First India International Film Festival of Boston 2018 (#IIFFB2018)

By Mahesh PalriwalaWatching Indian cinema is usually very enjoyable, whether we watch them in the theatre, television or laptop. Most often they are high budget Bollywood productions with glamorous sets and superstars performing. Last weekend, a film festival of Indian cinema of different sorts was held in Boston from October 5th to 7th. It comprised low budget films, far removed from the glamour of Bollywood; films produced, directed and acted by independent filmmakers and artistes, commonly known as indie films. While the films did not have the Bollywood glamour, they did get your adrenalin flowing, they were all amazing and fell into one or more of the categories of thought-provoking, educational, inspirational, comedic or ironic. They offered us a slice of life, making us reflect on ourselves.This was the debut of the India International Film Festival of Boston (IIFFB), a film festival spearheaded by Razia Mashkoor, ably supported by Anuradha Upneja, Poonam Ahluwalia and a host of other very talented people taking care of planning, logistics, interviews, videography & photography, decorations, stage management, ticketing & registrations, overall management.The films screened inter alia were:Day1: “Half Widow” and “Azadi”Day 2: Session 1: Nominated movies: “Bageera” (Best Actor-Male, Rajesh Balwani) , “Dum Dum Damroo” and “White” (Critics Choice award)Day 2: Session 2: “Divorce’ish”, “5’O’ Clock”, “500 rupees”(Best Film Award in Short film), “Palayan” (nominated for Critics’ Choice award and won Best Young filmmaker award – Manvi Duggal) and “It’s a Girl” (Best Debut Producer-Awarded Mehnaaz Nadiadwala)Day 3: “The Golden Mountain” (won Best Feature Film, Best Actor-Female, Best Director, Best Child Artist)The two films nominated for best feature films were “Half Widow” and “The Golden Mountain”.“Half Widow” was a 90-minute film based in Kashmir, directed by Danish Renzu and dialogues were written by Sunayana Kachroo. It depicts the struggles of a recently married Muslim woman, Neelofar, whose husband is forcibly picked up by armed forces from his home one night, probably on mistaken suspicions of being a terrorist. Neela spends years searching for her husband while going through emotional ups and downs and loses herself to agony. She finally emerges from her shell to find her soul and meaning for life.“The Golden Mountain” (or “Shonar Pahar” in Bengali), a film based in West Bengal, directed by Parambrata Chattopadhyay, casts Tanuja Mukherjee of Bollywood fame, now in her golden years, in the leading role of a mother who raised her only son by herself after her husband’s early demise. However, her relationship with her son has become somewhat embittered after he left her to marry a girl without her consent. The main theme of the movie explores the generation gap between a mother and son, the neglect of an elderly woman by her son and the unlikely friendship that cuts across ages between a preadolescent boy and an elderly woman. Ultimately it is the young boy who is instrumental in bringing together the mother and son in an emotional finale with the Shonar Pahar or Golden Mountain as the backdrop.All the other short films or movies had their own nuanced themes and carried a message.One surprise item was a cameo of A.G. Nadiadwala (winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award), who has produced close to 80 films, and his life’s works showing an ensemble of excerpts of his movies, movies such as Chitralekha, Inspector and Mehndi. It took us down memory lane into nostalgia.During the 3-day event other forms of entertainment included Bollywood dances and a homage to recently departed Sridevi by a collection of her dances performed live on stage.The attending artistes and stars were shown the red carpet for photo shoots. The audience participated in open ended discussions on the films, critically analyzing them. Delicious appetizers and dinners were provided on all days. All in all, it was a very enjoyable weekend. We look forward to seeing year 2 of the film festival next year and for years to come!A) Winners 20181) Best Feature Film – The Golden Mountain2) Best Short Film – 500 Rupees3) Best Documentary – Veil Done and Nach Bhikari Nach4) Best Director – Parambarta Chattopadhyay from The Golden Mountain5) Best Actor (Female) Tanuja Mukharji (The Golden Mountain)6) Best Actor (Male) Rajesh Balwani (Bagheera)7) Best Young Filmmaker Manvi Duggal (Palayan)8) Best Child Artist – Shriyato Banarji (The Golden Mountain)9) Best Debut Director – Mehnaaz Nadiadwala (It’s a girl)10) Best Cinematographer – Antonio Cisneros (Half Widow)11) Critics Choice – Aneek Chaudhry (White)B) Life Time Acheivement Award – A. G. Nadiadwala     
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