Goopi Gawaiyaa, Bagha Bajaiyaa in Hindi, will head for the Busan film festival in South Korea early next month. The favourable response from the Toronto festival audience to the film, part of the festival’s section for children, is expected to influence its producer to go for an English dubbing to cater to a global audience.
With cinema increasingly becoming a mass medium to celebrate cultures, Toronto, which has a high population of Asian immigrants, comes off as the ideal exhibition venue for Indian films. Last year, the Toronto festival chose Mumbai for its third ‘City to City’ programme after Istanbul and Buenos Aires, screening as many as 10 films made by the city’s directors. However, at the packed screening venues of Indian films, Indian immigrants were matched by a cross-section of local, as well as international viewers. In this year’s edition of the festival, Richie Mehta, an Indian-origin filmmaker born in Toronto, was chosen for the festival’s contemporary world cinema section that has films from England, Kenya, the US and France. Mehta’s second feature film, Siddharth, which had its world premiere at the recently-concluded Venice festival, received rave reviews for its handling of the kidnapping of a boy from Delhi’s streets during its North American premiere in Toronto.
“Though films made in India are able to target the diaspora audiences today, India hasn’t created the infrastructure for carrying local films globally,” says Sanjeev Lamba, CEO of Reliance Big Pictures. This seems to be changing, with Indian filmmakers opting for co-productions to boost their chances of finding a market abroad.
Faith Connections, an Indo-French co-production that had already been sold in the French and Swiss markets, found a buyer in Germany at the Toronto festival. Even in the Indian market, which doesn’t warm up to documentaries, the producers of Faith Connections say they are confident of finding a distributor soon.
Reliance Entertainment, which controls the international entertainment business compared to Reliance Big Pictures’ business in the domestic sector, is also changing the dynamics of a global market for the Indian film industry. The company partnered with DreamWorks Pictures to present The Fifth Estate, American director Bill Condon’s new film on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the opening film of the Toronto festival this year.
Faizal Khan is a freelancer