85 South Asian films screened at the 17th NYIFF

85 South Asian films screened at the 17th NYIFF

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NEW YORK (TIP): The 17th annual New York Indian Film Festival is a 
celebration of off-the-track movies produced in South Asia. Launched on 
April 30 with the screening of ‘Lipstick under my Burkha’,
 a story of struggle of women fighting for their freedom and 
aspirations, the festival was well appreciated by New Yorkers. 
Approximately 85 shorts, documentaries and feature films from South 
Asian countries (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka & Bangladesh),
 made in Hindi, English and seven regional languages (Tamil, Malayalam, 
Kannada, Punjabi, Marathi, Gujarati and Bengali) were entered in the 

 is based on Mulay’s autobiographical work ‘Maati, Pankh and Akash’, a 
celebrated Marathi literary work, depicting the struggle of a boy born 
in a remote village in Maharashtra. It is the story of a poet who rose 
to the post of the Consul General of India in New York with sheer hard 
work and perseverance.

Ambassador Dnyaneshwar Mulay is a true son of the soil. He calls his journey as that of a gypsy, who travelled to Tokyo, Syria
 and New York negotiating meanings out of political and diplomatic 
developments, engaging in as a competent diplomat with a poetic flavor, 
winning the hearts of Indian settlers as well as counterparts in the 
host countries. With his vision deeply rooted in the socio-cultural 
domain of India, Mulay, currently Secretary in-charge of Overseas Indian
 affairs in the Ministry of External Affairs, represents the aspirations
 of all Indians who belong to the impoverished strata of India, an India
 that lacks drinking water and nutritious food even after 75 years of 
India’s independence. Mulay’s success is an indicator that kids from the
 poorest economic levels can succeed and rise to the top.

But does the movie, ‘Gypsy’, succeed in presenting the true colors of
 Mulay’s personality? Dhananjay, the young filmmaker from Maharashtra, 
captures a few touching moments of Mulay’s childhood life in Laat 
village of Kolhapur district, where he inherited traditional poverty and
 cultural richness, that was passed on to him from his teachers. He 
continued studying major literatures of the world during his teenage. 
The black and white visuals in the movie recreate social poverty and 
cultural richness of the village. We see Mulay walking around the 
streets of his native village where his school remains deprived of 
repair and his people continued living with traditions. We see ribbon 
cutting Mulay, and a number of his child hood friends and admirers 
including his mother, speaking highly about him as a young boy. The 
movie further depicts Mulay as an adult officer who pursued his dreams 
of joining the ranks of the bureaucrats of Delhi. He does well in UPSC 
interviews demonstrating his deep knowledge and understanding of 
Maharashtra’s socio-cultural traditions and relevance of Indian 
democracy. Finally, he joins the ranks of IFS officers rising to the 
position of an Ambassador.

Other than breaking the traditions to joining the elite club of 
Indian bureaucracy, what are the major contributions of Mulay as a 
diplomat? What did he do to raise India’s prestige abroad? He handled 
difficult situations during the two-week-long refuge of President 
Mohamed Nasheed in the Indian High Commission in Male’. As Ravi Batra,
 a leading New York attorney, said after the screening of the movie, the
 high points in Mulay’s diplomatic career came in the second decade of 
21st century, first at Male, and then in New York during his tenure as 
the Consul General, when the then Deputy Consul General of India in New 
York was arrested and strip searched. Mulay is credited with handling 
both situations aptly that helped raise the prestige of India. Mulay is 
too modest to talk about these incidents in the movie or in public. 
However, it shouldn’t have prevented the filmmaker of ‘Gypsy’ from 
projecting it in the movie, through the professional voice-over that Tom
 Alter provided so well.

The movie also fails to underscore Mulay’s role in initiating the 
yearly organization of International Hindi Conferences in USA, now in 
its fifth year. It was an effort to reestablish the profile and 
importance of Hindi internationally that no other Consul General did in 
the past.

The filmmaker of ‘Gypsy’, who seemed very conscious about Mulay’s 
roots in Maharashtra, fails to depict him as a national symbol of 
India’s aspirations, an India that lives in the villages. We are left to
 watch Mulay’s friends talking and not what Mulay thinks today about his
 people’s ongoing struggle, especially in Maharashtra and India, where 
farmers and students are unable to face their failures, only resorting 
to actions like suicides.

NYIFF presented remarkable movies, such as, ‘A Death in the Gunj’, 
directed by Konkona Sen Sharma. The movie pays tribute to the late Om 
Puri, one of India’s most versatile character actors who starred in more
 than 147 films during his illustrious career and was awarded the Padma 
Shri in 1990.

The closing movie, ‘You are my Sunday’, is a story of five young men in Mumbai who share same goal to play football
 (soccer) at Juhu Beach every Sunday. While each one has his reason to 
look forward to the Sunday morning, there’s no doubt it’s a high point 
of their week. One Sunday, as a result of the actions of a senile old 
stranger who joins their game, a ban is issued on playing games at Juhu 
Beach. The group now has to look for a new place to play in the crowded 
city of Mumbai. More than just football, the film is about each of their
 lives and how each one deals with their own physical and emotional space.

NYIFF presented a rich fare for which Aroon Sivadasani and her 
colleagues on board of directors deserve all appreciation. Here is a 
list of NYIFF 2017 National Award Winners.

  • Best Films – “Kaasav (Turtle)” 

  • Best Director – Rajesh Mapuskar -“Ventilator” 

  • Best Editing – “Ventilator” 

  • Best Recordist For Final Mixed Track – “Ventilator”

  • Best Gujarati Film – “Wrong Side Raju” 

  • Best Short Film – “Aaba” 

  • Best Child Actors – “Colours of Innocence”

  • Special Mention – Adil Hussain – “Mukti Bhawan (Hotel Salvation)”

 New York Indian Film Festival (NYIFF) is the oldest, most prestigious 
film festival screening premieres of feature, documentary and short 
films made from, of, and about the Indian subcontinent in the 
Independent, arthouse, alternate and diaspora genres. Seven days of 
screenings, post-screening discussions, industry panels, award ceremony,
 special events, nightly networking parties, red carpet galas, media 
attention and packed audiences build an awareness of Indian cinema, 
entertain & educate North Americans about the real India, and add to
 the amazing cultural diversity of New York City.

The 17th IAFF was held from April 30 to May 7, 2017 in New York City. A total of 85 entries were received.

Aroon Sivadasani, President and Executive Director heads a team of 
people deeply committed to promotion of cinema. Eminent persons from the
 world of arts and cinema which include Salman Rushdie, Shashi Throop, 
Mira Nair, Shabana Azmi, Deepa Mehta, Shyam Benegal, Mani Ratnam, Madhur
 Jaffrey, Sabrina Dhawan and Sakina Jaffrey are on the advisory board of
 the film festival.

 Indo-American Arts Council, the organization which organizes the film 
festival says its missionis to promote and build the awareness, 
creation, production, exhibition, publication and performance of Indian 
and cross-cultural art forms in North America.

The Mission statement further says: “The IAAC supports all artistic 
disciplines in the classical, fusion, folk and innovative forms 
influenced by the arts of India. We work cooperatively with colleagues 
around the United States to broaden our collective audiences and to create a network for shared information, resources and funding.

“Our focus is to work with artists and arts organizations in North 
America as well as to facilitate artists and arts organizations from 
India to exhibit, perform and produce their works here”.

Well known photographer Jay Mandal who was on assignment with the 
IAFF 2017 has come up with some wonderful pictures of the event which we
 are happy to share with the readers of The Indian Panorama.


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