35th Toronto International Film Festival: only reality films from India

Toronto, Sep 9 (Calcutta Tube) In a break with the past, the 35th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), which kicks off here Thursday, will feature no masala film from big Bollywood banners this year.

All four Indian entries – ‘Dhobi Ghat’ by Kiran Rao, ‘That Girl With Yellow Boots’ by Anurag Kashyap, ‘Harud’ (Autumn) by Aamir Bashir and ‘Soul of Sand’ by Sidharth Srinivasan – here this year are independent productions, with no Bollywood masala.

‘We have been having those big, masala Bollywood films, and I love them too. But I have been looking at more independent films (from India) that our audiences will respond to. And this year, we found four independent films that will let people know what is happening right now in Mumbai and India,’ festival co-director Cameron Bailey told IANS before the kick-off.

More than 300 films from over 60 countries will be screened during the world’s premier film festival which runs till Sep 19. In a major milestone in its history, the film festival is also moving its own gigantic headquarters – TIFF Bell Lightbox – bang in the heart of downtown Toronto.

While Kiran Rao’s ‘Dhobi Ghat’, with husband Aamir Khan in the lead role, is already being touted as one of the best independent films to come out of Bollywood in recent times, Anurag Kashyap’s ‘That Girl in Yellow Boots’ has been described here as another hard-hitting take on reality in India.

‘`That Girl in Yellow Boots’ is not a musical, not a song-and-dance film at all. It is a very hard-hitting drama about a girl searching for her father in Mumbai. It is a tough film to watch sometimes because this girl goes through some very difficult things as she goes through the city searching for her father. Some very difficult things happen to her.’

‘What Kashyap is trying to do is to punch her through that veneer of sunshine and happiness and give us something real. This film feels like a real picture of the tougher, harder side of life in Mumbai today,’ Bailey added.

The two other Indian films debuting here, he said, are also independent productions, depicting the real life in India today.

‘Both ‘Harud’ (Autumn) by Aamir Bashir – an amazing story set in Kashmir – and Sidharth Srinivasan’s ‘Soul of Sand’ are fascinating independent films trying to capture what is happening in India today,’ said Bailey.

Apart from these four Indian films, the festival also features two India-themed productions – ‘Pink Saris’ by Kim Longinotto and ‘The Sound of Mumbai’ by Sara McCarthy from Britain.

While ‘Pink Saris’ revolves around Sampat Pal Devi, a tough woman who leads the so-called `Pink Gang’ to fight against oppression of women in rural Uttar Pradesh, ‘The Sound of Mumbai’ is about the city’s under-privileged kids.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh.s@ians.in)

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