As the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) concluded recently, eight entries from India with stories on exile and love stood out. Out of these, the film Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (English title-‘The Man Who Feels No Pain’) won the People’s Choice Award at the festival.
The Toronto International Film festival (TIFF) is not an unfamiliar terrain for Indian filmmakers like Rima Das, the duo of Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, or writer-director Vasan Bala. They have had their debut features screened there — Village Rockstars (2017), Dreaming Lhasa (2005) and Peddlers (2012) respectively, and headed back this year with their second outings.
Rima Das’ film Bulbul Can Sing and Sarin and Sonam’s The Sweet Requiem had its world premiere in the Contemporary World Cinema section, while Vasan Bala’s Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota was the first Indian movie to be showcased in the cult Midnight Madness section, devoted to genre films, where it won the People’s Choice award.
Toronto International Film festival (TIFF) is a charitable cultural organisation with a mission to transform the way people see the world, through films. The 2018 TIFF concluded last week, after running for 10 days and screening 267 distinct titles.
A London-based Indian director Sandhya Suri won the Best International Short Film Award for The Field, which is about a woman farm worker in India. The film got appreciated for its aesthetic lyricism, tender performances and powerful emotional impact. It is a unique and refreshing glimpse into female desire set in rural India that demonstrates a scope greater than its short format.
TIFF’s most media savvy and glamorous Gala section – a red-carpet parade of big, impressive films included Manmarziyan (English title-Husband Material), directed by Anurag Kashyap, starring Vicky Kaushal, Taapsee Pannu and Abhishek Bachchan. The film is about a spirited Indian girl who gets caught in a complicated love triangle between a disc jockey and a London-raised Indian. It received warm reception by the international audience.
At the other end of the Bollywood spectrum was director Nandita Das’s film Manto that earlier got premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and is a literary biopic on the writer Saadat Hasan Manto.
Further, complimenting the six films in the festival that were made by Indian filmmakers, the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting sent a combined group of 15 producers, distributors, studio officials, and directors to TIFF to take part in an India Pavilion in early September. The delegation’s goal was to encourage foreign collaboration and strengthen the presence of Indian films overseas.
The films that were screened at the festival were so diverse in their outlook, that along with emblazoning India’s rich cultural stories, few films also brought relevant societal stigmas into spotlight. One example is the London-based director Jayisha Patel’s Circle, which is a sensitive portrayal of an adolescent rape survivor who gets caught in the endless loop of India’s gender-based violence. Another film Vivek (English title-Reason) is one of the several documentary films with a strong political content made by filmmaker Anand Patwardhan, which mainly explores the fault lines in India’s politics.
Adding to these eight, three international productions at TIFF lineup were shot in the Indian subcontinent – British director Michael Winterbottom’s The Wedding Guest, French filmmaker Mia Hansen-Love’s Maya and Australian Anthony Maras’s debut feature Hotel Mumbai – which makes it a total of eleven films that ensured that the spotlight never veers away from India during the 11-day celebration of cinema.