From Sunny Leone to Karan Johar…Here Is The South Asian Presence At TIFF 2016!

By amin | Comments: 0 | September 5, 2016

The Toronto International Film Festival aka TIFF is back and will kick off this Thursday September 8th with almost 400 films being screened over the 11 days. This festival is a highly anticipated event every year as TONS of celebs descend on the city and many films have their debut right at TIFF before any other festival in the world. Past years have had a pretty respectable showing from the Indian film industry and while this year there isn’t a large South Asian presence, there will be plenty films being screened featuring remarkable South Asian talent and plenty of star power!


  1. Anatomy of Violence

Deepa Mehta returns to TIFF with her new film Anatomy of Violence that deals with a VERY difficult subject: rape. After the gang rape of a young girl on a bus in New Delhi in 2012, Deepa made this film that is told through the lives of the rapists.

Here’s what the film is about:

“Celebrated filmmaker Deepa Mehta investigates one of India’s most notorious crimes — the 2012 gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman on a Delhi bus — in her angry, impassioned and essential new film.

In December 2012, a 23-year-old woman and her friend got on a private bus in Delhi. The men already on board — five passengers and the bus driver — gang-raped the woman, beat her friend, and threw them onto the street. The woman died of her injuries two weeks later. The case made worldwide news and was instrumental in activating Indian policy discussions about women’s rights and the government’s duty to prosecute for rape.

Deepa Mehta’s Anatomy of Violence takes a fearless approach to the topic. In collaboration with theatre artist Neelam Mansingh Chowdhry, Mehta worked improvisationally with her actors to envisage possible sociological and psychological backgrounds and pasts for the perpetrators and the victim. The film posits formative events in the men’s lives, imagining the origins of their violent, remorseless personalities, while presenting the woman’s life in parallel.

Unburdened by the weight of a large production, which can sometimes crush an artistic inquiry into the shape of a conventional narrative, Mehta pares things down to the essentials. The film seeks something other than an onscreen trial of these particular individuals. While still holding them accountable, it denounces the patriarchal culture and the cycle of abuse that fed their dark impulses, and the economic system that leaves its disadvantaged classes in desperate straits.

Mehta’s brilliant and celebrated oeuvre has been consistently concerned with human rights. Continuing in this vein, Anatomy of Violence challenges her audience to enter unsettling territory. This is an incredibly courageous work of cinema.”

A still from the film

A still from the film

The film stars Janki Bisht, Vansh Bhardwaj, Davinder Singh, Jagjeet Sandhu, Mukti Das, Suman Jha, Mahesh Saini, Tia Bhatia, Seema Biswas, Ramanjit Kaur, Debina Rakshit, Zorawar Shukla.

Sunny Leone

Sunny Leone

  1. Mostly Sunny

Deepa Mehta will be joined at TIFF by her brother Dilip Mehta who brings us a documentary on the life and career of Sunny Leone. Sunny is a Canadian and grew up in a conservative Sikh family in Sarnia, Ontario before eventually becoming an adult film star and then a Bollywood star (and the most googled celebrity in India).

Here’s the official handout on the film:

“Veteran filmmaker Dilip Mehta (Cooking with Stella) returns to the festival with a fascinating portrait of one of the most intriguing — and unlikely — international stars to emerge in recent memory: Sarnia, Ontario’s own Karenjit Kaur Vohra, a.k.a. Sunny Leone, whose previous career in the adult film industry has, incredibly, not hampered her rise in Bollywood cinema.

A former nude model and adult-film star in the United States, Leone has in recent years focused on forging a career in mainstream popular cinema in India. While the transition hasn’t been entirely smooth — one of Sunny’s first star vehicles, Jackpot, was a huge bomb — Sunny and her husband Daniel Weber (who is also her manager, as well as an actor and musician in his own right) press forward with determination. Mehta skilfully lays out the contradictions and complications that Leone’s career has revealed in both Indian and diasporic Indian societies. Though not exactly known for its liberal views towards sexuality or the empowerment of women, India has seemingly had fewer qualms about accepting Sunny than has the Indian community in her Ontario hometown, which remains scandalized by her unconventional life choices.

One of the reasons Leone has been embraced by a mainstream audience is her demeanour. Instead of a privileged, upperclass Bollywood starlet, the Sunny we see here is a common-sense small-town girl who is deeply devoted to both her family (perhaps the most touching moment in the film comes when she discusses her father) and her work. What emerges from Mostly Sunny is a portrait of a woman whose exposure on the job has not destroyed the loving wife and daughter at home: if she’s Sunny to millions, to her family she’s still Karen.”

Sunny Leone

Sunny Leone

  1. Karan Johar (Sat Sept 10 at 8 pm)

This will be Karan Johar’s second TIFF outing. He first went to the prestigious festival in 2006 and also screened his romantic-drama Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna.

Karan Johar

Karan Johar

Karan will be a part of the ‘In Conversation With’ segment at TIFF, which is a special talk with the festival’s co-director Cameron Bailey at TIFF. The onstage conversation with Karan will consider his story thus far, exploring the artistic influences that define his style and paying tribute to the mentors who helped him forge his thrilling career.

The event which usually features engaging on-stage conversations with leaders in the film industry and beyond. Only a select few are invited to participate in this segment. Karan is likely to join Hollywood stars like Mark Wahlberg, French actor Isabelle Huppert, Brazilian actor Sonia Braga, and Palestinian film-maker and actor Hiam Abbass, among others.

“TIFF is an exceptional platform, as it brings the world of cinema together. So, doing an ‘in conversation’ is an honour for me. I look forward to meeting film-makers and members of the world film fraternity during my stay in Toronto, Canada. KANK was shown in the festival in 2006. Going back means the world to me,” Karan told media.

  1. A Death In The Gunj

Bollywood actress Konkona Sensharma is making her full feature film directorial and writing debut in her film A Death In The Gunj. The film stars Vikrant Massey, Ranvir Shorey, Kalki Koechlin, Gulshan Devaiah, Tillotama Shome, Jim Sarbh, Tanuja Mukherjee, Om Puri, Arya Sharma.


A Death in the Gunj is a “coming of age” story that centres around the lead character named Shutu and his conflicted ideas of masculinity. He finds himself navigating the blurred lines of what is accepted in society and questions his own space within the world. The movie is set in 1979.

Konkona Sensharma

Konkona Sensharma

The film’s case includes Konkona’s ex husband Ranvir Shorey. They last worked together in “Gour Hari Dastaan: The Freedom File”. Asked if she will work with him again, Konkona told reporters, “Of course. I think he is a wonderful actor and I will be very happy to work with him again.” They announced their separation last year.

The cast

The cast

Check out the trailer!

  1. Lion

Actress Priyanka Bose will be in Toronto to promote her role in the Oscar-hopeful film LION which also stars Nicole Kidman,Rooney Mara, and Dev Patel.


The film is about the true story of Saroo Brierley, who was adopted by an Australian couple after being separated from his family in India at the age of five, and then located his original home using Google Earth 25 years later.

“Precocious five-year-old Saroo Khan is always up for an adventure. Eager to help his older brother Guddu with any odd job that will provide their family with much-needed money, Saroo follows Guddu everywhere he goes. One night the two boys are separated on a train platform in their native Madhya Pradesh, and Saroo winds up nearly a thousand miles away in Calcutta.

Homeless in a strange city where he doesn’t speak the language, Saroo gets by on his street smarts until he is taken in by a government orphanage. When an Australian couple adopts him, he is taken to live with them in Hobart, Tasmania. It’s not until Saroo leaves that island as a young Australian man that he begins to wonder what became of his first home and the family he so adored. Ingeniously using satellite images from Google Earth, he finds a lead to follow up on. But the search for Saroo’s past threatens to overwhelm his present, and he finds himself further adrift than he ever imagined possible.”


Adapting Brierley’s own book, A Long Way Home, screenwriter Luke Davies and first-time director Garth Davis infuse the story with quiet heartbreak. Newcomer Sunny Pawar lights up the screen as the young boy, and Dev Patel delivers a deeply affecting performance as the adult Saroo. Nicole Kidman, David Wenham, Rooney Mara (also at the Festival in Una and The Secret Scripture) and Tannishtha Chatterjee round out Lion‘s all-star international cast, while Greig Fraser’s arresting photography conveys the overwhelming chaos and beauty of Saroo’s two worlds. This remarkable journey shows us how home transcends borders and family transcends blood.


Are you checking out this year’s TIFF? If so, which films/events will you be hitting up?



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