1. Dabba (Lunchbox) (Hindi) by Ritesh Batra
Irrfan Khan stars in this debut feature by Batra, whose shorts includeCafe Regular, Cairo, and Gareeb Nawaz ki Taxi. A mistaken delivery in Mumbai’s efficient lunchbox delivery system connects a young housewife to an old man, as they build a fantasy world through notes in the lunchbox.
2. Peddlers (Hindi) by Vasan Bala
A smart, gritty thriller that follows two youngsters—an orphan working for a small-time crook and a woman drug carrier—trapped in drug trafficking, with a sexy cop on their trail. The film was in the Cannes film festival’s Critics’ Week in 2012. A debut feature of Vasan Bala, who was the associate director in Michael Winterbottom’s Trishna, it crackles with sharp dialogues and convincing performances—with a terrific turn by Gulshan Devaiah.
3. Annayum Rasoolum (Malayalam) by Rajeev Ravi
A Romeo-and-Juliet story between the Christian Anna and the Muslim Rasool, it stars talented Malayalam actor Fahadh Faasil and Andrea Jeremiah. It is the debut feature of Ravi, an impressive cinematographer whose credits include Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur, Dev D and That Girl in Yellow Boots. It is an atmospheric ferryboat romance, superbly shot in Kochi and Vypeen Island in Kerala, with wonderfully evoked detailing of small-town hopes.
4. David (Hindi/Tamil) by Bejoy Nambiar
After establishing his credentials with Shaitaan, Nambiar takes on a gangster comedy. There are three Davids in the Hindi version (Neil Nitin Mukesh, Vikram and Vinay Virmani) and two Davids in the Tamil one (Vikram and Jiiva); the women are Tabu, Isha Sharvani and Lara Dutta. The Davids live in different cities and periods, including Vikram playing a fisherman in Goa, and Jiiva, a musician in Mumbai. If you’re wondering, Nambiar had assisted Mani Ratnam in Raavan/Raavanan.
5. Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola (Matru’s Bijlee’s Mandola) (Hindi) by Vishal Bhardwaj
Vishal Bhardwaj’s new film explores the relationship between Bijlee (Anushka Sharma) and the two men in her life—alcoholic feudal landlord daddy Mandola (Pankaj Kapur) and lover Matru (Imran Khan), who is Mandola’s Man Friday. Daddy arranges for her to marry a politician’s son, with dire consequences. Bhardwaj weaves a love story with a satire on communism and politics of the have-nots, all topped off with a magenta buffalo.