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'The Disciple' to 'Matto Ki Saikal': Nine Indian films spanning across genres make it to BIFF 2020- Cinema express

'The Disciple' to 'Matto Ki Saikal': Nine Indian films spanning across genres make it to BIFF 2020

We round up what the festival—that is set to begin on October 21—has picked from the Indian palette this year.

Published: 27th September 2020

What lies at the heart of the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), beside Korean cinema, that is? The largest film festival in Asia—now ready with its 25th edition—has a soft spot for Indian films.

How else does one explain the steady availability of quality Indian cinema, from across genres and regions, at the event? Staying the course, this year too, the festival has as many as nine films across various categories, besides another that has been part-directed and scripted by an Indian documentary filmmaker. We round up what the festival—that is set to begin on October 21—has picked from the Indian palette this year.


Official selection for the main competition section, this film has been written and directed by Shyam Madiraju. It was shot live in Victoria Terminus, Bombay Central and other train stations.

Set in the slums of Dharavi and the crowded streets of Mohammed Ali Road, it features a grizzled-looking Emraan Hashmi.

The storyline revolves around a pick-pocket working the trains of Mumbai, who has a life-altering journey after meeting the daughter of one of his victims.


Competing for the Kim Ji-seok Award at the festival and helmed by Ananth Mahadevan, this is a razor-sharp look at human rights and the fight for survival of women sugarcane cutters.

The plot resonates with the theme of human exploitation and ecological upheaval.

It brings to the fore how sugar barons force women labourers to undergo hysterectomy so that production is not affected. The film will also have its world premiere at Busan.


Bagging a Kim Ji-seok Award nomination, this Sanal Kumar Sasidharan-directed film is about a group on a trekking trip through the Himalayas.

An adventure movie, shot in Himachal Pradesh, it stars Manju Warrier. What is unique about it is that the makers created a special language—A’hr Samsa—for the film.

The Disciple

An ode to music, this Chaitanya Tamhane feature is a salute to Mumbai, merging the roads of the city and the ragas beautifully. The film comes to the BIFF post a celebrated run at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival.

It became the first Indian movie to play in the main competition section at Venice in 19 years since Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding.


Acclaimed Bengali art-house filmmaker Suman Mukhopadhyay’s first foray into Hindi cinema is taking him to Busan.

The National Award-winning director’s film is inspired by a short story by the doyen of Bengali literature, Ashapurna Devi. The story revolves around the journey of two young people and was filmed in Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal.

Pinki Elli?

Set in Bengaluru, the Kannada-language feature is every parent’s nightmare. Director Prithvi Konanur brings to the fore a remorseless society and a heartless crime. The plot revolves around a working woman, who leaves her infant daughter Pinki in the care of a maid, who in turn loans the baby to a woman to use as a begging prop.

Matto Ki Saikal

Starring actor-filmmaker Prakash Jha in the lead, the motion picture revolves around the story of a family’s struggle to buy a new bicycle. Helmed by debutant M Gani and produced by another debutant Sudhirbhai Mishra, it is a heart-rending story of how a small aspiration can have a huge impact on a family. The film speaks in the voice of rural India.

Meel Patthar

The lockdown had stopped the post-production work on this movie, forcing filmmaker Ivan Ayr to submit a rough, soundless cut to the Venice International Film Festival. Shot in just 28 days, Meel Patthar made it to the festival on the basis of the first cut. The gritty film depicts the life of a veteran truck driver who looks back at his past and grapples with an uncertain future.


Gender stereotypes, menstrual taboos and more form the plotline of this experimental, coming-of-age drama. Directed by Apoorva Satish, it discusses how girls have to conform to established norms of society that restrict their identities and predefine their roles. It challenges the viewer to confront and speak up, and change the way things are.

A Rifle and a Bag

Co-helmed by Indian Arya Rothe with Isabella Rinaldi from Italy, and Cristina Hanes from Romania, this documentary premiered earlier this year at Rotterdam.

It is also an official selection for the Swiss documentary film festival, Visions du Réel. The feature is a disturbing portrayal of the Naxalites in India.

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