Prague Indian Film Festival brings a touch of masala to Czech audiences

The 20th edition of the festival presents an English-friendly selection of Hindi, Tamil, Marathi and Bengali films, and an anniversary dance party.

Ioana Caloianu

Written by Ioana Caloianu Published on 11.10.2023 16:00:00 (updated on 11.10.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

Celebrate the Prague Indian Film Festival’s 20th anniversary with Indian films offering a glimpse into the Indian subcontinent between Oct. 12 to 14 at Kino Světozor. This year’s edition of the annual festival presents a diverse selection of Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, and Bengali cinematography to local audiences with both Czech and English subtitles, and culminates with a party rivaling any Bollywood dance-off.

The event is devoted to films produced in the last two years in large and independent studios located all over India. Known as “masala movies,” such movies have been experiencing a surge in popularity in recent years. 

DID YOU KNOW? Masala films emerged in the 1970s, and typically consist of a mix of action, comedy, romance, and drama or melodrama. They can be musicals that include songs, often filmed in picturesque locations. The genre is named after masala, a mixture of spices in Indian cuisine.

Beyond the colorful facade, young filmmakers are breathing a new life into Bollywood tropes and bringing contemporary social issues into the spotlight. Complementing the selection and adding more context, short documentaries provide insights into the culture and everyday life in India. 

indians in the czech republic

  • As of October 2023, a community of around 9,000 Indians resides in the Czech Republic, according to the Embassy of India.
  • After Ukrainians and Slovaks, Indians are one of the most numerous foreign populations in Czechia, with thousands of Indians working in fields related to business, IT, and computer science.
  • Their numbers could potentially increase even further in light of the Czech government’s proposed measures to increase the number of foreign workers in the country by 20,000 annually to address critical labor shortages in various industries.

Movies to look forward to:

Thursday, Oct. 12

In the film Mrs. Chatterjee vs. Norway, Debika Chatterjee and her husband Aniruddha live a peaceful life in Norway together with their children, until the local child protection authority removes the children and places them in institutional care. The movie is loosely based on expat Sagarika Chakraborty's real-life case and questions the traditionalist setup of Indian families while also criticizing the Norwegian authorities for their lack of cultural understanding and empathy.

Friday, Oct. 13

In 2018, the North Indian metropolis of Allahabad underwent a name change to Prayagraj, a Sanskrit name that highlights its significance as a Hindu pilgrimage site. In director Faraz Ali's film Shoebox, the loss of the city's former spirit that accompanied the renaming is exemplified through the story of Mampu. Mampu is a young woman who travels to Islamabad to take care of her ailing father Madhav, who also faces the imminent demolition of his once-popular single-screen cinema.

Saturday, Oct. 14

Once Upon a Time in Calcutta's Ela is heartbroken over the tragic loss of her young daughter and plans to leave her home to start anew. However, facing financial struggles, she attempts to persuade her half-brother to sell the dilapidated theater where Ela's mother once performed. Director Aditya Vikram Sengupta, hailing from Calcutta, pays homage to his hometown in this haunting film that showcases the city's illustrious cultural history and its role as a hotbed for local revolutionary movements.

Elaborate dance scenes are a staple of any Bollywood production, and festivalgoers can head straight from a film screening to a party celebrating both Indian film and dance on Oct. 14. The event happens at P.M. Cluband and features DJ Deepak, who will present a selection of the biggest Bollywood hits of the last two decades, dancers from Bollywood Naplno Dance & Yoga Centre, and a raffle with prizes.  

For more details about the Prague Indian Film Festival, including a full program of movies, head to their website.

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