Projects exploring the role of women in Indian society and the country’s rapid economic development feature heavily in the line-up for this year’s Work-in-Progress Lab at Film Bazaar, which includes six fiction and five documentary features.

Alankrita Shrivastava’s Lipstick Under My Burkha [pictured], produced by Prakash Jha Productions, tells the story of four women struggling with society’s restraints and searching for freedom in small town India.

“Many Indian films are focusing on patriarchy and the restrictions that women have to live with – even male filmmakers are starting to examine this subject,” said Deepti Dcunha, who curates Film Bazaar’s WIP Lab and Viewing Room sections.

The WIP fiction line-up also includes Amit Rai’s ‘I’ Pad, based on the true story of a man who invented a machine to make low-cost sanitary pads. “Its surprising to see a taboo subject like this in an Indian film,” said Dcunha.  

In the documentary section, Alka Raghuram’s Burqa Boxers revolves around a group of Muslim women in Kolkata who challenge stereotypes by learning boxing, while The Marriage Brokers, directed by Smriti Mundhra and Sanita Khurana, deals with the pressure on Indian women to marry.

Meanwhile, Jar Pictures’ Gurgaon looks at the impact of India’s economic development through the story of a family torn apart when an ordinary landowner becomes rich. The feature is the directorial debut of Shanker Raman, an acclaimed cinematographer with credits including Patang and Peepli (Live).

Dcunha also programmes the Film Bazaar Recommends section in Film Bazaar’s The Viewing Room, which includes projects such as Autohead, about an angst-ridden auto rickshaw driver, and G – A Wanton Heart, about honour killings. “We have more protagonists who are also antagonists. This is unusual in Indian films as we usually have very clearly defined heroes,” said Dcunha.

In total, 32 films have been selected for Film Bazaar Recommends, while the Viewing Room is presenting 156 films in 29 Indian languages that are seeking finishing funds, world sales and festival exposure.

The WIP Lab enables filmmakers to screen the rough cut of their films to a panel of international advisors. This year’s mentors include festival veteran Marco Mueller, producer Philippa Campbell and editor Pernille Bech Christensen.

Work-in-Progress Lab 2015 line-up:

WIP Fiction

Gurgaon, Shanker Raman (Hindi)

‘I’ Pad, Amit Rai (Hindi)

Juje, Miransha Naik (Konkani)

Lipstick Under My Burkha, Alankrita Shrivastava (Hindi)

Nongmei (Gun), Haobam Paban Kumar (Manipuri)

You Are My Sunday, Milind Dhaimade (Hindi/English/Konkani)

WIP Documentary

Burqa Boxers, Alka Raghuram (Bangla/Hindi)

Machines, Rahul Jain (English/Hindi)

Raghu Rai: An Unframed Portrait, Avani Rai (Hindi)

Snake Dancers Of The Thar - Romani Kalbeliya Gypsy Trail, Dinkar Rao (English/Hindi)

The Marriage Brokers, Smriti Mundhra & Sarita Khurana (Hindi/English/Marathi/Kannada/Marwari)