Two leading lights of Indian cinema - Kerala's Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Bengal's Buddhadeb Dasgupta - and filmmaking siblings, Deepa and Dilip Mehta - are among those that are holding the flag aloft for the world's most prolific movie-producing nation at the 41st Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
India has never had as many films in TIFF's Masters sidebar as it does this year, with Torontonian Deepa Mehta, with the docudrama Anatomy of Violence, joining section regulars Adoor and Dasgupta to give the country a rare count of three in the coveted section.
In an informal chat ahead of an official presentation of "Anatomy of Violence", an unsettling of examination of the Nirbhaya gangrape in Delhi in 2012, TIFF director Piers Handling said: "Usually, a country has only one film in the TIFF Masters section. France is perhaps the only exception."
Handling said: "We love the cinema of Adoor and Dasgupta because of the way they depict the contemporary social realities of India in a unique and artistic manner."
Reminded that back in India, the two masters are "on the fringes" of the movie industry, he said, "That is true of the entire world. In an industry dominated by commercial films, auteurs have to struggle for space."
While Adoor's latest film "Pinneyum" (Once Again) screened in Toronto on Monday, Dasgupta seventh Masters entry "Tope" (The Bait) is scheduled to be unveiled here today.
Interacting with the audience after the screening of "Pinneyum", Adoor said: "The film turns the spotlight on the materialism rampant among the middle class back home and looks at its often shocking repercussions."
"People today seek short cuts to material prosperity. They want to get rich quick. They do not realize that while money can buy things, it cannot buy everything, certainly not happiness, peace of mind and respectability," said veteran director, who last come to Toronto in 2007 with "Naalu Pennungal" (Four Women).
Besides registering a trio of Masters entries, India has achieved another first in TIFF 2016. Never before has a brother and sister duo made it to the festival's official selection.
"This double is undeniably unusual," said David Hamilton, who has produced both "Anatomy of Violence" and Dilip Mehta's lively Sunny Leone documentary "Mostly Sunny".
He was speaking at a reception co-hosted on Sunday by Dinesh Bhatia, consul-general of India, Toronto, for Indian talent attending TIFF this year.
"'Anatomy of Violence' is not about the incident per se, but about the mindsets that give produce rapists," said Hamilton. "We are all complicit, not just in India but all over the world, given the way women are viewed and treated."
Among those that attended the reception were New Yorker Vikram Gandhi, director of "Barry", which charts Barack Obama's early months in college, and Indian-Canadian filmmaker Richie Mehta, whose Google-backed documentary "India in a Day" premieres in TIFF.
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