Half a dozen entries in a line-up of 352 films may not represent a spectacularly large chunk of the pie, but Bollywood is set to shower a fair sprinkling of stars on the 31st Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), scheduled from September 7 to 16.
Bollywood’s two biggest box office powerhouses – Amitabh Bachchan and Shahrukh Khan – will be joining director Karan Johar and co-star Rani Mukherjee at a Gala Presentation of Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna.
Johar and the stars of his three-and-a-half-hour marital discord saga will participate in the Mavericks programme, which features freewheeling, face-to-face interactions. The Mavericks will also feature, among others, the likes of filmmakers Michael Moore and John Waters.
TIFF’s list of invitees includes John Abraham, who enjoys a fair fan following in Toronto thanks to his appearance last year at the screening of the festival’s well-received opening film, Deepa Mehta’s Water. The Bollywood hunk will represent Kabir Khan’s Kabul Express at a Special Presentation of the Yash Chopra-produced film. Another cast member, Arshad Warsi, and the director are expected to be beside Abraham at the screening.
|Kabir Khan’s Kabul Express will be showcased at the 31st Toronto International Film Festival|
The UTV Motion Pictures-Fox Searchlight co-production,
, Mira Nair’s adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, is also in the Special Presentations line-up and will have its world premiere in Toronto. The cast of the film features Irrfan Khan, Tabu and Indian American actor Kal Penn.
Actress Nandita Das, the lead player of Chitra Palekar’s Maati Maay, is also expected to make an appearance at the Toronto festival this year. Maati Maay is a Marathi-language film based on a Mahasweta Devi story.
The Gala Presentation of KANK is being seen as yet another global stamp of approval for mainstream Bollywood movies. After all the Karan Johar film, given that it is part of Toronto’s Gala Presentations line-up, is slated to be treated on par with Pedro Almodovar’s bewitching tribute to the tenacity of women, Volver, Michael Apted’s Amazing Grace, a period drama based on the life and exploits of the 18th century British Member of Parliament who fought for the abolition of the slave trade in his country, and Mexican auteur Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s stunningly well crafted Babel.
Amazing Grace will be the closing night film of the 31st edition of TIFF.
Gala Presentations are also planned for Emilio Estevez’s work-in-progress Bobby, a drama that pans out on the night of the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1968, and Christopher N Rowley’s feature debut Bonneville, a warm tale of three women who undertake a cross-country road trip to Santa Barbara to hand over the ashes of the dead husband of one of them to his daughter.
Other Gala Presentations on the Toronto bill of fare are of eagerly awaited films like Ridley Scott’s A Good Year, starring Russell Crowe and Albert Finney, Anthony Minghella’s Breaking and Entering, Paul Verhoeven’s Black Book and Susanne Bier’s After the Wedding.
The 31st edition of TIFF has put together the largest line-up of films ever. The 350-odd films that are to be screened by TIFF this year come from as many as 61 countries. Last year, North America’s premier film festival had screened 335 features and shorts from 52 nations.
This year, over 90 per cent of the films in the official festival line-up are world or North American premieres. Last year, that percentage was in the mid 80s.
Equally significantly, TIFF will host a larger spectrum of global movie stars than it has ever done before. On the list of confirmed guests are Brad Pitt, Dustin Hoffman, Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Lopez, Cate Blanchett, Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Penelope Cruz, Peter O’Toole, Zhang Ziyi, Tom Hanks, Reese Witherspoon, Russell Crowe and Morgan Freeman, among a host of other star names.
The prestigious Masters section will include Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or winner The Wind that Shakes the Barley, Werner Herzog’s Rescue Dawn and Spike Lee’s documentary on Hurricane Katrina-ravaged New Orleans, When the Levees Broke: A requiem in Four Acts.
Thanks to a heady spread of films, a veritable parade of megastars and several striking new programming ideas, including the Vanguard series of cutting-edge cinema “with a raw, pulsating aesthetic”, the Toronto International Film Festival promises to be a true blockbuster, with something in it for everybody.