Culture in France

Four cities star in Indian Express, a film programme with urban pull at Paris's Forum des Images

Audio 10:08
Aishwarya Rai, Bollywood star.
Aishwarya Rai, Bollywood star. Pathé Distribution

Rosslyn Hyams reports on the Forum des Images film centre's 2017 City Series and its programme of movies and events featuring four cities in India.


Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkota and New Delhi feature in movies from Indian and French directors being shown at Paris City Hall's film library, the Forum des Images, until the end of February 2017.

The Indian Express cycle of 60 films about or shot in some of India’s major cities include some of the colourful and dramatic commercial films, like Ashutosh Gowariker’s Jodhaa Akbar starring Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan and Rhithik Roshan.

The rich and diverse event kicked off with an older film called PyaasaThirsty, 1957, directed by and starring Guru Dutt and heroines of the fifties and sixties like Waheeda Rahman. The film tells the tale of a highly romantic but down-and-out poet whose work is discovered by a prostitute. In this film the love songs are sung in duets.

The 60 films selected for Indian Express cover a large range of films with those urban stories dating from the 1950s filmed in studios up to today, art-house films, documentaries and animation films. In some of the more recent films set in Mumbai or Delhi for example, directors like Anurag Kashyap, Amit Kumar or Kanu Behl shoot their psychological dramas or gangster films in derelict or construction sites or new luxury apartment blocks on the outskirts of the cities.

Indian Express also includes some films made in Indian cities by French directors. “These films help our Parisian audiences make a connection with cinema which is very far from them,” said Laurence Briot of the Forum des Images, who curated the event.
As broad as the scope of this cycle is, the time and space limits are a source of frustration. Briot confides with a hint of regret that “we have had to leave some films out and there are surely others we didn’t know about. There are so many!”

Beyond the films and to enhance the experience, the Forum des Images has organised meetings with Indian directors who come to talk about their films, film-making and Indian society today, such as actress-director Nandita Das and animation director, Gitanjali Rao.

Indian cinema, past and present

India’s more than one-hundred-year-old cinema industry has been established for years as the most prolific.

The most popular films are those known now as Bollywood, which has become a genre in its own right; the film lasts three hours, a handful of top-billed stars play the main roles, and at least one dance scene will be a hip-thrusting chorus usually choreographed by A.R. Rehman.

More than a thousand films are made in India per year for the big screen. And they are seen by an increasing number of people all over the world, thanks to new technologies.

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