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October 9, 1999
Ray, Nair Films Featured in Film Festival
A P Kamath in Montreal
Some of India's most discussed films are being shown at a film festival being held here on all Wednesday evenings till November 10.
The fest, which began with Shekar Kapur's Bandit Queen, will offer Ketan Mehta's Spices (1986) on October 13.
Set in the 1940s, when India was still a colony, Spices (Mirch Masala in Hindi) explores a community's reaction to an oppressed woman's plight as a young woman spurns the advances of a powerful tax collector. Although sharing a sense of resistance, few villagers have the courage to defend her, least of all its men, who are blind to injustices against women. Starring Smita Patel, the film is subtitled in English.
Gurinder Chadda's bitter-sweet Bhaji on the Beach (1993) is being screened on October 20 in the original English version.
The movie revolves around a group of south Asian women living in England who are brought together by an eventful day on the beach. The movie explores the issues of racism, sexism, homophobia, and poverty facing women in the south Asian Diaspora.
The last commercially successful film by Satyajit Ray, Home and the World (Ghare Bhaire), which grossed over $ 3 million in North America in 1984, is based on a work by Rabindranath Tagore. It will be held on October 27.
Set in turn-of-the-century Bengal, with the British pursuing a ruthless and deliberate policy of divide-and-rule, causing rifts between Hindus and Muslims. The middle-class intelligentsia, led by the charismatic Sandip Mukherjee, is opposed to the policy.
Despite his political idealism, Sandip seduces his friend's wife, Bimala, while communal riots and mobs consume his homeland. The movie, subtitled in English, explores the issues of political and social commitments, and pits the radicals against the moderates.
Another Bengali film, Sati, directed by Aparna Sen in 1989, will be shown November 3. The version with English subtitles offers an indictment of the Hindu orthodoxy in the early 19th century when the practice of widows burning themselves at the funeral pyre of their husbands was not yet banned by law. The movie tells the story of an unusual relationship between a naive, innocent, childish, mute orphan Uma and a sprawling, benign tree.
Mira Nair's 1988 hit, Salaam Bombay, was the third Indian film to be nominated for an Oscar, after Mother India , made in the mid-1950s, and Gandhi, a co-production between Britain and India, produced in the early 1980s. The movie grossed a robust $ 3 million in North America and Britain.
Nair's first feature film is a hilarious and sad story of Bombay's urchins. It will be screened on November 10.
Screenings are at 7.30 pm at 2149 Mackay (between Sherbrooke and Maisonneuve), Metro Guy-Concordia.
Admission costs $ 5 or on a pay-what-you-can basis.
For more information, call (514) 526 8946.
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