Sangeeta Datta


Voted for

Pather Panchali1955Satyajit Ray
The Godfather1972Francis Ford Coppola
Rashomon1950Akira Kurosawa
Meghe Dhaka Tara1960Ritwik Ghatak
Herbstsonate1978Ingmar Bergman
Three Colours Blue1993Krzysztof Kieslowski
In the Mood for Love2000Wong Kar Wai
In Darkness Einer wahre Geschichte2011Agnieszka Holland
Bombay1995Mani Ratnam
Gangs of Wasseypur 2012Anurag Kashyap


Pather Panchali

1955 India

An outstanding human document about a young boy growing up in a poverty stricken family in a village in India. In his debut film Ray focuses on one individual against the backdrop of large scale rural migration to the big cities. Ray introduced new Indian cinema with this film which he shot on real location, with available light, little known actors or non actors and an inexperienced crew.

A much loved literary character, Apu, becomes the post colonial youth archetype whose story unfolds through the three parts of the Apu trilogy. As the film was screened across the world on Ray's centenary year, most recently at the BFI Ray season in July 2022, its enduring emotional appeal proved its primary place in the canvas of world cinema.

The Godfather

1972 USA

Coppola's adaptation of Mario Puzo's novel offered a gripping insight into the Italian-American underworld of crime and family pride. The Godfather brings together excellent casting, taut screenplay, brilliant camera and editing along with an epic music score. It offered real human characters instead of one dimension bad guys in action films. Still standing tall in this film genre, it reinstated Marlon Brando as a ruling star of the times. 50 years on, it still rules over masterful storytelling and brilliant film craft.


1950 Japan

Based on Akuragawa's short stories, Rashomon is Kurosawa's enquiry into the decline of morality during Japanese cultural upheaval. Based on the killing of a samurai in the forest, the story is told through several eye witnesses, including the spirit of the dead man. It is a fascinating psychological thriller in which every witness reveals his character by lying about the incident they narrate. The plot device of narrating the same incident from alternative or overlapping perspectives questions the very concept of absolute truth and has been used often as a narrative style. This was the first film to put Japanese cinema on the world map. Over decades, Rashomon has been considered one of the best films ever made.

Meghe Dhaka Tara

1960 India

The first of Ghatak's trilogy on the tragic fallout of the Bengal partition, this film has held enduring cerebral and emotional appeal to world audiences for the last seven decades. Ghatak, himself a survivor of partition trauma, presents a family uprooted as refugees in the city of Calcutta, trying to make sense of their lives. Family politics, gender and class heirarchy, complicate sibling relationships, as the vulnerable siblings have to offer strength and hope to each other in a seemingly unfeeling world. Ghatak's chiarascuro camerawork, powerpacked performances from the lead actors, beautiful use of Tagore' songs and poetry, create a tragic and spellbinding experience making this a compelling watch for all times.


1978 Federal Republic of Germany

One of Ingmar Bergman's best and most influential films, Autumn Sonata brought Ingrid Bergman and Liv Ullman together in a painful story of a mother and daughter. Charlotte, a succesful pianist who has devoted her life to her career, spends an evening with her less talented daughter Iva. The daughter believes she has been neglected by her ambitious mother. They talk openly about their hurt and expectations. Shot in an autumnal colour pallette, in close spaces and with the director's signature tight focus close ups, this is an intimate psychological drama that speaks to every woman.

Three Colours Blue

1993 France, Switzerland, Poland

Kieslowski's Three Colours trilogy deserve to be ranked in the best of world cinema. Three Colours Blue is a beautiful and emotional story of a woman who has to come to terms with death and loss. Juliette Binoche plays Julie, who is caught in a time warp, denying her past memories of the accident which kill her husband and daughter. New discoveries include the incomplete symphony which only she can complete and music signals a return to life for her. The emotional power of the story is its strength and makes it easily one of the best contemporary films of our time.

In the Mood for Love

2000 Hong Kong, France

Considered as one of the best films in recent times, this has been voted for by film critics for its fluid language of loss and desire. A couple grow close as they realise their spouses are having an affair. But their proximity is interrupted by travel and missed encounters. Wong Kar wai plays with the gossamer touch of love and attraction but reaches epic points of longing and sadness. This film deserves to be at the top of world cinema ranks.


1995 India

The second of Ratnam's trilogy on Bombay on the issue of national identity and integration, Bombay was made soon after the violent Bombay communal riots, on the heels of the Babri Masjid demolition, shook India. A love story between a Hindu upper caste boy and a Muslim girl who are forced to flee their villages and start life in Bombay. Mani Ratnam's use of camera, choreography, music take us on a journey of imagination with poignant performances from the lead and supporting roles. When communal riots break out and the children's lives are threatened, Ratnam is able to bring political tension, suspense, music and hope together in his masterful hands. Having lived through that traumatic time in Bombay, I feel this film deserves its place in the annals of world cinema.

Gangs of Wasseypur


Gangs of Wasseypur is an epic crime drama of gang warfare in small town India. Director Anurag Kashyap is one of the brightest contemporary filmmakers in India, experimenting with film language and surprising with his story telling techniques. This drama in two parts showcases some of the best acting talent in the country and gives a real exposure of criminal gangs in industrial areas of India. Kashyap's character detailing, his use of camera and editing techniques makes even the minor characters memorable. So are his characters' emotional sustenance, making the physical and psychological journeys a veritable roller coaster ride. Easily one of the best films out of South Asia in the last decade and a massive influence on younger filmmakers.