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An exchange of Film News, from Thailand, India and other film-spaces across the world.



Centenary Indian Film Festival,in Bangkok


Bangkok’s  first-ever Indian Film festival  opened  yesterday, at the SF Cinema, Central  World,to celebrate the Centenary of Indian Cinema.

Similar Indian film festivals are going to held in other parts of the world,to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the world’s biggest movie  industry.

The Indian Centenary Film Festival in Bangkok,will all be 'free' screenings.

The   Opening  film yesterday ( 18 October)  was  MAQBOOL’  a brilliant psychological and action-packed thriller, which recreated Shakespeare’s  Macbeth in India,  through the  dons of  Mumbai’s notorious  underworld. It’s a familiar theme in Bollywood cinema, but was  presented with daring difference in director Vishal Bharadwaj’s film .  The music director-turned film director ‘s oeuvre of cinema  is small but startlingly strong , and  have  won both critical and  box-office success. This film has been to many festivals, including  Bangkok. The highlight of the film was  its superb cast, from Irfan Khan  in the title-role (Slumdog Millionaire)  to actress Tabu  playing  the female lead, and internationally known  Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri , as the crazy,corrupt cops.

 The other film that was screened yesterday,  was  RAJA HARISHCHANDRA, the first film made in India, a ‘silent’ ,black-and while movie, more important for its archival than cinematic value, but amusing and  enjoyable ,all the same

At this point, one wishes that  the   2009 Indian film Harischandra Factory ,which  delightfully captured the making of this ‘silent’ film,  had been included in this Centenary Package of Indian films!

Among   the golden oldie films,  at the  Centenary Indian Film Festival,  is  legendary  Indian director Satyajit  Ray’s ode to music ‘  JALSAGHAR’  (Screening date-FRI  19 OCT, 2 pm ) , which  created  huge waves in Europe, for   re-inventing the  use of classical Indian music and dance,  in Indian films.  Famous British critic Derek Malcolm called it  “ Ray’s most perfect film.”

Then,there’s the rarely seen 1946 movie Dr KOTNIS KI AMAR KAHANI  (Screening date- SUN 21 OCT-12 noon), directed by the  greairector  V. Shantaram, who also plays  the lead.

 The moving   film is based on the life of  Dwarkanath Kotnis, an Indian doctor who worked in China during the Japanese invasion in World War II, when he fell in love with a Chinese girl  ,and cured a terrible plague , but later ,fell  a victim to it himself.

There are also   films by two popular old-world  Bollywood actors, who died this year-   the ever-green Dev  Anand,  and  the ever-romantic Rajesh Khanna.

The latter had  a huge fan-following in Thailand,  and one wishes his   film  Haathi Mere Saaathi’ ,which was a huge ‘hit’ in Thailand, had been shown at this Festival,  as just about every  Thai seems to remember  that ‘elephant-movie’!

Anyway,  his super-hit  film ‘ANAND ’ ( Screening date- SAT 20 OCT, 5:05 pm)  which introduced   his arch-rival and  future super-star Amitabh Bacchan  to the screen, will be shown at  the festival,  which , with  its moving story and memorable songs,  will   wring many hearts. The   film was India’s Oscar-entry in 1971.

Dev Anand’s  super- hit film  ‘GUIDE’ (Screening date-SUN  21 OCT, 5-20 pm) ,with its outstanding songs , starring the gorgeous Waheeda Rehman, is  one of the great Indian movies  of all time,  and is a must-see movie , at this Festival.

While these are the well-known  old -world Bollywood movies ,  the Festival includes a super-hit contemporary Bollywood  blockbuster  HUM DIL SE CHUKE SANAM  (Screeningdate,- FRI  19 OCT,  2 PM), by  one of the mega  directors of  this era,  Sanjay Leela Bhansali.  It  has a  super-star cast of  Salman Khan,  Ajay Devgun, Aishwarya Rai.  It’s  the quintessential  Bollywood love-triangle, with lots of songs,  action, emotions , which would  excite all diehard lovers of Mumbai’s films. The movie  was a huge ‘hit’ both in India, and abroad ( infact, it was the third- largest money-grosser  of all time,in India!)

To quote  the famous film-publication  Variety   This three-hour spectacular is stuffed with songs, romance, comedy, devotional material , and color-soaked dance numbers that are huge even by Hindi standards! "

Then, there’s the new-age Bollywood film ‘CORPORATE’ ( Screening date- SUN 21 OCT, 2-30 pm)  by  iconic  director  Madhu Bhandarkar, whose reality-driven,urban stories  and character s  ( ‘Chandni Bar, Fashion, Page 3’ ) have set   unique new trends in   Bollywood  cinema , and have  been preserved by the Indian Film Archives.

‘ Corporate’  was based on  the  mega, real-life  Coke-Pepsi   war in India, which the Director confessed was  his most difficult film to make. The movie stars  many new-age Bollywood stars like Bipasha Basu (who won many awards for this film) , Rajat Kapoor,  and the superbly    talented Kay Kay Menon.

In this  new-age Bollywood  genre, one would  have also like to see the films of   dynamic director like Anurag Kashyap,whose movies l (‘Dev D,  The Girl in the Yellow Boots, Gangs of  Wasseypur)  have been screened at the  top festivals of the world, like Cannes  and Venice. He’s easily the cult-director of India,today.

Last but not the least,  are two   ‘regional ‘ films by  top directors of the regions, who are well-known on the international festival  circuit, but not in Thailand.

GULABI TALKIES ( Screening date- SAT 20 OCT, 2-40 pm)  is by the best-known director in the Kannada language of  Karnataka (Bangalore is its capital )  who was the progenitor of the parallel cinema in the region. He has  valiantly been making thought-provoking movies,  with limited funds,  for more than  three decades, which have been screened at festivals around the world, including Bangkok.

The film is a warm ,moving tale of a lonely   Muslim mid-wife ,  whose chief happiness lies in the  soap-dramas she sees on  her  television set , which she ‘s so proud off,  as she’s one of the few  who  owns  one  in her small  town,. It attracts all her neighbours  to her home,  but they slowly stop coming, when  communal problems  occur in  the town,.

The last film in the Festival, is  KANNATHIL MUTHAMITTAL  (Screening date- SAT 21 OCT,  12 noon),in the  Tamil language of  Chennai. It’s directed by their best-known director Mani Ratnam, one of the few regional directors  in the country who has both  a national and international following.

The film deals with a Tamil couple who adopt a child from neighbouring Srilanka. Things get complicated, when the child suddenly wants to meet her biological mother,  during the time of   the intense Srilankan civil war. The movie  is studded with the  high voltage drama, energy,  emotions that only this  vibrant director can  pull off.

The film stars two  top Tamil stars, Madhavan, and Simran , with internationally acclaimed  indie Mumbai  actress Nandita Das, playing the biological mother.   Ratnam’ s   films are noted for their   memorable music,  and its none other than Oscar-winning AR Rahman ( Slumdog Millionaire)   who scores the  songs in this s film, which went  to  numerous  festivals,  from Jerusalem to  Zimbabwe ,as also  top festivals like Cannes and  Toronto .

In a country that produces more than 1000 films a year, it’s   a near-impossible task to   line up  the Ten Best Films of the century.

At the Press Conference prior to the Festival, the Indian Embassy confessed what a tough job it was ,and how this Festival was an attempt  “ to  reflect the diversity of the country.”

 Indian Ambassador HE Anil Wadhwa said the same, at the Opening event yesterday,which was attended by a large bunch of Thai stars.

The Press Conference was attended by top Thai directors like Nonzee Nimibutr and  Prachya Pinkaew ,as well as young,indie  director Choyanop Boonprakob, and actress Ae Maneerat Khamoun,  all diehard lovers of Indian cinema. Infact, Pinkaew,the director of action-packed movies like Ong Bak, is serious about shooting an action-packed   Thai-Indian film,  and  was working at getting  top Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif to play the lead.

Suvanee Chinchiewchan,of the SF cinema group ,who have  organised film festivals from many countries this year, was excited about holding the first-even Indian film festival in the city,and hoped the trend would continue..

With the SF Cinema group holding this Festival , and with the Major Cinema group screening Indian movies on a regular basis, it looks like ‘Incredible India’  is making a come-back in Thailand, cinematically speaking.


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I'm an Indian film-writer, based in Bangkok, and write for publications in India & Thailand. I also coordinate and curate film programs in the two countries, at cultural centres/clubs, film festivals.



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