'Saawariya' to open South Asian film festival in US

Oct 9, 2007 Parveen Chopra

New York, Oct 9 (IANS) "Saawariya", the first Bollywood production from a Hollywood studio, is to open a prominent festival of South Asian films here on Nov 7 and release commercially two days later in over 80 theatres in North America.

Produced by Sony Pictures and directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, it is the much awaited debut film of Ranbir Kapoor (son of actor Rishi Kapoor) and Sonam Kapoor (daughter of actor-producer Anil Kapoor).

"Saawariya" is the timeless tale of two young star-crossed lovers from different religions whose passions almost take them to the brink of self-destruction. It is based on Dostoevsky's short story "White Nights".

It is the main draw at the five-day Mahindra Indo-American Arts Council (MIAAC) Film Festival, which will screen 70 films, including diaspora, Bollywood and short films.

The festival's closing film is "The Last Lear" by Rituparno Ghosh, considered heir to the legendary Satyajit Ray. The film has Amitabh Bachchan playing an ageing Shakespearean actor who takes on the bard's most challenging role. It is based on Utpal Dutt's play "Aajker Shahjahan".

The festival will conclude with six awards being presented for best film, best director, best actor, best actress, best documentary and best short film.

MIAAC film festival's executive director Aroon Shivdasani said 2007 marks a groundbreaking year as Hollywood studios such as Warner Brothers, Viacom, Disney and Sony Pictures have started to invest in Bollywood films.

The festival, now in its seventh year, has earlier featured films by Mira Nair, Ismail Merchant, Deepa Mehta, Gurinder Chaddha and Nagesh Kukunoor.

The festival is organised by the Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC), which is a not-for-profit organisation that promotes Indian artistes in the fields of performing, literary, visual and folk and fusion arts.

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