The Jio MAMI 2023 Watchlist: Indian Cinema

Mumbai’s beloved film festival has 250 films in its lineup. We’re here to help you choose from that list.
The Jio MAMI 2023 Watchlist: Indian Cinema

After a hiatus of three years, the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival returns this year and the line-up of Indian films is bound to make every cinephile’s heart go pitter-patter. Classic titles from the New Wave cinema movement in Seventies’ Kerala, films that have received acclaim abroad, world premieres, it’s all going to be playing at a cinema near you, between October 25 and November 5. 

There are seven sections with Indian titles: The South Asia competition section (introduced this year); Focus South Asia; Icons: South Asia; Recap (showcasing Indian indie films released between 2020 and 2022); Marathi Talkies, and Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films. In an ideal world, we’d be able to see all the films playing at the festival but since that’s physically impossible, here’s a long shortlist featuring some of the titles that have caught our eye for a variety of reasons. 

Tick From Other Festivals

Aatmapamphlet, Ashish Bende

A coming-of-age story about a boy who wants to confess his love to his first crush. The film was selected for the Berlin International Film Festival. 

Aattam, Anand Ekarshi

When the sole woman member of a theatre group says one of her co-actors molested her, the men in the group find themselves in a dilemma. Brilliantly scripted and finely-tuned, the film is an outstanding chamber drama. Aattam won the Grand Jury Award for best film at this year's Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles.

Agra, Kanu Behl

A portrait of an Indian incel, this is not a film for the faint-hearted. Agra premiered at the prestigious Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes Film Festival.  

Bahadur - The Brave, Diwa Shah

Set against the backdrop of the Covid-era lockdown, the film looks at the struggles of Nepalese migrant labourers. Winner of the New Directors award at the San Sebastián International Film Festival. 

Nehemich, Yudhajit Basu

The 23-minute film looks at the practice of isolating women who are menstruating and folds a love story into it. Selected for the competitive section of Cannes Film Festival. 

Slow Shift, Shambhavi Kaul

Avant-garde and without dialogues, this short film trains its gaze on the langurs in the heritage site of Hampi, in Karnataka. Selected for Toronto International Film Festival and New York Film Festival.   

Sthal, Jayant Somalkar

A witty and acutely well-observed look at the process of arranged marriages in rural Maharashtra. The film won the NETPAC Award for the Best Asian Film at this year's Toronto International Film Festival. Read our interview with the director here.

Stolen, Karan Tejpal

Many Indias collide in a railway station when an infant is kidnapped from a sleeping mother’s side. The film was recently screened at the BFI London Film Festival. Read our review here.

Documentaries and Conversation Starters 

Against the Tide, Sarvnik Kaur

The film follows two fishermen from Mumbai’s koli community whose lives, despite many differences, are intertwined. Winner of the special jury prize at Sundance Film Festival 

Indi(r)a’s Emergency, Vikramaditya Motwane

Using archival footage and animation, the documentary looks at the period between 1975 and 197 when civil liberties were curtailed in India. 

Namaskar! Main Ravish Kumar (While We Watched), Vinay Shukla 

This film has ended up to be a chronicle of a chapter that is now in Ravish Kumar’s past since it was shot when he was still working with NDTV. 

The Golden Thread, Nishtha Jain

This exquisitely-shot documentary about the jute industry in Bengal also has the most clever and magical use of sound. Read our review here.

The World is Family, Anand Patwardhan

A tender portrait of the filmmaker’s portrait, this film was selected for the Toronto International Film Festival and has received much love from critics at home and abroad. 

Trolley Times, Gurvinder Singh

When a critically-acclaimed filmmaker makes a documentary about the farmers’ protest of 2020-2021, how can you not want to watch it? 

Picture Perfect

Dhuin, Achal Mishra

Who knew Darbhanga could become the stuff of such visual poetry? This is a mood piece that will leave you enchanted. Read our review here.

Dostojee, Prasun Chatterjee

A friendship between two boys is set against the stunning landscape of rural Bengal. There’s a scene with fireflies that is the stuff of magic. Read our review here.

Fire in the Mountains, Ajitpal Singh

The mountains of Uttarakhand wrap this moving, intimate film in visual splendour that is matched by powerful acting performances. Read our review here.

Pedro, Natesh Hegde

The film is about a daily wager who becomes an outcast. Ignoring the lush nature of the Western Ghats, the camera trains its gaze on the people whose silences speak loudly. Read our review here.

Rapture, Dominic Sangma

The idyll of a remote village is shattered by fear, anxiety and misinformation. Lots of food for thought and some exquisite cinematography. Read our review here.

Worth Taking a Chance

Adh Chanani Raat, Gurvinder Singh

Screened at the International Film Festival of Rotterdam in 2022, the film is set in rural Punjab and anchored in defiance. Read our review here.

Dilli Dark, Dibakar Das Roy

See Delhi through the eyes of a young Nigerian man. The debut film has also been selected for the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival. 

Follower, Harshad Nalawade

What’s it like to feel like an outsider in your own home? A radicalised journalist, an upper-class YouTuber, and a Muslim single mother tell us in this film, which premiered at the International Film Festival of Rotterdam.  

Goodbye, Hello, Omkar Phatak

The short film is about an encounter between a ghost and a human. Phatak was the cinematographer for the excellent documentary series Cinema Marte Dam Tak and drone operator in Against the Tide.  

Kayo Kayo Colour?, Shahrukhkhan Chavada

This languid and experimental film is a poignant portrait of a neighbourhood in Ahmedabad. Read an interview with the director here.

Once Upon a Time in Calcutta, Aditya Vikram Sengupta

This was the only Indian title at the 2021 Venice Film Festival and it’s a heartbreaking fairytale. Read our review here.

Worth Risking a Stampede

A Night of Knowing Nothing, Payal Kapadia

This moody film defies categorisation and definition. It’s one of the most lyrically beautiful and thought-provoking documentations of the recent student protests that you’ll ever see. Read our review here

Kennedy, Anurag Kashyap

Drenched in violence and glinting with wicked humour, this story about a cop-turned-assassin has a surprisingly tender heart. Read our review here.

Big Names

All India Rank, Varun Grover

The writer, comedian and lyricist’s debut feature is a semi-autobiographical story set in the late 1990s. The film was selected for the International Film Festival of Rotterdam.  

Badminton, Dibakar Banerjee 

The director’s new film is a short starring Sayani Gupta, Vijay Maurya and Jim Sarbh. And a dinosaur. 

The Rapist, Aparna Sen 

A hard-hitting drama featuring a standout performance by Konkona Sen Sharma, about an academic who demands to know from her rapist why he committed the crime. 

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