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INDIAN CINEMA’S RICH DISPLAY AT DUBAI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Tue Nov 18,2008

From Debut Features to Seasoned Directors, India Shines in Masala of Masterpieces at DIFF 2008

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) today announced its programming line-up for the hotly anticipated Celebration of Indian Cinema segment, which yearly brings a varied range of art-house cinema from around the country from India’s most acclaimed directors and rising talents to watch.

Uma da Cunha, programmer for the Celebration of Indian Cinema Segment, said: “The films in this segment are thematically very diverse this year. Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s back this year with his new omnibus film,  and a number of up and coming directors from which we can expect to hear more in the future. Each year this segment presents quality Indian art-house cinema, where valuable statements about universal human truths take place in technically astute and innovative cinema.”

The segments Special Presentation, Kanchivaram is one such film, set in the 1940’s in the titular Tamil Nadu known for its fine silk saris. Vengadam (Prakash Raj), a silk weaver, weaves beautiful yards of silk, yet he cannot afford any for himself.  However, he has promised his daughter that he will weave a memorable sari for her wedding day. To do so, year after year, he smuggles home a coloured silken thread every day in his mouth from the factory where he is employed.

A sharp contrast is the World Premier, Tere Kya Hog, Johnny…! (Ride the wave,  Johnny…!) is set in the mayhem of Mumbai’s back streets, where at the centre of each neighbourhood is usually one good soul who always tries to help everyone, yet is repeatedly exploited in return. Johnny, a friendly youth who sells coffee from a bicycle, transcends his lowly status with inspiring decency, yet he is frequently taken advantage of by unscrupulous individuals. As intrigue bubbles up around him, his moral integrity comes under unprecedented strain.

Oru Pennum Randaanum (A Climate for Crime) is a quartet of searing stories about law versus crime in every day life by acclaimed director Adoor Gopalakrishnan (Nalu Pennungal). In ‘The Thief’, a schoolboy fights against taunts that his father is a thief, but is crushed when he is proved wrong. ‘The Police’ depicts corrupt policemen who frame a poor worker. In ‘Two Men and a Woman’, a student thinks he has made a servant girl pregnant, and finally,  in ‘One Woman, Two Men’ two rivals vie for the affection of a beautiful.

Valu, The Bull, is a tale of misplaced power symbolized by Valu, a wild bull on a rampage in the small village of Kusavde.  Two city officials arrive to capture him,  accompanied by a documentary filmmaker. However, the camera entices the locals far more than the bull. What emerges, on one side, is a sense of curiosity,  competitiveness, and friendship, as well as destructive ego, blind religion and the need to survive.

In Kissing Cousins, by Amyn Kaderali (Call Center,  2005), self-described ‘relationship termination specialist’ Amir undertakes break-up missions on behalf of others, but is troubled when his friends mock his singledom. When his cousin Zara comes to visit Amir’s family from the UK, she restores his image among his friends by pretending to be his girlfriend. It works, but even Amir believes it, until Zara reminds him that they are first cousins and a relationship between them is taboo. Amir is forced to analyse his need for emotional commitment.

Ore Kadal (The Sea Within) presents a sensitive study of Deepti, a middle class housewife who is irresistibly drawn to radical intellectual Nathan. As the affair grows, Deepti’s guilt pushes her towards mental instability. Her husband and children are caught in her emotional conflict, and her return to sanity only adds to her torment. Director Shyamaprasad uses a casual encounter as a contemplation of relationships, the trauma of raising families, and the tortuous wander between lust and love.

The debut work by Samir Chanda, Ek Nadir Galpo (Tale Of A River) is a feature film set in a small Bengal village. Every evening, the ageing Darakeshwar waits for his lively daughter Anjana to return from college. One day she does not return, and her body is discovered in the local Keleghai river. Frail though he is, Darakeshwar makes it his life’s mission to rename the river Anjana, in memory of his daughter. The film questions whether Darakeshwar is justified in having the river honour his daughter rather than finding the culprits who killed her.

DIFF 2008 will run from December 11 to 18.

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