Dallas- The third annual DFW South Asian Film Festival commences Friday, March 3 at the Perot Museum in downtown Dallas, with doors open at 6 p.m. for a cocktail reception and at 7 p.m., the Texas premiere of A Billion Colour Story.
A Billion Colour Story is a fine choice for the festival opener, a visually stunning reminder that India is both a beautiful, festive country, and one racked with problems of racism and religious intolerance, something by no means exclusive to the U.S., and little different than what we’re experiencing right now. After some recent events in this country, it rings true indeed.
Director/writer/cinematographer N. Padmakumar casts his son Druva as Hari Aziz, an 11-year-old Mumbai boy with dreams of being a champion footballer who revels in his country’s vibrant colors and culture, something he understands more than he does the hardships faced by his Muslim father Imran and Hindu mother Parvati, who have an inter-religion marriage. Played by Gaurav UK Sharma and Vasuki, Imran and Parvati are liberal, Australian-educated aspiring filmmakers, wondering how they’ll finance their prized film project after one of their backers pulls out.
Although they’re both practicing agnostics, the bigotry they encounter requires them to move into a lower-income Muslim community. The new neighbors include Sophia, a hip tween girl who takes a quick liking to Hari and introduces him to his first relationship. He continues the cultural exchange by introducing her to rap, his personal philosophy and his parents’ ideas about a better world free of the preoccupations that separate people instead of uniting them. Just when it seems that fate will go the family’s way, it takes an unexpected turn that will test their beliefs to the core.
Padmakumar, formerly a giant in India’s advertising world, describes his film as a “story about the myriad colors of the world’s most diverse democracy.” Astonishingly, his photography depicts those colors with shimmering black and white that forces you, the viewer, to see those colors. When Aziz narrates poetically about the golden sun and the brown wood, you’ll swear you can see it, too. And when the film does ultimately merge into color, at a key moment for a key reason, the effect is breathtaking. It’s a dazzling cinematic maneuver that Michael Powell, the British director who pioneered mixing monochrome with color in such feature films as 1945’s A Matter of Life and Death, would have approved.
A Billion Colour Story is mostly in English with some Hindi and English subtitles; a powerful introduction to modern Indian cinema for those only familiar with Bollywood tropes. It is preceded, most appropriately, by the 14 minute short Yellow Tin Can Telephone, which mixes animation and live action in eye-popping black and white and vivid colors (mostly yellow) to create a visually surreal story of a girl who lives in silence and a boy who lives in black and white. One shuts out sound, the other shuts out color; clearly they need each other, and how they connect is undeniably charming.
» Find more of our coverage of the South Asian Film Festival, including schedules and features, go to our special section covering the event.
"All Access" Festival Pass (Feb 17 and after) - $175
Opening Night Film Only (Perot Museum) - $20
Opening Night Film & Party (Perot Museum) - $75
Centerpiece Film Only (AMC Village on the Parkway 9) - $20
Centerpiece Film & Party (AMC Village on the Parkway 9/Saffron House) - $50
Closing Night Film (AMC Village on the Parkway 9) - $20
All other film blocks - $15
Limited tickets available at the door. Online purchases are HIGHLY encouraged.