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Friday, February 6, 2009

Videsi Direction on Desi theme

Slumdog Millionaire has made India a phenomenon. The cinema has come off age. From snake charmers and Maharaja’s, foreign filmmakers are now interested in the grittiest reality. Here is a list of foreign efforts that have really left a mark on my memory.

Gandhi (1982), Richard Attenborough’s portrayal of Mahatma Gandhi, traces the journey of his life during the India’s fight for independence from the British. The film was critically received and many still debates over the positive light that this film was shot in. This stirring piece of work transcended all boundaries and till date Gandhi is viewed with sacrosanct.

City Of Joy (1992) was story of a disillusioned wealthy doctor who finds solace in the slums of Calcutta, this film made its way through a lot of political pressure. India was not ready to showcase its squalor and that was the reason why Roland Joffe-directed film based upon the novel of the same name by French journalist/author and India lover Dominique Lapierre, was not well received.

A Passage to India (1984) dealt with the unexplored colonial India, the unfriendly relationship between the British and the Indians. Directed by Englishman David Lean based the film on the same name as EM Forster’s novel, the movie got a huge critical response.

Based on Khushwant Singh’s novel, A Train To Pakistan (1998), Pamela Rooks captured the whole tension, horror and violence that prevailed during the partition of India. The movie was well received for its stark direction.

Salaam Bombay/ Monsoon Wedding/ The Namesake

At a time when bollywood cinema was more escapist, came Indian born US filmmaker Mira Nair movies, which caught India’s reality and showed it to the world. Salaam Bombay (1988) got rave reviews but 2001’s Monsoon Wedding, that she really hit moolah. The Namesake (2006), based on Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel of the same name, is another critically acclaimed story of Indians.

The list is long, very long. The foreign audiences are charmed by India, its colorful culture, and the reality, which no longer consists only of Maharaja’s, jungles and elephants.

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