Festival Reports

15th Bangaluru International Film Festival, India

Mrudula Saturday March 30, 2024

The FIAPF accredited 15th Bengaluru International Film Festival run by the Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy, Government of Karnataka, and presided over by the Honourable Chief Minister Shri. Siddaramaiah was held in the capital of the state of Bangalore from the 29th of February to March 7th, 2024. ‘Sandalwood’ is the entertainment industry moniker and 2024 saw it celebrate its 90-year milestone. It was also the 50th anniversary of the State being named Karnataka. Some 5000+ Kannada films have been produced across these 9 decades.

This industry has grown from a handful of production companies to 200 plus and they make over 300 films annually. Kannada is the main language of the state of Karnataka, where it is spoken natively by 40.6 million people, or about two thirds of the state's population. Kannada art titles make the rounds of the international festival circuit while domestically the discerning film goer/local audience also support the big budget extravaganzas and commercial cinema. The 15th edition presided over by Artistic Director Shri. N Vidyashankar was the 13th edition he has worked on since his involvement in establishing, along with others, this cinema delight. It is clear the government (election year) sees cinema as a powerful tool for education and social cohesion and a way to integrate these cinematic learnings viewed by audience throngs into the community’s fabric. Thematically the festival was looking at upholding human dignity, social justice, environmental concerns, and women’s involvement alongside addressing gender inequalities. I am pleased to report there were many women jurors across the five juries of impressive international and local industry and academic, literary stalwarts. The Artistic Director had just under three months to assemble this impressive festival both creatively and logistically. 320 film entries had to be reduced to 36. They gave a 10-day entry submission window and were inundated. Four selection committees reduced the submissions.

The Kannada Cinema Competition Jury co-ordinated by NETPAC was chaired by me alongside eminent colleagues Andronika Martonova from Bulgaria and Dr Rajappa Dalavai from Bangalore. We had 12 Kannada films in competition that looked at micro and macro concerns. I would add that powerlessness, revenge and masculine violence play out in many of these films underpinning the social barriers and patriarchy structures existing. Corruption is also a common theme – “Corruption is an everyday story.” (Dooradarshana). Twin themes featured in several films mirroring the logo of the Festival, the Ganda berunda the two headed bird of Hindu mythology. It is said to have magical powers and was the emblem of the Mysore dynasty under wodeyar kingdom. It is still the official emblem of Karnataka as it is considered to have immense strength. Village films superseded those of urban modernity. The portrayal of women in much of these films was of strong, nagging, and demanding women versus subservient. In most films we saw the exceptional ecology and landscapes of the State of Karnataka, something most in this state are immensely proud of. Biodiversity and ecology were strong themes in the Ricky Kej (three-time Grammy award winner) extraordinary performances at the Opening Night festivities of the 15th BIFFes. A delight for fellow juror Andronika and myself was the exceptional trailer for the festival honouring the ancient folk-art traditions of the region. It was a privilege to see these 12 selected Kannada films. Naanu Ivala Abhimani by Vinod Kumar G was a platform to advocate for cochlear implant surgery and disability in general. Dealing with the tale of a 12-year-old girl who was born deaf due to interfamily marriage. Alindia Radio by Rangaswamy S a period piece deals with the influence of radio on a common man who sang the history of Madappa and how it leads to his ultimate demise. Chow Chow Bath by Kenja Chethan Kumar touts itself as one of the first Hyperlink Romantic comedies in the local industry. An intertwining mostly urban narrative of six characters who navigate the heady perfume of love, man’s obsession with woman and the societal pressures to marry. Dooradarshana by Sukesh Shetty another period piece explores how a tranquil village life is disrupted when a television comes to town. Alongside this are themes of corruption, loss of friendship and striving for love destinies. Garuda Purana by Manjunath B Nagba is an urban serial killer police crime thriller with a romantic story sideline. Kandeelu by K Yashoda Prakash, the one female director in competition, deals with the important issue of locals who pass away whilst working overseas to support their families and the sense of powerlessness and difficulties of navigating village recriminations, customs, superstitions, and the labyrinth of bureaucracy barriers to try and bring their loved ones home for last rights. Kshetrapathi by Shrikant Katagi is an epic price-gouging corruption revenge film of farmer suicides and the ensuing farmer fightback and strikes.

This commercial film weaves around these struggles and the loss of farming practices to big business and how big business purchase price does not cover the cost of agricultural production. “Nothing humiliates a man more than hunger and poverty.” Commercial village bro-film Lineman by V Raghu Shastry looks at townsfolk who are reliant on electricity and wish to mark the 100-year birthday of their village midwife. However, a nesting bird at the powerplant divides the village as the lineman cuts power to save the eggs. The dual eco-system story plays out; that of the eggs and that of the village. “Man is a sinner son. You can’t touch the bird eggs. The mother won’t sit on them.”There is light, and dark inside us.” Ravike Prasanga by Santhosh Kodankeri is finally a courtroom satire that delves into the areas of objectification of women, sexual repression, patriarchy, and coercive control. Is marriage the end game for women? It centres around a young woman wanting to do something extraordinary with her blouse to meet her intended match and the tailor confused by numerous changes by the client, gets it wrong. She wants revenge for her deep sense of lost opportunity. Swathi Mutthina Male Haniye directed by Raj B Shetty is his first attempt at a love story and it is remarkable. “To love as a woman is not wrong. If you ask me as a woman who is married, it is wrong, but as a woman, it is not. I am glad you found it.” Shetty also made two films in one year including this awarded film and works in multiple genres including experimental. This is a talent to watch. “I want to die as only a human being. A no-one.” Chosen unanimously by the Jury as the receiver of the NETPAC Award the citation reads:  For its masterful sensitivity and artistic achievements in all cinematic departments. For its visual and narrative poetry, and universal profundity of how to transcend finally, this mortal coil with dignity and grace.  A deeply moving portrayal of those who assist the dying and those left behind. 

Tatsama Tadbhava by Vishal Atreya is a police crime thriller centring on psychological fractures and good versus evil. Does it preside in us all? Nirvana by Amar L is an atmospheric film set in heavy rainfall as a heavily pregnant young woman, about to have her first child, is alone for a day and evening.

Written by Maxine Williamson – (Australia) Chairperson of the NETPAC Jury. 


Supriya Suri's Interview with Muhiddin Muzaffar

Director Muhiddin Muzaffar (1) 2 Min

1. I entered the cinema through the theatre. I was an actor in our local theatre called Kanibadam, named after Tuhfa Fozilova. After working for five years, I decided to do a theatre director course. I graduated with honors and became a director. We successfully staged performances at international festivals.


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