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Berlinale 2019 (Berlin Film Festival) – Films to look out for…

Berlinale 2019 (Berlin Film Festival) – Films to look out for…

Our quick guide to the festival which opens today (February 7-17)…

WHILE all the attention and hoopla will be around Bollywood stars Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt and their film ‘Gully Boy’ which enjoys its world premiere at the Berlinale (which begins today), there are other Indian films screening at the festival.

Directed by Zoya Akhtar and featuring Kalki Koechlin as well,
Gully Boy’s music is central to the plot.

Singh plays ‘Murad’, 22, a slightly disillusioned Muslim college boy, who lives in a poor five-person household. He finds some form of salvation in his girlfriend from across the tracks – ‘Safeena’ (Bhatt) is the daughter of a doctor. The other and growing attraction is producing music – angry rap directed at his poor social status and lack of opportunities.

The festival describes it as “Bollywood meets hip-hop in Zoya Akhtar’s colourful but socially critical story about music and love”.

The film has its world premiere at one of the main theatres in Berlin, the Freidrichstadt-Palast on 9pm Saturday (February 9). Sure to be a hot ticket…

Also exploring unconventional love is ‘Photograph’, made by ‘The Lunchbox’ director, Ritesh Batra. ACV saw the film at Sundance Film Festival last month. If you’re a big fan of Nawazuddin Siddiqui and know who Sanya Malhotra is and enjoy a very different kind of Bollywood experience, this is for you. There is music but it is part of the score.

Director Rima Das continues to make waves and her latest, ‘Bulbul can sing’ gets another outing at Berlinale, following a North American premiere last year at Toronto International Film Festival.

In Assamese, the film dives headlong into ambition and aspiration among India’s young village folk. This is similar terrain to Das’s multi-garlanded 2017 feature (44 to be precise), ‘Village Rockstars’ – and India’s official entry to the Oscars this year.

The phenomenally successful Danny Boyle feature, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ continues to spawn new talent – only last month producer Tabrez Noorani released, ‘Love Sonia’, his first feature as a director.

Now Udita Bhargava, a post-production assistant on Slumdog and other international productions, has made ‘Dust’ which is very first film at the helm, having made the grade up from award-winning shorts director.

‘David’ goes in search of his dead girlfriend, ‘Mumtaz’ and has very little to go on but photographs and he finds himself plunged into a world where political opinions take on a violent hue. It has its first Berlinale screening at 8pm tomorrow.

In the documentary section, ‘Egaro Mile’ (‘Eleven Miles’) is a film about a dying community and musical art form.

ACV readers will be familiar with the Bengali style of folk music known as ‘Baul’. Indian writer Ruchi Joshi examines a community once common and revered in and around Kolkata and looks at their religious influences which in these stark time of ever hardening-divisions, straddles both Hinduism and Sufi Islam. It has its first screening on February 13 at 3pm.

Chiwetel Ejifor’s ‘The Boy who harnassed the wind’ has its European premiere at the festival, following its world premiere at Sundance last month.

UK TV series ‘Hanna’ about a girl who lives in the forest and has to come out and face the world also screens at Berlin. Made by Sarah Adina Smith and starring Esmé Creed-Miles, it has its first screening on February 11.

For full listings, please see

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture