It was a coincidence that while director Aparna Sen was making her latest film Goynar Baksho her native India was having a national conversation about the role of women in society.
Sen had first become interested in adapting Bengali writer Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay’s story of the same name shortly after reading it in the early 1990s, but budgetary and creative concerns held up the creation of the film for nearly two decades.
Goynar Baksho follows three generations of women in a wealthy Bengali family whose fates reflect the evolving history of the country around them.
A pair of young filmmakers took home two of the top prizes at the New York Indian Film Festival Awards on Saturday, a feat that was especially impressive considering both films were feature-length debuts.
Geethu Mohandas was awarded the NYIFF’s Best Film award for Liar’s Dice, which tells the story of a young rural mother whose tragically changes after her husband goes missing in Delhi. Lead actress Geethanjali Thapa, who plays the main character Kamala, was also honored with the festival’s Best Actress award. Reviewing the film for The Aerogram, Hannah Harris Green movingly wrote that “the Himalayas in this story are not majestic but forbidding and unreadable. Kamla stares blankly into them as she waits — for a bus, or a jeep, or some sign that her struggle will be worth it.”
Another film that garnered widespread acclaim at the festival was Nagraj Manjule’s directoral debut Fandry, which also earned him the festival’s Best Director award. The Marathi film explores the persistent problem of caste-based discrimination through an intra-caste romance starring Somnath Avghade and Rajshree Kharat. Watch the film’s trailer here.