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