Rashmi Rocket (Zee5)
Akarsh Khurana's film starring Taapse Pannu looks at the contentious issue of gender testing. We said in our review: “It's only once Rashmi wins an individual gold at the Asian games and powers the team to a relay win that things unravel. After the race, she’s taken to a medical facility and made to undergo a blood test and an ultrasound. Her testosterone levels are found to be unusually high for a woman. The atheletics association, citing international policy, promptly bans her from racing and takes back her medals. After some encouragement from her mother and Gagan, she decides to take the federation to court with the help of Eeshit, a young lawyer eager to take up the issue of 'gender testing' in sports.”
Je Suis Karl (Netflix)
The German film looks at the issues of far right politics and anti-immigrant rhetoric in Europe. The film opens with a middle-aged couple Alex (Milan Peschel) and Inés (Mélanie Fouché) illegally transporting a Libyan refugee Yusuf (Aziz Dyab) from Budapest to Berlin. Cut to the present, two years later, Alex takes a package delivery for his 80-year-old neighbour. It’s a bomb which kills 16 people, including Ines and their two children. Alex and his elder daughter Maxi (Luna Wedler) survive. Islamic extremists are suspected to be behind the blast. Maxi escapes to Prague and ends up with Karl (Jannis Niewöhner), who belongs to a neo-fascist youth movement, which triggered the blast. Since the Berlin blast did not create the "ripples" they had expected, Karl and his group are now looking for that "final straw" to whip up anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim hysteria.
What We Do in the Shadows (Disney+ Hotstar)
Unwind with season 3 of this vampire mockumentary. Our review noted: “Created by Jemaine Clement — and based on the film made by (and starring) Clement and Taika Waititi — the show, now in its third season, has become its own richly textured beast, with an ever-expanding and intricate mythology, and a tapestry of guest vampires and other supernatural creatures like werewolves and zombies. Everybody’s a subculture, which is why everyone looks like a freak to everyone else.”
Based on Stephanie Land’s memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, And A Mother’s Will To Survive, the drama series is on the travails of a single mother Alex (Margaret Qualley) with no home, money or security. Alex leaves her partner Sean's (Nick Robinson) house along with her two-year-old daughter in the middle of the night. Sean is an alcoholic and has anger issues—he punches a hole in the wall after a drunken night. Turns out her bipolar mother Paula (Andie MacDowell) was also abused by Alex's father, Hank (Billy Burke). While Paula ran away and leads a vagabond life, Alex, who finds work as a cleaning maid, is not ready to give up on herself.
Loktak Lairembee (MUBI)
In our Independence Day selection of 28 films for 28 states, this was our pick for Manipur. We wrote: “This Meitei fiction film is about a couple who live on Loktak lake in Manipur, and what happens when the man finds a gun and starts seeing apparitions. Director Haobam Paban Kumar had earlier made a documentary on the same lake, and his first feature hews close to reality, basing itself on the 2011 eviction of lake-dwellers by the government.”