India is one of the world’s fastest growing nations, with a film industry to match. Over a thousand features are produced each year, from Bollywood blockbusters to intimate Malayalam, Bengali, and Tamil “art films.” India’s box-office receipts have become the envy of any Hollywood studio, for in a country now more than a billion strong—a spectacularly diverse population that speaks twenty-three official languages (including Hindi, Urdu, and English) as well as hundreds of regional dialects, casts votes for dozens of political parties, and practices myriad religions—the one thing that everyone shares is a passion for cinema. The Department of Film, in association with the Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC), presents nine new feature films and two short films from India, many of them New York theatrical premieres. The selection captures the astonishing range of fiction and documentary styles and genres evident in India today.
Several filmmakers will introduce their work, including Rahul Dholakia, the director of the opening night feature Parzania (2005), a heartrending account of the Gujarat riots of 2002; and Anjan Dutt, whose delightful Bengali social satire The Bong Connection (2006) closes the exhibition. Also presented are two Bollywood hits: Dibakar Banerjee’s Capra-esque comedy Khosla Ka Ghosla (2006) and Vishal Bhardwaj’s Omkara (2006), a richly operatic adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello. Arindam Mitra’s Shoonya (2002) follows a star cricket player into the corrupt and seedy world of professional sports gambling. Haobam Paban Kumar, in his documentary A Cry in the Dark (2006), bears witness to astonishing acts of defiance and brutality in the army-run state of Manipur following the rape and murder of a girl in police custody. Nagesh Kukunoor’s Dor (2006), filmed in the breathtaking mountains of Himachal Pradesh and deserts of Rajasthan, and Chitra Palekar’s A Grave-Keeper’s Tale (2006), set in the vast plateaus of Central India, are eloquently told stories of women who resist the constraints imposed on them by traditional caste societies. And master Bengali filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta, whose Chased by Dreams was a highlight of the Premieres series at MoMA in 2004, returns with Kaalpurush (2005), an intense chamber piece about a young man haunted by memories of his father.
Organized by Joshua Siegel, Assistant Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art, and Uma Da Cunha, guest curator.