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Indian Films At Toronto a Sparkling Quartet

admin   August 29, 2019

India’s ‘fabulous four’ in the 44th Toronto International Film Festival represent exciting and distinct cinematic voices. These films, three of which will be world premiering in TIFF, have compelling stories, employing methods that stem from unique sensibilities. At one end
is the story of a real-life urban couple learning life lessons from a terminally ill but spirited daughter (Shonali Bose’s The Sky is Pink) and at the other a tale of a buffalo that escapes from its butcher-owner and sparks a frenzy in a small town in Kerala (Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Jallikattu),
The other two Indian films present divergent takes on Mumbai: Gitanjali Rao’s animated feature Bombay Rose and Geetu Mohandas’ gritty yet life-affirming drama Moothon (The Elder One).

It is a strong year in TIFF for Indian female directors. Three of the titles in this quartet have been directed by women. That apart, Priyanka Chopra, who toplines the cast of The Sky is Pink, is one of the four Indian ambassadors of TIFF’s ‘Share Her Journey’ campaign, which is aimed
at promoting gender parity in the movie industry both in front of and behind the camera. The other three are filmmakers Mira Nair, Deepa Mehta and Rima Das. Das’s last two films (Village Rockstars and Bulbul Can Sing) premiered in TIFF. She will be attending the festival this year too, to take part in the campaign launched in 2017, the year she debuted here.

THE SKY IS PINK by Shonali Bose

THE SKY IS PINK by Shonali Bose

Cast: Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Farhan Akhtar, Zaira Wasim, Rohit Saraf
Producer(s): Ronnie Screwvala, Siddharth Roy Kapur

Shonali Bose’s The Sky is Pink, which also features Farhan Akhtar and Zaira Wasim in stellar roles, is part of the festival’s Gala Presentations. Bose is a TIFF veteran. Each of the three films that she has helmed has screened in North America’s premier festival.The Sky is Pink is scheduled for release on October 11, a month after its world premiere in TIFF on September 13.

The poignant film portrays 25 years in the life of a married couple whose relationship is depicted from the perspective of their just-deceased teenage daughter. It is inspired by the tragic true story of Aisha Chaudhary, who was diagnosed with severe immune-deficiency and had to battle through every day of her life for survival. But even as she counted her days, she never stopped living in the moment. She became a motivational speaker and wrote a book that was published a day before her death.

Bose’s first two films, Amu (2005) and Margarita with a Straw (2015), both critically acclaimed cinematic essays drawn from real life, also played in Toronto.

Shonali Bose

India | 2019 | Hindi WORLD PREMIERE 134 minutes

Director | Shonali Bose

Cinematography | Kartik Vijay, Nick Cooke, Andrew Litt, Andre Menezes, Ravi Varman

Editing | Manas Mittal

Executive Producers | Nilesh Maniyar, Deepak Gawade, John Penotti, Michael Hogan, Robert Friedland

Production Companies | Roy Kapur Films, RSVP, Ivanhoe Pictures, Purple Pebble Pictures

Production Designer | Aradhana Seth

Screenplay | Shonali Bose, Nilesh Maniyar

Sound |Anish John

Distributor | RSVP

BOMBAY ROSE by Gitanjali Rao

BOMBAY ROSE by Gitanjali Rao

Cast: Cayli Vivek Khare, Amit Deondi, Gargi Shitole, Makrand Deshpnde
Producer(s): Rohit Khattar, Anand Mahindra

At the other end of the India’s TIFF spectrum this year is Gitanjali Rao, a globally celebrated animation filmmaker who has carved her own niche in a nation where animated films are not only rare but are also usually seen as entertainment meant only for children. She employs the medium to tell complex, layered stories about her city and its people, especially those who need to retreat into dream worlds to escape the soul-destroying urban grind that they must inevitably undergo on a day-to-day basis.

Rao’s first feature, Bombay Rose, which has made TIFF’s Contemporary World Cinema cut, arrives in Toronto from Venice, where it was the opening film of the Critics Week. The film looks at street-dwellers who live on the margins of the megapolis. “I have always wanted to tell stories,” Rao says in her director’s note, “about the unsung heroes who live and love in Mumbai, never become success stories, yet their struggle for survival makes heroes out of them.” Bombay Rose is composed of frame-by-frame painted animation, a painstaking process that took all of two years.

Bombay Rose is only the second Indian animation film to screen in TIFF. In 2103, Shilpa Ranade’s Goopy Gawaiya Bagha Bajaiya made it to the festival programme.

Gitanjali Rao

India, United Kingdom, Qatar, France, 2019 | Hindi NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE 93 minutes

Director | Gitanjali Rao

Editing |Gitanjali Rao

Executive Producers | Deborah Sathe, Tessa Inkelaar, Charlotte Uzu, Serge Lalou

Production Companies | Cinestaan Film Company, Les Films d’Ici

Animation Studio | Paperboat

Production Designer | Rupali Gatti

Screenplay | Gitanjali Rao

Sound | P.M. Satheesh

MOOTHON by Geetu Mohandas

MOOTHON by Geetu Mohandas

Cast: Nivin Pauly, Sobhita Dhulipala, Shashank Arora
Producer(s): Anurag Kashyap, Vinod Kumar, Ajay G. Rai, Alan McAlex

Mumbai also plays a key role in actress-turned-filmmaker Geetu Mohandas’ Malayalam-Hindi bilingual film, Moothon (The Elder One), which revolves around a 14-year-old Lakshadweep island boy, Mulla, who travels at great personal risk to the bustling city to look for his big brother, Akbar, armed only with a phone number. The film follows the parallel arcs of the two siblings while it focuses on the hope and despair that they have to grapple with in a city where life can be rough when the guards are down.

Although Mohandas is a TIFF first-timer, her maiden feature, Liar’s Dice (2013), had premiered in the Sundance Film Festival and was India’s official nomination for the Oscars.

Moothon, which has Nivin Pauly, Sobhita Dhulipala and Shashank Arora in key onscreen roles, is co-produced by Anurag Kashyap, who has also penned the Hindi dialogues of the film. For Kashyap, TIFF is a bit of an annual ritual. His last two films, Mukkabaaz and Manmarziyaan, were both in the festival.

Geetu Mohandas

India | 2019 Malayalam, Hindi WORLD PREMIERE 110 minutes

Director | Geetu Mohandas

Cinematography | Rajeev Ravi

Editing | Ajithkumar B., Kiran Das

Production Companies | JAR Pictures, Mini Studio

Production Designer | Abid T. P.

Screenplay | Geetu Mohandas

Sound | Kunal Sharma

Original Score | Sagar Desai

JALLIKATTU by Lijo Jose Pellissery

JALLIKATTU by Lijo Jose Pellissery

Cast: Antony Varghese, Vinayakan, Sabumon Abdusamad
Producer(s): O. Thomas Panicker

Lijo Jose Pellissery, one of the most exciting flag-bearers of the new Malayalam cinema, is in this year’s lineup with Jallikattu, based on a short story, Maoist, written by S. Hareesh. The maker of Angamaly Diaries and Ee.Ma.Yau focusses on a butcher’s buffalo that flees from his owner’s clutches on the eve of its planned slaughter. As the people of the town in Kerala’s Idukki district set out to recapture the animal, dormant animosities bubble to the surface and unleash unsettling violence. Like his previous two film, Lijo’s new outing blends heady energy with an unwavering sense of formal cinematic proportion.

Jallikattu – the title is derived from the ancient Tamil bull-running tradition that has sparked much debate in recent times – allows for a deep dive into the heart of a politically volatile state that, pretty much like the people in the story that the film narrates – are increasingly being divided along destructively emotive lines.

Lijo Jose Pellissery

India | 2019 Malayalam WORLD PREMIERE 91 minutes

Director | Lijo Jose Pellissery

Cinematography | Gireesh Gangadharan

Editing | Deepu Joseph

Production Company | Opus Penta

Production Designer | Gokul Das

Screenplay | S Hareesh, R Jayakumar

Sound | Renganath Ravee

Publicist | Opus Penta

Original Score | Prashant Pillai


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Priyanka Chopra’s The Sky is Pink Set to Premiere in 2019 Toronto Internaitonal Film Festival’s Gala Section

admin   July 24, 2019

Priyanka Chopra and Farhan Akhtar starring The Sky is Pink will have its world premiere in the Gala Section at the 44th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) beginning September 5. The Sky is Pink is directed by Shonali Bose and is based on the story of motivatioal speaker Aisha Chaudhary who had been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis.

Toronto International Film Festival is the only International festival which has picked the maximum number of Indian films for screening in official selections.

The film is produced by Priyanka Chopra, Ronnie Screwvala and Sidddharth Roy Kapur. The Sky is Pink is one of the 18 Galas announced by TIFF on Tuesday. Dangal actress Zaira Wasim, who quit acting, plays the role of Aisha Chaudhary. Rohit Saraf is also a part of the starcast. Ronnie Screwvala produced Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota (The Man Who Feels No Pain) directed by Vasan Bala won the People’s Choice prize for best Midnight Madness section at the 43rd Toronto International Film Festival 2018.

The synopis of the film in the TIFF website states the following: A recently deceased teenage daughter narrates the story of her mother and father’s poignant, affecting, and inspiring romance, in this unexpectedly humorous love story from Shonali Bose, inspired by late Indian author Aisha Chaudhary and her family.

“What I love about India is that, it is the world’s most film passionate country in the world. You can talk to anyone in this country and everyone has got an opinion about films. This is not the case anywhere in the world. This is the cultural norm,” stated Cameron Bailiey, Co-Head of Toronto International Film Festival to Pickle during his Mumbai trip last year. Single handedly, Cameron Bailey has managed to get over 50 Indian filmmakers to showcase their work in global markets after screening their films in Toronto.

Shonali Bose’s Margarita With A Straw was selected in Toronto in 2014. The film Margarita With A Straw was a bittersweet drama about a woman with cerebral palsy. Shonali Bose has ploughed a lonely furrow as a filmmaker. Her debut feature, Amu, released in 2005, homed in on individuals affected by the 1984 anti-Sikhriots. She co-wrote Bedabrata Pain’s critically acclaimed Chittagong (2012), a dramatization of a significant chapter in India’s freedom struggle. For Margarita With A Straw, Bose cast Kalki Koechlin in a role that called for absolute commitment of time and energy. For both the director and the lead actress, the film has been unqualified artistic triumph.

Priyanka Chopra returns to Bollywood after three years and she was seen last in Jai Gangaajaal.The Sky is Pink is also Priyanka Chopra’s first Indian film project after she headed for Hollywood in 2016. Priyanka Chopra was the Guest of Honour at TIFF Soiree in 2017– a fund raiser in support of “Share Her Journey” campaign to support female voices in the cinema industries. Priyanka Chopra discussed about her career in and outside of the film industry during an onstage conversation moderated by Cameron Bailey.

Priyanka Chopra starring Mary Kom, directed by Omung Kumar was screened in Toronto in Special Presentations Section in 2014. Priyanka played India’s leading sporting icon in lead role as the gutsy boxer from the North East Indian state who rose from humble beginnings to the pinnacle in the world of women’s boxing.


Priyanka Chopra Begins The Sky Is Pink

admin   August 8, 2018

Days after deciding to quit Salman Khan’s upcoming Bharat barely 10 days before it was to hit the floors, Priyanka Chopra has announced to co-produce and star in ‘The Sky Is Pink’, a film based on the real-life story of a Delhi-based motivational speaker who died at the age of 18 due to a medical condition.

Priyanka posted a photo of the team on Twitter with a caption reading: “So excited about today..Some stories just need to be told. In the spirit of Aisha Chaudhary and her incredible parents Aditi and Niren we bring you our super special project The Sky Is Pink. Going on floors today!”

The Sky Is Pink will co-star Farhan Akhtar and Zaira Wasim and will be directed by Shonali Bose of Margarita With A Straw fame. Priyanaka will co-produce the film with Ronnie Screwvala and Siddharth Roy Kapur.

Zaira Wasim will be playing Aisha Chaudhary, who despite being diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis at the age of 13 went on to become a motivational speaker and writer before she passed away 5 years later. It has also been learned that Priyanka and Farhan Akhtar will be playing Chaudhary’s parents.

While the shooting of the move began on Wednesday in Mumbai, it will also be shot in Delhi, London and the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal.

After Priyanka decided to quit Bharat it led to several media speculations, as the actor said that she wouldn’t like to share with public the reasons for her end moment decision to call it off.

Following her success in American network drama Quantico, Priyanka will be seen in Isn’t It Romantic with Liam Hemsworth, which is slated for next year release. The actress has also bagged the female lead opposite Chris Pratt in Universal’s Cowboy Ninja Viking.