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South Asian Films Creating Buzz At #TIFF2016

Anokhi Buzz Anokhi DIY Entertainment & Gossip Sep 14, 2016

South Asian films, topics and characters take centre stage at #TIFF16. Here are our picks.

The films at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival are big and buzzing, and there are a few South Asian titles in the mix. Here are our top five films and a snapshot review of each one.

A Death in the Gunj

Trailer for A Death in the Gunj
Video Credit: YouTube – TIFF Trailers


At first glance, you might think this is simply a murder mystery. The first 20 minutes could even fool you into thinking so. But after the 20-minute mark, you know A Death in the Gunj creates a beautiful tapestry in which the lives, mindsets and characters slowly unfold for the viewer to enjoy. Who dies? That is a mystery only the viewer can discover.

A Death in the Gunj marks Indian film actress Konkona Sen Sharma's debut as a feature film director. She enters this new space confidently. The film is shot with the majestic touch of an old world India in 1979 and weaves a thread of magic as the screenplay introduces you to the characters, letting you discover them through their actions, words, facial expressions and reactions to particular situations. With cinema stalwarts Om Puri and Tanuja and critically praised actors of this generation Kalki Koechlin and Ranvir Shorey, A Death in the Gunj is a must-see film. 

India in a Day

Trailer of India In a Day
Video Credit: YouTube – Google India

In late 2015, the Google-powered India in a Day film project was announced. With Richie Mehta directing and famed Bollywood director Anurag Kashyap and legendary Hollywood director Ridley Scott producing, it seemed nothing can go wrong. And this film delivered on that expectation. India in a Day is pure magic.

The film is entirely stitched together by Indian citizens submitting video entries of their lives in India in a single day. Combine those stories and you get India in a Day. What's so interesting is how Richie Mehta puts together all the submitted stories to create a journey of what it's like to live in India through its various lives — rich, poor, old, young, taxi driver or father. The film addresses every single inch of India, and you walk away feeling as if you just got off a flight to this magical place. 


Mostly Sunny 

Still from Mostly Sunny
Photo Credit: Mongrel Media

Okay, so we know you're interested in this particular documentary — especially if you know and love Bollywood today. Mostly Sunny is a documentary based on the life and journey of former adult film star Sunny Leone and her rise in the conservative culture of India to become the country's most-Googled celebrities and most famous A-list Bollywood stars we have today. If that's not enough to hook you, you'll be pleasantly surprised to see what Dilip Mehta's creation has in store.

Rather than coming across as a collection of factual information or emotions, Mostly Sunny simply gives you a candid look into Sunny's life — her thoughts, her actions, her decisions, her reasoning and her childhood and family life.


Last but not least, Lion. Directed by Garth Davis and starring Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara and Priyanka Bose, the film tells the story of a boy who loses his way but eventually makes it back home. The film very smartly incorporates Google Earth into its screenplay, but don't be fooled: this film is based on the real-life story of Saroo Brierley, who got lost on a train in India, was adopted by an Australian couple, and years later ventured back to find his birth family. A touching tale, this film has "Oscar buzz" written all over it. 

The story might sound super familiar to those of you who love Bollywood films. 2015's Bajrangi Bhaijaan featured a similar storyline and may have been inspired by the same true-life events. But one thing is clear: just like a Bollywood film, this story also tugs at your heartstrings. So bring tissues — a whole box of them.

Main Image Photo Credit: Movie Still from A Death in the Gunj 

Daniel Pillai

Daniel Pillai


Daniel is the Digital Media Manager for ANOKHI MEDIA and the host for ANOKHI's entertainment channel, PULSE TV. As part of the dream team, Daniel manages all multiple channels under ANOKHI’s portfolio, while also training new on-air talent, and showing budding p...


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