There’s still a nagging apathy towards documentaries in India. They are somehow not treated as equals to a fictional feature or series. Perhaps the early Doordarshan documentaries lulled enough people to sleep for the disinterest to slip into our DNA for good. But now with all the various OTT platforms bringing the best documentaries a click or touch away, it’s time to acquire a taste for the real. Here are some of the best documentaries available out there that can get you to fall in love with the genre.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi (Netflix)
He’s got less than half a dozen seats at his restaurant and they are reserved months in advance. But this is not just a film about sushi masterchef Jiro Ono and his three Michelin-starred restaurant in Tokyo but the family legacy that is at stake.
Senna (Amazon Prime Video)
Before he made the Oscar-winning doc Amy on Amy Winehouse and now on Diego Maradona, Asif Kapadia had brilliantly profiled the three-time Formula 1 champion Ayrton Senna who died in a race crash at the age of 34.
“The greatest party that never happened” takes you behind the scenes of the failed Fyre Festival of 2017, right from its inception till its spectacular downfall even as its conman of an entrepreneur continues to keep a fake front.
This is Not a Film (Hotstar)
Smuggled from Iran to Cannes in a pen drive hidden inside a birthday cake, this film shot on an iPhone traces the daily life of filmmaker Jafar Panahi kept under house arrest as an enemy of the state.
Amanda Knox (Netflix)
Wrongfully convicted for murdering her roommate and imprisoned for four years in Italy, Amanda and her ex-boyfriend Rafaella share their version of what had actually happened on that fateful day.
When Bryan Fogel set out to make this anti-doping documentary, he wasn’t planning to tap into any Russian connection but he ended up interviewing Putin’s most-wanted whistleblower Dr Rodchenkov and went on to win the Oscar for his terrific film.
Coldplay: A Head Full of Dreams (Amazon Prime Video)
One of the best documentaries on a music band and on music in general, this one punctuates spectacular live performances of Coldplay with interviews of members of one of the world’s biggest bands.
Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond (Netflix)
Universal Studios had kept all the behind-the-scenes footage of Man on the Moon under wraps because it showed how Jim Carey had taken method acting a little too far while playing his role model, comedian Andy Kaufman.
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (Hotstar)
Winner of the Best Documentary Short Oscar in 2016, this film on the horrific honour killings in Pakistan follows a 19-year-old girl who narrowly escapes from getting killed by her father and uncle.
Wild Wild Country (Netflix)
Osho has always been a bit of a mystery of sorts and this documentary unravels some of it by diving deep into the Rajneeshpuram community that was started in the Oregon desert by “Bhagwan Shree” and his personal secretary Ma Anand Sheela, whose interviews are seen to be believed.
American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story (Amazon Prime Video)
Anything on Hugh Hefner is an entertaining watch and this one tops them all because it includes never-before-seen footage from the private archive of the Playboy magazine’s charismatic founder.
Making a Murderer (Netflix)
The unbelievable true story of an American man named Steven Avery who is freed for wrongful conviction after spending 18 years in prison only to find himself arrested again for rape and murder by the same law enforcers of his county.
This Is It (Netflix)
Before he died, Michael Jackson was preparing for a grand global music tour and this documentary pieces together rehearsal footage and interviews to understand what the pop icon was thinking in those last few days.
Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind (Hotstar)
Uproariously funny at times and deeply melancholic at others, this fascinating insight into the troubled mind of the famous actor comedian is a must watch.
The film that won Guneet Monga an Oscar as a producer last year has a group of Indian village women trying to fight social stigma by making low-cost sanitary pads on a new machine.