Four new Indian titles - three of them world premieres - will be showcased in the 44th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF '19), which gets underway on Thursday. At one end of the spectrum is Shonali Bose's Priyanka Chopra starrer "The Sky is Pink", based on a true story about a couple whose 25-year relationship is seen from the perspective of their recently-deceased teenage daughter.
At the other is Lijo Jose Pellissery's Malayalam drama "Jallikattu", a propulsive tale of a butcher's buffalo that escapes ahead of its scheduled slaughter and sparks a frenzy in a Kerala small town. "The Sky is Pink" is inspired by the story of Aisha Chaudhary, who was diagnosed with severe immune-deficiency and had to battle through every day of her life for survival. But even as she counted her days, she lived life to the lees, becoming a motivational speaker and writing a book that was published a day before her death.
"The Sky is Pink", also starring Farhan Akhtar and Zaira Wasim, is due for release on October 11. The film will premiere in a Gala screening in downtown Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall on September 13 with the director in attendance along with Chopra and Akhtar. "The Sky is Pink", Bose's third venture, represents a TIFF hattrick for the director. Her first two films, "Amu" and "Margarita With a Straw", also had their world premieres in TIFF.
In "Jallikattu", the latest film from the director of "Angamaly Diaries" and "Ee.Ma.Yau", the bedlam triggered by a runaway buffalo mirrors the state of affairs in a politically volatile part of India.
The other two Indian films in the TIFF '19 programme- Gitanjali Rao's animated feature "Bombay Rose" (which opened Venice Critics' Week and garnered glowing reviews) and Geetu Mohandas' "Moothon" (The Elder One) - present divergent views of the city of Mumbai. The entirely hand-painted "Mumbai Rose" uses distinct colour palettes and drawing styles to celebrate the spirit of people who live on the fringes of the megapolis.
Rao says in her director's note: I have always wanted to tell stories about the unsung heroes who live and love in Mumbai, never become success stories, yet their struggle for survival makes heroes out of them. Mumbai also plays a key role in actress-turned-filmmaker Geetu Mohandas' Malayalam-Hindi bilingual film, "Moothon", which revolves around a 14-year-old Lakshadweep island boy, Mulla, who travels at great personal risk to the bustling city to look for his big brother, Akbar, armed only with a phone number.
The film follows the parallel arcs of the two siblings while it focuses on the hope and despair that they have to grapple with in a city where life can get corrosively rough when the guards are down. "Moothon", which has Nivin Pauly, Sobhita Dhulipala and Shashank Arora in key roles, is co-produced by Anurag Kashyap, who has also penned the Hindi dialogues of the film.
Three of the titles that make up India's TIFF quartet have been directed by women. That apart, Priyanka Chopra, who toplines the cast of "The Sky is Pink", is one of the four Indian ambassadors of TIFF's Share Her Journey' campaign, which is aimed at promoting gender parity in the movie industry both in front of and behind the camera.
The other three are filmmakers Mira Nair, Deepa Mehta and Rima Das. Das's last two films ('Village Rockstars' and 'Bulbul Can Sing') premiered in TIFF. She will attend the festival this year, too, to take part in the campaign launched in 2017.