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    Apr 2011

    Default TIFF celebrates Indian cinema

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    The third day of the film festival commenced with Michael Winterbottom's Trishna, a portrayal of the plight of destitute women in India, and ended with Akshay Kumar's sport-driven story Breakaway

    The third day of the Toronto International Film Festival was dedicated to Indian cinema. And this year's entries have perfectly complemented each other. Michael Winterbottom's saga Trishna is the British filmmaker's take on Thomas Hardy's harsh and melancholic novel Tess of d'Urbervilles, adapted to the social injustice that exploits destitute women in India today.

    Akshay Kumar's production Breakaway, on the other hand, documents the revolt of first generation Canadian-Indian youth from their immigrant families in a sport-driven story.

    Trishna stars Freida Pinto in her biggest and most ambitious role yet since her discovery in the 2008 blockbuster hit Slumdog Millionaire. Director Winterbottom's transposition of Hardy's story is overtaken by his strong sense of visual India.

    Cinematographer Marcel Zyskind has incorporated a blend of landscapes and teams it with city life. Music composers Shigeru Umebayashi and Amit Trivedi have kept to a traditional music score.

    Freida's look in the film epitomizes the Rajasthani village girl, with her tightly drawn single plait, unflattering salwar-kameez, and no make-up. She is the central force in the film. It documents her struggle as she tries to get her family out of poverty and her relationship with Jay, the playboy property owner of a five-star hotel.

    While the film is an intriguing adaptation, the character Trishna is too one-dimensional in her submission to contain the heartrending denouement of the original Tess. Riz Ahmed as Jay, again an unresolved character, manages to convey the tragedy of his own aimless, cushioned life.

    The next entry, Breakaway, made entering the old-world Elgin Theater for the screening a very difficult feat. Huge crowds lined the streets on either side to watch producer Ajay Virmani present a line-up of Punjabi dancers, an elephant on one side and on the other Akshay Kumar.

    The film, which was scripted by Vinay Virmani, has a deliberate pacey, sunny-side-up look and feel, capturing the spirit of Punjab. The group of Sikh lads is led by Rajveer Singh (Vinay Virmani), whose ambition is to excel in Canada's leading sport, ice hockey.

    His father (Anupam Kher) disapproves strongly, even more so when the sport leads Rajveer to become enamoured by a Canadian girl. The film opens doors to a cultural exchange between Canada and India.



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