From Family Chronicles To Pulp Fiction - 7 Best Documentaries Of 2023

J. Shruti

The World is Family

Documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan decided to turn his camera on his parents when they started growing older. Patwardhan’s father, Balu Patwardhan, will charm you within seconds, with his mischievous one-liners and irrepressible good humour. 

Insides and Outsides

For his first feature length documentary, Insides and Outsides, Abrar Ahmad turned his camera onto himself and his family, sharpening the conical spotlight on their histories, and splicing together flyaway fragments to tell the story of a world withering away.

Against The Tide

What’s it like to be a Koli fisherman in Mumbai? Director Sarvnik Kaur follows two men, both Kolis, to show the beauty and hardships of living off the sea. Startlingly intimate in parts and deeply informative, the documentary takes you into the fisherfolks’ world.

Hunt for Veerappan

With stunning shots of beautiful landscapes and clever use of both archival footage and staged scenes, Selvamani Selvaraj brings the gloss of fiction storytelling to the life of Koose Munisamy Veerappan. 

The Golden Thread

In her documentary The Golden Thread, Nishtha Jain follows in a snaking movement, from behind, workers walking through a jute mill that is slowly creaking away into exhausted extinction.

Cinema Marte Dum Tak

Vasan Bala’s eight-part documentary, available on Amazon Prime Video, focuses on the history, and cultural relevance of C-grade films. Cheaply-made but turning impressive profits, these films were pulpy, inventive and prolific.

Special mention - While We Watched

Vinay Shukla’s film on journalist Ravish Kumar is a time capsule of two years, from 2018 to 2020, documenting what would end up to be among Kumar’s last years at NDTV India (Kumar left the channel in 2023).