July 17, 2002 
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Aamir Khan
Aamir's Indian Summer at Locarno
India is the flavour of the year at the Swiss film festival

Vivek Fernandes in Mumbai

Monsoon Wedding at Venice, Lagaan at the Oscars, Bombay Dreams at West End. Undoubtedly, India is the flavour of the year.

To this global awakening of 'Indianness' comes Indian Summer, a bouquet of Indian cinema classics which will be screened at the 55th Locarno International Film Festival,
Switzerland, from August 1 to August 11, 2002. Spanning the last quarter century, this anthology is curated by well-known Mumbai-based international casting director Uma Da Cunha.

Apart from the 30-odd films that comprise the retrospective India shall also participate in the both the main competition and the digital video competition categories. Bengali director Aparna Sen's Mr and Mrs Iyer, starring Rahul Bose and the director's daughter Konkana Sen, will be India's official entry for the main competition. While debutant director Ram Madhvani's Let's Talk, starring Indian theatre personality and photographer Boman Irani, Maia Katrak and Anahita Uberoi represents India in the video section.

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"Both films representing India this year in the competition categories are in English --- a first for India. The selection committee at Locarno has been partial to forward-looking films. And both these films are progressive, pertinent to our present times," said Da Cunha who with Swiss Consul General Josef Renggli, addressed a press gathering at Mumbai, July 16.

"Though the West has been waking up to Bollywood and India, with our kind of productions, all they really have been able to obtain a rather disjointed view of Indian films. Which is why this package spans the canvas in terms of content and language to present a random yet broader experience of Indian cinema," said Da Cunha, speaking with reference to Indian Summer.

Ramesh Sippy's Sholay (1975), Satyajit Ray's Shatranj Ke Khiladi (1977), Shyam Benegal's Junoon (1978), Muzzafar Ali's Umrao Jaan (1981), Govind Nihalani's Ardh Satya (1983), Ketan Mehta's Mirch Masala (1986), Shekar Kapur's Mr India (1987), Shaji N Karun's Piravi (1988), Saeed Mirza's Naseem (1994), Mani Ratnam's Iruvar (1997), Santosh Sivan's The Terrorist (1998), Amol Palekar's Kairee (1999) and Rajiv Menon's Kandukondain Kandukondain (2000) are some of the films that will be showcased at the festival.

A screening of Pradip Krishen's In Which Annie Gives It One Of Those (1989) [starring Arjun Raina, Roshan Seth, Rituraj and Booker prize-winning author Arundhati Roy, which forms part of the Indian Summer package, was also held. The film has won two National Awards (Best English Film, Best Script for Roy) was also the debut film of actor Shah Rukh Khan who appeared here in a minor cameo.

Two other films, Mrinal Sen's Aamaar Bhuvan and Ismail Merchant's Muhafiz (based on Anita Desai's novel In Custody), will also be screened as special tributes to these filmmakers.

    About Locarno
Situated on the banks of the Lago Maggiore, a     lake that straddles the Swiss-Italian border,     Locarno is only 10 kilometres away from the     Italy.
Though not as big as the international film fests     at Cannes, Venice or Berlin, Locarno, now in its     55th year, is the oldest and growing widely in     importance.
The Piazza Grande, the central square, is the     heart of the town's cultural life. It is here, on a     huge 14 x 26 metre screen that screenings of     International films are held for an audience of     over 7000.
Ashutosh Gowariker's Lagaan was not the only     Indian film to have won a prize at Locarno.     Earlier Indian winners include Pattabhi Rama     Reddy's Samskara (1970), starring Girish     Karnad.
Actor-producer Aamir Khan whose Lagaan swept the Prix du Public at the festival in 2001, now sits as one of the seven-member jury panel for this year's festival.

A companion piece to this retrospective is a 264-page book, Indian Summer -- Films, Filmmakers and Stars between Ray and Bollywood, edited by Edizioni Olivares and curated by Italo Spinelli.

August 5, 2002 sees performances by various Indian artistes --- Baul musicians from Benegal, Kalaripayattu practitioners from Kerala and Chhau dancers from Bihar will take to Locarno's streets, giving the Swiss a taste of Indian culture.

August 8, 2002, devoted to Indian cinema, literature and culture, will see a panel comprising film, theatre and literary personality Girish Karnad; lyricist-scriptwriter Javed Akhtar; his wife actress-MP Shabana Azmi and novelist Anita Desai among others, answer questions as to where Indian literature and cinema is headed.


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