Is Agra the most shocking Indian film ever made?
However, the rise of digital technology in the 21st century, which has made film production cheaper, has led to a resurgence of independent Indian cinema in recent years, with filmmakers such as Shonali Bose and Anurag Kashyap coming to prominence. With the easing of censorship, the topics covered have broadened, with films examining troubling political stories and social causes such as LGBTQ rights. These films found an audience at festivals such as Berlin and Cannes. Kashyap’s latest film, the neo-noir Kennedy, which is said to be based on real-life police corruption in India, is playing in the Midnight section of the Cannes Film Festival, which celebrates boundary-pushing cinema.
And as this strand of Indian cinema gained critical acclaim around the world, it also affected popular Bollywood cinema, as studios had to adapt their films to the changing tastes of audiences, making them less fair and combative. bold themes. “This has led to the ‘masala’ guys in Bollywood dealing with more current issues realistically,” says Shedde, who also points out that filmmakers in the independent scene have “embraced singing and dancing to be more accessible to a large audience.”
It’s certainly an exciting time for Indian cinema, with the promise of an era of rich, diverse and divisive films more in tune with Indian cinema’s transgressive roots than the Bollywood productions that have taken over. These films hold up a mirror to society and, like the work of Gaspar Noé, Jack Smith and Kenneth Anger (who died this week), to name three filmmakers, are incredibly divisive by nature and extremely difficult to watch at times. Agra fits this mold. Behl succeeds in bringing us into Guru’s psyche so successfully that the film becomes repulsive, assaulting our senses and evoking an unpleasant visceral reaction. Even when the plot expands with moneylending, it’s hard to distinguish between fact and fiction, which some will find deeply unnerving, while others will find it simply baffling. But the best thing about Behl’s work is that it manages to tackle one of India’s biggest and least talked about problems without feeling like a performance. May more and more Indian cinema be equally provocative and creatively bold.
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