Tired of watching the same old Bollywood films? Here are a few Indian documentaries helmed by inspirational Indian filmmakers that’ll leave you in awe. 

1. Children Of The Pyre

Directed and produced by Rajesh S. Jala, this documentary follows the story of seven children who cremate the dead at Manikarnika, on the banks of the Ganges. The film was awarded Best Documentary at the 2008 Montréal World Film Festival and the 2008 Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles. 


2. Gulabi Gang

Written and directed by Nishtha Jain, this Norwegian-Indian-Danish co-production tells the story of  Sampat Pal Devi and the women of her Gulabi Gang who fight against gender oppression in their villages. Gulabi Gang received the awards for the Best Film on Social Issues, and the Best Non-Feature Film editing at the 61st National Film Awards in 2014. 

India Independent Films

3. Jai Bhim Comrade

Directed by Anand Patwardhan, this documentary covers the lives of Dalit residents of Mumbai and focuses on the 1997 Ramabai killings. It won the Special Jury Prize at the National Film Awards 2012 and the Best Film/Video at the Mumbai International Film Festival 2012. 

Anand Patwardhan

4. Rubaru Roshni

An anthology documentary film directed by Svati Chakravarty Bhatkal and narrated by Aamir Khan, it tells three real-life first-person accounts of both the victims and perpetrators of violence. 


5. Beyond All Boundaries

Directed by Sushrut Jain, the documentary tells the story of cricket and how it impacts Indians. It won the grand jury prize for Best Documentary and the audience award at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles 2013. 


6. An Insignificant Man

Directed by Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla, this documentary talks about the rise of anti-corruption politics in India and the formation and rise of AAP. It won Best Documentary prize at Warsaw Film Festival 2016, NYIFF 2017,IFFLA 2017and the Brooklyn Film Festival 2017.

Hollywood Reporter

9. Inshallah, Football

Made by Ashvin Kumar, this documentary tells the story of an aspiring Kashmiri footballer who wasn’t allowed to travel abroad on the pretext that father was a militant in the 1990s. This short film won the National Film Award for Best Film on Social Issues. 

Culture Unplugged

8. So Far from India

This fifty-two-minute film from 1982 by Mira Nair follows an Indian newspaper dealer living in New York, whose pregnant wife waits for him to return home. It won the Best Documentary at the American Film Festival and New York’s Global Village Film Festival. 


9. Jeevan Smriti

Helmed by Rituparno Ghosh, this 2013 documentary in Bengali is a tribute to Rabindranath Tagore and is one of Rituparno’s most applauded work. 

Antorjatik bangali

10. Baavra Mann

Directed by Jaideep Varma, this documentary based on Indian filmmaker Sudhir Mishra follows the decline of the creative scene in India. In 2013, the film won the Best Documentary award at the DC South Asian Festival. 


11. Menstrual Man

This 2013 documentary by Amit Virmani was the first to tell the story of Arunachalam Muruganantham aka Padman, who set up low-cost machines to help women in his village make sanitary pads. The film was a Top Ten Audience Favourite at Hot Docs and the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. 


12. The Inner Eye

This 1972 documentary by Satyajit Ray on Benode Behari Mukherjee focuses on the blind artist and his beautiful works of art. It was awarded the Best Information Film (Documentary) at 20th National Film Awards. 

Satyajit Ray

How many have you watched?