Chennai, November 09, 2016: Three Indian movies are scheduled to be part of the Cairo International Film Festival that will run from 15th to 24th November. The most incredible news is that one of those three films, ‘The Narrow Path’ (“Ottayaal Paatha” in Malayalam) by brothers Santosh and Satish Babusenan, has gained its position in the main International Competition. The movie will compete for the famous festival’s top honors alongside 15 other titles from multiple countries like Poland, Egypt, Spain, France, and China.
It is shocking that, Babusenans’ project has not been chosen by the International Film Festival of India (IFFI, scheduled to be held in Panaji from 20th November) for its Indian Panorama. Praised as a segment which showcases the cream of the Indian cinema, the Panorama 2016 is conspicuous by two other huge misses. And mind you, these films have been led by the masters: Malayalam project by Adoor Gopalakrishnan, ‘Pinneyum’ (Once Again), and Bengali creation of Buddhadeb Dasgupta, ‘Tope’ (The Bait). While any of the major film festivals — like Cannes, Berlin or Venice — will always program the creation of a master after its submission (and leave it to the critics and audience to judge and decide how good or bad it is), IFFI seems to have neglected this pivotal rule.
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‘The Narrow Path’ is a wonderful and fascinating study of sacrifice and guilt, supreme sacrifice. Narrated through dispersed frames and economy of words, the film tells the audience the tragic story of how a son, Akhil (played by Sarath Sabha), is caught between his affection for his aged father, Vikraman (K Kaladharan), and his love for his girlfriend, Nina (Krishnapriya). The old man, who is completely bed-ridden with complications arising out of diabetes severely restricting his mobility; when out of bed, he has to hop on to a wheelchair for support, and needs constant care. When Nina, hailing from an upper class family, suggests to Akhil that the two run away to Bengaluru, the invitation becomes tantalizingly tempting. For him the new city will bring a fresh breath of much-needed oxygen, but being a son to his ailing father, he gets wracked by dilemma. Could he possibly leave his helpless father behind in the hands of paid employees?
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The second Indian film, named ‘Half Ticket’ (a work in Marathi by Samit Kakkad), is a remake of the excellent Tamil project, ‘Kaaka Muttai’. Kakkad, whose first feature was ‘Aayna Ka Bayna’, informed this writer some months ago that he does not intend to touch the soul of the original work, but would merely make some cosmetic changes and modifications to comprehend certain nuances of the Marathi language. The setting would change to Mumbai, not Chennai as it was in the original, ‘Kaaka Muttai’, whose music-director, GV Prakash Kumar, had been roped in to score the Marathi edition as well.
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‘Kaaka Muttai’ was a delightful watch- a story about two little boys, hailing from the slums, who go to the strangest and the quirkiest of extent, trying to gain the Rs 300 required purchasing themselves a pizza from an outlet that opens right next to their shanty. It is both hilarious and novel when the two kids get a makeshift pull cart for transporting the drunken men from the roadside bar to their own homes — to earn some cash. The kids also engage in picking coal dropping from the passing steam-engines to feed their little family of a mother (played by Iyshwarya Rajesh) and a grandmother. The father is behind the bars, and the wife struggles to get him out on bail.
The third entry of the Indian movies, ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ (‘Lipstick Waale Sapne’ in Hindi) by Alankrita Shrivastava, that won an award at the very recent Tokyo International Film Festival; depicts the tragic and painful lives of four women from Bhopal bearing the brunt of the societal prejudices. Inspite of being unhappy and unfulfilled, they are gutsy enough and they dare to dream. With an fantastic star-cast includeing Konkana Sen Sharma and Ratna Shah Pathak, Shrivastava’s creation was a blast in Tokyo — and may well be a huge success in the historic city by the Nile.
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