Indian Cinema, Abroad: Berlin
The movies which made India proud, at the Berlin Film Festival!
There comes a time when you have seen almost all the movies that your friends recommend. The superheroes, the thrillers, the comedies. And then your Google Search wanders, and you look for those movies. The different movies, which may never have graced movie halls in India, but won awards abroad. You see strange names, look for a slight bit of familiarity, and then download them, hoping that this will be something cool you can blow away all your friends with.
It was thus that I saw Blue Is The Warmest Colour last year. I was seeing a French film, with English subtitles, just because it had been declared the best film in Cannes in 2013. After seeing that, for some reason, I never had the courage to attempt this maneuver again.
Then recently, came the news that Bahubali won the National Award in Film.
Yes, it was a hit. Yes, it had good special effects. But a National Award? There’s a reason why no one looks at Avengers and says ‘This can win an Oscar’. But of course, this is Incredible India.
Which begs the question: Which Indian movies have got the critics applauding for them, in the sane, diverse and highly competitive world of global cinema?
PS: Do note that the list of films provided here, and ahead, is NOT authoritative in any way, and may have some mistakes and omissions. The films considered here, are only AFTER 2010. Also, since the name Anurag Kashyap is himself buzz enough, I might have omitted some of his entries. Disclaimer out of the way, let’s begin.
This year, Berlin had to sift through 7,004 submissions to select the final 434 screened. It is counted among the ‘Big 3’ in the European festivals, along with Venice and Cannes; winning , and even being screened in any of these is an honor in itself.
Every film festival has a number of categories; there is the competition section where the films stand a chance to win, there are films screened out of competition, there are films screened merely for potential distributors assembled at the particular film festival, etc, etc. Bear in mind though that there are many, many film festivals in the world, with many different categories. Plus, respect & prestige are relative things, something especially relevant for film festivals. The films screened here, the stars attending, the winners, and all related activities; everything matters in it.
Gattu (Director: Rajan Khosa) [Hindi]
The film was honored with a special mention in the Generation KPLUS (International Jury) category at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival; while KPLUS is meant for films targeted at children, another category 14PLUS is for films targeted at teenagers.
In a small town in central India, kids and adults are equally obsessed with kite-flying. The airspace is dominated by a black kite called Kali with mysterious origins. A street kid Gattu, dreams of defeating Kali but fails. He discovers that the local school has a roof which will give him a vantage point. Impersonating as a student he sneaks into the school and must now pretend to study. The only problem — he is illiterate! Nonetheless, the little street urchin takes up the challenge. Dreams aren’t impossible when the desire is strong.
Killa (Director: Avinash Arun) [Marathi]
The Marathi film won two awards at the Berlin Film Festival 2014. The Crystal Bear (a.k.a the Grand Prix a.k.a the Best Film) in the Generation KPLUS (Children’s Jury) category, and a Special Mention in the Generation KPLUS (International Jury) category.
An 11-year-old boy struggles to cope with the death of his father while trying to make new friends in an unfamiliar place, after his mother gets a job transfer.
Dhanak (Director: Nagesh Kukunoor) [Hindi]
The film won the Crystal Bear in the Generation KPLUS (International Jury) category at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival. It also received a special mention (Children’s Jury), in the same category at the festival.
A girl promises to get her younger brother’s eyesight back before he turns 10. She is convinced her favorite movie star would help her after she sees him on a poster advertising an eye-donation drive. With this belief, orphaned siblings Pari and Chotu embark on a journey to restore Chotu’s eyesight.
Ottal (Director: Jayaraj) [Malayalam]
Continuing the Indian streak, this Malayalam film was presented with the Crystal Bear award in the Generation KPlus (Children’s Jury) section, making it the best film for children.
Ottaal (The Trap) is an adaptation of one of Anton Chekhov’s timeless works, Vanka. In the present day at a small village in the South of India, Kuttappayi, a young boy, is miserable and desperate as he starts writing a letter to his grandfather from a place, dim and dark. Kuttappayi’s recollections takes us to the picturesque locations of Kuttanad, where Kuttappayi and his grandpa, Valiyappachayi, are arriving with their ducks. The village is as pleasant as it can be even though what brings him there is the death of his dearest parents. With hope and freedom, he is about to start his life afresh among the village’s letterless postman, the nameless dog, the rich lad, Tinku and many more.