Toronto International Film Festival lines up an Indian cinema feast
Toronto: The Indian presence in the 43rd Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), which runs from 6 to 16 September, will be bigger than ever before. The world’s largest movie-producing nation will be represented in North America’s premier film festival by as many as eight remarkably diverse titles.
Add to that, three international productions in the TIFF lineup that were shot in the subcontinent—British director Michael Winterbottom’s The Wedding Guest, French filmmaker Mia Hansen-Love’s Maya and Australian Anthony Maras’s debut feature Hotel Mumbai—and you have a slate of 11 films that will ensure that the spotlight never veers away from India during the 11-day celebration of cinema in Canada’s cultural and commercial hub.
Both The Wedding Guest, about “a mysterious British Muslim man” who travels across India and Pakistan and Hotel Mumbai, centred on the 2008 Mumbai terror attack on Taj Mahal Hotel, star Dev Patel. The cast of the French film Maya, which follows a war correspondent who is freed from captivity in Syria and travels to India to recover from the trauma, features Indian debutante Aarshi Banerjee alongside Roman Kolinka and Cedric Kahn.
At one end of TIFF 2018’s Indian spectrum is Manmarziyaan (English title: Husband Material), directed, but not written, by Anurag Kashyap. This will be Kashyap’s second world premiere title in TIFF in two years. Last year, he was here with the boxing-meets-politics drama Mukkabaaz. Manmarziyaan marks a shift in tone for the director—this film is, by all indications, his first full-on tale of romance.
The other end of the Indian participation will feature new films from three women directors, one of them a part of a husband-wife team—Nandita Das’ Manto, a literary biopic that premiered in Cannes earlier this year, Rima Das’ Assamese-language Bulbul Can Sing and Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam’s The Sweet Requiem, set in the Tibetan community. All the three directors have had a film each in TIFF before—Nandita Das’ directorial debut Firaaq was showcased here in 2008, Rima Das’ second film Village Rockstars wowed Toronto in 2017, and Sarin and Tenzing’s first film, Dreaming Lhasa (2005), premiered in the festival 14 years ago.
Two UK-based Indian filmmakers figure in TIFF’s Short Cuts section—Jayisha Patel with the 14-minute Circle, about a girl caught in a vicious “cycle of abuse”, and Sandhya Suri with The Field, a 19-minute fiction film about a poor farm labourer “who bravely pursues a different kind of life that the one she’s been granted”.
In a first for Indian cinema, writer-director Vasan Bala’s sophomore venture Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota (English title: The Man Who Feels No Pain) will play in TIFF’s Midnight Madness section. Centred on a young man who suffers from a congenital insensitivity to pain and decide to vanquish a hundred foes is, by the director’s own admission, is a tribute to old-school martial arts flicks, “to all those great films that were considered trash”.
All eyes will also be on celebrated documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan’s Vivek (English title: Reason). The 260-minute film, backed by the kind of extensive and in-depth research that the filmmaker is known for, tracks the disruptive political winds currently blowing across India and threatening to tear apart the nation’s pluralistic fabric.
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- ‘Manto’ is impassioned and handsomely mounted