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Indian cinema's bolder side at Toronto fest

india Updated: Aug 08, 2008 11:31 IST
Highlight Story

Two movies dealing with bold subjects by Indian filmmakers N Chandra and Manan Singh Katohora are to be showcased at the Toronto South Asian Film Festival starting August 13.

While director N Chandra's Yeh Mera India explores the real stories behind the headlines in India's news channels, When Kiran Met Karen by US-based filmmaker Manan Singh Katohora deals with lesbianism.

Chandra, known for his super hit crime thriller Tezaab, has made socially relevant and hard-hitting films like Ankush and Pratighaat in the early 1980s.

His film Yeh Mera India that was earlier titled Breaking News has actor Parvin Dabbas alongside Anupam Kher, Rajpal Yadav, Rajit Kapoor, Sarika, Seema Biswas, Atul Kulkarni, Perizaad Zorabian and Purab Kohli among others.

Actor Atul Kulkarni describes the film as "a collection of six to seven stories based on people living in different strata of society in Mumbai.

"The film is loosely based on Oscar-winning film Crash (2004) that depicted several characters living in Los Angeles during a 36-hour period," Atul told IANS.

In Yeh Mera India, Atul plays a learned man who gradually becomes a disillusioned communist and joins the underworld.

Following the premiere of Chandra's Yeh Mera India August 14, the English-language film When Kiran Met Karen will also be showcased at the film festival.

Director Katohora has stepped out of the safe zone of India's perceived moral boundaries to portray the life of a Bollywood starlet Kiran who discovers her 'sexuality' after an affair with a Chinese woman.

The role of Kiran was earlier offered to actress Perizaad Zorabian who turned it down. Ultimately, Chriselle Almeida has played Kiran in the film.

A Goan, Chriselle was born in Mumbai and moved to New York at the age of 14. She has done an acting course from the University of California. Chriselle was previously seen in Jonah Freeman's 2004 movie The Franklin Abraham.

Chriselle is not at all fazed by the possibility of her role eliciting shock and anger from the Indian audience.

"Safe is no fun! Playing a character that is slightly daring, unsafe and not a stereotype is fun," Chriselle told IANS in the context of films on lesbianism raking up controversy in the country.

She added: "I was so excited by the script where an Indian actress was not portrayed in the usual conventional way. The controversial subject drew me to the character."

The film is expected to hit theatres in India later this year.

In the past, Deepa Mehta's Fire on the same subject triggered protest and Karan Razdan's Girlfriend courted controversy by attempting to portray love between two women on screen. Neither film went down well with the audience or the distributors.

But Chriselle is unperturbed. She said: "We would like to think that we live in a more progressive time and that the average Indian audience would accept the theme of the film. Realistically speaking, I think that there will be an uneasy feeling among the audience."

She explained that the film tries to convey that unexpected things can happen and can change our life and it is up to us to decide whether to follow our heart or be 'sensible'.

"More than conveying a message, the film throws up questions that the audience must answer," Chriselle said.