Before Tumbbad, Soni, a look at other Indian films that premiered at Venice Film Festival — from Aparajito to Court
The Venice International Film Festival 2018 is scheduled to be held from 29 August to 8 September.
Sohum Shah's fantasy horror drama Tumbbad by Rahi Barve and Adesh Prasad is scheduled to open at Venice Film Festival's Critics Week. Another Hindi film, Soni has been officially selected at the festival in the Orizzonti Competition category.
However, Indian film industries have had a profound and long-standing association with the event that celebrates world cinema; and thus it becomes imperative to take a glance at the Indian films and personalities to have graced Venice International Film Festival through the years.
Satyajit Ray's Aparajito (1956), the second instalment to his The Apu Trilogy, based on Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay's 1929 novel, Pather Panchali, became the first ever film to win both the Golden Lion and Critics Award at the 1957 Venice Film Festival. Aparajito was competing against such films as Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood.
The film began from where the first part of the series, Pather Panchali, had left off. It chronicles Apu's journey from a child to an adolescent, then relocating from their rural Bengal courtyard house to a dingy and dark apartment at Varanasi, where he is confronted with the death of his mother. Aparajito went on to become the recipient of 11 international awards, with Venice Film Festival Jury member Penelope Hudson breaking protocol and personally telling Satyajit Ray that the film was 'magnificent'.
Mira Nair's poignant look at the fragility of relationships and the shame and silence associated with sexual assault was delicately wrapped in the glory of a four-day long big, fat Punjabi wedding in her 2001 film, Monsoon Wedding. The film, consisting of an ensemble cast of acclaimed actors, including Naseeruddin Shah, Lillete Dubey, Shefali Shah, Randeep Hooda and Vasundhara Das, went onto win the Golden Lion at the 2001 Venice Film Festival.
Nair's world of colourful palette and hand-held camera shots prevailed over the surreal Secret Ballot, Babak Payami's highly-esteemed film about the effects of democracy on a small island in Iran. Nair became the first Indian woman to win the award for best film at the 58th Venice Film Festival. Nanni Moretti, the head of the jury, hailed Nair as a visionary for her film.
Sant Tukaram was the first Indian film to have garnered international recognition, being adjudged at one of the three best films of the world at the Venice Film Festival. It was among the Special recommendation category in the year 1937, along with Batalión, Kōjō no Tsuki, Mária növér and The Flying Doctor.
The 1936 Marathi film charted the life of Tukaram, one of the most revered Varkari saints and poet, who was a prominent figure in the Bhakti movement in India. Directed by Vishnupant Govind Damle and Sheikh Fattelal, Sant Tukaram saw Vishnupant Pagnis in the lead role of the saint.
Inspired by a fact-based novella by Malayalam writer and revolutionary Vaikom Muhammad Basheer, Mathilukal (1990) is a meditation on the nature of freedom by director Adoor Gopalakrishnan, keenly focusing on Basheer's political imprisonment in the 1940's and his romance with another female prison inmate, Narayani, who remains unseen throughout the film. The role of the protagonist was essayed by Mammotty.
The film, upon its screening at the Venice Film Festival, was thoroughly appreciated. It went onto win OCIC Awards the same year at Amiens Film Festival and in 2002, it bagged the best film award at Aubervilliers International Children's Film Festival.
The 2014 multilingual legal drama, Court, was the directorial debut of Chaitanya Tamhane and shed light on the Indian judicial system and its drawbacks. The film was screened at several film festivals, including Hong Kong Asian Film Festival and BFI London Film Festival. It won the Orizzonti Award and the Lion of the Future award at its premiere at the 71st Venice International Film Festival.
The film centred on the courtroom trial of an ageing protest singer, Narayan Kamble (played by Vira Sathidhar), who is accused of encouraging a manhole worker to commit suicide through one of his folk songs.
One of the few films to have ever received a standing ovation at the Venice Film Fesival was Mukti Bhawan or Hotel Savation, as it is called outside India. The 2017 comedy-drama narrated the tragicomic tale of an irritable son who is forced to sacrifice his job to accompany his elderly father to the holy city of Varanasi. It was shortlisted in the top 10 from over 400 entries to the Venice Film Festival worldwide.
The film, directed by Shubhashish Bhutiani, featured Adil Hussain and Lalit Behl in the lead roles.
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