Indian actor Radhika Apte has replaced Bollywood choreographer-director Farah Khan on the jury of 37th edition of the Cairo International Film Festival, starting on November 10.
The festival organisers told this writer on Thursday that Khan had to drop out at the last minute because of “pressing engagements”. Although she said she could attend three days of the 11-day festival, the organisers felt that this was too short a period the judge the 16 movies in Competition.
Apte was an equally wonderful choice, they felt. Indeed, it seems so. She is an award-winning stage and film actor, who grew up in Pune and began her career in theatre with a local troupe called Aasakta. It was in 2005 that she stepped from the stage to the screen with a minor role in a Bollywood work, Vaah! Life Ho Toh Aisi! But it was the Bengali movie, Antaheen, in 2009 that gave her the pride of place as a television journalist who finds love in the virtual world. She was just superb as a woman torn between the real and the unreal.
Amol Palekar’s Samaantar, also in 2009, gave Apte her first break in Marathi cinema, though here again she essayed a minor character. It was this year that Apte’s real break came with two Bollywood productions, Badlapur and Hunterrr. Outside Hindi and English, Apte has worked in several Indian languages, including Tamil and Malayalam, and has been bold enough to take on roles with shades of grey.
She has worked with acclaimed directors like Anurag Kashyap, Anurag Basu, Sujoy Ghosh, Ketan Mehta, Leena Yadav,Aniruddha Roy Choudhury, Onir, Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukathankar.
Also trained in contemporary dance (Trinity - Laban Conservatoire, London) and the martial art from Kerala, Kalaripayattu, Apte recently co-produced Parched, which was helmed by Leena Yadav. The work premiered at the recent Toronto International Film Festival.
In another change to the list of jurors, British producer Paul Webster will replace Danish director Bille August as President of the jury. Webster has been nominated for an Oscar and has won the Golden Globe. In a career spanning 40 years, he has made over 100 movies as a producer and executive including some of Britain’s most commercially and critically successful features -- such as The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love, Sexy Beast, Pride and Prejudice, and Atonement.
In partnership with Joe Wright and fellow producer Guy Heeley, Webster owns Shoebox Films, whose most recent contribution was the much-acclaimed Locke, starring Tom Hardy.
Webster also produced Joe Wright’s epic work, Pan, starring Hugh Jackman for Warner Brothers.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran will cover the Cairo International Film Festival.)