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|September 11, 2001||
Lagaan: Reena's third baby!
Arthur J Pais in Toronto
She could have easily been mistaken her for a festival volunteer or a worker for a film company.
Inside, the press screening of Lagaan has just begun.
A journalist approaches her, saying he's looking for the producer of the film. Gowariker looks up and says, "You are talking to her."
"All this is new to us," Reena tells rediff.com. "We are new to this business of taking Lagaan to film festivals and getting people to pay us attention."
"But we are learning," she chuckles. "Next time, it will be easier."
There are 29 other screenings for the press and industry in a day. The matinee show (0845 hours) of the controversial film, Prozac Nation has gone house full, with over 150 people showing up.
Lagaan, which was showing at 1000 hours, has drawn close to 50 people (the auditorium could seat at least 100 more). But given the fact that the film is competing with major Hollywood films, it isn't doing badly.
Reena watched the film at the first (of two) public screenings at the festival. Hubby Aamir Khan was away performing at a stage show in the US but promised to show up for the second screening.
"I have watched the film with audiences in India, the UK, and with desi audiences in America," she says. "It's amazing that the non-Indian audiences are reacting the same way, to the same situations."
In Toronto, she heard people choking with emotion when Mitwa number began -- and she could hear people urging the screen characters to defy the British.
She is convinced that Lagaan, which has grossed about $2 million in Britain and North America, will find an American or Canadian distributor who would give it a new lease of life in mainstream theaters.
"The response of the British critics at the screening in London, convinced us that this would be a crossover film," she recalls. "We believe the film has just started its worldwide run."
Though publications such as Time Out gave the film an encouraging nod, it has not found a mainstream distributor on both sides of the Atlantic.
In America, the weekly trade publication, Variety gave the film a glowing review. But for some reason it ran when the film was in its fourth week and fading fast.
At the Toronto International Film Festival, mainstream newspapers and free-distributed alternate lifestyle weeklies are yet to discover the film. However, some of them ran long stories on Digvijay Singh's Maya, and the news of Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding storming the Venice film fest.
A journalist congratulates Reena, saying she deserves as much credit for the film as the director and her star-producer husband. He asks her how long she's been married to Aamir Khan.
"Fifteen years," she smiles radiantly.
"And how many children do you have?" he asks.
"Sure?" he asks, with a little smile. "If you count Lagaan, it will be three children!"
She smiles. "I am glad you liked the film."
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