"Lipstick Under My Burkha" (238803)

The comparison between Bollywood and Hollywood is a very long industry joke, but like most parts of the world, India has its own brand of storytelling and as such has produced a list of legendary storytellers whose craftsmanship in the art of filmmaking is jaw-droppingly good.

Dramatic, romantic, intense, sweeping and often with musical numbers that threaten to shake the very roof of the cinemas, the New York Indian Film Festival—the oldest, most prestigious Indian film festival in the United States—kicked off its 17th anniversary season Sunday, April 30, with Alankita Shrivastava’s brilliant women’s empowerment film “Lipstick Under My Burkha.” The beautifully written, directed and acted film premiered at the Tokyo and Mumbai film festivals, where it won the Spirit of Asia Prize and the Oxfam Award for Best Film on Gender Equality. Yet “Lipstick Under My Burkha” is the very film that India’s Central Board of Film Certification refused to certify, claiming that the story was too


If Shrivastava’s work—banned in India—is any indicator of the quality that’s being presented this year at NYIFF, well, New York City, you are in for an absolute treat.

One of the best elements of NYIFF is the sidebar programming, which includes 44 shorts, documentaries, feature films and special talks. Interesting films to explore include those by brother and sister filmmakers Deepa Mehta and Dilip Mehta, who will present their respective New York premieres of “Anatomy of Violence” and “Mostly Sunny” Saturday, May 6. Both films world premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (2016). “A Death in the Gunj,” directed by Konkona Sen Sharma, pays tribute to the late Om Puri, one of India’s most versatile character actors who starred in more than 147 films during his illustrious career.

Not to be missed, actress and Bollywood royalty Priyanka Chopra and her production company will screen Thursday, May 4, “Ventilator” and “Sarvaan.” Also screening that night, the hilarious “Mobile Bollywood: One Minute Cell Phone Films” produced by NYU Tisch Cinema Studies students.

If you want to learn how to shoot a short film, then the workshop “Shoot a Short Film,” run by filmmaker Umesh Kulkarni (May 5-6) might be the right and smart choice to jump-start your career in cinema.

The closing night film, Sunday, May 7, will be the North American premiere of Milind Dhaimade’s “You Are My Sunday,” an uplifting, slice-of-life comedy about five close friends who struggle to find a place to play soccer in Mumbai every Sunday. That screening will take place at the Mason Hall on the Baruch College campus (17 Lexington Ave. at 23rd Street), and it will also be preceded by a red carpet reception for media interviews and followed by the NYIFF 2017 Award Ceremony and gala closing night party.

The eight days of screenings include post-screening discussions, industry panels, an award ceremony, special events, nightly networking parties, red carpet galas, media attention and packed audiences. The festival builds an awareness of Indian cinema, educates North Americans about the realities of the lives of other people and adds to the amazing cultural diversity of New York City. NYIFF is the flagship event of the Indo-American Arts Council.

For further information, please visit www.iasu.us.