Third I’s Third San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival

Soon it will be time to get your filmi on–Third I, the Yay Area’s own promoter of South Asian independant film–has put Third I San Francisco International South Asian Film Festivalout the schedule for it’s third film festival, bringing desi masala, fine art, and social commentary to The Roxie and The Castro. Here are some of the descriptions that grabbed my interest:

Junoon's Salman Ahmed: It's My Country Too

What does it mean to be an American Muslim? This revealing and engaging documentary follows Pakistani American Rock star Salman Ahmed of Junoon, as he explores stories from a community as diverse as the progressive “Allah made me Funny” comedy troupe, to a prominent family that founded the “Muslims for Bush” campaign. (Link)

Komagata Maru and Indian-Canadian Immigration

On May 23rd, 1914, the Japanese shipping vessel Komagata Maru, chartered by Sikh businessman Gurdit Singh, arrived in Canada’s Vancouver Harbor. Aboard were 376 migrants of Indian origin, citizens of the British Empire who believed it their right to move and settle freely within its domain. Upon anchoring, however, the passengers were prevented from disembarking by local Canadian officials, whose decision reflected a growing nationwide resistance to non-white immigration. (Link.)

This documentary explores the little known ethos of neighborhood photo studios in Indian cities, discovering entire imaginary worlds in the smallest of spaces. Tiny, shabby studios that appear to be stuck in a time warp turn out to be places throbbing with energy. As full of surprises as the people who frequent these studios are the backdrops they enjoy posing against and the props they choose – affording fascinating glimpses into individual fantasies and popular tastes. (Link.)

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p>And of course there will be some Bollywood—our man Shah Rukh in a really big turban:

Shah Rukh Khan in PaheliCome celebrate BOLLYWOOD at the Castro!! Paheli is the latest Bollywood feature from India. With its star-studded cast, (irresistible Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukherjee), fantasy sets, endearing musical scores, Paheli is a delightful folk tale, wherein a ghost falls in love with a bride. When her husband leaves immediately after the wedding ceremony for a business trip, the ghost enters her life. The twists and turns of this touching Bollywood family drama and love story will move you to laugh, cry, sing, dance. Perfect for Bollywood devotees and novices alike.

I think the crying will be because we won’t be able to take the turban home with us after the movie. I bet Shah Rukh could auction that thing off on Ebay to very good effect–maybe someone with connections can suggest he do it as a fundraiser?

Reviews of and articles about the festivals offerings: Sunset Boulevard, Meghe Dhaka Tara, It’s My Country Too, Amu, Paheli, Continuous Journey, Khamosh Pani, City of Photos, No More Tears Sister, Ganges: River to Heaven.

Sad Note:  while searching for reviews of these films I discovered that Junoon musician and U.N. Goodwill Ambassador Salman Ahmad has cut short his tour of the middle east to attend the funerals of his aunt and other relatives killed in the earthquake.

86 thoughts on “Third I’s Third San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival

  1. To dismiss Bollywood films on the grounds that they are not psychologically realistic is to assume that is the only way in which to make cinema–

    Realism is just one of many dimensions that define a good movie. People do understand this.

    The problem of Bollywood is not about lack of realism, it is the utter lack of imagination and depth. People get a little tired of the same ideas. Even when a Bollywood movie is made purportedly with a “bold” theme, so many cliche items are also thrown in that the impact gets completely diluted. Bollywood is also severely lacking in aesthetics and technical qualities. Way over the top colors, little sense of composition, incongruous background score – the list goes on. Bollywood has a tendency to overdo basically everything. Why do movies have to be so wordy?

  2. Have you noticed … ? Most movies have a scene where the Hero and Heroine are in a snowed out place (during a song sequence mostly) with Hero in western outfit and Heroine in a somewhat revealing sari !!! :-)

    I think thats so ridiculously funy.

  3. RC: ha ha that’s hilarious– I remember “Pukar,” where Madhuri Dixit is in a blue sari (the shooting took place on a glacier or something in Alaska). Apparently she contracted mild pneumonia after the shooting…

  4. The glacial motif is a metaphor for hell finally freezing over so the poor schmuck might finally get laid.

  5. wow, some of you guys need to be seriously whipped down from your high horses.

    I think there are good Bollywood movies and bad ones. And if you don’t like singing and dancing (in snowy mountains or elsewhere) go watch something else.

    Unfortunately, even a movie with good production values will be dismissed as “cheesy” by a mainstream American audience, owing to the Indian preference for melodrama and song/dance.

    Martial arts are always going to be cool, especially combined with good production/direction.

    While I am all for new production values and good new stories and stuff, I don’t think Indian cinema should lose its identity just to satisfy western audiences (or so that 2-gens/immigrants don’t have to hang their heads in shame) or just to try get a stupid Oscar or something.

    Surprisingly enough, Indian audiences DO have access to western movies. They DO have the choice not to watch Indian movies, but they still do.

    You might call them (us!) unsophisticated or whatever, but I think the future of Indian movies should be dictated by Indian audiences and not by American tastes.

  6. I can’t wait for the day that the love of my life and I do a delightful musical number in the rain. That’s sexy.

    erm… The male appendage is shaped like and frequently acts as a heat sink. When exposed to the elements, in chilly environments such as those described above, it is not an active supporter of the collaboration you seem to seek.

  7. And if you don’t like singing and dancing (in snowy mountains or elsewhere) go watch something else.

    But letting the girl freez her ass off (sometime literally, as Umain pointed out), while the Hero is dancing comfortably clad in a coat .. isnt that cruel ?? (Besides being stupid, funny, sexists and a lot of other things) But that may be “Indian Culture” (what ever the F#$% that is supposed to mean)

  8. “I can’t wait for the day that the love of my life and I do a delightful musical number in the rain. That’s sexy…”

    My kinda woman…

    You know how we do.

  9. You know I can understand the litany of abuses thrown Bollywood’s way. they are melodramatic, unrealistic, and sometimes sexist and racist. Like technophobicgeek said, there are good ones and bad ones…and recently, more and more of the bad ones (IMHO) are becoming hits, e.g., veer zaara, k3g (sorry if some people here liked it–i couldn’t sit through it), kal ho naa ho.

    that said, there are some incredibly crappy french/italian/hollywood movies that make me cringe just in the first 20 movies. anyone here see “be cool”? i don’t think creativity and imagination is the purview of only some western european, north american, japanese, and chinese moviemakers.

    BUT i have found that bollywood/popular hindi cinema as it stands today is an incredible unifying force. i grew up in thailand and indonesia and the cult following that bollywood commands there and other south east asian countries, japan, some african countries is impressive. maybe the human emotions and situations portrayed in hindi cinema are for the most part exaggerated, but they must resonate at some level if such geographically dispersed populations can identify and engage with them!

  10. sorry…i wrote that surreptiously at work so it was sloppy. by “they” in the first paragraph, i was generally referring to mainstream hindi movies.

  11. maybe the human emotions and situations portrayed in hindi cinema are for the most part exaggerated, but they must resonate at some level

    absolutely…
    the lack of cynicism doesnt hurt either.

  12. I have had Iranian-Americans, Russians, Italians and South Africans (not Indian origin) come and talk to me about Bollywood movies endlessly and they all love it. Last year at New Year, I noticed in a Johannesburg newspaper, they had a quarter page analysis of recent Bollywood movies and recommendations

    Nobody will ever want Bollywood movies to become western or anything like that. Myself, I am just shouting for new ideas, and higher quality control.

  13. I can’t wait for the day that the love of my life and I do a delightful musical number in the rain. That’s sexy.

    Oh Fuerza, you give me hope! Tell me when and where, and I’ll go anywhere for a rain-dance with you :)

  14. Myself, I am just shouting for new ideas

    I’d agree with you on that, and extend that shout to Tamil movies as well. If you think Bollywood is bad…Kollywood can be worse.

  15. Anyone want to come with??

    Fuerza Dulce – sure, haha my cousin’s movie is playin on Nov.4, Finding Preet, so i’ll be in the area.

    You like White Castle, haha maybe we can get hungry before the movie…

    I can’t wait for the day that the love of my life and I do a delightful musical number in the rain. That’s sexy.

    me and one of my boyz are taking some polls on that idea as a tourist business in india(goa to be precise)… Make your one bollywood philm song for a nominal fee.

    Anyone thing its a good idea or are we just a couple of kumars lookin for the promised land?

  16. Technophobicgeek - I would prefer on some sort of flatland. As far as the time, I guess we’ll have to see. My finals are done on Dec. 16 – if there’s sexiness and rain involved, we may just have to make a trip to Australia.

    Cocopuffs-

    Re: The film festival: Get at me, homey ji-funk!

    Re: White Castle – I LOVE White Castle! If we link up for this thing I would totally be down to grab a couple of bacon cheeseburgers from WC.

    Re: Your tourist idea – that actually might work down in the West Indies or in the Nordic areas. Yere me rude bwoy, dem Swedes and dem Trinis be lovin dat Bollywood flava. Booyakasha!

  17. they must resonate at some level if such geographically dispersed populations can identify and engage with them

    Amen to that.

    I was standing at a bus station in Tel Aviv when a Polish Jew (who spoke only Hebrew and Polish) walked up to me and this is what happened.

    PJ: Jimmy. Me: Excuse me? PJ: Jimmy. Me: I’m sorry I don’t understand. PJ: Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy, Aaja aaja aaja.

    Raj Kapoor and Mithun Chakraborty have some sort of a fanatical cult following in Russia (Russians visiting our house used to literally sit right next to the TV when we played Hindi movies). There are innumerable Japanese Rajnikanth fan sites out there. And then there is the story of one of my friends who hitched a ride with a East European guy in the Czech Republic – a 6ft badass bald dude with a gun and a hot girlfriend in leather – and the lady started asking my friend about Mithun’s movies.

  18. It is not a question of Bollywood improving so that NRIs wouldn’t have to hang their heads in shame. Actually I would argue quite the opposite – NRIs tend to want to preserve the nostalgia factor.

    I see in Bollywood an interesting case study. Much of Bollywood’s problems mirror that of India.

    Consider this: a) Bollywood has world class talent b) Technical competence c) Bollywood knows how to target a market segment (successful exploitation of the NRI market)

    So, why has it not been able to attempt a “Crouching tiger..” with returns upwards of $100M?

    The answer lies partly in economics. The size of Indian affluent class makes it unviable for movie makers to target it with a sizable budget movie. It may happen a decade later.

    Another aspect is the messy financing situation.

    I also suspect a built-in feedback loop that is throwing Bollywood back into the formula genre. No one attempts anything different, the audience is perfectly content – so the cycle continues.

  19. Consider this: a) Bollywood has world class talent b) Technical competence c) Bollywood knows how to target a market segment (successful exploitation of the NRI market)

    argus_nj :

    a)world class talent, there are maybe 3 actors who have talent, the rest of the assclowns like salman khan i don’t consider talented, he’s not even close to actors like ed norton or brad pitt, who are sex symbols and actors in their own right

    b)i’ll give you technical competenance c)If Bollywood knew how to target the NRI audience, they would have already made a $100 million return movie like crouching tiger.

    Although production quality has improved in recent films, the dialog and plots have started to suck even more. Instead of a push to make NRI not ashamed by m aking quality films they are just giving the actresses smaller outfits. Point blank, the majority of movies are terrible. Although i like brown girls so i’ll keep watching koena mitra!

  20. I think for this particular forum, the more relevant question is why the Indian, in particular, the Indian-American community in the US doesn’t lead the way in terms of movies. A good start would be to produce something with better technical merits than ‘American Desi’ and its ilk.

    The Indian-American community is supposed to be one of the smartest, most creative and well-to-do communities, and I think they can come up with better stuff than that!

    Hopefully, ‘The Namesake’ might do some of that…but we’ll see.

  21. The Indian-American community is supposed to be one of the smartest, most creative and well-to-do communities

    I’ll give you smartest and well-to-do, as far as creative i’m going to have to disagree. While we may be smart i’m just going to compare this to my own family, everyone in my family over the age of 30 is successful in their “indian type job” aka doctor, lawyer, business person, finance, etc. This goes for nearly all indians i know. Although they may be creative you don’t see any major roles of indian americans on TV, music, books, art, etc. I’m not saying they aren’t out there, but we don’t even have representation which is comparable to the latinos or african american, even chinese americans have more. How come there is no indian version of rush hour? just some thoughts

  22. So, why has it not been able to attempt a “Crouching tiger..” with returns upwards of $100M? The answer lies partly in economics. The size of Indian affluent class makes it unviable for movie makers to target it with a sizable budget movie. It may happen a decade later.

    I’d agree with you—the answer lies in economics. The Indian movie-watching audience (I’m including the NRI audience in this) is extremely segmented, and the market itself is fragmented with scores of producers and directors. For any one of them to 1) develop a story line and screenplay that speaks to economically and culturally diverse audiences, 2) identify actors and actresses that can do justice to that story, 3) amass sufficient resources, and 4) get the dubious blessing of the local and regional dons becomes logistically a near-Herculean feat. Interests and sensibilities differ so widely across these multiple audiences that very few movies seem to be able to span across them.

    Isn’t it far easier—and cheaper—to take a formulaic story that guarantees a certain level of return from both urban and rural cinemas?

    Ok, but who ISN’T a Rajnikanth fan? Seriously.

    There are days when all I want to do is sit on my couch and watch old Tamil Rajnikanth films. Comfort food for the soul, I say. The guy is gimmicky but he sure knows how to spin a story.

  23. I would prefer on some sort of flatland. As far as the time, I guess we’ll have to see. My finals are done on Dec. 16 – if there’s sexiness and rain involved, we may just have to make a trip to Australia.

    We have to outsource rain-dancing to Australia? :( ( Come down to Texas during the next hurricane, I assure you we have flatland and rain aplenty! :p

  24. As long as it’s warm out while we’re dancing in the rain, you can start looking up tickets for me! Hooray!

    Aich…wait till summer, and you get all the warmth that you need. ’til then you gotta do your dancing in the snow up north. How’s the rain scene up there anyways?

  25. As long as it’s warm out while we’re dancing in the rain, you can start looking up tickets for me! Hooray!

    Besides, what kinda dance do you prefer in the rain? The good ol’ Bollywood wet sari Sridevi-ishtyle? Or care for some salsa? :) )

  26. I saw Paheli last night, and ran into ADS and Kunaal, though sadly I apparently missed some other Mutineers. I was also gratified to see Sepia Mutiny thanked on the Outreach projection before the film. Go Mutiny!

  27. Saheli: ACK! I didn’t see you – and I was with ads (and brimful.) Did you see SepiaMutiny’s shoutout?

    Dude – I was looking for the turban pictured above….where was it??? I felt cheated.

  28. please shahrokh khan if you can reply my e-mail i want to see you one day i am absolutly in love wish you im from iranian pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeee shahrokhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh reply my e-mail ok tanks byeeeeeeeeee kissssssssss youuuuuuuuuuuu

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