And it’s that time of the year again!

The 15th Mumbai Film Festival has an impressive line up of over 200 movies divided over 9 sections, says the press release MAMI’s forwarded to us. While we wish we could watch every one of them (and trust me, we are trying hard to!) our resolution this year is to watch as many indies from India we can. Going by the way films like Ship of Theseus and Shahid fared with audiences worldwide, this seems like a very smart idea too!

Here are the Top 5 films we’re watching this year. (In no particular order… )

1.    Oonga (Dir: Devashish Makhija)

 oonga-web-greenIf you’ve been following us regularly, this movie needs no introduction. A touching story about a tribal village’s struggle with the ruthless India Inc, the film raises an important question on the cost and true nature of ‘progress’ is told through the life of a little village boy named Oonga. Watch it for some great performances by Nandita Das and Raju Singh, the brilliant find who plays Oonga, and some beautiful visual storytelling.

Debutant director Devashish Makhija has spoken to us in length about his film, and all that which went into making it. You can access it here. And here’s what we think of the film.

Screens on Sun, 20/10/13 at Metro, 5: 30pm and on Mon, 21/10/13 at Cinemax Versova, 12:45pm.

2.    Sulemani Keeda (Dir: Amit Masurkar)

1. Sulemani Keeda- Mayank Tewari, Naveen Kasturia (JPEG)The title of the film has been putting a sheepish smile on our faces ever since came across it at NFDC’s Film Bazaar at IFFI last year. Now it’s time to see if the grin gets wider post screening. Masurkar’s debut feature, Sulemani Keeda, is about Dulal, a brooding, self-conscious writer and his hustler friend, Mainak who dream to write a Bollywood film. Their picaresque journey brings them in a position where they are forced to choose between friendship, love and a big break. Besides exploring the subculture of migrant writers in the city’s western suburbs, the film also talks about their hopes and ontological anxiety.

Given that many of us share Dulal and Mainak’s dream, it will be interesting to see what unfolds on screen.

Screens on Sun, 20/10/13 at Metro, 3:00pm and on Mon, 21/10/13 at Cinemax Versova at 5:45pm

 3.    Qissa: The Tale of a Lonely Ghost (Dir: Anup Singh)

Irrfan-Khan1-620x348 Set in post-colonial India, Qissa tells the story of Umber Singh, a Sikh, who is forced to flee his village due to ethnic cleansing at the time of Partition in 1947. Umber decides to fight fate, he builds a new home for his family. When Umber marries his youngest child Kanwar to Neeli, a girl of lower caste, the family is faced with the truth of their identities; where individual ambition and destinies collide in a struggle with eternity.

This film, starring Irrfan Khan, has been in news for winning the NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) award at the recently concluded 38th Toronto International Film Festival. The jury describes it as  “…the brilliance of cinematic craft and the choice of metaphor employed to tell a moving story is bound to provoke thoughts, spark debate and give its viewers an intense experience.”

It is the opening film for the India Gold section, to be judged by Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi.

Screens on Fri, 18/10 at Metro, 3pm and Sat, 19/10 at Cinemax Versova, 3:15pm.

 4.    Vakrantunda Mahakaya (Dir: Punarvasu Naik)

 Vakratunda MahakayaThis one looks mighty interesting.

From AKFPL comes Naik’s debut feature, a story about a bomb hidden inside a Ganesha soft toy. Planted by an unknown terrorist organization, the plan goes haywire when a street kid, Altaf, accidentally picks it up and runs away with it. Altaf develops an instant liking for the Elephant God, but soon he is picked up by the cops along with his thief friend, Paplu. The soft toy is left behind alone on a park bench and from thereon begins an adventurous journey as people from different paths of life come discover the soft toy.

Writer Yogesh Vinayak Joshi (of Mumbai Meri Jaan fame) is known for his superb writing, and word on the grapevine is that Naik is a promising director to watch out for. We are hooked!

Screens on Sat, 19/10 at Metro, 8 pm and Sun, 20/10 at Cinemax Versova, 8:15 pm.

5.    Taak Jhaak/Sunglass (Dir: Rituporno Ghosh)

 konkonasunglass2Chitra and Sanjay live in matrimonial bliss and are planning their annual vacation. Everything seems to be in place except the sunglasses that must go in her travel bag. These sunglasses help her see what her eyes can’t. When she wears them, Chitra can picture what the other person is thinking. She cannot just read, but see, their thoughts and actions. Interesting as it may sound, this boon soon becomes a bane. Initially, it is an exciting device for mischief but soon, Pandora’s Box opens up.

Rituporno Ghosh. Jaya Bachchan. Naseeruddin Shah. Konkona Sen-Sharma. Madhavan. Need we say more?

Screens on Sun, 20/10 at Metro, 10 am and on Monday, 21/10 at Cinemax Versova, 3:15pm.

 The 15th Mumbai Film Festival begins from Oct 17-24th, 2013 at Metro, Liberty and Cinemax Versova, Mumbai. Visit to register.