New York Indian Film Festival 2015

May 4 - 9, 2015

Nawazuddin Siddique, Kalki Koechlin Receive Best Actor Awards
Closing night of New York Indian Film Festival
Bollywood Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui has won the Best Actor award for “Haraamkhor,” while Kalki Koechlin won the Best Actress award for “Margarita, With A Straw,” at the recently concluded New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF). In “Haraamkhor,” directed by Shlok Sharma, Siddiqui plays a married teacher in love with his student, essayed by Shweta Tripathi. In “Margarita, With A Straw,” directed by Shonali Bose, Koechlin is seen as Laila, an outgoing wheelchair bound teenager with cerebral palsy who is absolutely determined to have a normal life despite her challenges.

The week-long festival ended May 9 with the New York premiere of “Dum Laga Ke Haisha,” a Yashraj production starring Ayushman Khurana and debutante Bhumi Pednekar, directed by Sharat Katariya. The romantic comedy, about a small town boy’s forced marriage to a bride because she’s “fat”, or he’s not “ready.” The film explores the conventional traditions around marriage and relationships, in India and also dwells in to people’s psyche around love and family.

“Labor of Love,” written and directed by Aditya Vikram Sengupta, was a big winner with awards for best film, best screenplay and best director. Set in the crumbling environs of Calcutta, NYIFF describes the film as a lyrical unfolding of two ordinary lives suspended in the duress of a spiraling recession. They are married to a cycle of work and domestic routine and long stretch of waiting in the silence of an empty house; they share each other’s solitude in pursuit of a distant dream that visits them briefly every morning.

Vignesh and Ramesh received the Best Child Actor award for the Tamil film “Kaakaa Muttai.” Directed by Manikandan M., the film tells the story about how two slum boys are consumed by the desire to taste a pizza after the opening of a pizza parlor on their old playground. Realizing that one pizza costs more than their family’s monthly income, they begin to plot ways to earn more money – inadvertently beginning an adventure that will involve the entire city.

“Seek and Hide,” a short film directed by Manoj K. Nitharwal, starring Mohan Agashe, Seema Biswas, Shalva Kinja Wadekar, Suleman, Khushboo Upadhyay, Shabnam Sukhdev, won the Best Short film award. The film explores the journey of a teenager who oscillates between his sanitized and largely impersonal middle class existence and the unfamiliar but far more exciting life in the neighborhood slum. His friendship with Chandan, a boy from the slums takes an interesting and treacherous turn when Sid becomes a keen witness to the events unfolding in the complicated lives of two women in the slum. But the thrill soon forces him to witness the darkness around and within himself, changing his life forever.

Documentary “Daughters of Mother India,” directed by Vibha Bakshi, won the Best Documentary award. The documentary is a filmmaker’s journey through the aftermath of the horrific rape and murder of a 23 year old medical intern in Delhi on 16th December 2012. For weeks mass protests filled the streets of India and he country witnessed ‘gender consciousness’ and extraordinary solidarity by the ordinary citizens – like never before.

Prior to the awards ceremony, audiences were treated to dance performances by Bollywood Touch and Anu Sahasrabudhe of Mudavis, a fashion show and a musical extravaganza by singer Falu.

The 15th edition of the annual l festival opened May 3 with “Margarita, With A Straw,” at the Paris Theater here. Celebrated filmmakers like Vishal Bharadwaj, Hansal Mehta, Shonali Bose, Dev Benegal and actors like Kalki Koechlin, Mohan Agashe, Samrat Chakraborty and others walked the red carpet. The screening was followed by Q&A with the director and the cast of the film. Bose shared her passion about the subject and her personal journey through the process of writing and directing the film; while Koechlin shared the process as an actor to prepare for such a role, where she not only did deep research on the subject but practiced being Laila for over six months, before she got in front of the camera.

Other highlights include Aparna Sen’s “Saari Raat,” the festival’s center piece film, a play in three acts by the legendary Bengali playwright and theatre personality Badal Sircar, starring Anjan Dutt, Rittwik Chakraborty and Konkona Sen Sharma; Vishal Bhardwaj’s Shakespeare trilogy of “Maqbool”, “Omkara” and “Haider,” followed by a post film discussions; “Daughters of Mother India,” a documentary film focused on the aftermath of the Delhi rape incident, given India’s ban on the broadcast of the rape documentary “India’s Daughter”; and the South Asian Film Lab (SAFL), a creative workshop and incubator for film development in New York City which included staged readings of excerpts of three feature scripts in development.

New York Indian Film Festival
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