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Here’s what to expect from India at this year’s TIFF 2017

The Toronto International Film Festival which begins today (7 September) has a number of films from the Indian subcontinent, from Anurag Kashyap’s Mukkabaaz to Priyanka Chopra’s production, Pahuna: The Little Visitors.

Stills from Pahuna, Mukkabaaz and The Hungry

Sonal Pandya

India is well-represented at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) which will be held from 7-17 September. Five films shot in the country will be screened in the festival’s early days. Two documentaries from Canadian directors of Indian-origin will also be seen — Jennifer Baichwal’s Long Time Running on the Canadian rock band, The Tragically Hip and Anjali Nayar’s Silas on Liberian activist Silas Siakor.

Additionally, actress Kalki Koechlin is also a part of Pakistani filmmmaker Sabiha Kumar’s documentary Azmaish: A Journey Through The Subcontinent. Meanwhile, here’s what to expect from the Indian films being shown at TIFF this year.

Pahuna: The Little Visitors

Calling it a “contemporary, Indian version of Hansel and Gretel”, Pahuna is the first film completely set in Sikkim, with Sikkimese actors. The film follows three Nepali children who are forced to flee their village along with their families. When they get separated from the elders, the youngsters must use their wits to stay alive.

Produced by actress Priyanka Chopra’s Purple Pebble Pictures, Pahuna is the directorial of Paakhi A Tyrewala, who also acted in 2010’s Jhootha Hi Sahi opposite John Abraham. Priyanka was feted by the festival yesterday, 6 September, at a gala to promote female filmmakers. Pahuna: The Little Visitors will have its world premiere on the festival’s opening day, 7 September, with a single screening.

The Hungry

Also premiering on opening day is Bornila Chatterjee’s The Hungry. The young filmmaker from Californa, Chatterjee has adapted William Shakespeare’s lesser known play, Titus Andronicus, to an Indian setting. Starring Naseeruddin Shah, Tisca Chopra, Arjun Gupta, Sayani Gupta and Suraj Sharma, The Hungry is centered around Tulsi Joshi (Tisca) who decides to take revenge for the brutal murder of her son before her own wedding.

After its world premiere at Toronto, The Hungry will be screened at the London Film Festival and the 19th Mumbai Film Festival in October. The film is a co-production of Film London and the Cinestaan Film Company (CFC, a sister company of Cinestaan Digital Private Limited, which runs this website).


Based on a true story, Anurag Kashay’s Mukkabaaz is his latest film after last year’s Raman Raghav 2.0. This one stars Vineet Kumar Singh, Zoya Hussain, Ravi Kishan and Jimmy Shergill. Singh plays a lower-caste boxer who aims to make it all the way to the Indian National Boxing Championship.

However, he gets on the wrong side of Bhagwan, the local kingpin, who thwarts his every move and does everything to make sure he doesn’t get the girl he loves, Sunaina (Hussain). Co-produced by Aanand L Rai, this sports film about an underdog is due to have an India release on 10 November, 2017. It will have its world premiere at the festival on 9 September.


The director-actor pair of Hansal Mehta and Rajkummar Rao have worked together on three films — Shahid (2012), City Lights (2014)  and Aligarh (2015). Omerta will be their fourth film. The story is about Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the British-born man behind the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal writer.

Their previous collaboration on a real-life story brought Mehta and Rajkummar the National Awards. Reportedly told in a non-linear fashion, Omerta looks to be a must-watch at the festival. The world premiere of the film will be on 8 September.

Village Rockstars

Assamese filmmaker Rima Das’s second film, Village Rockstars, tells the story of 10-year-old Dhunu, a young village girl in northeast India, whose ambition is to own a guitar and form a rock band. Das shot the film in the real locales of Assam in Chhaygaon, which is where she grew up. The film will be premiered at the festival on 8 September.

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