🎥 To Kill a Tiger – Nisha Pahuja documentary TIFF 2022 Amplify Voices Award
🎥 While We Watched – documentary about India’s NDTV and well-known journalist Ravish Kumar also TIFF triumph
🎥 What’s Love Got To Do With It? (Shekhar Kapur/Jemima Khan)
🎥 Zwigato (Nandita Das)
🎥Tora’s Husband (Rima Das)
🎥 Kacchey Limbu (debut feature maker Shubham Yogi)
🎥 Joyland (Saim Sadiq update)
Round-up and reaction of the films that screened in Toronto (all were world premieres, except for ‘Joyland’ which we covered at its world premiere in Cannes – see links below).
FILMMAKER Nisha Pahuja has something of a reputation as a brave and courageous voice – and her latest award-winning film, ‘To Kill a Tiger’ takes head on the subject of child rape.
It won the Canada Goose Amplify Voices Award – which goes to filmmakers from traditionally underrepresented groups – the jury said: “It’s not easy to film love. In Nisha Pahuja’s ‘To Kill A Tiger’, a father defends his daughter, and together they change a village, a country and, maybe, the world.”
The film explores a shocking incident when a 13-year-old girl from an Indian village in Jharkhand is forcibly removed from a wedding party and raped by three men.
The girl’s father simply refuses the advice of his fellow villagers to either quietly drop any case or marry his daughter off to one of the men who raped her – to save her ‘honour’.
Her family stands behind her and mounts a campaign for justice but are ostracised by the village for their actions.
Writing before the film screened at TIFF, Pahuja writing for broadcaster CBC, stated: “I hadn’t set out to make this film, I was in fact making a different film – a broader look at toxic masculinity in India, called Send Us Your Brother.”
Initially, Pahuja had wanted to make a film about an organisation that was working with young men in India, tackling toxic masculinity but the story of the young girl totally diverted Pahuja and took three and a half years to make.
Now both the girl’s story and activists’ Mahendra Kumar are separate and while Pahuja identifies the girl in the film (and now 18), she has chosen not to draw attention to her outside her documentary.
Pahuja told Indian website, Firstpost (see link below) that the girl and her parents deserve enormous plaudits for sticking by the need to see justice being served. And while it wasn’t always comfortable filming, she had the full cooperation of the family and it helped the case because it couldn’t be lost in the system or quietly shelved.
Pahuja said she tried to listen to all sides even though it was obvious where her sympathies lay. She said engagement rather than confrontation tended to yield better results.
Pahuja’s breakthrough documentary feature is ‘The World Before Her’ (2012). It explores beauty pageants in India – focusing on Miss India and juxtaposes them with other young women who choose a very different path, such as joining the RSS, a right wing Hindu organisation many credit with bringing the Bharatiya Janata Party – under its present leader and the country’s prime minister – Narendra Modi, to power.
Another Indian documentary also won an Amplify Voices Award.
The Jury said of Vinay Shukla’s film about broadcasting in India, ‘While We Watched’ (‘Namaskar! Main Ravish Kumar’) is a compelling, urgent film that collapses our differences. It is a wake-up call to how perilous and fragile the relationship between a free press and democracy is everywhere.”
The documentary examines the current Indian media broadcasting landscape and focuses on Ravish Kumar of NDTV – often referred to as one of the most fearless in the country.
“Our job is to ask the most difficult of question to those in power,” he declares. Shukla talking to Screen Daily (see link below), before the screening of his film at TIFF, said: “‘While We Watched’ is my angry and anxious love letter to journalism.”
He and Khushboo Rana co-directed ‘An Insignificant Man’ which is about Aam Adami Party leader, Arvind Kerjiwal, who came from nowhere to win in the Delhi city administration in 2013 on his anti-corruption stance.
The filmmakers had issues releasing that film in India itself because of its intensely political nature and the fact that Kerjiwal is an opponent of Prime Minister Modi and touted as a possible opposition figure spearhead in the forthcoming 2024 General Election.
Shukla said he is well prepared for the political storm the film will create in India itself. He also acts and said he is keen to make narrative fictional features and his next project will be non-political.
The future of NDTV and Ravish Kumar has become more uncertain since the film was finished. Indian billionaire Gautam Adani launched a takeover last month and is said to be close to the ruling BJP.
The TIFF 2022 People’s Choice Awards went to Steven Spielberg’s ‘The Fabelmans’. which has been described as an autobiographical movie about a young boy who falls in love with filmmaking.
We have already reviewed ‘What’s Love Got To With It?” – having seen it in London at a special screening last month.
Jemima Khan’s (Jemima Goldsmith’s) romcom is very watchable and stylishly assembled by director Shekhar Kapur.
Set in London mostly, with some scenes in a mocked-up Lahore and shot during covid, it was reviewed well at Tiff.
Khan, who wrote the original story, responded to our review by saying it was her love letter to Pakistan.
The Guardian’s Benjamin Lee writes: “Fun, frothy and forgettable itch-scratcher”.
It’s a bit better than that – considering how few films of this type have central people of colour protagonists.
We will have more on this nearer the time of its UK release early next year – on January 27 2023.
Festival favourite Nandita Das was at TIFF with latest film, ‘Zwigato’.
She had given us a sneak preview of what it would be like when she was here for the London Indian Film Festival – we thought she might take it to Cannes, considering her last film, ‘Manto’ (2018) went there for its world premiere.
This is a very different film by the sounds of it and about those seemingly invisible people who make all our lives just a bit easier.
Famous Indian chat show host and comedian Kapil Sharma stars opposite Shahana Goswami in a social drama about a food delivery driver surviving in Bhubaneswar, the state capital of Odisha, during recent covid times.
Reviewers seemed to have warmed to the film mostly without necessarily overlooking its slightly awkward pacing.
Nevertheless, it may garner more love as we get further away from the pandemic. Sharma and Goswami are huge plusses in the film and it appears to have struck a powerful chord.
Showcasing a different sort of vibe and proving very popular was ‘Kacchey Limbu’ from first time feature director Shubham Yogi – it appears to be an offbeat social comedy with a lot to say about everything.
Starring Radhika Madan and Rajat Barmecha as sister and brother respectively, it charts their mutual passion for cricket – despite the parental pressure to choose ‘sensible’ careers. With Mumbai as the backdrop, and a quirky cast of other characters, this reviewed very well in Toronto.
Filmmaker Rima Das was back at TIFF with her latest work, ‘Tora’s Husband’.
Set in her native Assam, it’s another covid film looking at how hotel and restaurant owner Jaan (Abhijit Das) tries to negotiate his family and business relationships during covid and feels the extra pressures. Das presented ‘Village Rockstars’ her debut feature at TIFF in 2017.
And last but certainly not least – and only because we have already covered it when it had its world premiere in Cannes is ‘Joyland’. (See here for both stories and video – http://asianculturevulture.com/?s=Joyland)
The Pakistani film by first time feature filmmaker Saim Sadiq continues its ascent across the globe.
Centred on a married man in Pakistan who finds himself falling for a transgender woman in a deeply patriarchal society – this really must watch South Asian film now heads to London. (See our main LFF preview shortly)
Sadiq told his Instagram followers: “From the wonderful night of our North American premiere at @tiff.net that will certainly go down as one of most memorable moments for the entire team of #Joyland.”
TIFF took place between September 8-18 this year.
Part II continued – http://asianculturevulture.com/portfolios/tiff-2022-cont-part-ii-ss-rajamouli-shekhar-kapur-and-shabana-azmi-help-inaugurate-exhibition-space-and-indias-nfdc-promotes-land-of-storytellers-and-iffi53/
Further reading links
To Kill a Tiger
Up next for us is London Film Festival and our main preview will drop soon ahead of the festival’s opening next Wednesday (October 5).
Look out for our Zoom interview with Shaunak Sen, whose film, ‘All that Breathes’ comes garlanded already from Sundance (http://asianculturevulture.com/portfolios/sundance-2022-wrap-indian-documentary-all-that-breathes-wins-grand-jury-prize-child-of-empire-features-in-virtual-reality-strand/) and Cannes.