New York Indian Film Festival 2012

The 2012 New York Indian Film Festival Preview: Anurag Kashyap, Manoj Bajpayee, & Nawazuddin Siddiqui On A Roll!
The 12th annual New York Indian Film Festival is nearly here, and they've got some great events and films to share. The festival begins on Wednesday, May 23rd and runs through May 27th. During that time, attendees will be treated not only to some of the finest and freshest Indian films available, but also industry panels, cast and crew Q & A's, and some red carpet shenanigans as well.  Since I'm mostly interested in the movie-going aspect, here's a little preview of the big titles showing at this year's NYIFF!

Opening Night Film

Director Bedabrata Pain makes his feature debut with Chittagong. The film follows the story of the Chittagong revolt in Bangladesh when a group of dissatisfied locals took on the local British government in an attempt to regain autonomy over their own affairs. This is the first film of the festival to feature performances from current hot actors Manoj Bajpayee and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who've been burning up indie screens as of late. Bajpayee appears as Surya Sen, the leader of the revolt, and Siddiqui as Nirmal-da, one of his closest confidantes and lieutenants. Chittagong is one to look out for, watch for my review on these pages soon.

Centerpiece Film

The 150th anniversary of Bengali poet/playwright Rabindranath Tagore is an occasion worth celebrating. Tagore has created some of the most lasting literature in India's canon, and has been adapted to the screen numerous times, including a few by Chitrangada director, Rituparno Ghosh, as well as counting a couple of Satyajit Ray works among those adaptations. The state of Bengal has a long history of creating some of the most challenging art from India, and Ghosh's film promises to be a treat. Chitrangada will have its world premiere at NYIFF on May 25th.

Closing Night Film

GangsofwasseypurGangs of Wasseypur
Hot off the red carpet at the Festival du Cannes' Director's Fortnight, NYIFF will hold the US premiere of Anurag Kashyap's Gangs of Wasseypur. Kashyap's latest film is both a love letter for Indian film tradition and a step in the direction of realism in Indian filmmaking. Kashyap is the leading voice in Indian independent cinema, and many of the best indies made in India have his stamp on them, either as director, producer (as in the case of Chittagong), or as a strong influence. Gangs of Wasseypur brings the festival full circle by bringing back Manoj Bajpayee and Nawazuddin Siddiqui in important roles in his film. Kashyap will be in attendance for a post-screening discussion, don't miss this one!

Twitch Recommends

In addition to these highlights, there are several other great films playing at NYIFF, and we wanted to give you a brief rundown of those which deserve your attention.

This is another film featuring a massive confluence of the best talent in India. Directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia, who recently released the well-received Paan Singh Tomar and has a co-starring role in Gangs of Wasseypur, Shagird has a cast to die for. Starting with the venerable Nana Patekar, who has serious potential to move outside of India with the amount of talent behind those eyes, the cast is fantastic. This is yet another crime story, a genre which has a healthy and productive home in Indian cinema, and I can't wait to check it out.

DekhindiancircusDekh Indian Circus
I'm not terribly familiar with this film, though we do see Nawazuddin Siddiqui appear here for the third time at NYIFF. I'll let the synopsis do the talking:

After a small seed begins to grow in the heart of a young girl who is enchanted by the notion of a circus character, a sweet and profound struggle for the simple act of watching the circus ensues. How far will a poor family go to take their two little children to the circus? With drama and pit stops at every turn, we are taken on a comedy of errors and triumphs.
Retrospective of the work of Shyam Benegal and Khalid Mohammed
This pair have delivered some of the most memorable films of the last twenty years, and NYIFF has landed a trio of films to show off the collaboration. Mammo, Sardari Begum, and Zubeidaa are well worth checking out, and wouldn't you know it, the last of the three features Manoj Bajpayee in his third film of the festival. Director Benegal will be available for Q & A's following each of the screenings.

This one sounds particularly interesting. Based on a short story called "Choli Ke Peeche" (Behind the Blouse), the film deals with a photographer who becomes obsessed with the breasts of a migrant laborer named Gangor. When he snaps some photos of her nursing that appear in a newspaper article, the story takes on a life of its own.

3Aadukalam & 3
This year NYIFF features a pair of films starring one of Tamil mainstream cinema's most respected performers, Dhanush. Aadukalam is another story of crime and corruption, which performed extremely well at the box office and swept the Indian National Film Awards. 3 is the most recent Dhanush film, directed by his wife, Aishwariya Rajnikanth Dhanush (daughter of Superstar Rajnikanth) and co-starring Shruti Hassan (7aam Arivu, Anaganaga O Dheerudu). 3 is best known in the west for spawning the most popular music video in Youtube history, Why This Kolaveri Di? (Why This Murderous Rage?)

Hum Dono Rangeen (Hum Dono in Color)
NYIFF celebrates the life of the recently departed Dev Anand, one of the finest performers in Bollywood history, with a special presentation of his classic Hum Dono, colorized. The film was processed using Legend Films proprietary colorization process, which is surprisingly good! I wish I were in New York to see it!

NYIFF Documentaries

This year's NYIFF features several great looking documentaries, including 2012 Academy Award winning short doc, Saving Face. Also gracing the documentary line-up is Transgenders: Pakistan's Open Secret, and Big In Bollywood. The latter is a feature on the meteoric rise of Omi Vaidya, an American born Indian (Desi) who became famous beyond his wildest dreams when he landed the villain role in Aamir Khan's 3 Idiots, the highest grossing Bollywood film in history.

There are many more films to check out, and I highly recommend that we show distributors and exhibitors that Indian films have an audience. It has been too long that Indian independent cinema has been ignored in the international film community!

New York Indian Film Festival
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