India heads to the 32nd Toronto International Film Festival

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As the years go by, world-class film festivals are slowly opening the doors to Indian films of all languages, without restriction to Bollywood. During the next two weeks, India will pack its bags and head to the 32nd annual Toronto International Film Festival held in Toronto, Canada.

Hogging most of the spotlight is acclaimed director Rituparno Ghosh’s The Last Lear. While Karan Johar took Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna to TIFF last year, The Last Lear will showcase a completely different side of Indian cinema. Starring Amitabh Bachchan, Preity Zinta and Arjun Rampal in lead roles, the film ties in closely with Shakespeare as its based on a troupe of actors. It also stars Divya Dutta and Shefali Shah in supporting roles. This Sunday September 9th, Toronto is all set to unroll the red carpet for The Last Lear, as it makes its world premiere as a “Gala Presentation”, which is the highest presentation a film can get at the festival. Preity Zinta, Arjun Rampal, Rituparno Ghosh and Mr. Bachchan himself will be attending the premiere.

However, even before Sunday, Mira Nair will hold a session shedding light on AIDS in India. She will also showcase the four short films on AIDS that she has produced, each directed by a prominent director. The first story starring Shiney Ahuja, Irrfan Khan and Sameera Reddy is directed by Mira herself. Farhan Akhtar has also pitched in with a film starring Shabana Azmi and Boman Irani. Ace director Vishal Bhardwaj takes the reigns for his short with Siddharth. And finally, Sanotsh Sivan directs Southern superstar Prabhu Deva. Interestingly enough, these films will be shown (one at a time) before feature films in India to spread AIDS awareness. A great cause by great directors!

Brilliant cinematographer Sanosh Sivan takes his film Before the Rains starring Linus Roache, dependable Rahul Bose and powerful Nandita Das as the principal characters. In Malayalam, it goes back to the late 1930’s and follows a passionate and stormy affair between an Englishman and an Indian maid.

This film has gone where no other Indian film has gone — into the stark, cold Himalayas where no filmmaker dares to shoot. Well, for his debut film titled Frozen, Shivajee Chandrabushan has done just this. The film has also been shot in black and white rather than colour.

Though not produced or filmed in India, Shamim Sarif’s The World Unseen stars Indian actors like Sheetal Seth, Parvin Dabbas and Nandana Sen while Canadian Lisa Ray takes the title role of a woman who dares to indulge in a fiery same-sex relationship at a time when it was completely taboo.

Popular Bengali director Buddhadev Dasgupta will be screening his latest, Me Yasim and Madubala (The Voyeurs). It stars Sameera Reddy and Prosenjit Chatterjee. This film is being screened under the ‘Masters’ section for filmmakers that have proved their mettle by far and wide in the past. Sameera Reddy has confirmed her attendance at the premiere.

Toronto-born Richie Mehta won’t have to travel far to show his English-Hindi film titled Amal. It stars a host of wonderful actors including Rupinder Nagra, Koel Purie, Naseeruddin Shah and Seema Biswas.

Nandita Das, a regular at festivals, returns as she stars in acclaimed Malayalam director Adoor Gopalkrishnan’s Moonnu Pennungal (Four Women). As the title suggests, the film follows four different women highlighting various female-centric issues. This one also has a private screening for the press only, which is quite a great achievement.

As is quite apparent, India is all set for an extremely diverse representation at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Over the years, TIFF has established its status as one of the most influential festivals in the world and is considered to be the opener to the Oscar-season. It’s often regarded as the most important film festival after Cannes.

A BollySpice correspondent will be attending a few of the above films, including the premiere of the Big B-starrer The Last Lear. Stay tuned for exclusive reviews and news bytes!

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