India features big at TIFF 2022

The Indian inning at the Toronto International Film Festival 2022 kicks off with the press and industry screening of 'Zwigato', the third feature film by Nandita Das after 'Firaaq' and 'Manto'

A still from 'Zwigato' (Photo courtesy: TIFF)
A still from 'Zwigato' (Photo courtesy: TIFF)

Namrata Joshi

The Indian inning at the Toronto International Film Festival 2022 kicks off on Friday, September 9 with the press and industry screening of Zwigato, the third feature film of Nandita Das after Firaaq and Manto. Revolving about a food delivery app guy played by popular comic Kapil Sharma (his debut as an actor), the film premieres in the festival and is part of the 'Share Her Journey' initiative celebrating the female voice and sensibility in cinema from across the world.

Another Indian filmmaker, Rima Das, also presents her third film at TIFF. Tora’s Husband premieres at home ground TIFF (like Village Rockstars and Bulbul Can Sing) in the Platform section.

Both these Indian films aren’t just directed by women but happen to be socio-economic in their theme and intent. While Nandita examines the gig economy and workers’ rights, Rima looks at the financial implications of the pandemic and the lockdown on a small business in Assam.

Shot while being hunkered down in her village during the pandemic, Rima cast her own brother Abhijit Das as the lead.

After two years of the pandemic, TIFF, one of the most influential film festivals of the world, returns in its regular avatar as an in-person event. The festival showcased films digitally in 2020 and had a hybrid edition in 2021. This year, a much smaller selection will be offered on the Digital TIFF Bell Lightbox platform.

The festival’s networking and gala events, which were also suspended or held virtually in 2020 and 2021, will return as on ground events.

Happily, for the country, Indian films and films about India both make for a strong presence at TIFF this year. Delhi-born, raised in Toronto, Canadian filmmaker Nisha Pahuja’s new documentary To Kill A Tiger is featured in the festival’s strong TIFF Docs section. Set in Jharkhand, it’s about a poor family’s harrowing quest for justice for their 13-year-old daughter who was brutally assaulted by three men.

TIFF Docs section is the cynosure of eyes this year when it comes to India with Vinay Shukla’s While We Watched examining independent Indian media in the times of the spread of misinformation, bigotry, budgetary cuts and institutional controls. It is centred on the popular, Ramon Magsaysay award-winning NDTV journalist Ravish Kumar, one of the rare and now increasingly marginalised voices that continue to speak truth to power and personify freedom, professionalism and commitment to their calling.

A big India connect this year is the new Shekhar Kapur multistarrer What’s Love Got To Do With It in which Emma Thompson and Lily James rub shoulders with Shabana Azmi. A rom-com about arranged marriage, it features original music score by Nitin Sawhney and is part of the Gala Presentations segment.

A still from 'What’s Love Got To Do With It'
A still from 'Tora’s Husband'
A still from 'While We Watched'
A still from 'Kachhey Limbu'

And along with a veteran like Kapur, there’s space for a new talent as well. Shubham Yogi’s debut feature, Kachhey Limbu, is also part of the Gala Presentations this year and is centred on the passion for cricket of two siblings coming in the way of their familial loyalties.

Last but not the least, in the wake of the huge global success of RRR, a conversation with filmmaker SS Rajamouli is one of the highlights of the industry conference titled Visionaries.

Given the festival’s commitment to gender parity, it kicks off with Sally El Hosaini’s The Swimmers and closing film is Mary Harron’s Daliland. One of the most looked forward to titles is Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans. It’s the first time in history that a Spielberg film will premiere at TIFF.

Other big titles include Rian Johnson’s sequel to Knives Out called Glass Onions: A Knives Out Mystery, Sam Mendes’ Empire of Light, the imprisoned Iranian legend Jafar Panahi’s No Bears, Joanna Hogg’s The Eternal Daughter, Stephen Frears’ The Lost King, Florian Zeller’s The Son and Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale, among others.

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