Moviegoers are suckers for a true story, which is why documentary films are so endearing and fascinating. While we often respond to narrative features with hope, fear, and excitement, nothing can stop a good documentary. A good documentary can also shake us to our core while expanding our worldview through experiences. These 10 documentaries are powerful, shocking, heartbreaking, and intense, and each will resonate with viewers open to learning more about the world.
1. Fries! The movie
A love of French fries is universal, and this documentary aims to explain why. Chrissy Teigen produces and appears in the film, along with bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell, chef Eric Ripert, and founder and president of the Museum of Food and Drink Dave Arnold. Together, they will share stories of fried potatoes through chefs, celebs, farmers, food scientists, and others. The only question remains: What snack do you bring along to watch?
Legendary director Wim Wenders offers a moving portrait of his friend Pina Bausch, an internationally acclaimed dancer and choreographer who died unexpectedly in the early days of the production of Wenders’s documentary. The members of Bausch’s company, Tanztheater Wuppertal, became Wenders’s collaborators, offering their own memories and perspectives of their mentor and leader. Shot in gorgeous 3D, Pina is unlike any dance performance you’ve ever seen.
3. Man On Wire
In 1974, a week before his 24th birthday, high-wire artist Philippe Petit stunned the typically cynical denizens of New York City when he walked on a wire between the towers of the World Trade Center. Balancing himself over 1,000 feet in the air, Petit made eight passes between the skyscrapers over the course of 45 minutes before his arrest by the NYPD. It is also a portrait of the Twin Towers, which loomed large over New York City for nearly 30 years before the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.
4. Jiro Dreams of Sushi
Enter the world of Jiro Ono, the 85-year-old master chef of Tokyo’s Sukiyabashi Jiro. It is a 10-seat sushi restaurant that has earned three Michelin stars and worldwide acclaim. The documentary focuses on Ono as he continues to perfect his cuisine, a passion that has driven him throughout his career. It also looks toward the future of the Ono legacy, as Jiro’s sons, Yoshikazu and Takashi, followed in their father’s footsteps to become sushi chefs in their own right.
5. Casting JonBenet
Casting JonBenet makes our list of the best documentaries not because of its topic. But rather because of the way it tells its story. It deals with the death of American child beauty starlet Jon Beney Ramsey, who was found strangled in her home at age six. Instead of simply telling the story and playing existing footage, the filmmakers put out a casting call for a fictional film in Ramsey’s hometown. The results is a strangely intimate look at how the story evolved in the minds of everyday people once the media got hold of it.
It isn’t about a global conspiracy or maniacal serial killer. It’s just a simple story of a group of young filmmakers in Singapore and their encounter with a strange man who would eventually run off with their film. That’s not a spoiler, it’s the premise of the entire documentary. What this documentary lacks in content, it makes up for in charm. Seeing how the group developed into adults and how it affected their professional and personal lives is fascinating. If you’re looking for a lighthearted watch that won’t leave you in tears, this is the one.
7. Life Animated
Based on Ron Suskind’s book about his son, this Oscar-nominated film depicts Owen Suskind. He after being diagnosed with autism at 3 years old, withdrew into a nearly silent state of being. With Suskind and his wife on the verge of losing hope that their son would have a meaningful life and the ability to connect with others, they discovered he responded intensely to the world of animated films. That too particularly those produced by Walt Disney giving him a new chance to understand the confounding world around him.
8. Strong Island
Strong Island is yet another documentary focused on racial injustices in the United States. This time, the victim is the filmmaker’s brother, a 24-year-old African-American teacher, who was killed in 1992 by a white mechanic. The all-white jury ultimately accepted his claim of self-defence, leading to questions around the efficacy of the justice system. The documentary relies heavily on pulling your emotional strings, so if you’re the analytical type it might not be for you. That said, the production quality alone merits a spot among the best documentaries.
9. Sound Of Fury
This Oscar-nominated film follows the Artinians, who across three generations have deaf and hearing members in their extended family. When brothers Peter (who is deaf) and Chris (who is hearing) both had deaf children and considered giving them cochlear implants, they opened up a debate within their family one that also exists within the deaf culture at large. Sound and Fury is a powerful look at how we create communities based on shared experience, abilities, and language, and the importance we place on where we stand within the mainstream culture.
10. Planet Earth II
Sir David Attenborough is back with more stunning footage of the natural world. This time the production values are even higher with full 4K shots that will leave you breathless. Planet Earth II follows the same patterns set by the first series. Each episode of this documentary focuses on a specific type of environment. Even if you’re not a nature lover, check this one out while it’s still available. Because it’s not only one of the best documentaries on Netflix, it’s one of the best documentaries periods.
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Shararat Cast- Where Are They Now
Most 90s kids were lucky to have watched some of the best Indian shows. And Shararat ranks high on that list. The story of three generations of friendly witches, Shararat made for a fun watch. Launched in 2003, it had a good run of four years on Star Plus. The sitcom was bankrolled by Ronnie Screwvala. So, lets see where they are now.
Shruti Seth as Jia
Shruti Seth’s big break on television, Shararat went on to become a milestone in her career. The actor played the lovable and gullible witch, who was bestowed with magical powers on her 18th birthday. New to these powers, Jia would always end up in trouble and it was her mother and grandmother who bailed her out.
Post Shararat, Shruti has been part of shows like Kyun Hota Hai Pyaar, Rishta.com and films like Rajneeti, Fanaah among more. She has also enjoyed her stint as a host with Mum Tum Aur Hum and multiple seasons of Comedy Circus. Ekta Kapoor recently announced Shruti Seth as one of her lead actors in Mentalhood. The ALTBalaji series will present the lives of moms in contemporary times. The actor is married to filmmaker Danish Aslam and has a daughter.
Farida Jalal as (Sushma) Nani
The most loving and supportive grandmother, Nani was always around to help Jia. A fun personality, she always used her magical powers to teach people lessons. She was also quite naughty and sometimes misused her powers.
More than her TV roles, Farida Jalal is known for playing pivotal characters in films like Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. She was last seen in ZEE5’s Parchayee.
Poonam Narula as Radha
Radha had the tough task of being a witch and a normal ‘human’ wife at the same time. She knew her husband didn’t like magic and so she refrained from using it. She also had to keep an eye on her mischievous mother. A supportive mother, Radha was always there to share the best advice with her daughter.
Poonam Narula has been part of shows like Kasautii Zindagii Kay, Kasam and Nach Baliye. Married to actor Manish Goel, she has taken a sabbatical to raise her kids.
Mahesh Thakur as Suraj Malhotra
Poor Suraj got the shock of his life on his wedding night as Radha informed him that she is a witch. Being in love with his wife, he accepted her but asked her to live a normal life like him. While he hated magic, there were multiple moments when it helped him get out of sticky situations. A loving father, he also had a love-hate relationship with his mother-in-law.
Post the show, Mahesh has been part of numerous television and film projects. Some of his notable works include Sasural Genda Phool, Ishqbaaaz, Udaan and films like Hum Saath Saath Hai, Aashiqui 2, Jai Ho etc. He was last seen in Eros Now’s Modi: The Story of a Common Man.
Karanvir Bohra as Dhruv
The college hottie, Dhruv was the centre of attraction and had every girl falling for him. Jia too had a crush on him. Although he reciprocated her feelings, they did not confess their feelings, for a long time. It was also because of Dhruv that Jia became a soft target for Pam, who too had her eyes on this stud.
While Karanvir Bohra is now known for his exuberant fashion sense and personality, as Dhruv, he was the perfect chocolate boy. One of his first acting assignments, KVB, as he is fondly known, charmed the ladies not just on the show but also in real life. Karanvir was last seen as one of the finalists in Bigg Boss 12.
Simple Kaul as Pam
The foreign-returned Parminder aka Pam entered Jia’s life as her rival, wanting to take her place in college, and the love of her life – Dhruv. Pam and her two sidekicks made every effort to make life hell for Jia in college. But thanks to nani and her magical tricks, Pam would always end up falling flat on her face.
After playing the snooty Pam, Simple Kaul showcased her acting skills in shows like Yeh Meri Life Hai, Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah, Suvreen Guggal, Jeannie Aur Juhu and more. Currently, she is a proud owner of multiple restuarants that she opened with good friend Addite Malik.
Thanks for reading!
Also read: Unfinished: PCJ Finally Launches Her Memoir
Unfinished: PCJ Finally Launches Her Memoir
Priyanka Chopra Jonas finally launched her book: Unfinished, A memoir! After giving us a sneak-peek into her memoir the entire week, she got the ball rolling today. PCJ made a point to make her own legacy, breaking stereotypes and taking the road not taken. Her journey isn’t like a run-of-the-mill story but it was a hell of a roller coaster ride. From hitting the ground after a few good hits, she rose back and paved her own path. She has fans across the world.
She described her memoir as
“A thoughtful and revealing memoir from one of the world’s most recognizable women, renowned for her bold risk-taking, multiculturalism, and activism.”
She posted the cover her memoir captioning,
“Ironically, I named this memoir years before I started writing it. Having been a public person now for 20 years, with so much life to live and a long list of things to check off my list personally and professionally, I am very much #Unfinished. BUT the funny thing about writing a memoir is that it forces you to look at things differently, reconciling so many things you thought you had put to bed. In doing so I’ve realized that being “unfinished” has deeper meaning for me, and has in fact been one of the most common threads of my life…”
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…My parents taught me at a very young age to have courage of conviction, and I’ve never been ambivalent about this. I have always been guided by my curiosity, drive for challenge, and intrinsic need to constantly evolve and move forward. I have taken many leaps of faith, often times when I was advised not to…and even when I too was afraid. Some risks paid off, some didn’t (my life is not a fairytale, although I do hate to lose…c'est la vie), but what I learned during this process is that I have never shied away from change, or forced guilt on myself for leaving something unfinished if that’s what my evolution as an individual required… #unfinished PRE-ORDER NOW! (link in bio)
Insight into her memoir:
“I AM A PRODUCT OF TRADITIONAL INDIA AND ITS ANCIENT WISDOM, AND MODERN INDIA AND ITS URBAN BUSTLE. MY UPBRINGING WAS ALWAYS AN AMALGAMATION OF THE TWO INDIAS, AND, JUST AS MUCH, OF EAST AND WEST.”
“FROM HER DUAL-CONTINENT TWENTY-YEAR-LONG CAREER AS AN ACTOR AND PRODUCER TO HER WORK AS A UNICEF GOODWILL AMBASSADOR, FROM LOSING HER BELOVED FATHER TO CANCER TO MARRYING NICK JONAS, PRIYANKA CHOPRA JONAS’S STORY WILL INSPIRE A GENERATION AROUND THE WORLD TO GATHER THEIR COURAGE, EMBRACE THEIR AMBITION, AND COMMIT TO THE HARD WORK OF FOLLOWING THEIR DREAMS.”
PCJ has moved heaven and earth to make her memoir accessible to everyone. It is available in both in hard copy and soft copy. You can pre-order it from the links below:
These Shows Will Make You Put On Thinking Hats
Detective television shows always manage to raise the innate investigator we all have within us. The reason why people find detective shows so engaging is that there’s enough space to explore a wide variety of themes and genres. While some shows depend heavily on style, creating a noir-ish and violent narrative, others depend on pure substance. From the grimy ‘Mindhunter’ to the cerebral ‘Sherlock’, detective shows contain a large variety of narratives. In addition, these detective shows are hard to resist. Some of the best shows out there are-
Raimy, an NYPD detective in 2016 who discovers that she is able to communicate with her father via a ham radio, who had died way back in 1996. Together, the two start solving all the “unsolvable” cases. The show brilliantly manages to blend the fancy with the crime. It jumps in timeline creating a non-linear plot which is handled with maturity by American writer Jeremy Carver.
Premiering on Netflix in 2018, ‘1983’ is a Polish crime drama about a law student, Kajetan Skowron, essayed by Maciej Musiał, and a cop, Anatol Janów, played by Robert Więckiewicz, who, decades after a 1983 terrorist attack, tries to expose a conspiracy that’s kept Poland as a police state and the Iron Curtain standing. Created and written by Joshua Long, the show is built on a gripping, edgy narrative.
3. Sherlock Holmes
The show which launched Benedict Cumberbatch onto the A-list. Sherlock gave Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic creation a brand new lease of life when it first hit the BBC back in 2010. You can catch the first three series of the multi-Emmy-winning drama on Netflix. It is packed with particular highlights including the thoroughly modern take on A Scandal in Bohemia. To sum it up, you should watch it right away. Above all, you would not want to miss Benedict’s amazing acting.
4. Jonathan Creek
You could argue that back in its 1990s prime, Jonathan Creek surpassed the above when it came to eccentric British detectives. Combining whimsical comedy, magic tricks and elaborate, if admittedly far-fetched, murder mystery, Jonathan Creek transformed the whodunnit into the howdunnit, turned stand-up Alan Davies into a household name and gave a whole host of other comedic faces.
The highly charismatic Idris Elba also took his career to new heights when he landed the lead role of DCI John Luther in this compelling BBC crime drama. The potential future James Bond excels as the brilliant but troubled detective who finds himself embroiled in a dangerous cat and mouse game with Ruth Wilson’s psychopathic killer. In other words, this is a literary masterpiece.
6. The Killing
It may lack the iconic woolly jumpers of the Swedish language original, and the first season finale is one of the most frustrating in recent memory. But this US remake of the definitive Scandi noir still largely manages to retain the slow-building intensity, stark realism and tantalising mysteries of its source material. Additionally, the killing went on to top charts when it was aired.
Based on a non-fiction bestseller, Mindhunter sees Jonathan Groff and McCallany play FBI agents. They are tasked with interviewing convicted serial killers to help better understand their crimes. Additionally to solve ongoing investigations. Executive produced by David Fincher, this Netflix original grips from start to finish. This was commissioned for a second series before a single episode had even aired.