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B-Town and indie filmmakers gear up for international film festivals

With several international film festivals lined up in the coming weeks, Bollywood and indie filmmakers get red-carpet ready

Known for his casual demeanour, Ajay Devgn is currently deliberating on the designer threads to wear on the red carpet at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) 2015, which begins on September 10.

The actor knows that he will have to give his trademark half-unbuttoned-shirt look a skip. As producer of Parched, which premieres at the festival, he is now keen on making a
sartorial statement.

Ajay Devgn
Ajay Devgn 

Along with Devgn, there are several other Bollywood and indie filmmakers gearing up for international fests and not just at Toronto; the 20th Busan, Venice and the London film festivals are also lined up in the coming months.

Small fights, big victories
Though Devgn has been part of Bollywood for over two decades, this is the first time he'll be attending an international film festival. And he can thank his first international production, Parched, for prodding him to take this first step.

A still from Parched, produced by Ajay Devgn, which will be screened at the Toronto film festival
A still from Parched, produced by Ajay Devgn, which will be screened at the Toronto film festival 

"I steer clear from film events. I prefer to be away from their glitz and madness, but I'm excited to attend TIFF because it celebrates world cinema. It's heartwarming for me to see my support finally getting the appreciation it deserves," says this actor-producer.

He adds, "Parched is about the small battles that women must fight to win the big war. It is the story of four women from a village who break the shackles of tradition. Then, maybe, along the way, we can correct some of the wrongs that women have suffered since eternity."

The film, directed by Leena Yadav and penned by Leena and Supratik Sen, has an ensemble cast of Bollywood names like Radhika Apte, Surveen Chawla, Adil Hussain and Tannishtha Chatterjee.

Rajkummar Rao and Manoj Bajpayee in Aligarh, the story of a gay prof-essor. It will be screened at the Busan Inter-national Film Festival in South Korea
Rajkummar Rao and Manoj Bajpayee in Aligarh, the story of a gay prof-essor. It will be screened at the Busan Inter-national Film Festival in South Korea 

The film is a co-production between India, UK and USA that has award-winning filmmaking talent like Academy Award winning cinematographer Russell Carpenter (Titanic, Antman), Academy Award nominated film editor Kevin Tent (Descendants, Sideways), Academy Award and BAFTA winning sound designer Paul NJ Ottosson (Zero Dark Thirty, Spider-Man, Hurt Locker).

Boys will be boys
Another Bollywood presence at TIFF will be Randeep Hooda with Deepa Mehta's Beeba Boys. The flick is a gangster drama about Vancouver's underground drug and arms scene, populated by third-generation Indian immigrants in Canada.

It has been selected for the Gala section of TIFF. It's also competing at the London Film Festival, which kicks-off from October 7.

Island City by Ruchika Oberoi is also Venice bound
Island City by Ruchika Oberoi is also Venice bound 

Randeep is excited about attending the festival and is keen that Deepa puts him up in a fancy apartment as was done during the shoot of the film in Vancouver. His Beeba Boys co-star, Gulshan Grover, no stranger to the American- Canadian festival circuit, will surely provide some tips. Grover's character is based on a real Indo-Canadian who was fascinated with crime and guns.

Keep it short
Also at the Toronto fest is Megha Ramaswamy's Bunny, a silent short film, that revolves around a girl who is mourning her dead pet. She wanders off into the woods to make some start-ling discoveries.

Last year at TIFF, Megha had showcased her short documentary, Newborns, about acid attack survivors. "It's encouraging and exciting to show at Toronto twice in a row in the competition section.

Dhanak, directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, will see its Asia premiere at the Busan Film Festival
Dhanak, directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, will see its Asia premiere at the Busan Film Festival 

Toronto audiences are film enthusiasts who pay attention to detail and it is the best platform a new film can ask for. Also, TIFF is such an unaffected festival. It's remarkable that all the project from India are authored by women," she says.

Busan calling
Hansal Mehta's Manoj Bajpayee-Rajkummar Rao starrer Aligarh will premiere at the Busan International Film Festival, starting on October 1 .

The film, written by Apurva Asrani, will be screened in the A Window on Asian Cinema section. Aligarh, based on a real-life incident in Uttar Pradesh, revolves around a professor who is suspended by his university for being gay and a journalist who investigates his story.

Megha Ramaswamy's Bunny, about a girl mourning the loss of her pet, will be screened at the Short Cuts section at the Toronto International Film Festiva
Megha Ramaswamy's Bunny, about a girl mourning the loss of her pet, will be screened at the Short Cuts section at the Toronto International Film Festiva 

Aligarh director Hansal Mehta feels, "It's a special reward to a fantastically dedicated team." Busan is Asia's biggest film festival and being selected as part of such an excellent line-up is an achievement enough for him.

Forbidden territory
Also at Busan will be producer Manish Mundra of Drishyam Films' Black Horse Memories, his first Turkish-Kurdish production, directed by Shahram Alidi. It will premiere in the competition section. The film chronicles the story of a group of youngsters trying to teach Kurdish in Turkish Kurdistan, a land where the teaching of the language is forbidden by Turkish authorities.

Drishyam's other films at Busan include Neeraj Ghaywan's Cannes-acclaimed film Masaan which will premiere in A Window on Asian Cinema section. Dhanak, directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, will have its Asia Premiere in the Wide Angle section.

Vicky Kaushal and Shweta Tripathi in Masaan which will be screened at the Busan Film Festival in the section 'A Window on Asian Cinema' sectionl
Vicky Kaushal and Shweta Tripathi in Masaan which will be screened at the Busan Film Festival in the section 'A Window on Asian Cinema' sectionl  

Musical journey
Another Busan-bound film is Mozez Singh's musical drama Zubaan, with honours of being the opening film of the festival.

The screening will also be the world premiere of the drama which features Masaan actor Vicky Kaushal and actress-singer Sarah Jane Dias.

Zubaan is a story of a young man who has a fear of music and is set in Punjab and Delhi. Vicky Kaushal says, "I will be going to Busan. It is a great honour for us. As my other film Masaan is also being screened, it is a double honour for me."

Venice rhapsody
Pyaasa, Guru Dutt's 1957 classic, is the only Indian restored film for world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 11 in the Competition Section. It will compete with 20 other prestigious restored films from the world for the coveted Venice Classics Award, conferred on the best restored film.

Pyaasa, Guru Dutt's 1957 classic, is the only Indian restored film to see a world premiere at the Venice Festival
Pyaasa, Guru Dutt's 1957 classic, is the only Indian restored film to see a world premiere at the Venice Festival 

After Venice, the film will do the rounds at other international film festivals. The film is being restored and will have a worldwide released in theatres by Ultra Media & Entertainment.

Sushil Kumar Agrawal, CEO, Ultra Media & Entertainment says, "There is a huge fan following of Guru Dutt all over the world, many of whom have not been able to see this ageless magic in its original form and glory. It took us nearly four months to restore this film frame by frame."

Also at Venice is Visaaranai (Interrogation), a Tamil film directed by Vetrimaaran. The film is based on Chandra Kumar's novel Lock Up, dealing with police brutality. The movie will be part of Orizzonti or Horizons — the section second in importance to Competition.

Island City by Ruchika Oberoi is also travelling to Venice. The film follows three stories set in Mumbai and stars Vinay Pathak, Amruta Subhash, Chandan Roy Sanyal and Tannishtha Chatterjee. Competing at Venice Days, it has also been invited to the 31st Warsaw Film Festival for a screening on October 9, in the non- competitive section.

Ruchika Oberoi says, "The journey of the film started in Venice in 2012 when I travelled there with the script of Island City as part of the NFDC Screenwriters' Lab. It feels great to be able to come full-circle and premiere the film in Venice Days, a section known for selecting original and innovative works."

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