It’s only their second attempt, but the International Film Festival of Kerala has already developed a breathtaking range of categories and depth, showing the southern ttate to be a mecca of movie aficionados. In fact, There are over 150 moives on show at the week long festival. It got off to a star-studded start when legendary Bengali film maker Mrinal Sen lit the lamp for the Festival. He is being rewarded at the Festival with a Lifetime Achievement Award and a retrospective of his career.
Screen actress Sharmila Tagore, who is the Chair of the Indian Board of Film Certification and also a competition judge at the Festival, urged regional film-makers to resist the Bollywood influence. “Regional cinema reflects the multi-cultural plural society that is India’s strength,” she argued, “They are rooted in their culture but at the same time transcend culture and communicate across borders. If we imitate Bollywood, we will lose something.”
The Competition section of the Festival is intense with some of the hot money going on local Mollywood film Midsummer with Manoj and Shweta Menon as poor union workers in a Keralan village where the world is changing rapidly around them. The lyrical content of the movie has been compared to the works of Thomas Hardy. Another Malayalam entry is What The Sufi Said, an extraordinary historical tale set in Malabar at the end of the 19th century. The film is a remarkable recreation, not only of the period, but also of the paradigms of the people of the era. It stars the svelte Sharbani Mukherjee and Mammootty pops up as a wondering trader.
A must-see movie in the Indian Cinema Now section is Just One Chance/Ek tho Chance with Purab Kohli and the always amazing Amrita Arora. The film is about the thousands of young people who flock to Mumbai every day, full of dreams and hopes and aspirations and what may become of them. Don’t miss out either on Calcutta My Love, a romance set in Kolkata in the 1960s during the turbulent time of radical politics, state terror and urbanisation. The film stars Paoli Dam who has been compared to Smita Patil and looks set to burst onto the wider movie scene.