Explore the intricate labyrinth that is the world of Indian cinema and theatre with these festivals that you absolutely must know about.

It’s no secret that India loves its fair share of drama. The film and theatre industries in India have always been a massive part of our popular culture, ever-evolving– thematically and aesthetically. And film/theatre festivals celebrate this art spectacularly, introducing thousands to the many facets of Indian cinema. Therefore, The Sherp brings you an amicable list of film/theatre festivals you cannot go without knowing about.

1. Mumbai Film Festival

When: October 29 – November 5
Where: Mumbai

Mumbai Film Festival, organized by MAMI (Mumbai Academy of Moving Image) aims to celebrate Indian and international cinema, giving film enthusiasts in the city a much-needed outlet and homegrown independent filmmakers a legitimate platform. The festival has been prevalent since the late nineties and is backed by a supergroup of trustees including some of the biggest names in the filmmaking industry like Karan Johar, Farhan Akhtar, Yash Chopra and more. “The goal is to nurture and ignite a passion for movies,” says their Facebook event page. Read more about the festival here.

2. Mumbai/Bangalore Queer Film Festival

When: 2016 Dates TBA
Where: Mumbai/Bangalore

2009 marked a good year for the LGBT community in India. The Delhi High Court decriminalized homosexuality and not being heterosexual was not a punishable offense. The youths of the city rejoiced at the forthcoming evolution of the country, and the movement was taken forward by shedding some light on queer cinema. Unbeknownst to almost medieval mentality most of the country’s political authorities would display four years hence, KASHISH Mumbai Queer Film Festival was conceptualized. Similarly, Bangalore celebrated their own queer film festival, which is said to be dated back to the early 2000’s. An almost essential platform for cinema, theatre and performing arts, these festivals prevail still, celebrated by faithful fans with vigour.

3. Dharamshala International Film Festival

When: November 5-8, 2015
Where: Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh

The cozy hills of Mcleodganj make for the perfect backdrop of this idiosyncratic festival that requires no preamble. If you’re planning on attending DIFF, you’ll be spoilt for choice with the line-up of documentaries, features and shorts on the docket for this year’s festival. Far from the chaos of the maddeningly busy urban life, every year, DIFF transforms the mountain town of Mcleodganj into a buzzing art scene, where indie filmmakers and enthusiasts alike, can come together and immerse themselves into the vast and enchanting labyrinth of cinema. Read more about it here.

4. Mumbai Women’s International Film Festival

When: Dates TBA
Where: Mumbai

Recognizing the contribution of women in the Indian film industry, this idiosyncratic film festival celebrates the best and most beautiful of woman-centric cinema annually. Initiated only about two years ago, Mumbai Women’s International Film Festival (MWIFF) has garnered much appreciation in a short span of time. With film screenings, interactive panel discussions and the acknowledgement and discussion of socially relevant themes with reference to women, this festival is a must for everyone.

5. India Film Project

When: September 18 to 26, 2015
Where: Ahmedabad

One of the most popular film festivals in the country, India Film Project began its journey in 2011. The festival has come a long way since then, serving as an established platform for film enthusiasts in India and its neighbouring countries. The 2015 edition of the festival, which is underway right now, is said to feature over 14000 filmmakers from 18 countries. With some spectacular independent productions and immersive activities for film enthusiasts, we look forward to the 2016 edition of India Film Project.

6. International Theatre Festival of Kerala

When: January 10-16, 2016
Where: Chembukkavu, Thrissur

Organized by the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy, the International Theatre Festival of Kerala is a rare celebration of theatre and everything it represents. The festival sees an eclectic audience and performers from all over the globe, along with some of the greatest indie theatre performances ever seen. “The ITFoK not only focus on showcasing contemporary theatre, but provides a platform for other folk and traditional theatre forms of Kerala and other parts of the country,” says their website. With all its elegance and grandeur, ITFoK truly puts India on the map of must-visit festivals.

7. Going Solo

When: October 24 – November 2
Where: Delhi, Mumbai & Kolkata

This unique theatre festival is dedicated to the art of solo performance. As India’s only International Solo Theatre festival, Going Solo pays homage to one man acts and brings into spotlight the best solo acts from around the world. The 2015 edition, which wll commence soon, is said to showcase some of the most intensely captivating acts ever seen, riveting and genre-eclectic– ranging from political and psychological drama to Sci-Fi. Check out the official website here to know more about the festival.

8. Prithvi Theatre Festival

When: Novermber (tentative), 2015
Where: Mumbai

This theatre festival is celebrated annually in the ever-nostalgic Prithvi Theatre. Prithvi, with its cozy, suburban demeanor, litter of artsy, avant-garde folk, comely cafe with the infamous sulemani chai and almost historical to the city, is one of the most understated landmarks of the city. The Prithvi Theatre Festival usually starts in early November and runs anywhere from a week to a month. Each edition comes with it’s own set of outstanding acts and cinematic themes. If you love Bombay as much as we do, this is one thing you need to check out while you’re in the city.

9. Bharat Rang Mahotsav

When: 2016 Dates TBA
Where: New Delhi

Bharat Rang Mahotsav or the National Theatre Festival is one of the most well-established festivals in India. First put together in 1999 by the National School of Drama, New Delhi, this festival has now developed into a major element in the cultivation and growth of Indian theatre. The festival sees some brilliant as well as well-known international artists with every edition, lighting up the stage with eclectic acts. Dates for the 2016 edition haven’t been announced yet, but the festival usually takes place during the month of January or February. Click here to know more about the Mahotsav.

10. International Film Festival of India

When: Dates TBA
Where: Goa

One of the oldest film festivals of the country, the International Film Festival of India, held in Goa is almost essential to this list. The festival was founded in 1952 and has developed into not just a relevant Indian film fest, but a recognized and anticipated festival in all of Asia. Historically rich and exceedingly grand, this festival needs to be on your bucket list. This festival lights up Goa annually, vastly different from the other Goan tourist events. Check out their website here to get more info!