Wednesday March 21, 2018

Chicago South Asian Film Festival 2015, celebrating South Asian cinema

photo credit: archana jain

By Atul Mishra

photo credit:
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Legacies are not created if they are not carried forward. A film festival is perhaps the best artistic endeavor to carry on the legacy of silver celluloid. Decades after decades, bewildering, subtle and robust masterpieces are made by visionary film makers. Few come out of the shadows, while the rest remain in obscurity. But that would be relating them to the ‘out there’ world of box office, audience and critics.

However, a film festival is beyond all these. It’s an exclusive amalgamation of reels and reals to give good films their due, it’s appreciating and celebrating them with a vision not just to watch the films one after the other but more importantly to showcase it as a learning experience while carrying forward the cinematic legacy, so that more artistic films come out of the shadows. The Chicago South Asian Film Festival which is scheduled this year for September 30 to October 5, is one such brilliant endeavor among many others that celebrate the films from South Asia.

Chicago South Asian Film Festival: An overview

The CSAFF, held in late September in downtown Chicago, screens artistic films and harbors film appreciation through panel discussions in an interactive approach; not to mention the awards in various categories and other extravaganzas like musicals.

This festival invites films from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Tibet. Recently films from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam have also been invited and showcased at the CSAFF.

CSAFF was founded in 2010 by the Chicago South Asian Arts Council, Inc. It’s an exclusive annual event supported by the Mayor of Chicago, Chicago Film Office, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the Consulate General of India, the Consulate General of Pakistan, Chicago Sister Cities: Delhi Committee, Evanston Public Library, the City of Evanston, Tribeca Flashpoint Film School, DePaul University, educational institutions and industry ambassadors. (Source:

The Aim

“The Festival creates an innovative cultural and cinematic experience for Chicagoans and visitors alike. Through the gift of film, the Chicago South Asian Film Festival invites all to share and enjoy the magic of cinema and true cultural exchange. The City is proud to host this extraordinary partnership between the South Asian community and the arts and entertainment industry.” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

So the CSAFF is a unique and stark step to create a cultural niche and diversity in Chicago through tie-ups with the South Asian communities and inviting films of that diaspora. It’s a celebration for the greater cultural advancement in Chicago by making film makers, movie buffs and movie goers come together on the same board.

This year’s highlights and few films in nutshell

On the first day i.e. September 30, ‘Kite (Patang)’ directed by Prashant Bhargav will be screened at the Intuit Art Center. This film which is yet to release in India stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui whose performance was highly praised by none other than Roger Ebert, the late great film critic.


The festival catapults with excitement and aroma on October 1. This day is the official opening day of the festival, with the red carpet at Showplace ICON Theater. The Tribeca Flashpoint College on this day will host the screening of nine short films of diverse lingual background, from Malayalam to Punjabi. Winner of the Crystal Bear at 64th Berlin International Film Festival, highly praised ‘Killa’ shall be screened and then a Q/A session will follow with the director of the film Avinash Arun.

DDLJThe festival unfolds over four more days. The major highlights of these four days are- the screening of ‘Margarita With a Straw’ followed by a Q&A session on Skype with Kalki Koelchin on October 2, screening of ‘Haraamkhor (The Wretched)’ along with Q&A with Shweta Tripathi, celebration of the 20th anniversary of ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’ at Icon Theater, screening of the recently awarded at Melbourne Film Festival ‘Kaaka Muttai’ on October 4. The final day shall host the screening of Satyajit Ray’s ‘Devi’ — the closing film for the festival which would be later ornamented with a Q/A session with Sharmila Tagore.

(Credit: Archana Jain, Festival Director)

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India Stunned By The Death Of Veteran Actress Sridevi

The actress breathed her last on Saturday night at around 11 p.m

Sridevi is remembered for her performance is some of the iconic Bollywood films like "Mr. India", "Nagina", "Sadma", "ChalBaaz", "Chandni", "Khuda Gawah", among many others in different Indian languages. Wikimedia Commons

Veteran actress Sridevi, 54, passed away in Dubai, plunging the entire country into a pall of gloom as her fans and admirers expressed shock and disbelief.

The actress breathed her last on Saturday night at around 11 p.m. She was rushed to the nearby Rashid Hospital but pronounced dead on admission.

Her body is expected to be flown to Mumbai via a specially chartered flight on Sunday evening for the last rites but the timings were not confirmed yet, according to official sources.

Sridevi was in Dubai to attend the marriage function of actress Sonam Kapoor’s cousin Mohit Marwah, along with husband Boney Kapoor and younger daughter Khushi.

Sridevi exuded elegance in her appearances — photos and videos that were now being shared on social media as her “last”. Wikimedia Commons

ALSO READ: Walking the ramp is always special: Sridevi 

Confirming the news of her death, Sridevi’s brother-in-law and actor Sanjay Kapoor, told IANS: “Yes, it is true.”

The Indian Embassy in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Indian Consulate in Dubai were assisting the family to expedite the process to bring her body to India as soon as possible.

The Padma Shri recipient, who made a comeback to Bollywood in 2012 with “English Vinglish” after a long break of 15 years, was last seen in “Mom” in 2017. Wikimedia Commons

Apparently having a premonition, Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan and Sridevi’s co-star in half a dozen films, including “Khuda Gawah” had tweeted at 1.15 am on Sunday:

The untimely death of the veteran actress has left the country shocked. President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi mourned her demise.

Modi also took to Twitter, saying:

Southern movie stars and politicians Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan also expressed disbelief.

Sridevi first appeared on the silver screen as a child artist when she was only four years of age. M.A. Thirumugham’s Thunaivan (1969) was her debut film as a performer. Wikimedia Commons

Kamal Haasan, her co-star from “Sadma” — one of her most evocative performances — tweeted:

Legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar, who has sung for Sridevi in 20 films including “Chaand Kaa Tukdaa”, “Khuda Gawah”, “Lamhe”, “Chandni”, “Nazrana” and “Himmatwala”, had no words to express her shock.

ALSO READ: Sridevi and Jhanvi Kapoor may share Screen in Mr. India 2

Her “Mom” co-star Nawazuddin Siddiqui wrote: “It’s a heartbreaking news, can’t even imagine in the worst of my dreams – World losses the best performer.”

Superstar Aamir Khan was “saddened by the untimely and tragic passing away of Srideviji”. He said he has “always been an admirer of the grace and dignity with which she conducted herself”.

Sridevi’s real name was Shree Amma Yanger Ayyapan. For her screen life, she had adapted the name Sridevi. Wikimedia Commons

While veteran filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt was “jolted” by the news of her sudden death, Sunny Deol, who has worked with her in films like “Sultanat”, “ChaalBaaz” and “Ram-Avtar”, said he is “going to miss her”.

Showbiz queen Ekta Kapoor tweeted: “The strongest women have the weakest hearts sometimes.”

Filmmaker Shekhar Kapur said, “with Sridevi gone an era is over”.

“Like life turning a new chapter. A beautiful story just ended. An amazing spirit just vanished leaving us with amazing love, memories, and incredible grief,” he tweeted. (IANS)