Monsoon Shootout

news SAIFF2013

“Asian cinema” is often used as a catch-all term, but while it’s bad enough that a multitude of countries and cultures are summed up so generically it’s made worse by the realization that too many people think those countries in question consist solely of Japan, South Korea, and China. Technically speaking those three would fall under the East Asian label, but while they get the most press there is great cinema to be found elsewhere in the region. North Asia has seen recent success with the Russian films, Elena and Stalingrad, Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi has helped stimulate interest in West Asian films thanks to his Oscar-winning A Separation, and one of the best action films in years (The Raid) came out of Southeast Asia’s Indonesia. This week though, attention turns to the Tenth Annual South Asian International Film Festival (SAIFF) in NYC. The fest runs tonight through Sunday (December 3rd-8th) and highlights cinema from countries including India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and more. To most people, Indian movies means Bollywood, but while that’s a big, bright, musical part of their cinematic culture they actually have far more to offer. That includes the opening night film, Monsoon Shootout, which is the only one on this year’s roster that I’ve already seen and happily one I can say without a doubt is worth seeing. Keep reading for a look at all of the films playing at this year’s South Asian International Film Festival.

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review monsoon shootout

“Midnight screening” – these are two words associated with high-octane, fast-thrills entertainment, the sort of movie you might check out after imbibing a few (or more than a few) pints and heading to your local cinema. The Cannes Film Festival is no different, and their small strand of Midnight Screenings are typically reserved for anticipated, exotic movies that nevertheless would not sit pretty in the main branches of the fest. Monsoon Shootout might by title alone sound like a worthy addition to that canon, though writer-director Amit Kamur‘s first turn behind the steering wheel proves wildly unsatisfying and technically slapdash. In downtown Mumbai, a serial killer known as The Axe Man, real name Shiva (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), is running rampant, carrying out hits for his boss, known only as the Slum Lord. Rookie cop Adi (Vijay Varma) is one day faced with taking Shiva down, though the choices he can make – to wound, kill or arrest the perp – have wildly varying consequences, as we learn over the course of the film.

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