Tag Archives: CSAFF

Opening September 29: Judwaa 2

One new Hindi film releases in the Chicago area on September 29, 2017. Judwaa 2 — starring Varun Dhawan, Taapsee Pannu, and Jacqueline Fernandez — is a reboot of director David Dhawan’s 1997 flick Judwaa.

Judwaa 2 opens Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Round Lake Beach Stadium 18 in Round Lake Beach, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC Dine-In Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, AMC South Barrington 24 in South Barrington, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Bhoomi gets a second weekend at MovieMax and South Barrington 24. Simran carries over at the South Barrington 24 and Cantera 17.

Bollywood fans may want to check out Ali Fazal opposite Judy Dench in the British historical drama Victoria & Abdul, opening Friday at the River East 21, Century Centre Cinema in Chicago, Century 12 Evanston in Evanston, and Regal Lincolnshire Stadium 15 in Lincolnshire. Victoria & Abdul expands into more local theaters next weekend.

The annual Chicago South Asian Film Festival gets started tonight and runs through the weekend. Actor Rajkummar Rao will be in attendance for showings of his films Trapped and Newton (India’s official submission to the 2018 Oscars). Check out the fest’s ticket page for info on passes and other celebrity Q&A’s.

Other Indian and Pakistani movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

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Chicago South Asian Film Festival 2017 Highlights

The 2017 Chicago South Asian Film Festival recently announced its lineup. This year’s event — which runs from September 28 through October 1 — includes a number of intriguing celebrity appearances. Here are some of the notable screenings and question and answer sessions:

  • September 28, 7 p.m.: Signature Move (Q & A with Shabana Azmi)
  • September 29, 8:30 p.m.: Newton (Q & A with Rajkummar Rao)
  • September 30, 2 p.m.: Sonata (Q & A with Shabana Azmi)
  • September 30, 7 p.m.: You Are My Sunday (Q & A with Shahana Goswami)
  • October 1, 5:30 p.m.: Trapped (Q & A with Rajkummar Rao)
  • October 1, 8:15 p.m: Gurgaon (Q & A with Akshay Oberoi)

Festival passes are already on sale. Tickets for individual screenings go on sale September 4.

Opening October 7: Mirzya

One Hindi movie opens in the Chicago area on October 7, 2016, and it’s likely to be the last new Hindi film we get until Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Shivaay release on the 28th. The epic fantasy romance Mirzya hits theaters weeks before its special showing at the Chicago International Film Festival.

Mirzya opens on Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 15 min.

M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story carries over for a second week at MovieMax, South Barrington 30, Cantera 17, AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Round Lake Beach Stadium 18 in Round Lake Beach, Muvico Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.

Pink gets a fourth week at MovieMax and the South Barrington 30.

The seventh annual Chicago South Asian Film Festival starts tonight and runs through Monday. This year’s lineup features terrific films like Aligarh, Waiting, Masaan, and Island City.

Other Indian movies playing in the Chicago area this weekend:

CSAFF 2016 Lineup Announced

The feature films competing in the seventh annual Chicago South Asian Film Festival have been announced. Competitors predominantly hail from India, but the festival includes films from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and the United States as well.

Hindi films account for half of the competition lineup. I’ve previously reviewed four of them:  Aligarh, Waiting, Masaan, and Island City. Two of the other three Hindi features — Nil Battey Sannata and Budhia Singh: Born to Run — released theatrically in India earlier this year, but not in the United States.

Aligarh, Waiting, and Masaan are all terrific, and Island City has its moments as well. This is a compelling lineup, and that’s just in regard to the Hindi films. The festival runs from October 5-10, 2016. The full schedule of screenings will be posted soon at the CSAFF website.

New York Indian Film Festival 2016

The 2016 New York Indian Film Festival is underway. This year’s NYIFF slate has some crossover with the slates of the 2015 Chicago South Asian Film Festival and 2016 Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, so I’ve previously reviewed several of the movies showing in New York. Click on the title below to read my review, and click the showtime for NYIFF ticket info:

Opening October 2: Singh Is Bliing and Talvar

Two new Bollywood movies hit Chicago area theaters on October 2, 2015. Singh Is Bliing — the sequel to 2008’s Singh Is Kinng — gets the wider release of the two.

Singh Is Bliing opens Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 20 min.

The weekend’s other new release is the crime thriller Talvar, starring Irrfan Khan and Konkona Sen Sharma.

Talvar opens on Friday at the South Barrington 30 and Cantera 17.

Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon gets a second weekend at the Cantera 17 and South Barrington 30, which also holds over Katti Batti.

Meet the Patels carries over at the South Barrington 30 and expands to the Wilmette Theatre in Wilmette and Regal Lincolnshire Stadium 21 in Lincolnshire.

The Pakistani film Jawani Phir Nahi Ani gets a second week at the South Barrington 30 and Cantera 17.

If that’s not enough to keep you busy, the Chicago South Asian Film Festival is taking place this weekend, and includes a screening of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge on Saturday night.

Movie Review: G – A Wanton Heart (2015)

2 Stars (out of 4)

G – A Wanton Heart makes its world premiere at the Chicago South Asian Film Festival on October 4, 2015, at 2 p.m.

Without a strong narrative as a base, rookie filmmaker Rahul Dahiya’s G – A Wanton Heart can’t be the meaningful examination of cultural ills it aspires to be. Instead, it’s mostly social justice torture porn.

G has no true protagonists, only a handful of characters from the same village whose importance to the story varies over time. We are first introduced to a thief named Keku as he tries to molest his cousin’s wife while she sleeps. He then tries to rape Preeti, the kidnapped owner of a van he’s stolen.

The rape attempt is interrupted by Virender, the leader of Keku’s bandit trio, though he’s not in a hurry to intervene. Virender switches seats with Keku, and himself leans on the woman’s shoulder before laying his head in her lap.

The car theft sequence highlights a recurring theme in the film: women have zero autonomy over their own bodies. Men grab and grope, leer and proposition, with no negative consequences for their lascivious behavior.

Every man in G is a horny pervert. Every one. The men who aren’t actively trying to have sex with women are watching some other man try to do so. Boys watch as a teenager photographs a naive adolescent girl under her clothes, and toothless old men gawk at those same photos on their mobile phones.

Whenever a woman tries to act on her own sexual desires, she is punished for it. Heck, even if she’s violated against her will, she’s still punished. Women and girls are held entirely responsible for their own sexual purity, and it’s seemingly the mission of the whole village to police the conduct of its female residents.

Though Dahiya tries to make a point about repressive sexual mores in rural India — going so far as to end the film with statistics about honor killings — the message fails to connect without a narrative to anchor it. The absence of a clear protagonist (or protagonists) keeps the audience from connecting with the characters.

The vision of Indian village life that Dahiya paints is a portrait of hell on earth, particularly for women. One wonders how any village females survive long enough to bear their own children when every infraction is punishable by death.

Issues such as honor killings, gender bias, and women’s safety remain a huge problem in India, and yet, clearly villages survive. Though mainstream Bollywood movies often paint an overly rosy picture of village life, there is certainly some basis in reality for the wholesome simplicity Bollywood admires. Dahiya’s depiction lacks context.

In G – A Wanton Heart, there is no hope for any of the female characters, nowhere to turn. The men who claim to love them — boyfriends, brothers, fathers — won’t protect them, and are often among those calling for their deaths. With no chance for a better life, why live? And yet real Indian women persevere, village girls dreaming of school and futures they define for themselves.

It’s not that the movie needs to be hopeful, just that there must be room for hope. Without that, G – A Wanton Heart becomes an inadvertent glorification of the very patriarchal violence its creator abhors.

Link

  • G – A Wanton Heart at IMDb

CSAFF 2015 Preview

The Chicago South Asian Film Festival kicks off its sixth annual festival on Wednesday, September 30, 2015. This year includes new competitive categories for features and short films, in addition to a slate of other features and shorts with a connection to South Asian culture.

I’ve reviewed several of the movies showcased at this year’s festival, including:

Patang — The festival begins with a special showing of Patang in memory of its director, Chicagoan Prashant Bhargava.

Dhanak — This adorable picture starts the day on Saturday, October 3, with a showing at 9 a.m.

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge — In honor of its twentieth anniversary, the Bollywood classic gets a special showing on Saturday, October 3, at 5:45 p.m.

Hunterrr — One of the festival’s competitive features, this romantic-comedy-drama runs Saturday, October 3, at 9 p.m., followed by a Q&A session with director Harshavardan Kulkarni.

Dum Laga Ke Haisha — This delightful romantic-comedy didn’t release in the US theaters earlier this year when it released in India, so this is a great chance for Chicagoans to finally see it on the big screen. It runs in the non-competitive category on Saturday, October 3, at 9:30 p.m.

G – A Wanton Heart — Director Rahul Dahiya’s social drama makes its world premiere at the festival on Sunday, October 4, at 2 p.m.

If you can’t attend the festival in person, you can still catch several of these great films at home on the following platforms:

Here’s to another great Chicago South Asian Film Festival!

Movie Review: Ankhon Dekhi (2014)

AnkhonDekhi4 Stars (out of 4)

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“I don’t think we should look for messages in films,” said filmmaker Rajat Kapoor at the Chicago South Asian Film Festival press conference this past weekend. “It’s reductionist.” Such a sentiment suits Kapoor’s movie Ankhon Dekhi (“Through My Own Eyes“), which closed the 2014 festival. It’s a film that is at its most moving when it is simply experienced.

Veteran character actor Sanjay Mishra plays Raje, a middle-aged man with a comfortable life and a family he loves. He lives in a small flat in Delhi with his own wife and kids, plus his younger brother, Rishi (Kapoor), Rishi’s wife, and their son.

When the gossipy priest’s son exposes Raje’s daughter Rita’s (Maya Sarao) romantic relationship with Ajju (Namit Das), Raje meets the boyfriend to see if he’s as much of a lout as everyone says he is. Raje discovers that Ajju is a harmless puppy dog of a man. This causes Raje to commit himself to only trusting that which he sees for himself.

This new governing principle makes it hard for Raje to continue working as a travel agent. How can he tell a customer how long a flight to a foreign country will take when he’s never made the trip himself? Worse, Raje’s new way of operating creates a rift between him and Rishi.

Ankhon Dekhi doesn’t attempt to make sweeping philosophical statements through Raje’s choices. The characters discuss broad issues, such as the aspects of language that are more convenient than they are accurate, but Kapoor avoids tying up the narrative with a tidy moral lesson.

Instead, the movie feels like a window into Raje’s life for a short period of time. We see how his values affect his family and how they influence his neighbors. He gains a loyal following at the barbershop, and his acolytes sometimes take his ideas to ridiculous extremes.

There are breathtaking moments in Ankhon Dekhi, when the cast and crew function in complete harmony. Look around in busy scenes such as when Raje holds court in his living room and notice how perfectly every supporting actor is executing his or her role. The acolytes listen to Raje attentively; Rita listens disinterestedly; Raje’s wife (Seema Pahwa) frustratedly tries to do her chores with a house full of people.

Such scenes highlight just how hard it is to make a really good movie. The right actors need to be cast. They need to have clear motivation in every scene, no matter how small their roles are. The director has to get the technical aspects of the shot just right.

There are many such perfect scenes in Ankhon Dekhi. It’s a remarkable achievement for Kapoor, who wrote the film, in addition to directing and acting in it. It’s impossible to imagine anyone executing the role of Raje better than Mishra. Ankhon Dekhi is a delight to watch.

Links

CSAFF 2014 Starts Tonight

The 2014 Chicago South Asian Film Festival opens with a bang tonight. Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui will be on hand for a local premier of his film Liar’s Dice.

The festival continues Friday through Sunday, September 19-21, with lots of other great films and artists in attendance. Saturday features a screening of Siddiqui’s film Monsoon Shootout, as well as showing of Brahmin Bulls that includes a Q&A with actor Sendhil Ramamurthy moderated by Prashant Bhargava, director of the excellent movie Patang.

CSAFF 2014 closes on Sunday night with a screening of Ankhon Dekhi, attended by writer-director-actor Rajat Kapoor.

Click here for ticket information.