There are two Indian films that have made it to the prestigious ‘gala and ‘special presentation’ sections of the festival. Anurag Kashyap’s Manmarziyan (English title Husband Material) starring Abhishek Bachchan, Vicky Kaushal, and Taapsee Pannu will have its world premiere at TIFF while Cannes-returned Nandita Das’ Manto will have its North American premiere. Let's have a look at the Indian films at Toronto International film festival 2018.
Written and directed by Das, Manto based on the life and work of 1940s short story writer Saadat Hasan Manto recounts his incredible, turbulent life through vivid recreations of some of his most cherished stories.” “My stories are mirrors for society to see itself,” asserts author Saadat Hasan Manto (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), on trial for obscenity. Dramatizing Manto’s struggles as he excoriates humanity during the most tumultuous times during the partition of the Indian Subcontinent. Defending the scathing and sexually provocative nature of Manto’s short stories, considered some of the most powerful in the Urdu language, Siddiqui has given a forceful portrayal of the writer’s angst against the injustice and violence faced by the people during this period.
Manmarzian (Husband Material)
Anurag Kashyap’s Manmarziyan screened in the prestigious gala section of the festival had its world premiere in Cannes. It features a spirited girl caught in a complicated love triangle while burdened with societal and familial pressures. Bollywood star Abhishek Bachchan makes his much-anticipated return in this film. Playing opposite rising star Vicky Kaushal and newcomer Taapsee Pannu, Bachchan plays the third man in this spin on the classic romantic triangle that Anurag manages to pull off. Husband Material goes beyond the archetypical masala movie into something refreshingly new.
The Sweet Requiem
Award-winning filmmakers and festival directors from Dharamshala, Indian-Tibetan couple Ritu Sarin & Tenzing Sonam’s second narrative feature The Sweet Requiem had its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival 2018 in the Contemporary World Cinema section. The film is set among the exile Tibetan community in India, a group whose lives and experiences has yet to be explored in full. The Sweet Requiem tells the story of Dolkar, a young Tibetan woman living in Delhi. One day, when she unexpectedly sees a man from her past, long-suppressed memories of her traumatic escape from Tibet come flooding back, and she is propelled on an obsessive search for reconciliation and closure. The movie is an exploration of the themes of exile, memory and guilt and the unexpected consequences of the choices one makes in life.
Bulbul Can Sing
Rima Das’s third Assamese film, Bulbul can sing was written, directed and edited and self-funded. Shot in Chhaygaon — her village in Assam where she was born and raised. She describes the film as one about friendship and love, about three friends — two girls and a boy — discovering themselves. At the center is Bulbul, a teenage girl fighting her way through love and loss as she figures out who she is. She lets the village environment speak for itself and allows the audience time to reflect and soak in the atmospherics hidden between the tranquility.
TIFF is not unfamiliar terrain for filmmaker Rima Das and Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam. They both have had their début features screened there — Dreaming Lhasa (2005) and Peddlers (2012) respectively — and are heading back this year with their second outing.
Midnight Madness section
Vasan Bala’s Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota (The man who feels no pain.) is the first Indian movie to be showcased in the cult Midnight Madness section. The film is the story of a man who is literally born without the ability to feel pain who learns martial arts and goes on a quest to vanquish one hundred foes. Starring unknown performers Abhimanyu Dasani and Radhika Madan, the film is about the disabled, marginalized, and the suppressed represented by characters in the film and a man who feels no pain and makes his disability work for him.
Anand Patwardhan’s latest film Vivek (reason) screened in TIFF Docs section, examines India’s slide away from secular democracy towards divisions of power along lines of religious belief together with its consequences. For over 20 years, Patwardhan’s work has occupied a unique space. A hard-hitting film ‘Vivek’ explores the current political scenario in India, and true to his style the director pulls no punches while commenting on the subject through his film.
Hotel Mumbai, about the 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai, specifically the seige of Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel, had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. The American-Australian production, directed by Anthony Maras, stars Dev Patel and Anupam Kher in major roles.
Maya tells the story of a French war reporter who returns to his home in western India after being held hostage in Syria. Roman Kolinka, who has worked with Hansen on Løve on Eden and Things To Come, stars opposite Binoche, Aarshi Banerjee, and Cédric Kahn. The film will mark the first collaboration between the director and Binoche, who recently visited Cannes with Bruno Dumont’s Slack Bay and can next be seen in the Ghost In The Shell.
However, the disruptive energy in the films of Anurag Kashyap and Vasan Bala point to a new wave emerging within our mainstream cinema that unapologetically celebrates its ‘quirky individuality’ to energetically make bold social and political statements.