The ‘Bollywood and Beyond’ Film Festival held at the Hoyts Cinemas in Auckland’s Sylvia Park (August 2 to 8) showcased a variety of productions ranging from India and Pakistan to Bangladesh and Nepal.
The films included blockbusters such as ‘The Dirty Picture’, ‘Don 2,’ ‘Bodyguard’ (Hindi) and thought-provoking films such as ‘Kahaani’ (Hindi/Bengali), ‘Meherjaan’ (Bangladesh) and ‘Urumi’ (Tamil).
Vidya Balan has assumed a place of importance in the Indian film industry as a talented artiste with varying roles as in ‘The Dirty Picture’ and ‘Kahaani.’
The Western Union Short Film Competition, with ‘Connections’ as the theme this year, brought to the fore a wealth of talents.
One such was the winner from India, ‘The Last Marble,’ directed by Manjari Makijany, depicting the story of a child and the adventures he encounters while on a quest to find the perfect marble to complete his side-street creation.
Australian winner ‘Letters from Home,’ directed by Neilesh Verma depicted the two-sided personality of an Indian international student who goes through the trials and tribulations of the Australian society but portrays a rosy picture of his life to his mother back home.
Naseeruddin Shah, as Michael in the film of same name, was inspiring.
He demonstrated how one fatal decision can change a person’s outlook towards life, affecting him or her mentally and physically.
‘Beauty and Brains’ (Nepal) and ‘Saving Face’ (Pakistan) were documentaries that afforded an opportunity to witness how real people act in real life based on their choice or misfortune.
A different sect
‘Beauty and Brains’ showed transgender men aspiring to participate in a beauty pageant (designed for them), and the training and skills that they undergo to become role models for other transgender people in Nepal.
The film had an interesting twist. It picturised Shreya Tapas marrying a normal woman named Krishna, and having two children. It was confusing but fascinating to see how a transgender can have a normal family life, although the couple mention that they are more like siblings than spouses.
‘Saving Face,’ was a heart-warming documentary that followed the lives of Pakistani Muslim women who suffered acid attacks of their former husbands.
It also showed a Pakistani plastic surgeon based in the UK, trying to help them to reconstruct their faces and lives.
It was refreshing to see Pakistani and Nepali films, befitting the theme of the Festival. Organisers Mind Blowing Films went beyond Bollywood to bring thought provokers from the countries of the Subcontinent.
‘Bollywood and Beyond’ proved that there was hitherto unexplored talent among directors and artistes of the countries of the region, with the ability to encourage audiences to think about life in general and little things that are usually taken for granted.
As well as offering entertainment, the Festival brought to light the plight of many sections of societies in under-developed and developing countries and how they cope with the challenges, discrimination and injustice imposed on them by the prevalent customs and traditions and political manipulators.