38th Toronto International Film Festival: A passage to India

The Mumbai Film Festival is evoking high interest in the international film circuit, with a great many filmmakers and producers at Toronto looking to get their films to it.

Richie Mehta
Richie Mehta

This year Telefilm, the Federal cultural agency, which promotes the Canadian audiovisual industry, has added Mumbai to its list of approved festivals. Which means that Telefilm will offer financial help (airfare and more) to filmmakers from Canada whose work screens at Mumbai between October 17 to 24. One such is Canada-born Richie Mehta.

A still from 'Siddharth'
A still from 'Siddharth'

Acquired by leading distribution house, Fortissimo, Siddharth screened recently at Venice to high praise. After Toronto, the film will feature in the Mumbai Film Festival. This is Richie’s second feature following a promising debut with Amal.

Siddharth revolves around Mahendra, who earns next to nothing as a zipper-fixer. His family consists of his feisty wife, Suman, his 12-year-old son, Siddharth and younger daughter Pinky. To help with the family income, the boy is sent away from Delhi to Ludhiana, where a relative has a job and a place for him to sleep at. This seems like a lucky break for the father, until he realises that his son has vanished into thin air: kidnapped, perhaps, or dead. Mahendra learns how confusing the world beyond his front door really is, but that doesn’t stop him from stubbornly seeking Siddharth all over India, its cities and countryside. The film features Rajesh Tailang, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Anurag Arora, Shobha Sharma Jassi, Geeta Agarwal Sharma and Naseeruddin Shah.

Another harrowing film on ruthless kidnapping is one of the festival’s highlights. It is directed by British filmmaker Steve Mcqueen, famous for his earlier two films, Hunger (his extraordinary debut detailing the final days of incarcerated IRA activist Bobby Sands) and Shame (his hard-hitting study of a sex-addicted New Yorker).

His latest, a sure-fire bet for the Oscars, is based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man from Saratoga, NY, who was kidnapped and then sold to white farmers in Washington in the early 1840s . This deeply affecting film on man’s heroic deliverance spares no punches. Chiwetel Ejiofor is magnificent in the lead role. 

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