Adulting is never easy. As a child, a scraped knee seems like a world of trouble. But the older you grow, the more you get acquainted with the world’s complexity – happy to hit you in the face – and the subsequent drama.
Cinema, obviously enough, proves quite the help in this process. Watching a character stumble and fall much like yourself is truly comforting, but to watch the same character rise and mature makes you hopeful. Which is perhaps why the ‘coming-of-age’ drama has become so popular, spurning a genre by itself that churns a consistent number of movies dedicated to it every year.
There are some timeless films in this genre – Dil Chahta Hai, Almost Famous, The Breakfast Club and Garden State – that call for repeated viewings. But a few underrated gems can offer you a perspective you might have never pondered upon before. Here are the 6 most interesting ones of the lot –
At a time in India where our college-going young adults are more politically and socially conscious than ever, the rebellion against fascist college rules as shown by the characters in Richard Linklater’s prolific coming-of-age drama would prove a great boost for our liberal thinkers.
Dazed and Confused isn’t just a montage of some of the coolest high school kids partying and getting high together — it’s also a movie about boundaries. About living your life without the intrusion of authoritarian powers, and making no apologies about it. Us Indian millennials can appreciate that very much.
Young female sexuality is rarely given the attention it deserves. Movies like American Pie and Eurotrip show what it means to be sexually awakened men, but what about the women? Young girls in India take a long time to come to terms with their sexuality, and even longer to be able to express it freely. But maybe Alma in Turn Me On, Goddammit can inspire them to love sex as much as men do.
Turn Me On, Goddammit isn’t a sugar-coated story of a girl relegating sex with love, as society often expects them to; it’s a non-judgmental take on a girl’s obsession with having a sexual encounter. A feminist film for a truly feminist time.
The Apu Trilogy
Satyajit Ray’s The Apu Trilogy is considered one of the greatest trilogies to ever have been produced in cinema, but is rarely looked at as a coming of age tale. While it is Aparajito, where Apu grows up with education and teenage angst, that is considered the true coming of age fare, all three movies focusing on Apu and his acquaintance with life’s responsibilities are worth noting. It’s a story we know too well – how a young boy in India’s hinterlands is often forced to grow up before time itself. Watching The Apu Trilogy not as a classic piece of cinema, but as a story of many children like Apu, would make you extremely grateful for a far simpler life.
With the dawn of the new decade in 2010, the pressure to fit in, to be liked and be popular is greater than ever. It isn’t the era of Mean Girls anymore, because with social media and online presence, it has become so much more important to be cool and successful at the same time. Starting college in a new city in such a time can be extremely daunting, as an Indian student who has gone abroad will tell you.
Mistress America, where a young misfit, Lola Kirke discovers New York through the eyes of Greta Gerwig, and in the process becomes comfortable with her unpopularity and her talent is the coming-of-age story we all need.
Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited takes place entirely in India to the sound of Satyajit Ray’s music. Discovering your country through the eyes of the artistic American filmmaker is a journey in itself. But the film about three estranged brothers coming together in a spiritual ride and finding the family in them once more is a story that would prompt you to embark on a ride around India with your own family. The love never goes, it just becomes complicated.
You would be forgiven to not have heard of the National Award-winning Indian film because in the times of mainstream cinema, it depicted India’s coolth. The film written by and starring Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy is about a group of architectural students in the 1970s and their final thesis. It is a depiction of how systemic institutions led by authoritarian figures can often be detrimental to the career of young college students. The movie makes you fall in love with bell-bottomed hipsters and The Beatles, while also raising pertinent questions on the systems that bind us.