BY RENU MEHTA, TORONTO:
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) returns in September 2022 for its 47th edition — 11 days of international and Canadian cinema, special events featuring some of the biggest names in film, and TIFF’s Industry Conference, offering diverse and innovative perspectives on the art and business of film.
Listed below are FIVE Must See South Asian films at TIFF this year:
What’s Love Got To Do With It?
By Shekhar Kapur
Shekhar Kapur’s Whats Love Got to do With it will have its Gala Premier at Roy Thomson Hall on Sunday, September 10 at 6:30 pm
Buoyed by an ensemble including Lily James, Shazad Latif, Emma Thompson and Shabana Azmi, Kapur’s smart, effervescent romantic comedy follows a filmmaker who decides to document her best friend’s journey towards arranged marriage.
Sliding between London and Lahore, love and friendship, tradition and iconoclasm, What’s Love Got To Do With It? is an effervescent romantic comedy that refuses to adhere to easy binaries. Directed by Kapur (Elizabeth, Bandit Queen) from a smart, worldly screenplay by Jemima Khan, the film is buoyed by an adorable ensemble that includes Lily James, Shazad Latif, and Academy Award winner Emma Thompson.
Zoe (James) is a filmmaker and Kazim (Latif) a doctor. They grew up next door to each other, though their worlds couldn’t be farther apart. While Zoe was raised by her English divorcé mother, Cath (Thompson), to be independent and inquisitive, Kaz’s Pakistan-born parents were happy to participate in secular British society while ensuring their kids conduct themselves according to the family’s Muslim faith. Having already witnessed his parents’ anguish when his sister married a white Briton, Kaz has opted to follow his parents’ example and seek an arranged marriage.
Kaz’s decision perplexes Zoe — and provides her with a brilliant premise for her next documentary. She sets out, camera in hand, to follow her old friend on every step of his journey toward family-vetted coupledom, trying to comprehend the enduring allure of arranged marriage while re-examining her own pattern of disastrous liaisons.
Striking a rare balance between respect for custom and belief in the power of romance, What’s Love Got To Do With It? takes its title’s query to heart, posing tough questions to true believers in both camps while taking a zigzag voyage toward that magic moment where autonomy and matrimony intersect.
By Shubham Yogi
Kacchey Limbu will have its world premiere at TIFF. Set in Mumbai, director Shubham Yogi’s feature debut follows a pair of siblings who find themselves on competing cricket teams as they struggle to balance familial loyalty with the pursuit of their passions.
Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world, played or followed by 2.5 billion people. But it’s often a man’s game. As Bend It Like Beckham and Love & Basketball did before it, Kacchey Limbu puts a talented woman at the centre of play, sparking a contest with much more than the final score at stake. Showcasing the irresistible charm of Indian rising star Radhika Madan (Pataakha and the TV series Meri Aashiqui Tum Se Hi), Yogi’s feature bursts with colour, comedy, and camaraderie.
Set in the courtyards and improvised pitches of Mumbai, the story follows a pair of siblings who find themselves on competing cricket teams as they struggle to balance familial loyalty with the pursuit of their passions. Aditi (Madan) dreams about being a fashion designer, though her father insists she study medicine. Her big brother Akash drags himself to corporate job interviews though his first and only love is cricket. When he is accepted into a new league, Aditi decides to throw her hat in the ring and start her own team, assembling a motley crew of players who might not look like cricket stars but just may have what it takes.
Propelled by high-energy music and a bevy of loveable characters, the vibrant story of teamwork and self-discovery is all about playing an old sport in a new way, challenging sexist traditions, or changing your mind about what you want to be and playing not to win, but for the pure pleasure of the game.
By Satyajit Ray
Satyajit Ray’s remarkably personal final film, about a middle-class household that is descended upon by a potential imposter, was hailed by critics as a valedictory work of classic serenity, subtlety, and beauty.
The final film by Satyajit Ray has been cited as the auteur’s most philosophical, intellectual, and personal. Ray enthusiasts would probably infer that the views of the protagonist are in fact Ray speaking his mind. Ray’s deep study of human behaviour is reflected most prominently here.
Agantuk (The Stranger) begins with Anila (Mamata Shankar) receiving a letter from someone claiming to be her long-lost uncle. He claims to have been travelling around the world for 35 years and, since he is planning to be in Kolkata, he would like to visit and stay with Anila for a few days. While Anila’s young son is excited to meet his Dadu, her husband Sudhindra (Dipankar De) is skeptical about his intentions. The stranger, who introduces himself as Manomohan Mitra (Utpal Dutt), comes across as a man of simple tastes and good humour and regales them with tales of his adventures and travels. Although the couple seems impressed by the stranger as he shares both tales of his experiences and his profound views on life, the seeds of doubt about a potential ulterior motive remain in their minds. All of this leads to an unexpected discovery.
The film is enriched by a sublime, career-best performance by veteran actor Dutt (Bhuvan Shome, Gol Maal), supported by fantastic performances from De and Shankar. Overall, The Stranger is the perfect swan song for a filmmaker like Ray, faithful to the essence of his filmmaking vision but elevating its story to a larger conversation about what it is to be human. Simple notions of love, family, trust, and faith are questioned, leaving the audience with things to contemplate long after they leave the theatre.
The cast includes Utpal Dutt, Dipankar Dey, Mamata Shankar, Bikram Bhattacharya, Rabi Ghosh, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Subrata Chatterjee, Promode Ganguly, Ajit Banerjee, Sourav Banerjee
WHILE WE WATCHED
By Vinay Shukla
Vinay Shukla’s powerful new documentary While We Watched is considered a beacon of hope in a dark time for journalists.
The documentary isa turbulent newsroom drama intimately chronicling the working days of broadcast journalist Ravish Kumar as he navigates a spiraling world of truth and disinformation. Although the film is set in India, director Vinay Shukla underscores how the erosion of fact based journalism is a threat to all of us globally.
The film is set to World Premiere at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival starting on Sunday, September 11!
By Saim Sadiq
A Pakistani family confronts emotional intimacy and social expectations when their son begins performing with a trans dancer, in Saim Sadiq’s staggering debut feature — winner of the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize and the Queer Palm at the Cannes Film Festival.
Adapted from his award-winning short Darling (TIFF ’19), Sadiq’s staggering debut feature, Joyland, has catapulted Pakistan to the forefront of international cinema with a bittersweet tale of repressed desire and the quest for individual freedom.
Haider Rana (Ali Junejo), a quiet, unemployed husband to a vociferous, employed wife, Mumtaz (Rasti Farooq), has a seemingly happy arranged marriage and ordered family life, living under the same roof as the rest of the Rana clan. Amidst pressure and ridicule from his father, Haider finds work as a backup dancer for the trans performer Biba (Alina Khan), opening his eyes to another way to love and another way of life. Mumtaz, meanwhile, is frustrated with the expectations of patriarchal society. Soon their desires collide, forcing them and their family to reckon with what has been buried for so long.
Winner of the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize and Queer Palm at the Cannes Film Festival, Joyland willfully explores desire — and who has the right to it — in a society that is slowly turning the corner on gender and sexual identity. Without pretending to have all the answers, Sadiq raises important questions, while delivering nuanced characters who are all still searching for their own voice and for someone to listen.
The cast of the film includes Ali Junejo, Rasti Farooq, Alina Khan, Sarwat Gilani, Salmaan Peerzada, Sohail Sameer and Sania Saeed.