New York Indian Film Festival 2015

May 4 - 9, 2015

‘Margarita, With a Straw’ Opens 15th New York Indian Film Festival
Bhargavi Kulkarni



Besides being inspired from her cousin’s life, filmmaker Shonali Bose’s “Margarita, With A Straw,” has pieces of her own emotional journey. “It is very difficult to bring a personal story on screen; it is a tough emotional journey,” Bose told a houseful audience at the opening night of the 15th Annual New York Indian Film Festival here.

Filmmakers, actors, producers, prominent members of the Indian-American community and movie buffs gathered in midtown Manhattan May 4. The week-long festival will showcase 30 shorts, documentaries and feature films from some of the greatest talents working in the Indian subcontinent as well as the diaspora. The festival also includes special events, networking parties and Q&A sessions with directors, actors and producers.

“Margarita, With A Straw,” starts Kalki Koechlin – known for her edgy work in films – who plays Laila, a rebellious young woman with cerebral palsy. She leaves her home in India to study in New York, unexpectedly falls in love, and embarks on an exhilarating journey of self-discovery.

Bose said the story comes from her inner-most self and reflects the emotions that she felt after losing her son in 2010. The film is not just inspired by Malini’s life but also mine. Bose lost her son, Ishaan in 2010. “I started writing the story on January 20, 2011 which was supposed to be his 17th birthday, so, a lot of those emotions have been incorporated in the story,” she said. At the post-screening discussing Bose was joined by Koechlin, her co-actor Sayani Gupta and co-writer and casting director Nilesh Maniyar.

Bose is also the first Indian to receive the prestigious Sundance-Mahindra Global Filmmaker Award for the screenplay of the film. The award was presented at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival after which the film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival 2014 where it won the NETPAC award for the best Asian Film

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 will present staged readings of excerpts of three feature scripts in development.

The festival will close May 9 with Sharat Katariya’s offbeat film “Dum Laga Ke Haisha” at the Skirball Theatre for Performing Arts here. The screening will be rounded off with a discussion session with its director Katariya. Ayushmann Khurana and debutante Bhumi Pednekar appear in lead roles in this romantic-comedy. The film is set against the backdrop of digital revolution of the 90s and is about a school drop-out who is compelled to marry an educated woman who, he thinks, is a bit hefty for him.


New York Indian Film Festival
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