Indian film duo coming to Whistler Film Festival (WWF)

December 04, 2014

Thanks to an SFU Visiting Scholars Program, SFU School for Contemporary Arts film professor Patricia Gruben brings celebrated Indian filmmakers to WWF.

Simon Fraser University’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts will screen the North American premier of a new feature film Dec. 7 at 3 p.m., created by one of India’s most celebrated filmmaking duos.

Ketan Mehta, the screenplay writer and director of “Rang Rasiya” (Colours of Passion), and Deepa Sahi, the film’s producer and Mehta’s life partner, will be at the screening to answer questions.

“Rang Rasiya” is as steeped in controversy as it is in the rich cinematography that Mehta and Sahi use to detail the passionate and stormy life of Raja Ravi Varma. The renowned Indian painter is inspired by a model’s beauty to render Indian goddesses and mythological characters with human faces.

While Varma’s work initially ignites Indian people’s passion for his art, his love affair with his model ultimately offends their religious beliefs.

Paralleling the film’s controversy, Mehta and Sahi have been involved in a legal battle with Varma’s granddaughter over what she views as a wrongful portrayal of Varma as a playboy focused on eroticism.

Financial support from SFU’s India Scholars Fund has allowed Patricia Gruben, an SFU School for the Contemporary Arts film professor, to bring Mehta and Sahi to SFU and the 2014 Whistler Film Festival (WFF).

Gruben is also the director of the Praxis Centre for Screenwriters and an organizer of a national screenwriting lab at this year’s WFF, Dec. 3 to 7. Mehta’s and Sahi’s reputations as collaborators with Canadian film producers motivated her to invite them to be presenters at the festival’s India-Canada Film Forum on Dec. 4.

Moderated by Gruben, the discussion aims to build on the new India-Canada co-production treaty signed this summer. The panellists will discuss new opportunities for filmmakers in Canada and India to develop creative and financial partnerships.

“When we were looking for someone we could bring in to talk about filmmaking partnerships between Canada and India, several of my Indo-Canadian film friends recommended Mehta and Sahi,” says Gruben. “They have a particular interest in Canada and are involved in at least two projects with Canadian producers.”

In Vancouver, Mehta will deliver a master class about the aesthetics of designing and executing challenging digital effects in live-action film. He’ll show clips from his two latest films, “Rang Rasiya” and “Manjhi the Mountain Man”, in the class. The director of 11 feature films founded his own visual effects studio when he couldn’t find one in India to render a stunning effect he envisioned for ending his 1993 film “Maya Memsaab.”