The Village House. 2019. India. Directed by Achal Mishra. Courtesy Deaf Crocodile Films

September 15, 2022 – October 12, 2022

The Museum of Modern Art

A movie-crazed nation of close to 1.4 billion, India boasts the world’s most intricate, vibrant, and thriving film scene. Multiple commercial filmmaking centers in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, and beyond produce popular films in a wide array of languages, dominated by works involving glamorous movie stars; exuberant song, dance, and action; fantastical hyperdrama; and heart-wrenching melodrama. Beyond the mainstream, over the past decade or so Indian cinema’s diversity has been energized by a growing number of impressive independent works. These small-budget but artistically ambitious and accomplished films have expanded the making of, thinking about, and ways of seeing Indian film.

This survey of works made since 2010, in languages as diverse as Assamese, Bengali, Dogri, Gojri, Hindi, Malayalam, Marathi, Maithili, Tamil, and more, includes 16 features and five shorts that take us on a cinematic journey across India. The opening-night film, the New York premiere of Achal Mishra’s The Village House, is a mesmerizing visual diary centering on a family house in Bihar. Anamika Haksar’s Taking the Horse to Eat Jalebis is a provocative fiction/nonfiction hybrid that drops us right in the middle of Old Delhi’s buzzling streets. Pushpendra Singh’s surreal fables, The Shepherdess and the Seven Songs and The Honour Keeper, transport us to the mountains in Jammu and Kashmir and the Thar Desert in Rajasthan, where his whimsical female protagonists find ways to negotiate their freedom and independence. Sectarian and sexual violence are a haunting presence in Arun Karthick’s Tamil feature Nasir and Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s Malayalam film Sexy Durga. Anand Gandhi’s Ship of Theseus and Payal Kapadia’s A Night of Knowing Nothing contemplate existential questions about self and being. And Amit Dutta’s otherworldly experimental works NainsukhDrawn from Dreams, and Bat Like Devil Chaser with a Top Hat investigate the interaction between the moving image and other visual forms, including miniature painting and still photography.

Organized by La Frances Hui, Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art. 

Film at MoMA is made possible by CHANEL.

Additional support is provided by the Annual Film Fund. Leadership support for the Annual Film Fund is provided by Debra and Leon D. Black and by Steven Tisch, with major contributions from The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, MoMA’s Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation, the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP), The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art, the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, Karen and Gary Winnick, and The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston.