Three films from India have been selected to screen at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival. Payal Kapadia's film "A Night of Knowing Nothing," which was awarded at Cannes with 'the Oiled' or 'Golden eye,' award is screening in the 'Wavelengths section whereas Nitin Lukose's debut feature ,Paka," and Dug Dug by Ritwik Pateek are screening in the Discovery section of the festival. This section showcases first and second feature films of directors.
Payal Kapadia's electrifying film "A Night of Knowing Nothing," has been described as a dream of impossible love tied to a broader reflection on contemporary India. Structured around letters from an unseen protagonist to the estranged lover while he is away, we get a glimpse of the drastic changes taking place around her. Merging memories fantasies and anxieties an amorphous narrative unfolds. The film offers rich interplay between sound and image that heightens its atmospheric texture and the interplay of presence and absence.
Feverish dreams reflect her anxieties. Finally her invocation of great filmmakers Satyagit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen is far from nostalgic and instead updates their intellectual charm to reflect on the current state of her love tied to a broader reflection on contemporary India.
"Paka" is set in Wayanad, Kerala. The movie presents a tale of a river that swells with the blood of two feuding families and a young couple that tries to overcome the divide. It is a tragedy of star crossed lovers. "Paka" is produced by filmmakers Anurag Kashyap and Raj Rachakonda and had earlier won the best WIP project in the Work-in-Progress Lab of NFDC Film Bazar 2020.
Lukose, an FTII alumni who previously worked as the sound designer on critically-acclaimed movies "Thithi" and "Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar," said he is delighted and honoured that his first feature film has been selected for screening at TIFF.
"I was fascinated by the stories and myths my grandmother told me when I was young. "Paka" is a manifestation of that", he said adding "the idea was to tell a universal story that can appeal to the global audience while keeping the film rooted in the cultural attributes of the remote village I grew up in, surrounded by people I love and identify with."
Anurag Kashyap, who boarded the project as a producer during its post-production stage, said, "Malayalam cinema is at the moment leading India on the world stage and I am so grateful to be associated with it in a small way. "Paka" is yet another powerful debut from a rooted new voice."
"Dug-Dug" by Ritwik Pareek is a striking musically infectious satire. Mysterious events follow a freak motorcycle accident in which an old alcoholic 'Thakur' dies. The motorcycle is repeatedly locked and parked in the Police Station but miraculously returns to the exact spot where the Thakur had died, not once but several times. As word spreads of these bizarre incidents so does a belief that the Thakur's spirit has inhabited the vehicle and that it's miraculous movements are signs of divinity. Some locals start to make offerings to the bike of the Thakur's favourite delight (namely alcohol). They begin to attribute their good fortune to Thakur's providence. Before long an infectious religious fever breaks out. A New God evolves around the mystery of the Thakur's dissapearing bike and a commercialized religion is formed grounded in superstition. The movie revolves around the mysterious bike, and the people's faith in a higher power. It highlights how easily religious belief can be manipulated.
The movie is inspired by true events and is enriched by Ritwik's skillfully constructed montages, together with a hypnotic soundtrack from "Salvage Audio Collective".
Ritwik said, "My film is a blend of larger than life cinematic visuals and unpretentious rawness of Indian rural life where I want viewers to lose themselves in the bizarre and colourful world of "Dug Dug." He adds, "Viewers may find my cinematic world to be very absurd, funny and bizarre. But I assure you, once you travel across India you will realize that the reality is far more absurd than my film, "Dug Dug."
The festivals selection of films from India this year reflects the mood of the people and their underlying anxiety for the future. Using exciting cinematic language each film is unique in its approach to a "cinema of introspection" for the future of the country and its people.