38th Toronto International Film Festival - Breaking barriers

Parineeti Chopra’s latest film, Shuddh Desi Romance had a gala screening at the sprawling Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto. The actress plays a liberated, ciggie-addicted young woman in the film. Shuddh Desi… strikes a wholly unconventional note (for India) despite the usual love triangle and snazzy dance numbers. As Gayatri, she takes on the role associated with the male predatory and bindas about it.

Parineeti Chopra

The film touches on how young people today deal with their love life. “The very urban issues of commitment and relationships are for the first time being dealt within a small town,” said director Maneesh Sharma at the film’s press conference.  Screenwriter Jaideep Sahni, also present, said that strong female roles are critical to confront the current conservatism which is causing the rising curve of sexual violence on young working women.

A still from Goopi Gaawaiya, Bhaga Bajaiiya
A still from Goopi Gaawaiya, Bhaga Bajaiiya

For Chopra, the character of Gayatri is far from what she is. Unlike Gayatri, she does not smoke nor is she wayward with a long list of boyfriends. She chose the part because the role was challenging, as was the script. Parineeti also breaks the conventional way in which a star is perceived, all glamour and glitz that comes early in life. Graduating with a degree in finance from Manchester University, she felt acting was not for her. But an internship in PR with Yash Raj Films changed her outlook. 

The director of the animated film, which was also screened in the second half of the festival, is another trendsetter in breaking set barriers. Shilpa Ranade’s vibrant animated Hindi film, Goopi Gaawaiya, Bhaga Bajaiiya, based on the classic Bengali tale, Goopiy Gyne, Bagha Byne made famous by Satyajit Ray, screened at TIFF’s children’s section.

Ranade studied animation at the Royal College of Art, London, and then directed short animation films for Channel 4, UK. She is a founding member of Damaru, a project involved in creating content for children. In recent years, Shilpa has illustrated numerous children’s books for various publishers.

She is currently teaching animation at the Industrial Design Centre, Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai. And breaking new ground yet again, this sophisticated, stylish animation work is produced by the Children’s Film Society. There is promise here of better film entertainment for the very young. 

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