Three out of the four films from India selected to screen at the Toronto International Film festival (TIFF) are directed by Indian women directors. These films are not just alternative stories or biopics. They don’t fit into a single genre or theme. They are, however, a powerful call for women’s empowerment.
Gitanjali Rao’s directorial animated feature film Bombay Rose premiered in the Contemporary World Cinema Strand at TIFF 2019 on September 7. “It’s a beautiful evocation of love and a full immersion in both its rich setting and the magic of Indian cinema,” said Cameron Bailey, Director of TIFF.
Produced by Anand Mahindra, the film marks Gitanjali’s first feature as a director. She was last seen as an actor in Shoojit Sircar’s October. Bombay Rose follows multiple characters, each connected by a single red rose, as they navigate life and love in the sprawling Indian metropolis.
There is a story of three star-crossed lovers at the centre of Bombay Rose. These central characters here are Kamla, Salmil, and Mrs De’Souza. Kamla is a Hindu bar dancer who fled an arranged marriage along with her ailing father and lively younger sister. Eking out a living in Bombay’s slums and at the mercy of her pimp she encounters Salmil — a Muslim who has fled from Kashmir after his parents were executed. The third story is about Mrs De’Souza who is Kamla’s younger sister’s English teacher. She has a friend who repairs watches and toys. They share a friendly companionship. The film detours into the past through the stories of these characters.. There are no happy endings but instead a lingering nostalgia for lost innocence.
Technically, the story is entranced by the vibrant animation, gliding colours and resonant sounds which accompany it. Set primarily in the slums of India’s capital city — Mumbai, its heart firmly beats to the music of Bollywood and a nostalgia-soaked score. Gitanjali Rao’s debut feature is a stunningly realised work of animated film-making.
Bombay Rose is at heart a dark story, yet it can also shine brightly, dealing with heartbreak and hope, and a perilous life in the slums of Mumbai in which death is always close by; but a big-screen Bollywood escapist ending is equally only a cinema ticket away. There is a feeling that a happy ending is within the grasp of these characters and one is never quite sure if the director will choose real life over a Bollywood ending, or both can co-exist on her screen? Geetanjali Rao is a stunning artist and her imagery is strong enough to pull her audience through her story telling.
Priyanka Chopra-Farhan Akhtar starrer The Sky is Pink directed by Sonali Bose will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.”I am so proud of this film and am honoured that the film’s world premiere will take place at the Gala Presentation at TIFF 2019,” said Priyanka.
The film is a love story of a couple — Aditi and Niren Chaudhary — spanning 25 years, told through the lens of their spunky teenage daughter — Aisha Chaudhary, who was diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Priyanka Chopra said that she “connected” with the film “from the minute she heard it and in Shonali’s hands, it’s been crafted into a moving, beautiful film that will renew our faith in love and life.”
The 37-year-old who was seen essaying the role of Aditi Chaudhary has co-produced the film with Ronnie Screwwala and Siddharth Roy Kapur.
TIFF is one of the largest and most prestigious film festivals in the world. Only 20 films get selected for the Gala Presentation from around the world each year and The Sky Is Pink became the only Asian film to be selected.
Director Shonali Bose also expressed happiness after the film’s selection and said, “The film is a deeply personal and an incredibly special one for me. At its core, this is an extraordinary story of what it means to be a family. I am honoured that the film will premiere at TIFF — my third film to premiere at TIFF and I cannot wait.”
Moothon (The Elder One), is a bilingual film about a 14-year-old boy who comes from Lakshwadeep to Mumbai in search of his elder brother. The film is written and directed by Geetu Mohandas and jointly produced by Anurag Kashyap. TIFF announced the film as a part of its lineup and it boasts of a stellar cast — Nivin Pauly, Shashank Arora and Sobhita Dhulipada.
Writer-director Geetu Mohandas has presented an unsparing yet inspiring vision of Mumbai through the story of two small-town siblings, each with their own reason for escaping to the big city, in what has been described as an urgent drama pondering gender, sexuality, violence, and tolerance.