India has a dream run with eight feature films including My Name Is Khan, Peepli Live and Manthan at the ongoing Berlin International Film Festival. Such a large selection is very rare at an A-list festival without an India focus.
In its 60th anniversary, the festival has selected a wide range of Indian Bollywood and arthouse films in several languages. They are represented across different festival sections.
There are also Indian films in the European Film Market that runs parallel to the Berlinale. No wonder there are nearly a 100 Indians at the festival.
The eight features include Karan Johar's My Name is Khan, Dev Benegal's Road, Movie, Anusha Rizvi's Peepli Live, Laxmikant Shetgaonkar's Paltadacho Munis (Man Beyond the Bridge, Konkani), Umesh Kulkarni's Vihir (the Well, Marathi), Kaushik Ganguly's Arekti Premer Golpo (Just Another Love Story, Bengali), Shyam Benegal's Manthan, Satyajit Ray's Charulata and Madhusree Dutta and team's Cinema City.
Moreover, Indian film director Sridhar Rangayan is on the Teddy Queer Film Award Jury, which honours the best festival films in the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) context.
My Name Is Khan got a thunderous reception here. Dev Benegal's "Road, Movie" opened the Generation 14 plus section for young adults. "I am thrilled that my film is in Berlin - I'm living the dream. But it is also historic, as it is the first Indian film to be picked up for international distribution by Fortissimo Films," Benegal told IANS.
He is here with his cast, Abhay Deol, Tannishtha Chatterjee and Satish Kaushik.
Peepli Live, produced by Aamir Khan, is a superb satire on farmer's suicides in India. Paltadacho Munis, produced by the National Film Development Corporation, is in the International Forum of New Cinema. It deals with the relationship between a forest guard and a mad woman. Amitabh Bachchan Corp Ltd's Vihir is a strong coming-of-age story of two young boys. "Arekti Premer Golpo" is a daring, sensitive, gay love story, with Rituparno Ghosh as creative director and lead actor.
Benegal's 1976 critically acclaimed film Manthan shows in the Culinary Cinema, which explores food and politics. Charulata (1964) plays in the Retrospective section.
Cinema City compellingly explores the relationship between Mumbai and its film industry in Forum Expanded, which nestles on the border between cinema and the other arts.