Our Indian Cinema Expert @Daniel_Pillai Breaks Down The #TIFF12 City to City Spotlight on Mumbai – Part I

The Toronto International Film Festival is just around the corner, and what makes this years festival extra special is its City to City Spotlight on Mumbai. Yes, Bollywood fans will go crazy once they see the films that have been selected. Let’s not be confused, a “spotlight on Mumbai” does not mean a focus on Bollywood cinema. Bollywood cinema is mainstream Hindi Cinema which is a sector of the massive Indian Film Industry.

Currently in it’s 4th year, the City to City programme showcases new talent, new films and new voices from a particular cityscape. The programme is an effort to explore the urban experience, highlighting the best of the best from a new crop of talent specific to a city. Cameron Bailey, the festival’s Artistic Director confirmed earlier in the year that the 2012 spotlight would shine on filmmakers working and living in Mumbai while introducing audiences to local independent films that contrast with Bollywood’s dazzling commercial movies.

“Mumbai’s cinema today is entirely different from what it was even a few years ago. The rise of independent cinema has shifted the terrain, probing into previously taboo subjects and adopted styles that were earlier unpalatable to the Indian audience,” said Bailey. “Mumbai’s film industry is going through a significant change and a strong group of new filmmakers has emerged. They’re representing the evolution of their city in an interesting way. Toronto audiences are in for a treat this fall.”

dir – Habib Faisal
World Premiere 

Habib Faisal‘s Ishaqzaade will have its Canadian Premiere at TIFF this year. Having a selected release earlier in the year, Ishaqzaade opened up to much fan fair in the Bollywood circuit. The film brought to life a fresh onscreen pair with new actors Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra. The film tells the love story of a Parma, a Hindu and Zoya, a Muslim. It is set against a political backdrop – as the newly in love pair try to escape cultural and familial ideals and pressures from society and their families. Produced under the Yash Raj Films banner, the film is one of the first from the production house in recent times to look at the nitty gritty settings of India.

GANGS OF WASSEYPUR – Part One  & Part Two
dir – Anurag Kashyap
North American Premiere

Anurag Kashyap is known for creating cinema that is thought provoking and rustically realistic. Both Part One and Part Two focus on the power struggles, politics and vengeance between three crime families during Indian independence and industrialization. The film features an ensemble cast with Manoj BajpaiRicha ChaddaTigmanshu Dhulia. Anurag is a pioneer when it comes to creating cinema that runs against the grain – part of a new wave of films in the Indian Film Industry known as “independent films” or “art house cinema”. These two films will definitely be ones to watch out for.

Trailer for Part 1 (with subtitles)

Trailer for Part 2 (with subtitles)

dir – Dibakar Banerjee
North American Premiere 

Just as my predictions of Bollywood films coming to TIFF this year stated, Shanghai is indeed coming to Toronto. Having premiere at IIFA 2012 in Singapore in June and released a few weeks later. Directed by Dibarkar Banerjee, Shanghai is a political drama that looks at the murder of a political activist leading a campaign against a project led by the government. As the investigation of the murder begins, the falsity of evidence and various situations begin to unfold. Banerjee always blends Indian cinematic elements that compliment one another when telling a story, such as music, realism, rustic character portrayals and lots of action.


dir – Vasan Bala
North American Premiere 

Peddlers will make its North American premiere at TIFF this year, and it marks the first time Vasan Bala takes the lead in the director’s seat. Peddlers was earlier screened at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and received critical acclaim for Bala’s artistry and direction. Earlier Bala has acted as Associate Director in the Freida Pinto starrer Trishna and even worked with acclaimed director Anurag Kashyap in 2009’s Dev D, the indie take on the literary and cinematic Indian classic Devdas. Peddlers stars Gulshan Devaiah and Siddharth Mennon and tells the story of three lives, a rookie cop, a streetwise orphan and a beautiful young former teacher. All three lives coincide explosively with the backdrop of the underworld drug scene in the city of Mumbai. This powerful film is just one example of the thrilling, edge-of- your-seat films that are becoming popular in a new wave of independent cinema emerging in the Indian Film Industry.


dir –  Anand Gandhi
World Premiere 

Anand Gandhi is a renowned Indian playwright making his first directorial debut with a feature film with Ship of Theseus. The film takes place in the busy and bustling streets of Mumbai. The story centers around three people drastically different from one another, living their lives individually – a devout monk hit by an illness, a woman who was once blind only to have her vision suddenly restored and a stockbroker who makes it his goal to fight the illegal trade of human organs across the world. All three lives are related to one another by an unknown connection.



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