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East meets west

Mumbai Film Festival to screen several international films inspired by India and Indian immigrants, reports Naomi Canton.

entertainment Updated: Oct 28, 2009 20:23 IST
Naomi Canton

Bend it like Beckham, Water and The Guru have successfully crossed cultures and found audiences in India and the west. Some of the new generation of cross-cultural films will be screened at the Mumbai Film festival.

The Film India Worldwide section is for films rooted in India but international in content, stars, locations or audiences.
This year, seven films are being screened, selected by Uma Da Cunha. “It’s about films that appeal to India and the west, where the cultural aspect has been moulded to appeal to international audiences,” she explains.

A potpourri
In six of the films, the producers or directors are of Indian origin, but settled elsewhere, with their subjects focusing on Indian immigrants’ lives. Two are about British Asian families based in the UK.

nLife Goes On, the opening film, starring Sharmila Tagore and Soha Ali Khan, is about a British Asian family in London and the conflicts between the generations. It has been directed by Sangeeta Datta, a Bengali now based in London.

* Cash and Curry has been directed by Punjabi origin-UK-based director Sarjit Bains of Onion Bhajees (2003) fame. The movie is set in London and is about Asians getting lured into drugs and gang warfare.

Four of the films are about Indian origin families living in the US.

*Today’s Special has been produced by Nimitt Mankad, an Indian American. Starring Indian actors Naseeruddin Shah and Harish Patel, it is about an Indian American sous-chef Samir, in an up-market Manhattan restaurant, who is forced to take over his parents’ slummy Indian restaurant.

* Mitsein, directed by Los Angeles based-Indian born Aparna Malladi, starring Mumbai actress Smriti Mishra, is about Moksha, a young woman who leaves India for the US after an arranged marriage. Bored, she starts working in an art gallery and one day sees a picture of herself where her inner sadness shines through.

* Karma Calling, a film directed by Los Angeles-based Sarba Das, is set in the US and India, and is in English and Hindi. It is about the Raj family, who in an attempt to avoid debt, falls into the hands of an underworld don, connected to an Indian call centre.

* Bollywood Beats, starring Indian actress Lilette Dubey, also set in the US, is about a young Indian American living in LA trying to make it as a dancer in music videos.

* The closing film, The Waiting City, is directed by Australian Claire McCarthy. Starring Samrat Chakrabarti and Tillotoma Shome, it is about an Australian couple who travel to Kolkata to adopt a baby and face myriads of problems. As the chaotic Indian city pulls them in different directions, the vulnerability of their marriage is revealed.

“My intention was always to get a mix of cultural identities that link with India, so I am very happy we have films from the UK, US and Australia,” Da Cunha adds.

“What we have is a cross-cultural potpourri, that has become a genre of its own. 10 years ago, there were only a handful of films in this genre; now there are many to choose from. It is because Indians are everywhere and yet they still connect with their homeland and make films from a different perspective.”