Editor's note: Arpita Chatterjee is in Canada with her husband Sagar Desai, who wrote the music score for A Death in the Gunj, Konkana Sen Sharma's entry to the Toronto International Film Festival.
If you think traffic in Bombay or New Delhi is bad, you need to visit Toronto on a day that TIFF and a Blue Jays and Red Sox game coincide. Basically in our context that is like an India Pakistan match. Blue Jays is a Canadian professional baseball team and the Red Sox, a US one.
Being stuck in the nine circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno might seem like a joy ride in comparison. To add to the torment it was an awful rainy day. I spent most of my second day here stuck in traffic.
But the film A Death in the Gunj had a bright start on the gloomy day as news trickled in that it had been selected as the opening film at MAMI. The queue outside the theatre for the first audience screening was serpentine and snaked in slowly in the afternoon drizzle. People waited for hours to catch Konkona Sen Sharma’s directorial debut.
The team for the film did a red carpet entry and Konkona looked really petite and pretty in a grey pant suit with a scarf around the collar.
Producer and director of Death in the Gunj, Abhishek Chaubey, told me later that he wore a suit after 20 years (filmmakers are given to hyperbole and it could be five years). He looked rather dapper. He should wear suits more often.
Honey Trehan and other two producers, Vijay Swami and Ashish Bhatnagar, looked nervous like expectant fathers waiting outside as their baby is being delivered. Music director Sagar Desai wore a white jacket over a blue t-shirt - a marked improvement from his usually scruffy look.
The screening was held at the majestic gold and red 100-year-old Elgin Theatre that has a seating capacity of 1000 and the man who is secretly called the boss of the festival, the gorgeous Cameron Bailey, presented Konkona Sen Sharma to the audience with a glowing recommendation about her acting career and her many diverse roles.
After that, the film began playing to its first international audience. As I observed the audience react to the film, I realized Konkona had crossed time and space and made something that touches people at a fundamental level. She made the audience laugh at her observations on human caprice and question the fragility of human bonds.
Her filmmaking is just like her, disarming in its honesty and restrained in its boldness.
There was a Question and Answer session after, that Konkona handled with utter ease and humour and even in Toronto the audience wanted to know about how it was working with Ranvir Shorey! Seriously. This happened at TIFF. She answered the question with grace and said he’s a wonderful actor and she was able to attend the festival because he was watching their kid.
And then it was back to the traffic as Sagar and me had to go find our car that we abandoned on the side of the road and jumped into another car as we tried to rush him to the red carpet. I have to say my plan of being the glamorous wife on composer’s arm has not been going well so far.
I forgot to mention a red carpet disaster as a beautiful lady in a red salwar tripped over and fell. She recovered quickly and was back on her feet in no time. I bet she’s still thinking about that embarrassing moment. I wish I could tell her that it happens to the best especially Jennifer Lawrence.
Here’s praying the sun is out tomorrow as dashing about King and Queens Avenue in rain is such a damp squib.