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LA film fest to fete Naseer

LA's film fest will honour Naseeruddin Shah, says Saibal Chatterjee.

india Updated: Apr 19, 2006 15:03 IST

The fourth annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA), which kicks off on April 19, will pay a tribute to acting ace Naseeruddin Shah and confer the LA Philharmonic Lifetime Achievement Award on sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, besides, of course, celebrating the wide diversity of Indian cinema in terms of languages, styles and streams.

The five-day festival will open, for the first ever time in its history, with a studio film - Deepa Mehta’s widely applauded Water - which belongs to the Fox Searchlight slate. “It will be a red carpet gala presentation, which is a first for IFFLA,” says the director of the festival, Christina Marouda.

“This is the first time that we will be using three theatres running simultaneously and the diversity of our line-up is such that people will have to choose,” she says. “The films being presented are so different that everyone will find the right film.”

Rajat Kapoor’s marital comedy Mixed Doubles, the closing night film, will bring the curtain down on IFFLA 2006 on April 23. This year, a total of 33 films from 13 countries will be screened at IFFLA.

Apart from a wide array of short films from several countries, IFFLA 2006 will screen Pradeep Sarkar’s Parineeta and hold the U.S. premiere of Anurag Kashyap’s Paanch. Also in the IFFLA line-up this year are Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam’s Tibetan-language Dreaming Lhasa and Kerala filmmaker Jayaraj’s Daivanamathil (In the Name of God). Nishikant Kamat’s acclaimed Dombivli Fast will also be featured at the fest.

Among the documentaries that will be on show are Ali Kazmi’s Runaway Grooms, about fraudulent Indo-Canadian marriages, Raghu and Kousalya Jaganathan’s Men of Burden, which throws light on the lives of Pondicherry’s rickshaw-pullers, Rajan Khosa’s Flower Girl, based on a folk tale and Sharada Ramanathan’s Dance of Love, the story of a devdasi torn between the love of wealthy patron and an uncertain but independent future.

Says Marouda: “This year’s festival is bigger and more diverse in terms of regional films (Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, and Malayalam). We have added a second shorts programme offering a broader selection of short films from countries such as Singapore, Germany, Canada, the UK, and of course, India. We have five films from Canada and 12 from the UK, which is a record for us.”

As part of the honorary tribute to Naseeruddin Shah, IFFLA 2006 will host the Los Angeles premiere of Rahul Dholakia’s talked about Parzania, in which the actor plays a Parsi projectionist whose son goes missing during the Gujarat communal riots. The festival will also showcase two of the actor’s best screen performances: in Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding and Shyam Benegal’s Manthan.

“Naseer was always on top of out wish list,” says Marouda. “We are great admirers of his work. His career balances mainstream and independent cinema and, given our primary focus on the latter, it was a perfect fit. We also felt that he is an actor who can easily work in internationals productions, as he has already done successfully.” This tribute to Naseer is clearly designed to give one of India’s finest actors further exposure in the movie capital of the world.