Fri, Dec 24, 2004 - Page 17 News List

Taiwan and India go face to face

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

They stared deeply into each other's eyes, the script said in director Mira Nair's Vanity Fair, starring Reese Witherspoon and Jim Broadbent


The Taiwan vs. India Film Festival is POP Cinema's (國民戲院) biggest production this year. The festival will showcase 28 films from India and eight films about Taiwan. All the films will be about singing, dancing and intense romances, said programmer Chang Chu-ti (張筑悌).

To enter the world of Bollywood, the first step is to take a look at the works of two directors, Raj Kapoor and Guru Dutt.

Raj Kapoor is seen as the Charlie Chaplin of Indian cinema. Most of his works depict lower-class people struggling hard for success. The Vagabond tells of the love between a daughter of a judge and a vagabond. Mr. 420 is about a young guy entering the big city of Mumbai (Bombay).

Guru Dutt tends to talk about people's choices in life, in a poetic way. Paper Flowers and Eternity Thirsty are representative works.

Devdas is a classic story frequently used in the history of the Bollywood. The festival showcases two versions of the film Devdas. In the 1955 version directed by Bimal Roy the focus of his lens is more focused on the issue of social struggle. The 2002 Devdas is a three-hour film containing grand scenes, glamorous costumes and art design, beautiful actors and a tear-jerking plot.

Satyajit Ray is another heavy-weight director that one should not miss. His films Songs of the Road and The World of Apu are epic stories looking at dramas within a family, caused by their harsh environment. The Goddess explores the role of women in India by talking about a woman seen as the incarnation of the goddess Kali.

In comparison is the collection of 1970s Taiwan romantic dramas. There might not be a lot of dancing scenes and costumes, but these movies are made with a similar formula -- good-looking actors, best-selling theme songs and a leading man and woman chasing each other on the beach, or in the woods, in slow motion.

Restrictions on love scenes are the same for both Bollywood movies and Taiwanese romantic dramas. Kissing or sex scenes were banned in India for a long time. While in the 1970s in Taiwan, the camera lens would move to a vase or the moonlight right after the lead characters kissed.

The opening film is Indian director Mira Nair's Vanity Fair, starring Reese Witherspoon and Jim Broadbent. It is not a Bollywood film, but was shot in England and India. Adapted from the classic novel by William Makepeace Thackeray, the period drama deals with an extraordinary woman climbing the social ladder with her beauty and wisdom.

Taiwan vs. India Film Festival

When and Where: Dec. 31 to Jan. 21, 2005, at SPOT -- Taipei Film House: 18, Zhongshan N Rd, Sec 2, Taipei (台北市中山北路二段18).

Jan. 25 to Feb. 6 at Kaohsiung Film Archive: 10 Hesi Rd, Yencheng district, Kaohsiung (高雄縣鹽埕區河西路10).

Jan. 12 to Jan. 30 at Hsinchu Municipal Image Museum: 65, Chungcheng Rd, Hsinchu City (新竹市中正路65號).

Jan. 26 to Feb. 6 at the Performance Hall of Taoyuan County Government, Cultural Bureau: 21, Hsienfu Rd, Taoyuan (桃園市縣府路21號).

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