Deepa Mehta Curates Toronto Tribute to Indian Cinema

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Choosing a handful of movies from a hundred years of filmmaking is not easy, but Deepa Mehta (“Midnight’s Children”) took a stab at it for Toronto’s celebration of a centenary of Indian cinema, which includes a gala on Saturday.

The Toronto-based helmer of Indian origin said the task of curating the section fell to her after she suggested the theme at a TIFF board meeting.

“Somehow, between suggesting the theme and leaving the meeting I was talked into designing the gala,” Mehta said. “Thankfully I have an excellent team and there has been an immense amount of work done by a great number of people to bring this whole production together.”

The fundraising gala on Saturday at the Four Seasons Center for the Performing Arts is only the second one following on last year’s marking the anni of the James Bond franchise, which netted $700,000. The fest is also banking on Toronto’s huge population of South Asians to buy tix.

“TIFF is a non-profit, charitable organization that does much more than just the film festival,” Mehta said. “Throughout the year it runs programs for filmmakers and aficionados of all ages, such as the Talent Lab, Sprockets, summer camps, Studio, artist retrospectives etc. The gala was conceived in order to provide funds for these programs and for the festival itself.”

The films she chose run the gamut from 1913’s “Raja Harischandra,” by Dadasaheb Phalke, known as the father of Indian cinema and includes such Hindi classics as “Pyaasa,” “Andaz” and “Mughal-e-azam,” as well as newer pics like 2012 Cannes player “Miss Lovely.”

Among the regional films are Satyajit Ray’s “Apur sansar,” as well as “Swayamvaram” and “Nayakan.”

“Choosing only a handful of movies from a hundred years of filmmaking was not an easy task and they are very much a personal selection,” she says. “I tried to pick films that I thought did something new for film, both technically and emotionally. I believe these are films that have added something to the global narrative of how we think and feel.”

The complete list:

“Raja Harischandra” Dadasaheb Phalke
“Alam Ara,” Ardeshir Irani
“Achhut kanya,” Himanshu Rai
“Andaz,” Mehboob Khan
“Pyaasa,” Guru Dutt
“Ajantrik,” Ritwick Ghatak
“Apur sansar,” Satyajit Ray
“Mughal-e-azam,” K. Asif
“Bhuvan shome,” Mrinal Sen
“Swayamvaram,” Adoor Gopalakrishnan
“Garam hawa,” M.S. Sathyu
“Bhumika,” Shyam Benegal
“Nayakan,” Mani Ratnam
“Charachar,” Buddhadev Dasgupta
“Bandit Queen,” Shekhar Kapur
“Bombay,” Mani Ratnam
“Devdas,” Sanjay Leela Bhansali
“Omkara,” Vishal Bhardwaj
“Dev.D,” Anurag Kashyap
Miss Lovely,” Ashim Ahluwalia

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