AUGUST 9-31

In one of several local programs marking 50 years of Indian independence, such estimable yet little-known (outside of movie-mad India) directors as Shyam Benegal, Mani Rathnam, Sai Paranjpye, Mrinal Sen, and Singeetam Srinivasa Rao are featured in the AFI’s brief overview spotlighting their mostly recent films. These are not the musical melodramas that Bollywood produces in great abundance (but which are rarely seen outside the Indian diaspora): Benegal is represented by two films, an account of Gandhi’s formative years in India, The Making of the Mahatma (Aug. 22 at 8:15 p.m., Aug. 23 & 24 at 8:15 p.m.) and Nishnat (Night’s End), in which a crisis follows the kidnapping of a schoolteacher’s wife by brothers of the powerful local landowner (Aug. 17 at 8:15 p.m., Aug. 23 at 3:45 p.m.). Rathnam’s controversial Roja, a “patriotic love story,” contrasts Kashmiri separatists with a Tamil nationalist (Aug. 9 at 5:45 p.m., Aug. 10 at 3:15 p.m.). Paranjpye’s Katha (The Fable) is a satire of different styles of ambition at a Bombay shoe company (Aug. 16 at 6:15 p.m., Aug. 17 at 3:15 p.m.). In Sen’s Genesis, a farmer and weaver escape repression and establish a tiny utopia in an abandoned village (Aug. 17 at 6 p.m., Aug. 21 at 6:30 p.m.). Rao’s wordless Pushpaka Vimana (Love Chariot) follows a man who takes up residence in another man’s luxury hotel suite, only to find himself the target of an assassin (Aug. 26 at 8:15 p.m., Aug. 30 at 3:45 p.m.). At the Kennedy Center’s American Film Institute Theater. $6.50. (202) 828-4090. (Mark Jenkins)