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Back to Busan

Friday, September 07, 2018

Manoj Bajpayee scores a hat-trick at the 23rd Busan International Film Festival with Bhonsle. Ronita Torcato reports

Manoj Bajpayee celebrates his 25th year in films by returning to South Korea's world renowned film festival at Busan with his third feature, a political drama titled Bhonsle. Bajpayee's Aligarh and In The Shadows also had their world premieres at Busan.

Bhonsle is written and directed by Devashish Makhija who is a Busan International Film Festival returnee too—his internationally acclaimed revenge drama, Ajji had premiered at Busan last year. Makhija, Bajpayee and production house Indie Muviz are the team behind the highly acclaimed short film, Taandav.  Bajpayee  bagged the Best Actor award for this film at the Filmfare Awards 2016.

The 23rd edition of the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) will be held from October 4 - 13, 2018, when Ryuichi Sakamoto, a Japanese producer, musician, artist, peace and environmental activist will be honoured with the Asian Filmmaker of the Year award.  Sakamoto is the award- winning composer of films like Oshima Nagisa's Merry Christmas, Bernardo Bertolucci's The Last Emperor and The Sheltering Sky, and Alejandro González Iñárritu's The Revenant.

BIFF 2018 will screen 323 films from 79 countries, including 115 world premieres and 25 international premieres. It will  open with Beautiful Days, a drama directed by Busan-born Jero  Yun.  The festival will close with martial arts drama, Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy, directed by Hong Kong’s Yuen Woo-ping.

Bhonsle apart, four other Indian films will premiere at the 23rd BIFF: Rima Das' Assamese feature Bulbul Can Sing, Hardik Mehta’s Kaamyaab, Sanjoy Nag’s Yours Truly, and Praveen Morchhale’s Widow of Silence. BIFF 2018  will also host a screening of Nandita Das's Manto, a biopic on the ill-fated Indo-Pak writer.

Bhonsle has been nominated,with nine other Asian films, for the Kim Ji-seok Award in the Window on Asian Cinema section. BIFF created the award in honour of the late co-founder of the festival and  its head selector who died while attending the Cannes film festival in May 2017. The Kim Ji-seok Award will be presented to two films, each receiving a cash award of approximately $10,000 (KRW100,000) at the closing ceremony on October 13.

Bajpayee has co-produced Bhonsle with Promodome Motion Pictures, Golden Ratio Films, and Indie Muviz and plays the titular character of a terminally ill lone wolf Maharashtrian cop who is coerced into retirement in politically tumultuous Mumbai. Bhonsle then strikes an unlikely relationship with a 23-year-old North-Indian girl and her younger brother. When conflict raging in the world around them reaches his doorstep, Bhonsle gets one more chance to  fight one last battle worth fighting. But it might just be too late.

Director  Makhija who is excited about the BIFF premiere says,“Avant-garde Korean films have been a major cinematic inspiration. So, to have my films premiere in Korea  is like coming home. The Korean audiences at Busan last year welcomed Ajji as if it had been made by one of their own. I hope I will get a similar response to Bhonsle.”

Indie Muviz producer Piiyush Singh says the film works at two levels. "Firstly, it deals with the issue of immigrants and the conflict which arises due to man-made boundaries; and secondly, it takes us into the inner life of the lonely policeman who, irrespective of his caste and region, fights to remain “humane”  above all else "

The film also features  Marathi star Santosh Juvekar, theatre thespian Ipshita Chakraborty Singh and introduces child artist Virat Vaibhav.

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