Editor's note: Writer 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
My day started with waiting in queue for Deepa Mehta’s new film Anatomy of Violence that is a fictionalised reality on the Delhi rape case that shook the country in December 2012. The film started at Indian Standard Time; which is more than an hour late.
But I discovered some interesting facts about the film while waiting in queue with the HT journalist.
The girl who plays the rape victim, Janki Bisht, is Deepa Mehta’s parent’s cook’s daughter and has studied management. Deepa cast her in the film because she’s been very impressed by Janki’s hard work and commitment.
Finally, we took our seats and the film started. But my generally good mood was interrupted by the grim reality that Deepa Mehta sought to present in her film.
I was just not ready for it and walked out in 5 minutes. My husband, Sagar, sat through the whole thing, and described the film’s message to me in one sentence, that monsters are not born, but created by society.
As I walked to the next block for Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s film at Lightbox, I passed by what is known in TIFF as the “rush line”, which is a queue of people sitting on the pavement for hours and hours on end hoping to watch the premiere with the stars.
This was in front of the magnificent Princess of Wales Theatre. On further investigation, I discovered it was for La La Land. I spoke to the first guy in the queue, Alex, who had been waiting there from 8 am in the morning for a 6.15 pm show. Alex had a little fold-able chair and his lunch and snacks.
When I asked him why he was spending over 10 hours on the pavement, his answer was quite simple. “I want to watch the film with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. They are my favourite stars.”
As I continued to my destination, I noticed another gathering of people and stopped to see what was up. Jeremy Renner was signing autographs. He had just attended the premiere of his sci-fi drama Arrival by Quebec director Denis Villeneuve.
When Indians travel abroad, it’s usually not long before they’re bit by the ‘where’s my dal chawal’ bug and so I grabbed a quick Indian buffet lunch at a Dhaba opposite the theatre, where the director of my next film, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, was lunching as well. The food was not half bad. I have never found the same flavours in Indian food outside India.
My afternoon film was Adoor’s Gopalakrishnan’s Once Again (Pinneyum). The film is a comment on the growing greed in the middle class in India and was driven by a few beautifully etched out characters. It has mega stars Madhavan, who does romantic comedies, and Dileep. Adoorji said, “They really wanted to act in my film.”
In the QnA afterwards, he joked that the reason he called it Once Again was because people had written him off. He’d taken eight years to make this one. Mr Gopalakrishnan is a Toronto veteran and has been there several times with his films. For those back home who don’t know him because the South is an alien land, Adoor Gopalakrishnan is one of the finest filmmakers in India and has won the National Award 17 times. Adoor has received the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan.
I decided to go check out what was going on with the fans when the show for La La Land was breaking. Sagar bumped into Aseem Chabbra, the film reviewer and festival programmer, and brought him along. As we stood around and chatted and took pictures of the crowds, Emma Stone rolled by in her SUV and pulled her window down and waved.
La La Land is getting rave reviews from critics and the audiences and alike. Be sure it’s on for the Oscars, along with Dev Patel starrer-Lion, and some others. Emma Stone also won the Best Actress award a few days ago at the Venice Film Festival.
Next, Ryan Gosling stepped out of the back door and obliged the fans who had been waiting for who knows how long. He signed autographs on both sides of the street and took pictures with people.
My husband meanwhile had run into some random creative people on the street that joined us for drinks. In this case, a French German animator, Jean Baptiste, and his writer friend from Canada, who we met at a TIFF conference that evening. Our motley bunch headed to the TIFF Lightbox bar and drank some beers. I was so hungry that I ordered a Breakfast for dinner i,e poached eggs, bacon and sausages. Not a good food day.
For those who don’t know this, Toronto has very interestingly designed rickshaws. Also, felt a bit fluish and drained at the end of the day. Bought some Buckleys, the local cough syrup at a medical store.
But of course that didn’t stop us from going to another joint just down the road, Bar Hop, that had 50 different brews.