India's Song of Scorpions, Iran's Beyond the Clouds Set to Enrich Dubai Film Festival
Dubai International Film Festival is the most noted Festival in the MENA (Middle East North Africa) region, and for good reason.
Irrfan Khan in The Song of Scorpions (Image courtesy a still from the film)
Much like the Busan International Film Festival in South Korea which has become the premium annual cinema event in Asia in a little over two decades beating the much older Tokyo and Goa, the Dubai International Film Festival, whose 14th edition is all set to start on December 6, has gained enormous significance, leaving similar fetes in the region far behind. Cairo just concluded its 39th edition, and Marrakech decided not to hold its 2017 chapter, having been around since 2001. The Abu Dhabi Film Festival, which became big since its inception in 2007, was scrapped after eight editions in 2014.
This leaves Dubai as the most noted Festival in MENA (Middle East North Africa). And honestly, the Festival has lived up to this reputation, offering some wonderful selections year after year.
This time, one of the Festival's highlights will most certainly be Anup Singh's The Song of Scorpions. In his latest outing, Singh travels to the golden sands of Rajasthan to tell us the story of a mythical singer who has the magical power to draw out the poison of a deadly scorpion from the blood stream of a victim. With three brilliant actors, India's Irrfan Khan and Waheeda Rehman as well as Iran's (but settled in Paris) Golshifteh Farahani, acting out Singh's tale of love and treachery ( so much like Shakespeare), The Song of Scorpions can but be fantastic.
Also, Dubai will honour Khan with a Lifetime Achievement Award on the opening night.
Piyush Chandrakant Panjuani's debut feature, 5 Rupees, is a movie for children. Panjuani, who has turned in dozens of television commercials winning accolades, now gives us a children's tale about a poor old woman (essayed by Shabana Azmi), who has saved a five-rupee coin to gift it to her seven-year-old grandson, Hamid, at the end of Eid. When the money goes missing, it unleashes a chain of events with the lady and the lad discovering unpleasant truths.
Iran's Majid Majidi – who has probably begun to find it more convenient making cinema in India than in his own country – will present his Beyond the Clouds at Dubai. Said to be his first feature set in India with English, Hindi and Tamil dialogues, the film (coming from one who gave us gems like The Father, Children of Heaven and Colour of Paradise) will dwell on nuanced human relationships with Indian theater actress Malavika Mohanan, and Ishan Khatter, infusing life into Majidi's plot.
(Author, commentator and film critic Gautaman Bhaskaran has covered the Dubai International Film Festival for several years, and is back there this year.)
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