Films defy cliche

Kapi-Mana News - - ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT - By JIM CHIPP

In­dian cin­ema has far more to of­fer than Bol­ly­wood, says Yes In­dia Film Fes­ti­val di­rec­tor Ravi Kham­boj. ‘‘The whole world is used to Bol­ly­wood and the im­pres­sion is that In­dia just makes Bol­ly­wood, but there is a whole par­al­lel in­dus­try that makes hard-hit­ting, mean­ing­ful films,’’ he said.

‘‘That is some­thing that I wanted to bring to New Zealand.’’

These films do not get a lot of at­ten­tion in In­dia, but are pop­u­lar in the US and Europe, he said.

The fes­ti­val will put 14 fea­ture films, two doc­u­men­taries and nine short films from that body of work in front of New Zealand au­di­ences.

The For­got­ten Women is a doc­u­men­tary from Deepa Me­hta. It has been nom­i­nated for an Academy Award.

‘‘It’s about the is­sue of young wid­ows,’’ said Kham­boj. ‘‘What hap­pens is that once they be­come wid­ows they are to­tally out­cast from so­ci­ety.

‘‘ They are sent to a place for wid­ows, an ashram.’’

An­other favourite is the open­ing night film, The Mak­ing of Ma­hatma.

‘‘It’s about Ghandi’s ear­lier life that peo­ple aren’t re­ally aware of; from South Africa, where he worked as a lawyer and saw the plight of In­di­ans and the na­tive peo­ple there; apartheid; dis­crim­i­na­tion; his per­sonal life,’’ said Kham­boj.

‘‘What he was, our im­pres­sion of him, and what he was in his ear­lier days are quite dif­fer­ent. It is a hard-hit­ting film and peo­ple will won­der why Ghandi was like that.

‘‘It is a bit shock­ing. Peo­ple just can’t be­lieve his per­son­al­ity in the early days.’’

An­other favourite is Train to Pak­istan, which is set in the time when In­dia was di­vided into In­dia and Pak­istan, he said.

‘‘Most Mus­lims were mov­ing to Pak­istan and most Hin­dus were mov­ing to In­dia.’’

In the Pun­jab border vil­lage of Mano Ma­jra, Sikhs and Mus­lims had lived peace­fully for years, un­til con­flict ar­rived.

‘‘It’s about a train tak­ing Mus­lims to Pak­istan. At a very peace­ful vil­lage near the border, they [the vil­lagers] get to hear of a plan to at­tack the train and kill ev­ery­body.’’

Also pop­u­lar is Birds Of Prey – Khu­dakushi, a fea­ture film by Rakesh Me­hta that Kham­boj said the fes­ti­val was lucky to get.

‘‘It is a very strong film. It’s about the Mus­lims get­ting mis­treated and be­ing guided to­wards ex­trem­ism.’’

Yes In­dia Film Fes­ti­val opens on Novem­ber 4 at the Para­mount and runs for a week.

Visit yesin­di­afilm­fes­ti­val.org.

Fo­cused: A still from Bio­scope, one of the of­fer­ings in the Yes In­dia Film Fes­ti­val.

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