EMRAAN HASHMI playing a Pakistani in a Bosnian-directed film, Priyanka Chopra living the life of a pugilist, a Tamil drama co-produced by Dhanush, the throbbing sexual desires of a wheelchair-bound woman and the testimony of an acid attack victim. At the 39th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), the Indian entries seem to be in tune with the weird script of a Bollywood blockbuster.
For the five world premieres from the world’s largest film-producing country, the Toronto scouts have certainly flown far and wide, and scoured even a wider spectrum of the country’s celluloid wealth. The result: the Tamil film industry has something to cheer about, while the makers of the often glossed-over short-film genre can take heart.
With an emerging crop of young and brave auteurs in recent years, the Tamil presence at a major festival abroad was waiting to happen. A 31-year-old director, who stayed in a slum on the outskirts of Chennai for more than a month to train his non-professional cast, will be presenting his first film in Toronto this year. M Manikandan, the director of Kaakkaa Muttai (The Crow’s Egg), is backed by Kolavari star Dhanush, who has co-produced the film with another talented member of the Tamil film fraternity, Vetrimaran.
Kaakkaa Muttai, the story of a group of slum children, will be joined by Newborns, an eight-minute movie on victims of the dastardly acid violence. Bollywood actor Emraan Hashmi stars in Tigers, an India-France-UK co-production directed by Danis Tanovic, who made No Man’s Land, which won an Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film in 2002. Priyanka Chopra will be sparring it out with Hashmi in Toronto for attention with Mary Kom, which is following the new sports biopic trend in Bollywood.
Spreading wings wisely
Deftly-managed co-productions are doing the Indian film industry much favour these days. High-flying film executives from Mumbai are eager to taste further success after the roaring business done by The Lunchbox, which was sold in every continent. Qissa, a Punjabi Partition drama by Anup Singh, which took the Best Asian Film prize in Toronto last year, did well to sell the distribution rights abroad. Originated in India, Tanovic’s Tigers, too, has taken the same route, though through Pakistan. The film tells the story of a Pakistani medicine salesman (Hashmi), who challenges the system after discovering the devastating effect of cheap, locally-made drugs on sick people. Part of the Contemporary World Cinema section