Diving into truthful and original art through film classics

10 min readNov 26, 2023

After being tired of watching non inventive Tamil films where the directors believe that ‘Gangsters’ are the only character vehicles to showcase heroism and heroes, I decided to stop watching these idiotic films and instead delve into film classics where I could a learn a thing or two about art and film making. I watched 15 film classics (have more in my list) this year so far. I realized that my learning about movies has improved dramatically. Also, when we watch anything that is truthful and original, it touches and moves somewhere deep inside us creating inspiration for any activity that we pursue.

Instead of writing a review for each one of them which is very hard since these are timeless classics, I decided to write a short summary of each of these iconic films. This is not a ranking as these films cannot be ranked but still there are 2–3 films in this list that are a cut above even these classics.

Italian: Bicycle Thieves by Vittorio de sica (1948)

A man loses his bicycle which is the basic requirement to get a job in the post world war Italy. How the man deals with the resulting struggles and tries to maintain his dignity in the face of adversity was told in a simple, realistic and profound way.

You can read the full review here

Italian: Shoeshine by Vittorio de sica (1946)

The movie explores complex themes such as friendship, betrayal, and the impact of social and economic disparities on the lives of young individuals, taking me through the post-war Italian society through its neorealist lens.

Bengali(India): Pather Panchali by Satyajit Ray (1955)

Satyajit Ray’s masterpiece on the life of a struggling poet and his family in rural Bengal. Every frame and every shot is a masterclass in filmmaking. The character design, the character selection and every element of the film is crafted. The train shot is iconic for its setup, staging, composition and for its power to showcase the reality of a culture.

You can read the full review here.

Italian: Cinema Paradiso by Giuseppe Tornatore (1988)

A soul stirring film set in a Sicilian town that tracks the nostalgic journey of a relationship between a cinema projectionist and a little boy. The film stirred my soul. Even if you didn’t know what is a soul, you will understand it once you watch the film.

You can read the full review here

English: Good Fellas by Martin Scorsese (1990)

If ‘The Godfather’ is Volume 1, Good Fellas is volume 2 of the textbook on Gangster films. It was so earthly and so New Yorky that captured the evolution of a wise guy in such a masterful way. The extraordinary ‘funny how’ scene landed an Oscar for Joe Pesci.

English: Taxi Driver by Martin Scorsese (1976)

The Yellow Cab is the symbol of New York. The film captured the soul of New York with all its beauties and imperfections in such an artistic way with Robert De Niro arriving in the big stage in style. Niro’s performance in front of the mirror practicing his ‘act’ with the guns to deal with the scum is an epic in itself.

English: Raging Bull by Martin Scorsese (1980)

One of the greatest films ever made. How did they light the scenes, how did they edit like that, how did De Niro acted like that and how did Martin directed like that? The film is about the conflict between the boxing ring and the wedding ring of middle weight champion Jake LaMotta.

The life and struggles of La Motta was brilliantly characterized by Scorsese and portrayed by de Niro who won an Oscar for this performance. The last scene when Niro talks to himself in the mirror deserves an Oscar for the best acting performance among all Oscar winning acting performances. Joe Pesci was mind blowing and the two of them etched their names in history forever. This film is ART of the highest kind.

Russian: Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky (1979)

When a director decides to use the film canvas to express his art, it will end up as Stalker. Directed by the legendary Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, this film uses science fiction to tap into the deepest recesses o the human psyche in a pace that is deliberately reflective. The opening scene when the family is sleeping in the bedroom and the way the camera moves with the train sound is an ultimate expression of one of the greatest creators. The film is spiritual, pure and holy.

You can read the full review here

Bengali (India): Aranyer Din Ratri by Satyajit Ray (1970)

A group of friends decide to spend a night in the forest area to free them from the stress of the city. Satyajit Ray effortlessly handles the characters, their morality and the philosophy behind the thinking of the personalities. The scene above where they sit and play a game is an example to showcase the brilliance of Ray.

English: The Magnificent Seven by John Sturges (1960)

This remake of Seven Samurai of Akira Kurosawa happens in a small Mexican village terrorized by a group of bandits led by Calvera (played by Eli Wallach). Desperate for help, the villagers hire seven gunslingers to defend and liberate them from the bandit threat. Not at the level of the original but still ends up as a decent remake.

Hindi: Pyasaa by Guru Dutt (1957)

This highly acclaimed film that frequently tops the charts for the best films made in India was definitely not meeting my expectations. Guru Dutt tracks the struggles of a poet in a materialistic world and the societal hypocrisy. It also help me to understand why Waheeda Rahman was rated so highly. She was drop dead gorgeous.

Swedish: Persona by Ingmar Bergman (1966)

I couldn’t fully understand the film. It was very engaging with two very beautiful lead actresses. One was a famous film artist and the other was a nurse. The artist stops speaking after a strange incident and the Psychiatrist sends both of them to a seaside villa to relax and come back. The nurse tries everything possible to make the artist speaks but in vain. At one point, both their personalities collide and it becomes hard to distinguish one from the other. Ingmar Bergman was considered as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time along with Bresson and Tarkovysky. I have to watch it multiple times to understand this film fully.

English: Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock (1960)

The father and mother of all horror and crime thriller films. A lady escapes with 40,000 USD cash in Arizona, Phoenix and stays at a motel on the way. She gets murdered at the hotel and the detective who comes to find out als gets murdered. Her sister comes along with her boyfriend to find out what happened. Everything about the film is great. After the shower scene came out, many young women were scared of going to take a shower. Such was the impact of the scene and the film.

French: A man escaped by Robert Bresson (1956)

A cinematic masterpiece and a text book in film making by the legendary Robert Bresson. In this highly acclaimed French film, there is nothing that is redundant and everything is so compact in a simple story of how a prisoner escapes from a highly protected prison.

English: 12 Angry Men by Sidney Lumet (1957)

The whole film happens in a meeting room inside a court where 12 Jurors meet to decide the fate of a young boy who was pronounced guilty of a murder. The verdict has to be unanimous(Guilty or Not Guilty) and even if one person is against it, they have to discuss and find alignment. Only one person says ‘Not Guilty’ and then for 1h 30 mins, he convinces the other 11 people in one of the greatest storytelling acts of alltime. There is absolutely no room, literally, for any distractions and almost all the shots are either tight closeups or midrange shots. The director brilliantly ensures that the screenplay and dialogues are gripping from start to end. This movie was shown in my Harvard negotiations class as one of the best examples of how to negotiate and find alignment. I could say that this is easily my most favorite film of all time even ahead of the artistic Russian movie, Stalker.

English: Citizen Kane by Orson Welles (1941)

Considered as the greatest movie of all time, Citizen Kane tracks the life of the wealthy billionaire Charles Foster Kane and the mystery behind the last word he uttered, “ROSEBUD”, before passing away. Orson was only 26 when he played the lead role as well as directing this cult film and his make up to make him look old is nothing short of spectacular. The Cinematography in this film is literally a textbook for framing and composition. The film inspired 1000s of films in every language for everything from cinematography to editing to special effects. I read that the audience in the famous auditorium scene was just a still photo in which the director and cinematographer poked holes with a pin to create the illusion of movement when light hits it.

There are so many spectacular scenes which I know that it is hard to create even today. The shot when little Kane was playing in the snow and the pan pull shot from the outside to the interior of the house, the long shots with subjects at the foreground and far into the background, the illusion of a real audience, the silhoute shots, the boldness to get away from ‘Out of focus’ shots to bring everything in focus … It is a trendsetter film in every possible way.

Orson Welles explains in the video below on how he made this ‘impossible’ film when he was only 26 and knew nothing about films.


Watching such films helps me to understand films deeply and a greater appreciation for the medium.

English: Vertigo by Alfred Hitchcock (1958)

Considered as one of the greatest movies of all time, this movie lived up to its reputation in every sense. The plot had such depth and twists and when combined with such an engaging screenplay, the movie was like a breeze from start to end. The editing was just brilliant and there was utmost clarity in the storyline. It is an easy watch and it is a worthy watch.

Japanese: Tokyo Story by Yasujiro Ozu (1953)

This film is the most emotional and most human film I have seen. From the word go, the film pulls you into it deeply. An elderly couple from Onomichi near Hiroshima in Western Japan decide to visit their kids in Tokyo. After reaching Tokyo, they realize the distance between them and their kids and grandchildren. The kids are so busy that they don’t have any time for them. There is nothing dramatic, nothing extravagant but the film penetrates the heart effortlessly. The scenes and the dialogues are so simple and it is that simplicity that is so hard to achieve. You never feel like watching Japanese people and instead, the film helps to transcend identity & bring out what is deeply human that is inherent in everyone of us.

French: Au Hasard Balthazar (1966) by Robert Bresson

Masterpiece is an understatement. The movie tracks the whole life of Balthazar, a donkey. The donkey has no control over its life and gets traded byy different owners most of whom treat it cruelly. The donkey accepts everything like a yogi and in a way teaches that humans have more to learn from animals. This film has a similarity to Tokyo Story because both the directors don’t do any gimmicks either with music or through overly expressive acting or camera tricks to stir the emotions of the audience. They let the audience go to the characters and connect with them deeply. It is deeply empathetic film and will leave you with a heavy heart. Cinematic gem!




Father, Entrepreneur & Writer; Edison award winning innovation; Daytime Emmy nominated animation; Author of two books; WEF Davos, Cannes Lions, TEDx