PANAJI, Goa, Nov 24: An India fast gaining on technical skills, but still struggling to get the rest of the globe to take note of its regional cinema has chosen Malayalam and Bengali films to represent the country at IFFI-2007 current underway here.

Two regional-language films from the south-west state of Kerala, and the eastern state of West Bengal will be the official entries at the Asian, African and Latin American Competition of the 38th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) that got underway here on Friday.

Lenin Rajendran’s “Night Rain” (Rathri Mazha) is about two youngsters — Harikrishnan and Meera — who come to know each other through a matrimonial advertisement on a website.

Through intermittent chat sessions they get drawn to each other. Though they have not met, love blossoms. But what they love is what each imagines the other person to be.

When they eventually meet, their dreams are shattered. But their minds have been so bonded together that they decide to marry and make the best of it. It is now society that looks askance at their relationship.

Director Lenin Rajendra is an active member of the Communist Party, in a province of India (Kerala) that has intermittently elected the Marxists to rule their region through the ballot box.

Reflecting his politics, his other films have dealt with an anti-feudal upheaval in the Kerala of the 1940s (“Meenamasithile Sooryan”, 1985), a period film about a 19th century king (“Swathi Thirunal”, 1987), an adaptation of a novel (“Vikrithikal”, 1992), on the religious divide growing in the region (“Annyar”, 2003), among others.

India’s other entry is “Tale of a River” (Ek Nadir Galpo), in the Bengali language which is spoken in India as also in parts of neighbouring Bangladesh. It is by Samir Chanda.

“Tale of a River” celebrates the special relationship that fathers and daughters share. Darakeshwar is Anu’s hero and she is her father’s pride and joy. The body between the two transcends time and even death.

Darakeshwar’s mission is to rename a river in memory of his daughter, who is lost in the river.

In a diverse country that has to cope with a Babel of languages, the IFFI manages to draw together quite some amount of regional films. Subtitling these films in English, specially done for the IFFI, helps to widen their appeal beyond the language they were first produced in.

INDIAN PANORAMA: Other Indian films selected include “Ore Kadal” (Malayalam), directed by Shyamaprasad, which will open the Indian Panorama feature film section, while “Bagher Bacha” (Bengali) directed by Bishnu Dev Halder will open the non-feature section of the Indian Panorama section that showcases made-in-India cinema and promises a “360 degree view of Indian cinema”.

These selections were made out of 119 feature and 149 non feature films from across India.

Selecting India’s entries for the event were feature film jury members Ms. Manju Borah, film maker from Guwahati; Leslie Carvalho, film maker from Bangalore; Abhijeet Dasgupta, film maker from Kolkata; Dr. Mrunalinni Patil Dayal, film maker from Mumbai and Ms. Shubhra Gupta, film critic from Delhi.

NON-FEATURE FILMS: The non feature film jury comprised of Delhi filmmaker Pankaj Butalia; Mumbai film-maker Ms. Kavita Chaudhary, and Guwahati film-maker Gautam Saikia.

In this vast land of big numers, some 21 feature films and 15 non-feature films have been selected for the 38th edition of the International Film Festival of India, held annually in November-December and shifted from New Delhi to Goa since 2004.

The non-feature films focus on a range of themes, from the horrors and adventure in the life of a ten-year-old child living in a railway station in Kolkata (“Bagher Bacha”, or “The Tiger’s Club”), to a return to an ancestral village after decades (“Harvilele Indradhansh” or “Teh Lost Rainbow”), and the Egnlish-language 80-minut estory of Indian soldiers still languishing as prisoners of war in Pakistan (“Hope Dies Last In War”).

“Joy Ride” (10 minutes, Hindi) is one of the entries, as is another film on the journey of a great Bollywood film music director of the yesteryears, Dattaram (“Masti Bhara Hai Sama”, Hindi, 80 minutes).

Another film is on famed South Indian writer M.T.Vasudevan Nair (“M.Tyude Kumaranellurile Kulangal” or “MT’s Ponds of Kumaranellor”). “Mubarak Begum” (Hindi, 19 minutes) focuses on the life of the top playback singer of the same name, while another film is a biography of legendary music composer Naushad Ali.

“Ngaihak Lambida” (“Along The Way”) is a film coming from the small North East Indian language of Manipuri.

This film is about a 35-year-old woman, the second-wife of a contractor, whose son gets hospitalised, leading her to get attracted to a stranger — over whom she makes a choice for herself.

“Nokpokliba” (English, 10 minutes) is based on a folk-talk from Nagaland, again from north-eastern India. It is a story about a magician who brings justice to his people through his magic.

Another film on an artiste is “Pandit Ramnarayan — Sarangi Ke Sang”. This biographical film (Hindi, 50 minutes) portrays the evolution of Pandit Ramnarayan as one of the finest musicians. Ramnarayan is to Sarangi (the bow-stringed instrument of South Asia) what Mozart was to piano.

“Poomaram” (“The Flowering Tree”, Malayalam) is about menstruation, males, menstrual rites and the development of agriculture, mathematics, writing, calendars and other realms of knowledge.

“Rajarshee Bhagyachandra of Manipur” (English, 58 minutes) is about a great king of the past, a cultural architect whose artistic creations brought a social-cultural revolution to his people.

“The Dance of The Enchantress” (Malayalam) is about Indian dance, and produced-directed by prominent South Indian film-maker Adoor Gopalakrishnan, who has scripted and directed ten feature films and more than two dozen shorts and documentaries.

“Whose Land Is It Anyway” (English, 40 minutes) is a film about an ongoing peasant movement in Singur village, to save a thousand acres of their farm-land from beign acquired by the West Bengal government for a car manufacturing factory by an Indian industrial giant, the Tatas.

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