INDIAN FILM FESTIVAL
This year’s Indian Film Festival in Sydney runs concurrently with Melbourne but is a pared down version of that event. Although brief and without the glitz and glamour of the Victorian city’s bigger selection, the Festival delivers a tight schedule of films to represent the current trends in Indian cinema.
Opening night at Hoyts EQ cinemas in Moore Park is Ken Scott’s English and French-language film The Extraordinary Journey Of The Fakir. Despite its Indian subject matter, it’s an unusual choice because, with the exception of leading Tamil actor Dhanush, most of the cast is European, it’s set not just in India but in France, Italy and Libya, is based on a best-selling French novel and is directed by a Canadian. Oh, and it’s a French/Belgian/Indian co-pro! Beginning in Mumbai, a magician and conman, Ajatashatru “Aja” Lavash Patel (Dhanush), convinces the locals to buy him a ticket to Paris so he can track down his estranged father. Billed as a ‘comedy-adventure’, it has sold very well internationally and promises to be great entertainment. Also screening on opening night is Onir’s modern-day romance Kuchh Bheege Alfaaz, a Hindi movie about a mis-dial that leads to a WhatsApp relationship and its consequences. Both films sound like a lot of fun and either would be a great choice to kick-start the festival. In attendance on opening night will be director Onir, who will introduce his film, and also a special guest appearance by Rajkumar Hirani, the producer, writer and director of the highly acclaimed bio-pic Sanju.
Some of the other titles to choose from include Jean Griesser’s documentary on the life of Srila Prabhupada, the Indian swami who created the Hare Krishna movement in the 1960s, Hare Krishna; Qaushiq Mukherjee’s Garbage, a dark thriller about a taxi driver in Goa who keeps a sex-slave chained in his apartment; and Rima Das’s heartfelt drama Village Rockstars, which tracks a young Assamese village girl as she follows her dream of owning a guitar and forming a rock band. Another intriguing title is White, Aneek Chaudhury’s powerful silent film that tells three different stories of rape and survival in contemporary India.
Talking about this year’s selections, Festival Director Mitu Bhowmick Lange said, “With Indian cinema recognised more and more on the international stage, we shine a light on our handpicked favourites - featuring boundary-pushing films, independent and blockbuster alike. We selected these films to celebrate, to inspire, and to confront audiences.” It is, indeed, a fascinating collection of films.
For details of the full program spread between the two Sydney venues, Hoyts Entertainment Quarter in Moore Park and Hoyts Blacktown, click here.