was the largest volunteer army in history and yet their contributions were overlooked. Serving in divisions of infantry, armor and an airborne force, they fought on three continents in Africa, Europe, and Asia.
5. Killing For Conservation
A documentary about poaching in Kaziranga has gained quite a controversy around it. It earned the disapproval of the Environment Ministry who said that the reports were highly fabricated.
The documentary made claims that the anti-poacher guard had been given authority to shoot to kill.
6. Born into Brothels
Born into Brothels is a documentary about children of prostitutes in Sonagachi, Kolkata’s red light district. It is directed by Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman.
7. Gulabi Gang
Directed by filmmaker Nishtha Jain, Gulabi Gang is a documentary that moves around the story of Sampat Pal Devi and the women in her gang. They are an unflinching representation of a real world. (Gulaab Gang starring Madhuri Dixit is a different one)
Based around the Banda district in UP, the film follows a vigilante gang of rural women armed with lathis and dressed in pink saris.
The crowdfunded film about the rise of anti-corruption protest and the subsequent formation of the Aam Aadmi Party in India faced many stumbling blocks on way to its release. It revolves around the day to the functioning of the AAP from December 2012 to 2013 – ending with the Delhi elections.
Shot over the course of 2 years, the filmmakers fought the U/A rating granted by the CBFC till VICE eventually agreed to release it.
9. Beyond All Boundaries
This documentary by Sushrut Jain explores the anxiety and larger than life celebration after the 2011 Cricket World Cup Win. The documentary traces the lives of three individuals – unemployed Sudhir Kumar Chaudhury, who is a crazy Sachin Tendulkar fan, Prithvi Shaw – the next sensation in Indian cricket, and Akshaya Surwe – a struggling but capable female cricketer who dreams of making it to the Indian women’s team.
10. Final Solution
Rakesh Sharma’s documentary detailed the horrific incidents that surrounded the riots that occurred in 2002 in Gujarat. The documentary assessed that the common people’s emotions were heavily toyed with by politicians turning Hindu and Islamic communities against each other.
Even though many Hindu rioters insisted that the riots were a spontaneous reaction to the Godhra train burning, the documentary indicates that it might have been a planned bout of violence.