Actress Shriya Saran at Toronto Film Festival stills.
The posh Toronto International Film Festival which opens on September 10 has a unique lineup of Indian films this year.
The two Bollywood entries are Ashutosh Gowariker’s What’s Your Raashee and first time director Anurag Singh’s Dil Bole Hadippa. Both share a common trait. They’re both female-centric products from a film industry notorious for male domination.
And now Dilip Mehta’s (brother to Deepa Mehta) film Cooking With Stella has just been selected for the Toronto International Film Festival and that too in the prestigious Gala section that opens the festival where Jon Amiel’s Creation a bio-pic on Charles Darwin is being premiered.
Dilip who has earlier made a much-acclaimed documentary on Indian widows is singularly kicked by the honour. “The Toronto International Film Festival is, after Cannes, undoubtedly the most significant festival worldwide. To have one’s film participate in it is glory enough but to have a Gala screening and a world premiere is mind -blowing.”
This was the very section where Dilip’s sister Deepa’s elegiac Water had been premiered in Toronto two years ago.
Dilip’s film is in a different mood space. “For 34 years I have covered death, misfortune, war, plagues and other human tragedies for Time, Newsweek, National Geographic and other such major journals. I entered the world of cinema with The Forgotten Woman a hard documentary to portray the reality of the widows of India. Similarly Cooking With Stella also looks at a classic Indian tragedy, that of servants and employers but without wanting to give a lecture on morality.”
Cooking With Stella was short listed for the Opening Gala of the Toronto festival along with Creation. Says Dilip, “For me as first- time feature director this was such a tremendous high to have our film in the company of such an amazing film. Creation nipped us all in the post but we were right up there. TIFF selected Cooking With Stella for a Gala screening for our world premiere on September 16.”
Seema Biswas and Shriya Saran will be there gracing the red carpet. Enthuses Dilip, “The numbers are daunting. Approximately 3000 plus films are submitted for TIFF which along with Cannes is the most significant film festival in the world today. Of these 350- plus are selected for the Festival of which 15 or so have the distinction of a Gala screening at the amazing Roy Thomson Hall.”