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The Day in Pictures



Young Indian Stars of the Berlinale
"Milk and Opium" featuring Swaroop (right)
"Milk and Opium" featuring Swaroop (right)
A young Indian villager and ten upcoming Indian directors from the metros, the Berlinale mirrored the two worlds that exist in India by showing the film "Milk and Opium" starring the young Rajasthani boy Swaroop Khan and the directoral work of ten young Indian film makers.

A young Sufi musician dressed in the colourful Rajasthani style stands at a corner of the Cinemaxx 4 film theatre in Berlin, singing a majestic Rajasthani song. Cine-goers crowd around the 14-year-old boy who shows none of the shyness and rectitude that one would  associate with a boy hailing from a little village called Baiya in Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan. Child star Swaroop Khan was one of the more colourful characters to grace the recently concluded 56th Berlinale, star of the children’s film "Milk and Opium", he has been winning accolades for his performance.

Swaroop, who comes from a family of traditional singers was selected by a talent scout who was looking for a lead actor for the Joel Palombo film "Milk and Opium". Swaroop, who has hardly seen the inside of a school and has never acted before is getting used to his new fame. In his Rajasthani Hindi he said about his experience of shooting for the film "Bahut accha laga" (It felt very good).

"Milk and Opium" tells the story of a young Sufi musician who leaves his remote desert village in Rajasthan in search of work. During his journey, he comes across an India he never knew existed, an urban India of malls and multinationals and he tries to adapt and adjust to his new found environment.

Swaroop, who comes from the hot desert state of Rajasthan, also managed in the time he spent in Berlin to adapt to the chilly winter of the German capital. "Log bhi acchhe, thand bhi acchi, magar Jaisalmer se bahut alag hai," (the people are nice, even the cold is nice but it’s quite different from Jaisalmer), he exclaimed and promptly broke into a song "Kaesariya balam aao padharo", setting cameras of movie goers whirring. Swaroop may have been the most extraordinary of the young Indian contingent that was here for the Berlinale, but even the more "ordinary" among them have extraordinary talent to boast of.

Talent Campus sees record Indian entries

Parvinder Kaur of Mumbai is an upcoming filmmaker whose film "Will Think for Food" has won the first place in the Talent Campus section of the Berlinale. The Talent Campus aims to bring budding film makers of the world together and give them a platform to showcase their films.  This year’s Talent Campus saw participation from 520 directors from countries as diverse as Bangladesh, Indonesia, Sweden and Nigeria. All of them had to send short films on the theme "Hunger, Food and Taste".

Out of these 520 entries, 32 films were selected for screening at the festival. Parvinder’s film, a funny take on her attempt to make a film on the theme of food for the Berlinale won over the Talent Campus selectors. “I decided to make a short film on a director’s attempt to make a film on the theme of food, how she struggled with the idea on what food to make the film on. It was a funny take on the competition subject and I guess the selectors liked it  and that is why it has been ranked first among all the Talent entries at the Berlinale”, she said.

The Talent Campus saw entries on diverse subjects like the preparation of snail’s dessert and liver dish to a tomato’s search for true love.  There were a record number of entries from India this year, with more than 10 Indians getting selected to attend the Talent Campus Workshop in Berlin.

Bangalore’s Smriti Mehra made an ode to the Johnson meat market in the city which is facing an assault from the modern supermarkets with their packaged meat. Mehra, whose short film entry saw her attend the first international festival of her career was excited about being in Berlin. “This festival is much bigger than I expected it to be, it gives us exposure and a chance to meet film makers from different countries”, she said.

Exposure to some the world's best film makers and camera men, who descended on Berlin during the Berlinale to make it one of the best film festivals in the world. The 56th Berlinale is over -- "Grbavica" by Sarajevo director Jasmila Zbanic took the Golden Bear for best film at the conclusion of a glittery gala ceremony in central Berlin. Now lies a one year wait for the next Berlinale and for the next batch of upcoming actors and directors from India.

Preeti John
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