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Stars shine as New York Film Festival showcases Indian cinema

NYIFFBy Ajay Ghosh

New York: Capping off five days of Indian cinematic excellence, the 11th Annual New York Indian Film Festival came to a close in grand fashion on May 8  with  the   spectacular closing night   red carpet premiere of Rituparno Ghosh’s powerful film, Noukadubi, which was attended by Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Singh Kapoor, Salman Rushdie, Mira Nair, Aparna Sen, Madhur Jaffrey, Ambas-sador Prakash Shah, Consul General Prabhu Dayal, and many other notable celebrities. Following the premiere at Asia Society in Manhattan was the festival’s annual awards ceremony.

The film festival was inaugurated with a  spectacular  opening red carpet even on May 4, which featured the  US premiere of the Delhi-set comedy, Do Dooni Chaar, Disney’s first live-action Hindi film. The star-studded red carpet premiere, held at Manhattan’s prestigious Paris Theater, was attended by  special guests Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh Kapoor.

Among others, who made the evening colorful with their presence included, writer and director Habib Faisal, Aparna Sen, Madhur Jaffrey, Aditya Bhattacharya, Ajay Naidu, Samrat Chakrabarti, Meetu Chilana, Rehana Mirza, Pulit-zer Prize winner Siddhartha Mukherjee, Sarita Choudhury, Ami Sheth, Poorna Jagan-nathan, and many other actors and filmmakers whose films were shown all through the festival till closing Night on May 8.

Following the screening of  Do Dooni Chaar was a discussion with Faisal and the Kapoors moderated by festival director Aseem Chhabra, which had the audience laughing throughout. A gala benefit dinner followed at the opulent Jumeirah Essex House on Central Park South.

The 11th Annual New York Indian Film Festival was  North America’s oldest and most prestigious destination for feature films, documentaries, and shorts from and about the Indian subcontinent. It was a once-a-year opportunity to experience  the rich and diverse film cultures of the Indian subcontinent through a mix of  film screenings, discussions, industry panels, nightly parties, an awards ceremony, and gala red carpet events.

Aroon Shivdasani, artistic and executive director, told India Tribune, “The Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC) had a spectacular line-up of exciting and thought-provoking feature films for the  festival  from May 4 to May 8 in Manhattan. A total of  25 feature films were screened over the five-day period at  the oldest and most prestigious Indian film festival   in the country, including  15 world and US. premieres.”

Making its US premiere was Sudhir Mishra’s acclaimed romantic crime drama, Yeh Saali Zindagi, starring Irrfan Khan. Legendary actress Shabana Azmi starred in the cross-cultural love story, A Decent Arrangement, which made its world premiere. And movie fans were led to go  back in time with Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan with the New York premiere of Raakh Redux, the digitally remastered version of the actor’s early hit which won three national film awards.

The Best Feature Film Award was won by Sthaniya Sambaad (Spring in the Colony), directed by Arjun Gourisaria and Moinak Biswas. The Best Director’s Award went to Aparna Sen, for her film, Iti Mrinalini. Rishi Kapoor walked away with the Best Actor Award for his role in Do Dooni Chaar, while Konkona Sen Sharma was given the Best Actress Award for  her role in Iti Mrinalini.  Best Screenplay Award went   to Mohan Raghavan for T.D. Dasan Std. VI B. Bhopali (Max Carlson) won the  Best Documentary Award and Just That Sort Of A Day (Abhay Kumar) won the Best Short Film Award.

With its mission to help   foster a new generation of filmmakers, the 11th Annual New York Indian Film Festival an-nounced three partnerships with prestigious  film schools in New York and India that would allow directors to have their stories   reach a wider platform. The oldest festival for Indian    cinema in the United States would partner with award-  winning filmmaker Subhash Ghai’s Whistling Woods International, The Depart-ment of Cinema Studies at Tisch, NYU, and the New York Film Academy. The festival was organized by the Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC).

Whistling Woods Inter-national in Mumbai, an institute for film, television, animation, and media arts, awards the top short films from its film students each year.


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