'Anaahat' kickstarts Bollywood fest in Israel

'Anaahat' kickstarts Bollywood fest in Israel

Set in the 10th century in Shravasti, the capital of the Kingdom of Malla, and shot in the palaces of Hampi, 'Anaahat' (Eternity) revolves around two individuals — the king of Malla, who is unable to provide an heir, and the Queen, Sheelavati, who is forced to choose a potent mate for one night.

But while the queen is ordered to produce an inheritor through the prevalent custom of Niyoga, she ends up enjoying the sexual act and overtly demands for a repeat."Though the film is set in 10th century India the plot is of contemporary relevance as it raises questions related to gender issues and relationships encountered even today," said Palekar, 65, who attended the screening with his wife Sandhya.

'Anahat'The film, with its story of a woman defying the norm to assert her sexuality, surprised many in the audience, who were expecting a typical Bollywood fare.

"I did not come expecting this but was pleasantly surprised. I have studied about gender issues in India and this film added to my knowledge raising certain genuine feminine questions," Dana Hirshfeld, a student of Indian Studies, told PTI.

"It was an unusual plot for an Indian film but beautifully presented in sites that reminded me of my trip to India," Hirshfeld added.

Several Indian immigrants to Israel descended to Jerusalem from far off places for the screening to have a glimpse of Palekar."As a youngster he was my favourite actor. He made acting look so simple. We could all identify ourselves with him," Roger, a Jew of Indian origin, who came for the screening from the southern town of Kiryat Gat, said.

India's Ambassador to Israel, Navtej Sarna, heaped praise for the national-award-winning artiste, recalling Bollywood hits from the 70s.

"Amolji had a definitive and fundamental influence on the Indian film industry. He redefined Bollywood for the middle classes. Every individual watching his films could identify himself with it and live his day today experiences in his films," Sarna told the capacity crowd.

India enthusiasts in Israel are on a high with six films - Aamir Khan starrer 'Taare Zameen Par', 'Anaahat', 'A Wednesday', 'Rock On', 'Corporate' and Dev Anand starrer 1951 classic 'Baazi' - to be screened in the coming days at Cinematheques in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa during the next two weeks.

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