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|September 19, 2001||
It's raining hopes for Mira
Arthur J Pais in Toronto
Two Indian films, Digvijay Singh's Maya and Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding, vied for the People's Choice Awards at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
But the crown went to French film Amelie, which is shaping into a huge hit in Europe. The film was shunned at the recent Cannes Film Festival. But the attention it received at the 26th edition of TIFF indicates it could be a major Oscar contender.
(Often, Toronto's People's Choice winners have been lucky at the Oscars. Among them are American Beauty and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.)
Maya and Monsoon Wedding were among five Indian films shown at TIFF. They received the best (perhaps the only) attention for desi films from the media.
Though Aamir Khan's Lagaan was received well by audiences, it didn't get much mention in the mainstream press. Ditto for Murali Nair's lyrical political drama, Pattiyude Divasam (A Dog's Day), and Everyone Says I Am Fine, Rahul Bose's sharp look at a slice of contemporary urban India.
The festival screened about 325 films, most of them features.
Digvijay Singh's debut film Maya, is a hard look at a young girl forced into ritualistic sexual initiation from temple priests.
Nair's Monsoon Wedding, a bittersweet story of family secrets ripped open at a lavish arranged marriage, was also a big hit with the audiences. It won the Golden Lion for best film at the Venice Film Festival earlier this month and is being distributed in America by USA Films.
Last year, the distributor scored a big hit with Traffic, which won several key Oscars including Best Director for Steven Soderbergh. Nair, 44, hopes Monsoon Wedding, her fifth feature film, could be her biggest success yet.
USA Films is ready to spend millions to back up this film, she says. Her first feature, Salaam Bombay! was nominated in the best foreign film category for the Oscar in 1988. It is the only second film, apart from Mother India, Mehboob Khan's hit, to receive a foreign film Oscar nomination.
The Volkswagen Discovery Award for promising newcomer, voted by the accredited press at TIFF, went to The Chicken Rice War, inspired by Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet. It is about two families who operate rival foodcourts.
French entry Inch'Aallah Dimanche won the International Federation of Critics' Award, for its "sensitivity and fresh humour in dealing with the conditions of Third World Women, daily racism and clashes between cultures."
Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner), a Canadian entry, was another big success at TIFF. It won the Toronto-CITY Award for Best Canadian film and bagged Camera d'Or at Cannes for top first-time film.
Though set against the backdrop of crime, the film celebrates the culture and traditions of Artic Intuits. It also examines the impact of modern society on the Intuits.
'Mira's a visionary'
'Mira made us feel special'
Monsoon Wedding: Buzzword at Toronto film fest
A wedding to remember
The Mira Nair chat on Rediff
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