Bornila Chatterjee’s The Hungry (2017)– IFFLA- U. S. Theatrical Premiere, April 13

Revenge was never so cruel Adapting Shakespeare from the setting of Roman power struggle to contemporary India is a good fit since corporate greed extracts just as much blood in full sunlight. Bornila Chatterjee reworks the bard with polish appropriate for corporate India. It is a film that would make any producer of commercials envious but scriptwriters less so. The Hungry (2017) boasts an impressive production design, luminous presence of major stars (Naseeruddin Shah, Tisca Chopra, and Neeraj Kabi) unleashed across glossy screen, luscious skin-tones, and pleasurable close-ups. The film depicts a bloody rivalry between two families vying for some abstract “contracts” that would add to what appear to be already overflowing fortunes. We hit a bargain here, relish the performances of Shah and Chopra in return for a narrative that is strewn with dead bodies, blood streams, daggers, guns, and gory close-ups. Little is revealed in terms of the mechanism that makes humans heat up in anger or give in to the bodily passions. A young man is found dead in a bathtub, deemed to be a suicide. His mother’s (Tulsi Joshi) instincts say otherwise. When the family’s business partner, Tathagat Ahuja (Naseeruddin Shah), returns from a minor, unrelated prison sentence, she plots revenge. The setting is a marriage between Tulsi and Tathagat’s bumbling son, Sonny. Tulsi’s other son comes in town and in a fit of anger and vengeance, brutally attacks Tathagat’s favorite child, his daughter, Loveleen. The spiral of violence intensifies, consuming nearly everyone. Tulsi holds her ground, raging with revenge but straining to compose herself in each encounter with rabidly off-track family. It is battle between a vengeful woman and a powerful man but in Chatterjee’s adaptation, Tulsi comes off as more sympathetic than Tathagat. Chatterjee leaves little doubt that the aristocratic families lust for more[…..]
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IFFLA 2018– Gali Guleiyan- In the Shadows (2017), Dipesh Jain

Dipesh Jain begins his film with a quote from William S. Borroughs, “There are no innocent bystanders….. what are they doing there in the first place?” His story is about a paranoid, who, as Bourroughs said in another place, “is someone who knows a little of what is going on.” He is Jefferies from Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954), except here, he has developed an intricate apparatus of his own cameras to snoop on the alleys and byways of an Old Delhi neighborhood. His own handicap, so to speak, is a weakened mind that shuns social interaction. He is trapped in his own prison, unable to look at himself from outside of himself. Khuddoos has a series of social interactions that suggest that he has lost track of time. His reclusiveness gets on the nerves of his brother who pays a couple of visits to rekindle family ties. His only friend, Ganeshi, seems to nice a gentleman to care for him, guarding him against the well-deserved wrath of neighbors. Ganeshi becomes aware that his odd-natured friend is worried about a young boy beaten behind the walls by his strict father. Despite his failure to keep Khuddoos on track of a normal life and away from the obsessive fear of the neighbor, Ganeshi remains the only source of human warmth for his friend. He brings food for Khuddoos and takes him to see a doctor. Idris, the young boy who lives in the same neighborhood, behind some of the walls, has a strict if drunken father, a loving mother and a younger brother. Like many around him, he wishes to run away from the walled city. He tells his friend Ginny once of a tale of another young boy who was killed by his mother before she killed herself. Appears that many[…..]
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