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|September 10, 2001||
'Mira's a visionary'
Director Mira Nair, who won the prestigious Golden Lion Award for her film, Monsoon Wedding at the Venice Film Festival last week, has come in for high praise in the British media.
"A Bollywood movie about an arranged Punjabi marriage has stunned the film world by winning Venice's big prize, the coveted Golden Lion," the Daily Telegraph wrote today, with an eight-column banner.
Monsoon Wedding, which was shot in a month around New Delhi using handheld cameras, beat the critics' favourites, The Others, a thriller starring Nicole Kidman, and the Channel Four film, The Navigators, directed by Ken Loach, about the devastating effect of privatisation on a group of British Rail workers.
The Times, on the other hand, wrote of Monsoon Wedding as "a comedy by the Indian director Mira Nair (which) was the surprise winner of the award for Best Film at the 58th Venice Film Festival."
"The film, which has the feel of a documentary won the Golden Lion Award at the prestigious event, now the oldest film festival in the world," The Guardian, another daily, reported.
Nair, 44, the first woman and Indian to win the Golden Lion, said at the award ceremony: "This one is for India, my beloved India, my continuing inspiration."
Also a favourite at Cannes, Monsoon Wedding follows events as an affluent Indian family gathers in New Delhi from around the world for a Punjabi wedding. Long-running family tensions rise to the surface as the relatives spend four days preparing for the colourful and extravagant event.
"Monsoon Wedding took the top prize because of its crowd-pleasing ability to sweep an audience into the Punjabi culture of arranged marriages, steady unconsummated teenage lust and the bacchanalian Bollywood spirit," the Daily Telegraph commented.
The story, described as a "love song" to the Indian capital by its director, tackles the taboo subject of incest.
Nair, an Oscar-nominee for Best Foreign Language film in 1998 with Salaam Bombay, has also earned international praise for her earlier films, which include Mississippi Masala and Kamasutra: A Tale of Love.
Nair is currently shooting Hysterial Blindness starring Uma Thurman.
The festival jury, which consisted of three film directors, two actresses, a producer and an author, had considered 41 films in 11 languages.
The head of the jury, Italian director and actor Nanni Moretti, who won the Palme d'Or at Cannes this year for his film, La Stanza del Figlio, described Nair as a visionary.
The Indian director herself played down the acclaim: "I didn't expect anything from this film, really. I wanted to make something small, but I am so very happy to say that it has become big.
"If we win and we happen to be women, then it is wonderful."
A wedding to remember
The Mira Nair chat on Rediff
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