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Toronto Goes Bollywood

by Anthony Kaufman
July 20, 2006 10:59 AM
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Just happened to stop by the Toronto International Film Festival website and discovered a couple new releases about the fest's Bollywood and Indian stylings this year. Here's the scoop:

Karan Johar's third feature "Never Say Goodbye," described as "a passionate, sweeping love story with New York as its backdrop" will receive a Gala Presentation slot. "Replete with exuberant song and dance, lush melodrama, and intense young love, the film marries a Hollywood sensibility to the traditional blockbuster Bollywood appeal, and ultimately renders a story that examines the full scope of what love has to offer," according to the press release.

Contemporary Indian Cinema will also be reflected in four world premieres:

KABUL EXPRESS Kabir Khan, India Special Presentation
Set in war-torn, post 9/11 Afghanistan, this multilingual film starring John Abraham (Deepa Mehta's WATER) spans a fateful 48 hours in the lives of five culturally and politically diverse characters, each of whom has been called out of a more familiar world by the hostility and desolation of war.

A GRAVE-KEEPER'S TALE Chitra Palekar, India Discovery
Accomplished Bollywood writer and actor Palekar makes her directorial debut with this haunting story of a woman condemned to the fringes of her society. Nandita Das (Deepa Mehta's FIRE and EARTH), well-known for the depth and intelligence she brings to complex women's roles, stars as Chandi, a wild-haired outcast mercilessly branded a witch by her community.

VANAJA Rajnesh Domalpalli, India/USA Discovery
World Premiere
First-time feature filmmaker Domalpalli put forth this touching spin on sexual awakenings as his Masters thesis. Convinced of her destiny to become a dancer, 15-year-old Vanaja imposes herself on the household of the wealthy landlady Rama Devi, an expert at Kuchipudi dance. Just as she secures her place in the mistress's household, Rama Devi's 23-year-old son Shekhar returns from the U.S.

A CRY IN THE DARK Haobam Paban Kumar, India Real to Reel
When Manipur became a part of India in 1949, a large portion of the Manipuri population was resistant, believing the merger to be an illegal and illegitimate annexation. To curb these 'separatists,' the government adopted the Armed Forces Special Power Act, 1958, allowing officers to not only conduct searches and arrests based on mere suspicion, but to shoot and kill at will. This powerful documentary traces the heightening unrest of the Manipuri people after a 32-year-old woman, taken from her home in 2004 by soldiers of the 17th Assam Rifles regiment, was found dead under suspicious circumstances.

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