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|July 16, 2001||
Uttara up for international award down under
Two Indian films have been short-listed for the 2001 Melbourne International Film Festival, which opens in the Victorian city on Wednesday.
Celebrated Bengali film director Buddhadeb Dasgupta's award winning Uttara (titled The Wrestlers at the festival) and Kavitha Lankesh's debut Kannada flick Deviri are the two Indian entries for Australia's premium film festival, which will go on untill August 5.
The festival will also showcase My Mother India, a film by young Indo-Australian film director Safina Uberoi.
The short film and documentary section of Melbourne International Film Festival will include a short film made on a Bombay Chor (Thief) Baazar operator, called King Of The Market, by director Mark Abicht.
The main Indian entry at the festival is Uttara, which is about two Bengali village wrestlers. The film has already been hailed as one of the best made by Dasgupta.
As if to grant this masterpiece a seal of international approval, the 2000 Venice International Film Festival awarded the Special Director's Award to it. Uttara was also nominated for the Golden Lion for Best Film at the same festival.
It is being considered appropriate that the film will be shown at an Australian festival since it indirectly deals with an incident, and various other surrounding issues, which had shocked the sensibilities of the entire nation with its brutality -- the killing of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons in Orissa in January 1999.
Dasgupta is being felicitated the world over for an unhinged assault through Uttara on the rising specter of religious fundamentalism in India and other parts of the developing world.
This Bengali film is also being lauded for not laying the entire blame for the grisly incidents like the Staines killings on rural folk, who are often dismissed as illiterate and naive.
The script of the film includes a character based on Australian missionary Graham Staines, who looks after the spiritual needs of his small band of convert tribespersons and also plays the healing medico for patient at a leprosy clinic.
The missionary is, like Graham Staines, killed in the end.
Like Uttara, Uberoi's short film My Mother India is also likely to attract the audience for its Australian connection. This autobiographical production is based on a script about a middle-class young Australian woman who falls in love with a young intellectual Indian while studying in a university.
My Mother India, which has been shot extensively in India, includes first person interviews and historical footage. The film is set in 1950s and is stated to be a personal quest for the director, who is a daughter of an Indian father and Australian mother.
Uberoi has also been praised for her apt treatment of a complex theme in a poetic manner. The Sydney-based film director has had a wide exposure to Indian culture as she went on a SPIC MACAY Gurukul Scholarship to live with Guru Ammannur Madhava Chakyar, in Irinjalakuda, a little town in south Indian state of Kerala.
The film and television producer is said to have gained loads of motivation through her experience in Kerala and intends to make a detailed documentary film on Kutiyattam.
The second Indian entry at the 2001 Melbourne International Film Festival, Deviri is the debut film of Kannada director Kavitha Lankesh. This feature narrates the story of a 12-year-old boy Kyatha (Manja) who lives with his sister Deveeri in a slum in an Indian metropolis. Well-known Indian actress Nandita Das plays the title role.
The film is about the death of the 12-year-old's innocence when he discovers that his sister is a prostitute. The film, which premiered in London last year, has been awarded Fipresci Prize at the Kerala Film Festival.
Indo-Asian News Service
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