An India fast gaining on technical skills, but still struggling to get the rest of the globe to take note of its regional cinema has chosen Malayalam and Bengali films to represent the country at IFFI-2007, currently underway here.
Two regional language films from Kerala and West Bengal will be the official entries at the Asian, African and Latin American Competition section of the 38th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) that got underway here Friday.
<b1>Lenin Rajendran's Rathri Mazha (Night Rain) is about two youngsters - Harikrishnan and Meera - who come to know each other through a matrimonial advertisement on a website.
Through intermittent chat sessions they get drawn to each other. Though they have not met, love blossoms. But what they love is what each imagines the other person to be. When they eventually meet, their dreams are shattered. But their minds have been so bonded together that they decide to marry and make the best of it. It is now society that looks askance at their relationship.
Director Lenin Rajendra is an active member of the communist party in a state that has intermittently elected the Marxists to power.
Reflecting his politics, his other films have dealt with an anti-feudal upheaval in the Kerala of the 1940s (Meenamasithile Sooryan, 1985), a period film about a 19th century king (Swathi Thirunal, 1987), an adaptation of a novel (Vikrithikal, 1992) and on the religious divide growing in the region (Annyar, 2003), among others.
India's other entry is Ek Nadir Galpo (Tale of a River) in Bengali by Samir Chanda.
The film celebrates the special relationship that fathers and daughters share. Darakeshwar is Anu's hero and she is her father's pride and joy. The love between the two transcends time and even death. Darakeshwar's mission is to rename a river in memory of his daughter, who is lost in the river.
In a diverse country that has to cope with several languages, the IFFI manages to draw together quite a number of regional films. Subtitling these films in English, specially done for the IFFI, helps to widen their appeal beyond the language they were first produced in.
Other Indian films selected include Ore Kadal (Malayalam), directed by Shyamaprasad, which will open the Indian Panorama feature film section, while Bagher Bacha (Bengali) directed by Bishnu Dev Halder will open the non-feature section.
Some 21 feature films and 15 non-feature films have been selected for the 38th edition of the IFFI, held annually in November-December and shifted from New Delhi to Goa in 2004.
The selections were made out of 119 feature and 149 non-feature films from across the country.
Selecting India's entries for the event were feature film jury members Manju Borah from Guwahati; Leslie Carvalho from Bangalore; Abhijeet Dasgupta from Kolkata; Mrunalinni Patil Dayal from Mumbai and Shubhra Gupta from New Delhi.
The non-feature film jury comprises Pankaj Butalia of New Delhi; Kavita Chaudhary of Mumbai and Gautam Saikia of Guwahati.
The non-feature films have a wide range, from the horrors and adventure in the life of a 10-year-old child living in a railway station in Kolkata (Bagher Bacha, or The Tiger's Cub), to a return to an ancestral village after decades (Harvilele Indradhansh or The Lost Rainbow), and the English-language 80-minute story of Indian soldiers still languishing as prisoners of war in Pakistan (Hope Dies Last In War).
Another film is on famed South Indian writer M.T. Vasudevan Nair (
M. Tyude Kumaranellurile Kulangal
or MT's Ponds of Kumaranellor).
(Hindi, 19 minutes) focuses on the life of the top playback singer of the same name, while another film is an autobiography of legendary music composer Naushad Ali.
(Along The Way), a Manipuri film, is about a 35-year-old woman, the second wife of a contractor, whose son gets hospitalised, leading her to get attracted to a stranger. She has to make a choice for herself.
Nokpokliba (English, 10 minutes), based on a folk tale from Nagaland, is a story about a magician who brings justice to his people through his magic.
Another film is Pandit Ramnarayan-Sarangi Ke Sang, a biographical film (Hindi, 50 minutes) that portrays the evolution of Pandit Ramnarayan as one of the finest musicians. Ramnarayan is to Sarangi (the bow-stringed instrument of south Asia) what Mozart was to piano.
Poomaram (The Flowering Tree, Malayalam) is about menstruation, males, menstrual rites and the development of agriculture, mathematics, writing, calendars and other realms of knowledge.
Rajarshee Bhagyachandra of Manipur (English, 58 minutes) is about a king of the past, a cultural architect whose artistic creations brought a socio-cultural revolution to his people.
The Dance of The Enchantress (Malayalam) is about Indian dance. It is produced-directed by prominent South Indian film-maker Adoor Gopalakrishnan.
Whose Land Is It Anyway (English, 40 minutes) is a film about an ongoing peasant movement in Singur village, to save a thousand acres of their farmland from being acquired by the West Bengal government for a car-manufacturing factory by industrial giant the Tatas.