'Virumaandi' to kick of fest; Kher receives tribute

Women’s rights will be the theme of the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, running April 14-18 at the ArcLight in Hollywood.

Fest will be joined this year by the UCLA Film and Television Archive, which co-presents Bombay Melody, a celebration of Indian cinema’s song-and-dance tradition.

Films set to unspool at IFFLA include Rituparno Ghosh’s “Chokher Bali” (A Passion Play), an adaptation of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s Bengali novel starring Aishwarya Rai (“Devdas”); “Matrubhoomi” (A Nation Without Women), directed by tyro Manish Jha; “Bariwali” (The Lady of the House); and “Khamoshi pani” (Silent Waters). Also screening is “Maqbool,” Vishal Bharadwaj’s adaptation of “Macbeth.”

Documentary selections include “The Day My God Died,” about South Asia’s prostitution trade, narrated by Tim Robbins and Winona Ryder; and “When the Storm Came,” about women allegedly assaulted by Indian security forces in the troubled Kashmir state. The Asia Society and reps of the U.S. State Dept., respectively, will participate in panel discussions on the two docs.

For the first time, fest will offer a tribute, this year to Kiron Kher (“Devdas”), star of “Khamoshi pani.” Event is skedded for April 15.

The UCLA co-presentation will kick off with Kamal Haasan’s “Virumaandi” at the ArcLight and then switch to the James Bridges Theater on the Westwood campus. Pics to be screened include the Indian classic “Mughal-e-azam” (The Great Mughal), starring Dilip Kumar; “Alai payuthai” (Waves), directed by Mani Ratnam; “Kal ho naa ho” (Tomorrow May Not Come); “Munnabhai MBBS”; and “Sarfarosh.”

Fest closes with “Hazaaron kwaishen aisi” (A Thousand Dreams Such as These), a political drama centered on India’s 1975 state of emergency, when the government of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi suspended constitutional rights.

For tickets and information call IFFLA at (310) 364-4403 or go to Indianfilmfestival.org or Arclightcinemas.com; for UCLA call (310) 206-FILM or go to Cinema.ucla.edu.

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