Toronto, Sep 19 : The red carpet was rolled out for Indian filmmaker Anurag Kashyap and his cast for the premiere of his movie “That Girl In Yellow Boots” at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). And the audience response was “incredible”.
And if viewers’ reaction to this provocative thriller here over the weekend is anything to go by, “That Girl in Yellow Boots” is the most well received Indian film at this year’s festival.
“The audience reaction here and in Venice has been incredible. I never expected that the film will evoke such a strong response and reaction,” Kashyap told IANS.
After “Dev.D”, “That Girl in Yellow Boots” seals Kashyap’s reputation as one of the leaders of the independent film movement in India that is challenging conventional cinema by portraying social reality as it is.
As someone in the audience rightly said Friday, “This is a film about the underbelly of the Indian reality as it is. Kashyap’s characters portray things as they are.”
Set in Pune and Mumbai, “That Girl in Yellow Boots” is the moving story of the travails of a white-skinned foreign girl named Ruth who comes to India in search of her Bengali father who was a photographer.
Playing the role of Ruth, Kashyap’s partner Kalki Koechlin – born to French parents in India – has turned in yet another stellar performance after her role as Chandramukhi in Kashyap’s “Dev.D”.
The winner of the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress in “Dev.D” and fluent in Hindi, Kalki – as Ruth – plunges into the maze of complex Indian milieu with the single-minded goal of finding her father.
She bribes bureaucrats to get her tourist visa extended, learns parlour massage to service men in the back alleys and supports a useless, drug-addicted boyfriend even as underworld sharks eye this fair-skinned girl. Sexually explicit dialogues flow freely in this film which has been rated ‘adult’ by the censors.
“Though some buyers abroad have suggested that I should have extended the boundaries of the film by showing sex scenes, I told them that’s not my aim. My aim is not to show nudity, my aim is to convey the message and provoke people. Even in ‘Dev.D’ all such (sex) scenes were shown off camera. My idea is to push my own boundaries,” said Kashyap.
“The problem with Indians is that someone using the f-word in English is considered fine, sophisticated. But if the same person uses the f-word (as done in ‘That Girl in Yellow Boots’) in Hindi, it is considered foul. We have to mature as a society.”
Taking potshots at Bollywood films, the ever restive director said, “Our problem is that we still make juvenile films…Our understanding of what is titillation and what is vulgar is very warped. Whatever makes the Indian male socially uncomfortable is termed vulgar. But if you have pelvic thrusts and (raunchy) music, that’s okay with him as entertainment. A classical example is ‘Kambakht Ishq’.”
Indian audiences need some shock therapy to get them out of their comfort zone, he said.
“Kabhi-kabhi audience ko jhatka lagna zaruri hai, tabhi bade honge. We need more films like ‘That Girl in Yellow Boots’ to shock people…they will react angrily…there will arguments and counter-arguments and ultimately (get) some maturity.”
Kashyap said he was inspired to make the film after reading about the story of a German girl who came to India over three years ago in search of her lost father.
“Kalki fleshed the script by bringing in her experiences as a white girl born and raised in India,” he said.
(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at email@example.com)