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Parzania goes to New York

April 23, 2007 14:41 IST
Actress Nandita Das, author Salman Rushdie and director Mira Nair huddled in a corner of a crowded restaurant, across the street from the Museum of Modern Art, New York, on a mellow Sunday evening.

But the man of the moment was director Rahul Dholakia, whose Parzania opened India Now, an eight-day (April 22 to April 30) film festival featuring 11 films from India.

The festival has been organised by MoMA's department of film and the Indo-American Arts Council, a nonprofit that promotes Indian art in the United States.

As the guests invited for the cocktail party kickstarting the event started spilling out onto the street, the organisers hustled them into the cavernous museum, which dominates an entire uptown Manhattan block.

Parzania, a movie about a man's search for his son after the Gujarat riots, has been unofficially banned by the saffron parties in Gujarat, and a large chunk of the disturbing movie was shot in Hyderabad.

In New York, the 400 seat Titus 1 theatre in the museum was packed. On May 3, 1955, the same theatre had screened the world premiere of Pather Panchali, by a young Bengali filmmaker named Satyajit Ray.

The audience watched in rapt attention and burst into applause after Parzania, a two-hour English movie, ended.

'We've done well,' said Dholakia in the question and answer session that followed. 'The movie has run for six weeks in most theatres across India.'

Except Gujarat, where multiplexes across the state 'still run by the same party which was in power during the riots' -- had been warned that there could be trouble if they dared screen the movie, Dholakia said.

A man who had filed a public interest litigation demanding that he had the right to see the movie had been kidnapped, and recently released, the director added.

He went on to detail the travails he had faced while making the movie, and noted wryly that when the Censor Board of India had finally cleared the movie, there had been minor cuts, where the words Vishwa Hindu Parishad had been removed.

'We could say parishad, but we couldn't say Vishwa Hindu Parishad,' Dholakia noted.

Starring Naseeruddin Shah and Sarika, Parzania revolves around a Parsi family in search of their lost son. This was based on the story of a friend of his, said Dholakia. However, the two stars had not met the Parsi family until the movie had been made, he revealed.

Avowing that he had no political message, the filmmaker said this kind of violence was not limited to Gujarat, but was there in Bosnia, Sudan, and other parts of the world.

The other films being screened through the week include Nagesh Kukunoor's Dor, Arindam Mitra's Shoonya, Budhadeb Dasgupta's Kaalpurush, Dibakar Banerjee's Khosla Ka Ghosla, Haobam Paban Kumar's A Cry In The Dark, the short film Bare by Santana Isaar, Vishal Bhardwaj's Omkara, Chitra Palekar's Maati Maay, Gitanjali Rao's animated Printed Rainbow and Anjan Dutt's The Bong Connection.

A correspondent in New York