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Indian filmmakers have snared their fistful of global acclaim at the 65th Cannes Film Festival from May 16-27 capturing the sensitivities and complexities of the real India we see today. Given their high level of creativity and intellectual prowess and bolstered by technological knowledge and skill, these perceptive youngsters are setting stage for a new kind of cinema, which do not fall into the stereotypical trap of ‘lacklustre art films.’ Well made and cogently weaved into insightful stories, these films have their own niche audience who seek complete involvement with the films they view.  Global attention is the icing on the cake.

Broken Memory, Shining Dust by Nilosree Biswas screened at Cannes brings out the stark realities of ‘half-widows’ of Kashmir, women whose husbands or sons have gone missing during the Kashmir conflicts. The agonized women spend years searching for their loved ones who are alleged to have been rounded up by the army under the suspicion that they are militants. The story centres around one such woman, Parveen Ahanger and three other women who have lost their husbands.

Ashim Ahluwalia’s film Miss Lovely is a string of the director’s experiences during the course of his research for a film about the Indian C-grade film industry, which is replete with sex and violence. While it was impossible for him to make a film on this sensitive subject, his rich experiences with people associated with this category of films as well has his knowledge gained in the process provided him with the grist for Miss Lovely selected in the competitive category at Cannes. Ahluwalia has been pitted against world renowned directors like Catherine Corsini Joachim Lafosse and Pablo Trapero.

Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur selected in the Directors’ Fortnight section is a crime film based on the coal mafia in Dhanbad. The film has a cast of talented stars like Manoj Bajpai, Jaideep Ahlawat, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Syed Zeeshan and Richa Chadda.

For the first time a Hindi film has been nominated in the Critic’s Week section. Titled Peddlers, the film by Vasan Bala circles around two destitute 20-year-olds who fall into Mumbai’s drug trade and a young cop who stalks them. The three carry scars from their childhood that impact their adult behavior.

With a cross country theme which leads the protagonist, a young puppeteer to France, Spain and India in search of her roots, the Untold Tale by Shivajee Chandrabushan has been selected for Cannes L’Atelier.

Time was when movies with heart wrenching social and family drama bound film lovers to their seats. Evergreen films like Pasa Malar, Padikkada Medai, Nenjil Or Alayam, Pudiya Paravai, Kalyana Parisu, Ramu and innumerable other films continue to entice audience even today to the television. Somewhere along the line, the film industry moved away from natural themes closely reflecting social realities to melodrama, artificiality and fantasy.  Blockbuster became the buzzword. Mega stars were borne and oft-repeated and clichéd themes were written centring on the icons that cinema created. During this transition period, music too went downhill. Formula films churning out stale themes usually relating to  rural  sagas,  rags-to-riches storylines , lost and found ( especially of twins)or  revenge etc were doled out to  audiences assailed by ennui due to the benumbing  lack of creativity and contrived and hollow portrayal of artificiality.

The new trend that has arisen out of the enhanced opportunities for learning about film making and technological advancements has given rise to  the foray of enlightened young Indians with enormous creativity and an intrinsic yearning to offer meaningful cinema based on contemporary India and the countless issues that continue to impact us.

In this context I cannot but talk about the recently released movie, Vazhakku Enn 18/9. This is one movie that deals with the real issues youngsters are facing today made using advanced technology. In Kollywood there seems to be a horde of movies that have been released or will be released soon that claim to showcase the stark social realities. It remains to be seen if these films can compete with the highly advanced global cinema that not only have compelling themes but are well researched and bring the real world before the eyes of the audience. Until then we have to pride ourselves on the odd films that make their way to Cannes and other international film festivals.

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