Four Kannada films vie for glory at New York Indian Film Festival

Pinki Elli to be the opening film at digital film festival

Cinema

May 24, 2021

/ By Richa Nigam / New Delhi

Four Kannada films vie for glory at New York Indian Film Festival

A scene from Pinki Elli (2020)

With the selection of four Kannada films in the competition category at the upcoming New York Indian Film Festival, regional directors are thrilled and hopeful of a better future.

In a first, four Kannada films (three features and one short) will be screened at the New York Indian Film Festival next month. Pinki Elli (2020), Neeli Hakki (2020), Koli Taal (2021) and Pinni (2020) are among movies chosen for the festival.

The annual New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF), North America’s longest-running Indian film festival, will be held virtually from June 4 to June 13, 2021, according to the organisers, Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC). The IAAC has also announced that the festival will feature an exclusive Q&A session with filmmakers.

The NYIFF will also celebrate the birth anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi, Satyajit Ray, and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose during the virtual event, according to Aseem Chhabra, director of the NYIFF festival.

Chhabra adds that the festival is being organised despite the current Covid-19 situation in India as ‘show must go on’. “We made a promise to our audience in the United States and elsewhere. The show must go on. We present the best of Indian cinema from 2020 and 2021,” he says.

He further adds that the four films made by indie filmmakers, attempt to capture different shades of life in the state. Among them, Pinki Elli, directed by Prithvi Konanur, has been chosen as the opening film of the festival.

Pinki Elli, 2020

Poster of Pinki Elli

Pinki Elli had its world premiere at the Busan International Film Festival in October 2020. The film, whose name means ‘where is Pinki’, is based in a slum in Bengaluru when a mother returned home and found to her shock that both her baby and its caretaker were missing.

In an interview, director Konanur says that has always believed that films are meant to tell good stories and this is a story that took him to the underbelly of Bengaluru, into the slums, as he did a lot of research for the story.

“This is something that I have done for my previous film, Railway Children (2016) too, where I ended up visiting these spaces. I feel that one needs to immerse oneself into the story in order to translate it on screen. I am thrilled that it gets to open the digital edition of the New York Indian Film Festival, which is being conducted in the hybrid model, as the pandemic is still looming large,” says Konanur.

Neeli Hakki, 2020

Neeli Hakki narrates the story of a 10-year-old boy chasing his dreams

Neeli Hakki is the result of simple storytelling, according to its director Ganesh Hegde. The movie narrates the story of a 10-year-old boy who prefers his own, rather than his parents’ ambitions in life.

Hegde say it makes him glad that the film has been selected to screen at New York Indian Film Festival. “When such stories are selected by international film festivals, it connects us to global audiences and helps promote them on a bigger stage. My film showcases the everyday life, relationships, and the cultural beauty of Karnataka,” he adds.

The film also touches some important themes through a child’s perspectives. Impressed by the film, popular Tamil actor Vijay Sethupathi has agreed to present Neeli Hakki at the festival.

Koli Taal, 2021

Koli Taal is based on ritual of sacrificing a chicken at home when there is a special guest

Koli Taal’, by a first-time director, Abhilash Shetty, is about the amusing incidents that unfold after a rooster goes missing in a fictional village on the Western Ghats, situated between Malenadu and Karavalli villages in Karnataka. The satirical film attempts to focus on themes like greed, honour, and trust.

In Malenadu, there is a ritual of sacrificing a chicken at home when there is a special guest. This film uses that cultural aspect, apart from several of the director’s personal memories, in the story.

He adds that he is hoping to bring those sensibilities in all the films that he makes and is thrilled that his debut film has been chosen for this film festival.

“The French New Wave and Iranian films shaped my filmmaking skills. Koli Taal does not have melodrama, songs, and background music,” says director Shetty, who quit an engineering job to pursue his passion about three years ago.

Pinni, 2020

The only short film on the list is Pinni, directed by Bhuvan Satya. Pinni seeks to show the nativity of Mysuru, according to Satya. “Our films today don’t show Old Mysuru. There are many Indo-Saracenic buildings that are integral to the city’s rich culture. We took one year to find 80-year-old buildings,” says Satya, who like Shetty, also left a job as an engineer to learn filmmaking.

The 20-minute film is presented by another popular director Rishab Shetty. Satya also says that the film has also opened doors for him to assist acclaimed Kannada filmmakers like Hemanth M Rao in his upcoming film, Saptha Sagaradaache Ello.

All four filmmakers are hopeful of independent cinema getting its due in the industry. “With smart planning, independent films can turn out to be extremely beneficial. In the OTT era, experimental cinema can carve its own place. People are open to such content,” says Satya, who is now scripting his maiden feature film and hopes to find a producer following Pinni’s global recognition.

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