Guest post by Tusshar Sasi from Filmy Sasi.
The 47th International Film Festival of India is all set to take off. While all the categories are equally prestigious, one that remains a private pride to every Indian is the ‘Indian Panorama’. As is the case with each year, this year’s line-up doesn’t disappoint one bit.
The jury of feature films, headed by noted filmmaker Rajendra Singh Babu, selects 22 films belonging to myriad genres. Interestingly, the jury has picked a good number of quality mainstream films that have found appeal both with the critics, as well as with the paying public.
Earlier this year, it was an enamouring surprise to many when SS Rajamouli’s historical magnum opus went on to bag the National Award for Best Feature Film. A great script, able execution, gargantuan production values and a bunch of striking performances ensured that the film had all the merits to achieve this feat. The film, which could have been overlooked and passed on with a regional cinema tag, went on to win hearts across the nation. Baahubali, thus, is a worthy addition to the prestigious Indian Panorama.
They say, Yash Raj Films make the most commercial cinema. Trust us, the production house also holds the honour of producing gems like Dum Laga Ke Haisha and Titli in the recent past. Yet, one film from 2016 that truly shines is Ali Abbas Zafar’s Sultan. A superstar vehicle, in media terminology, Sultan has its heart firmly in place. With its roots in the simplicities of rural India, this romantic film knows how to pull on your heartstrings.
A Sanjay Leela Bhansali masterpiece, Bajirao Mastani with its ornate sets and enchanting glamour was everyone’s favourite from late 2015. Embellished with soul-stirring music and dramatic performances, the film also garnered appreciation at this year’s National Film Awards. For a tale that tells a fictionalized version of a star-crossed romance, Bhansali does full justice to the premise. Being the visual and emotional tour de force that Bajirao Mastani is, the film’s position in IFFI’s ‘Indian Panorama’ stands truly vindicated. On a personal note of indulgence, it’s going to be sheer joy watching Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone’s famous ‘Pinga’ dance-off at an international festival.
Akin to the Telugu magnum opus Baahubali, the Marathi film fraternity had their moment of national limelight when Nagaraj Manjule’s Sairat went on to be a thumping critical and commercial success. This beautifully made film with a romantic setting boasts of a melodious soundtrack by Ajay-Atul. While the captivating love story will have us deeply involved, Sairat’s stark socio-political facet is disturbing, due to its factually true nature.
Director Raja Krishna Menon’s period drama based on the massive Kuwait evacuation in 1990 was a winner even when it was just being crafted on papers. When Akshay Kumar came on board, the subject attracted a lot more attention and rightfully so. Menon’s taut writing and deft execution made Airlift an engaging human drama. There’s no surprise as to why this film is part of the 47th IFFI’s Indian Panorama.
Jayaraj’s Veeram, starring Kunal Kapoor, is yet to be released theatrically. However, after observing the director’s remarkable films under the Navarasa series, one may safely conclude just how superlative this adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth is going to be.
A bilingual offering (made in Hindi as Saala Khadoos), director Sudha Kongara’s Irudhi Suttru told an enthralling story. An emotional tale of a boxing coach and his protégé, this Madhavan-Ritika Singh starrer opened to massive critical acclaim upon release. A clear winner in the writing and technical departments, Irudhi Suttru has all merits to rub shoulders with the rest of the films in the Indian Panorama.
Shekhar Sartandel’s Marathi feature film, Ekk Albela, made news way before its release – for being a Bhagwan Dada biopic, and for marking popular Hindi film actor Vidya Balan’s debut in the Marathi film industry. As the film released, Ekk Albela proved worthy of its hype. The fascinating story of one of Indian cinema’s thespians was destined for great success with cinegoers. Even the title was inspired from one of Bhagwan Dada’s popular films, adding to the glory of this work.
Filmmaker Dr. Biju is one of Malayalam cinema’s most valuable assets today. Right from the days when his debut feature film, Saira, paved its way to the Cannes International Film Festival, the talented writer-director’s career has only soared. For ones wondering why Kaadu Pookkunna Neram is called mainstream, the film features two of Malayalam cinema’s more popular actors – Indrajith Sukumaran and Rima Kallingal. With a fabulous repertoire of films like Veetilekkulla Vazhi, Valiya Chirakulla Pakshikal, Perariyathavar and Akasathinte Niram backing the filmmaker, it is obvious why Kaadu Pookkunna Neram made its much-deserved entry to the 47th IFFI’s Indian Panorama. Over to you, Dr. Biju.
Much like Sairat, this Mahesh Manjerkar film had also set Marathi film industry alight in 2016. Featuring Nana Patekar in the titular role, Natsamrat offers a powerful insight into a retired stage actor’s life. A beautiful amalgamation of complex emotions and a pacy narrative, the film is a must-watch for connoisseurs of quality cinema.
Back in 2013, filmmaker-actor Pawan Kumar made a film that took Kannada film industry by storm – Lucia. Staying true to its taut script and gripping narrative, the spirited director returns with U-Turn. A crowd-funded project, the film opened to whopping praise as the director succeeded in delivering a nail-biting thriller. The film’s inclusion in 47th IFFI’s Indian Panorama stands truly deserved as the director’s previous venture was an ultimate favourite at various film festivals around the globe.
The Indian Panorama selections have more surprises in store. Debutant Nicholas Kharkongor’s dysfunctional family drama Mantra finds a place, as does renowned Bengali filmmaker Kaushik Ganguly’s intriguing Baastu-Shaap, based on the concept of Vastu Shastra. Veteran Goutam Ghose’s National Award-winning Shankhachil is another popular film from West Bengal. With Manas Mukul Paul’s Sahaj Paather Gappo Colours of Innocence (also running in the ‘International Competition’ category) and Saibal Mitra’s Chitrokar securing their positions in the list, West Bengal seems to be the biggest gainer at IFFI 2016’s Indian Panorama.
Kannada cinema also finds two more representatives in the form of T. S. Nagabharana’s historical biopic Allama and Ananya Kasaravalli’s Harikatha Prasanga. National award-winning documentary filmmaker from Manipur makes his presence felt with his debut social drama, Loktak Lairembee. G. Prabha’s Sanskrit feature film Ishti, which has also been selected into the ‘International Competition’ category, is keenly anticipated for all right reasons.
Rajiv Shinde’s Konkani film K Sera Sera that sees its world premiere is another remarkable addition to this splendid list. Akshay Singh’s Hindi social comedy Pinky Beauty Parlour that found immense appreciation at various other film festivals is ready to make its presence felt here too.
While filmmaker Pradip Kurbah brings to you his sensitive Khasi film, Onaatah, the recently released Dikchow Banat Palaax directed by Sanjib Sabhapandit is all set to bring in glory for Assam. Last but not the least, Marathi film industry seems to be on a roll with National Award-winning Ringan also finding a place in this coveted list.
With such a fantastic assortment of popular and new wave cinema in the Indian Panorama, the 47th International Film Festival of India is all set to be a true treat for cinema lovers.