The Busan International Film Festival is about a month away and with their recent lineup announcement we are starting to see lots of exciting promotional material for the upcoming films. India is very well represented in this year's Busan lineup, with eleven films altogether, including new projects from Anurag Kashyap (Mukkabaaz/The Brawler), Hansal Mehta (Omerta), Shlok Sharma (Zoo) and SS Rajamouli's worldwide blockbuster Baahubali: The Conclusion. However, one of the most exciting for me is the world premiere of Devashish Makhija's sophomore feature, Ajji (Granny).
In 2012, Makhija directed a little film called Oonga, about a young boy inspired by a performance of the Ramayana who turns himself into Lord Ram and his attempt to save his town from Maoist Naxalite rebels. The story is about much more than that, though, tracing this young boy's journey from fantasy to reality and highlighting the plight of rurual village India and how its residents are caught in the crossfire between politics and commerce when all they really want to do is live their lives. The film played a number of festivals, but I feel it was never given the kind of reception it deserved, and I have been waiting for a second feature ever since.
In the meantime Makhija has made a name for himself as one of the nation's finest short filmmakers. Over the last three years he's made several shorts that have won - and continue to win - awards all around the world. Most of these are freely available on YouTube, and if you haven't seen them, I strongly suggest seeking out Agli Baar, El 'Ayichi, and Taandav as glowing examples of what can be done in the realm of short filmmaking. It was only a matter of time, though, before he would have ot come back to deliver a feature, and we are finally here.
Ajji (Granny) is a story of revenge and what a grandmother will do for her family. When a nine year old girl is raped by a well-connected local goon, Ajji is determined to make him pay. The road to revenge is not an easy one, but Ajji has developed the patience and determination that comes with age and a life of hard work. Whatever form her revenge takes, it sure as hell looks like it's going to be bloody, and I'm here for it.
This year's BIFF takes place from the 12-21st of October.