Hey, did you get my ask about indian surrealist films? If you have, you don't have to answer it now itself; just wanted to know to see if i should send it in again.
hey! sorry about that, i feel like i answered an ask about that but then again im not sure lol. but hmm this is always a complex question b/c i feel like i dont know what the definition of surrealism is as a movement or genre in indian cinema. i think the closest that idea has come to being documented or even canonized has been with amrit gangar’s “cinema of prayoga” theory where he sought to differentiate and reconceptualize the idea of avant-garde and experimental filmmaking in india from its european connotations or definitions. if you have the time, do check out this particular interview with him on experimenta.in.
that said, i’m gonna try to do this anyway lol.
usually the first films that come to mind with avant-garde/surrealist connotations are om dar-b-dar (kamal swaroop,1988) and hun hunshi hunshilal (sanjiv shah, 1992). good thing is that NFDC finally restored the former and it’s pretty accessible now compared to a couple of years ago. if i could go by filmmakers,
you have to definitely check out the work of vipin vijay and how he experiments with a mode of film like the documentary (poomaram, hawa mahal, the egotic world) as well as his feature film chitrasutram (2010). ashish avikunthak, especially his early short films. and then there’s amitabh chakraborty’s kaal abhirati (1989) which i havent been able to see but there’s also his 2014 film cosmic sex….
with that thought, i think a lot of indian filmmakers have experimented in some great ways with literature they’ve adapted. there’s shalini usha nair’s akam (2011) based on Yakshi by malayatoor ramakrishnan. or ashish avikunthak’s adaptation of the malayalam novel pandavapuram in his film nirakar chhaya (2007) or amit dutta’s adaptation of the short stories of writers like vinod kumar shukla (whose work is itself surrealist in many ways)
and sadat hassan manto in his film aadmi ki aurat aur anya kahaniyan (2009). with amit dutta, his short film kramasha (2007) is another suggestion. i love fareeda mehta’s kali salwar (2002) and the way she adapted manto’s stories and characters in a way that overlapped them or had them running parallel to each other within the bombay she created in this film. perhaps the best part was that manto himself was a character in the film!
ok and here im throwing in filmmakers like g. aravindan, mani kaul, and kumar shahani for the way they experimented with time or with adaptation literature and filming narratives. again, it depends on what you mean by surreal? i think amrit gangar talks about at least shahani and kaul in the interview linked earlier. ALSO v. shantaram because there’s something so fantastical and awesome about the way he made his films, especially if you look at his transformation of the song-dance sequence (i.e. navrang, jhanak jhanak payal baje, etc.)
oh and special mentions: anurag kashyap’s no smoking (2007), jeeva’s 12B (2001), ketan mehta’s oh darling! yeh hai india (1995), & sunil dutt’s yaadein (1964).