The 17th Annual New York Indian Film Festival finally concluded on May 7. The week-long prestigious fest brought with it post-screening discussions (with the movie makers/cast), special events, workshops with award-winning directors, nightly parties and more! Director Shubhashish Bhutiani’s indie drama Mukti Bhawan, which has won several awards, won the Best Film. Here are all who took home the trophy, from among nominations in seven categories.
1. Best Film: Hotel Salvation (Mukti Bhawan)
Film Synopsis: An ominous dream convinces 77-year old Dayanand Kumar that his end could be near. He takes the news to his son Rajiv, knowing he wants to breathe his last in the holy city of Varanasi and end the cycle of rebirth, by attaining salvation. Being the dutiful son he is, Rajiv, is left with no choice but to drop everything and make the journey with his stubborn father. Daya and Rajiv check into Mukti Bhawan (Hotel Salvation) in Varanasi, a guesthouse devoted to people to die there. But as the days go by, Rajiv struggles to juggle responsibilities back home, while Daya starts to bloom in the hotel. Rajiv gives his father a shot at salvation but as family bonds are tested, he finds himself torn, not knowing what he must do to keep his life together.
2. Best Director: Konkana Sen Sharma (A Death in the Gunj)
Film Synopsis: Set in 1979, A Death in the Gunj is a coming of age story, about a shy student Shyamal Chatterjee. He uses a family road trip to McCluskiegunj, an old Anglo-Indian town, as an escape from his failed semester. At the outset, the makings of a perfect family holiday are in place but something is amiss. In the week that follows, Shutu’s quiet unraveling is overlooked by the family revelers, until the holiday ends with an implosion.
3. Best Screenplay: Kammatipaddam
Kammatipaadam tells a story of the transformation of a city from its lush green serene past, through bloodshed and violence is tuned into a concrete jungle. The film urges to question the false images of development which trivialized traditional values and beliefs held by Dalits, thus creating a disoriented generation from the Dalit community, who were maneuvered to violence by the rich.
4. Best Actor: K. Kaladharan (The Narrow Path)
Film Synopsis: Young Akhil lives with his old and crippled father. The two share a difficult relationship. Akhil has decided to run away with his girlfriend Nina to another city and he is keeping this a secret from the old man. But his last day at home doesn’t turn out the way he had planned it.
5. Best Actress: Konkona Sen Sharma (Lipstick Under My Burkha)
Film Synopsis: Trapped in their own worlds, four women claim their desires through secret acts of rebellion In a small town in India. A burkha-clad college girl struggles with issues of cultural identity and her aspirations to become a pop singer. A young two-timing beautician seeks to escape the claustrophobia of her small town. An oppressed housewife and mother of three lives the alternate life of an enterprising saleswoman. A 55-year-old widow rediscovers her sexuality through a phone romance. Caught in a conservative society, these women set forth to break the mold, in search of a little freedom.
6. Best Documentary: An Insignificant Man
Synopsis: At the heart of An Insignificant Man is the most polarising man in India today. Arvind Kejriwal. The film follows Kejriwal and his insurgent new political party, as they wield basic public issues like water, electricity, and graft against the country’s oldest and most powerful two political establishments.
7. Best Short Film: Aaba
Synopsis: Aaba (Grandfather) is set in a remote village of Arunachal Pradesh in North East India. An orphan girl staying with her grandparents finds out that her grandfather is in the advanced stages of lung cancer. He would probably survive just a few weeks. The grandfather spends rest of his days revisiting his personal possessions and digging his own grave. But then life has its own surprises.