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Indian films hold sway at Toronto fest

N America's biggest international film festival will showcase Karan Johar?s KANK too, reports Saibal Chatterjee.

india Updated: Jul 21, 2006 13:58 IST

The 31st Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is poised to go all out to showcase the entire gamut of Indian cinema – from a mainstream Bollywood entertainer to a small, hard-hitting Manipuri documentary, from an atypical Yash Chopra-produced wartime drama to a striking debut effort inspired by a searing Mahasweta Devi story about a marginalised woman.

North America’s biggest international film festival, scheduled from September 7 to 16, will host a Gala Presentation of Karan Johar’s third feature, Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (Never Say Goodbye). KANK is one of five Indian films that have made the Toronto cut this year.

Describing KANK as "a passionate, sweeping love story that captures India’s biggest stars and foremost talent with charm and sophistication", a TIFF press release issued on July 20 says: "With New York as its backdrop, the film tackles the bonds of marriage with delightful touches of humour and grand leaps into romance."

A still from Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna.  The film revolves around broken relationships.

The release goes on to say, "True to the essence of Bollywood films,

Never Say Goodbye

is replete with exuberant song and dance, lush melodrama and intense young love. The film marries a Hollywood sensibility to the traditional Bollywood blockbuster appeal…"

Another Bollywood film, albeit of a completely different hue, that will have its world premiere in Toronto this year is the eagerly-awaited Kabul Express, a Yash Raj Films production that is completely removed from anything that the Mumbai industry’s premier banner has ever bankrolled.

Filmed in war-torn Afghanistan amid death threats from the Taliban, Kabul Express is documentary filmmaker Kabir Khan’s feature debut.  Bollywood actors John Abraham and Arshad Warsi star in the film as two of five culturally and politically diverse characters that are compelled by circumstances or their professions to travel into the heart of a violence-ravaged landscape.

Also in the official line of the 31st TIFF are 59-year-old Chitra Palekar’s first directorial effort, the Marathi-language Maati Maay (A Grave-Keeper’s Tale), based on a Mahasweta Devi story about a woman condemned to struggle on the fringes of society, Baayen; Rajnesh Domalpalli’s Telugu-language Vanaja, about the first sexual stirrings of a 15-year-old aspiring danseuse; and SRFTI-trained Haobam Paban Kumar’s compelling documentary, A Cry in the Dark, which traces the roots and course of the outburst of the anger of the Manipuri people against the atrocities committed by the armed forces.

Says Noah Cowan, festival co-director: "India is a nation of diverse cultures and languages, which makes its cinema diverse, dynamic and exciting… These films demonstrate the impressive range of Indian cinema, and we at the festival are thrilled to be a part of its future."