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Shailaja Padindala’s Naanu Ladies, Pradipta Ray's Muhafiz win big at Kashish 2022

Indian and Asian filmmakers took home major awards at the queer film festival held in a hybrid format this year.

Our Correspondent

The 2022 edition of the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival came to a close with a glittering award ceremony. The festival was held at Mumbai's Liberty Cinema and Alliance Française de Bombay from 1 to 5 June and online from 3 to 14 June. More than 180 LGBTQIA+ films from 53 countries were screened, of which 42 films were in competition for cash awards of Rs2.25 lakh.

The Kannada film Naanu Ladies by Shailaja Padindala won the Best Narrative Feature award while two Gujarati-language films, Muhafiz, directed by Pradipta Ray, and Dal Bhat, helmed by Nemil Shah, won the Best Indian Narrative Short award and the Riyad Wadia award for Best Emerging Indian Filmmaker, respectively. Muhafiz also won the Best Screenplay award for its writers Ray and Ashutosh Pathak.

Dal Bhat review: Innocence lost and courage regained in an arid landscape

The festival’s award ceremony was hosted by Rohini Ramanathan and Niki Ray and included performances by trans dancers Navya Singh and Samira Khar, a stand-up comic sketch by transgender performer Ritushree Panigrahi and a song performance by pop singer and composer Shalmali Kholgade.

Other Asian films that won awards were Warsha and Beirut Dreams In Color from Lebanon (West Asia), The Third Solar Term from China (East Asia) and The Fish With One Sleeve from Japan (East Asia). Coming To You from South Korea (East Asia), Wet Sand from Georgia (intersection of West Asia and Europe) and Dal Bhat, Her Canvas and Kinaara from India (South Asia) received special mentions.

Festival director Sridhar Rangayan said, “As South Asia’s biggest LGBTQ+ film festival, we are thrilled by so many Asian films winning awards at this year’s festival. Indian LGBTQ+ cinema has truly come of age and can stand up against any international films.

"This was evident by the brilliant film Naanu Ladies winning the Best Narrative Feature, competing against another film from India, two fabulous films from Georgia and a film from Brazil that was the nomination by that country for the Oscars last year! Even the short films Dal Bhat and Muhafiz that won awards deal with such diverse topics as adolescence, sexuality, religion and politics. We were happy to present 30 Indian LGBTQ+ films at this year’s edition, and we now hope to take these films beyond the festival to audiences."

Exulting over the win, Shailaja said Naanu Ladies is a film attempting to identify cis-het culture weave itself into the queerness of everyday life.

"The film attempts to re-understand uses of reproductive sciences for a queer lifestyle," the filmmaker said. "I thank the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival and the jury members of the 13th edition for choosing Naanu Ladies as the Best Narrative Feature. I’m delighted to dedicate this award to every crew member of the film who have strived with me in making the film possible. I look forward to making more queer content with queer folks, across as many regional languages as possible." Shailaja's next project is a Tamil feature in which queerness is also going to be a part of the story, of a bigger picture.

Pradipta Ray said, “I am humbled at the love and reception that Muhafiz got at the biggest South Asian LGBTQ+ film festival and it was an honour to play at Kashish and bring the film home to its audience. The entire team is grateful for the two awards and recognition and I personally thank the organizers and the jury for supporting a film with a worthy message, amplifying the voices of South Asian transgender communities.”

Nemil Shah, director of Dal Bhat, said, “All the credit goes to the wonderful and lovely kids who motivated us all with their raw kindness, passion and hardwork — Jinay Haria, Darsh Vithlani, Vanand Khyal, Sameer Kumbhar and Moseem Kumbhar. I can’t express enough gratitude to Kashish for making us reach our audiences. The vibe, the people, all were wonderful. Thanks for making me fall in love with everything!”

The other winners included La Queenciañera by Pedro Peira, which bagged the Best Documentary Feature award. Beirut Dreams In Colour by Michael Collins was named Best Documentary Short, The Third Solar Term by Zhanfei Song was named Best Student Short, and Warsha by Dania Bdeir was named Best International Narrative Short. The Fish With One Sleeve won the award for Best Performance in a Lead Role.

The theme of this year’s festival was Flights For Freedom.

Related topics

Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival