After bagging the Best Film Award at the South Asian Film Festival in New York, Tanuja Chandra’s Hope and A Little Sugar had its Indian premiere at IFFI, Goa, on Thursday.
The film’s cast Mahima Chaudhary and Suhasini Mulay watched the film for the first time. “I was howling throughout,” said Chaudhary.
Hope And A Little Sugar is an American production set in New York City in the months preceding the 9/11 attacks and the weeks following it. It is a sensitively and succinctly told Sikh-Muslim love story that explores various levels of racial hatred.
“I am fiercely against holding a person’s race against them,” says Chandra who co-wrote the script with New York-based filmmaker Glenn Russow. Chandra was offered the film over the internet and met the producers, Russow and Scott Pardo, for the first time only when she landed in New York with her crew for the shoot.
The film also stars Anupam Kher, Amit Sial and Ranjit Chowdhary. Chandra has managed to extract moving performances from all her actors. And music composer Wayne Sharpe’s score helps add great power and pathos to the film.
Mahima Chaudhary was not the first choice for the part of Saloni Oberoi, whose husband dies in the North Tower when the World Trade Center comes crashing down. Saloni runs a candy and sweet shop called Hope and A Little Sugar.
“Lara Dutta and Urmila Matondkar were the first two choices and I asked Tanuja why not me. She said ‘because you won’t kiss in the film’. Six months later when I broke up, I called Tanuja and said ‘I’ll do the kissing scene now’,” says Chaudhary.
The film also touches on the 1992 Bombay riots. “I was working as a TV journalist during the riots and lived through them so I always felt it was important to have them book-end the film,” said Chandra.
After Goa, the film travels to the Kara Festival in Pakistan. The producers hope to find a distributor soon.