India leads the world in terms of the number of films produced. Most of these films are made in the studios in and around the metropolis Mumbai, also known as Bollywood. Most of these are typical genre films, full of singing, dance, action and romance. And Bollywood is flourishing: in recent years, more and more of its films have also started to reach audiences in Europe and the United States.
There is however more to Indian cinema than Bollywood. The early years of the 21st century seem to have brought forth a first cautious flowering of a new, independent, artistic Indian cinema. Slowly but surely, a new generation of Indian filmmakers seem to be reflecting Western auteur cinema, through the prism of their own culture – as demonstrated by recent feature films such as Aamir Bashir’s Harud (Autumn); Onir’s I Am; Pairon Talle (Soul of Sand) by Sidharth Srinivasan and Umesh Kulkarni’s Vihir (The Well). But also award winning shorts Wagah by Supriyo Sen and Udedh Bun ((Un)ravel) by Siddharth Sinha; both have been awarded at the Berlin Filmfestival. These films tackle highly sensitive themes in India: corruption, (homo)sexuality, poverty, religious and ethnic tensions.Soul of India gives an impression of the quality and diversity of talent and artistic expression possessed by the recent generation of talented Indian filmmakers and their films. The programme demonstrates that films are being made in all of India’s states, and in all of her languages.
Opening Soul of India - 12 Augustus 8.30 PM
Soul of India opens Friday 12 August at 8.30 PM with the screening of Onir’s four-part narrative I Am – a remarkable film not only as regards form and content, but also because the filmmaker turned to crowd funding to finance it. Fittingly for a festive opening several special guests will be present this evening. Not only Meenakshi Shedde, but also Onir himself will attend the screening. Afterwards, he will answer questions from the audience. Of course there will also be snacks and drinks Indian style at the festival café.
Debate: Indiase onafhankelijke cinema - 13 augustus 16.00
On Saturday, starting at 16.00 there will be a debate about the state of Indian cinema. To what extent does this state reflect the realities of India? And what position do the filmmakers take in this? What are the themes these films offer, how do they differ from Bollywood and other commercial cinema in India and in what way is the filmmaking process different for the filmmakers present in Amsterdam? Are all questions that will be reviewed. Among others, directors Onir and Kaushik Mukherjee (Q) will take part in this debate, introduced and chaired by curator Meenakshi Shedde. Before the debate Onirs I Am will be screened.
In compiling Soul of India, World Cinema Amsterdam was supported by festival adviser, curator, publicist and director Meenakshi Shedde, who has previously carried out the same role for film festivals in Berlin, Venice, Toronto, Dubai and Pusan. Articles by her have also been published in, for example, Variety, Cahiers du Cinéma and Sight & Sound.