5 film festival favourites
Promising indies to have on your radar
Indo-Canadian director Deepa Mehta’s latest follows the story of a dapper young Sikh gangster Jeet Johar (Randeep Hooda) as he leads a gang of young men into battle against an older, established kingpin (played by Gulshan Grover) for control over Vancouver’s drug and arms trade. Oscillating between the two is Nep (Ali Momen), a small-time criminal who gets in Jeet's good books while they both serve time, but who is also seeing Grover’s daughter Choti. Acting as a double agent, he assured the tension was high: people get kidnapped, blood is shed, bodies are burned and nothing will stop them. PS: Look out for Canadian model Waris Ahluwalia who plays one of the gang members.
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Telling the tale of two longtime friends negotiating their mutual desire over the course of a weekend visit Loev is writer-director Sudhanshu Saria’s way of dealing with his own sexuality and commenting on the reality of being gay in India. But instead of dwelling on the hardships of the community, the story goes to follow the daily lives of a couple that is comfortable in their skins and faces the same struggles as any heterosexual couple, the biggest of their problems being communication.
Malayalam film Ottal (The Trap), directed by Jayaraj Nair, is an adaptation of the short story ‘Vanka’ by Russian writer Anton Chekhov. This film follows a young boy (Ashanth K Sha) who his exploring and trying to understand his relationship with his only living relative, his grandfather (Kumarakom Vasudevan). Even though the film tackles the subject of child labour ever so subtly, the really noteworthy fact is that Kumarakom Vasudevan is a fisherman in real life, someone Nair only happened to come across while he was going about his day-to-day. So how endearing is this family tale? Enough to win ten awards across the National Film Awards, Kerela, Mumbai and Berlin Film Fetivals.
Anu Menon’s second feature unfolds in a swanky Kochi hospital between Professor Shiv Natraj (Naseeruddin Shah) and Tara Kapoor (Kalki Koechlin) both hurting for their spouses. While Shiv is hopeful his wife will rise from her coma and smile at him, Tara - who's husband is critical from a brain injury - cannot fathom how something so awful could happen to her so soon after their wedding. On crossing paths, the find solace in each other’s company and help in getting past their loss, weaved with the humour in their vastly different ages. The flood of glowing reviews for the movie is only making the wait for its April 29th release seem like an eternity.
Screened in the special presentation category at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival last year, Parched examines the subservient lives of women from rural Gujarat. Featuring three complex characters: a young widow Rani (Tannishtha Chatterjee) trying to find a bride for her teenage son; her best friend Lajjo (Radhika Apte), who is hoping to get pregnant with her abusive husband; and erotic dancer Bijli (Surveen Chawla), it explores their sexuality that is both despised and coveted.