3rd Indian Film Festival Honors Bollywood’s Bad Boy Gulshan Grover
By Kalyani Giri
HOUSTON: Bollywood’s popular villain Gulshan Grover won kudos for his comedic role in the independently made comedy/drama movie Desperate Endeavors at the 3rd Indian Film Festival Houston (IFFH) Award Night banquet held at the Hotel Sorella on September 24, 2011. The actor, who was the star at the event that drew about 150 gatherees from this city’s diverse local communities, received the Special Recognition for Outstanding Performance Award for his character Dada Bhagwan, a spiritual advisor who offers farcical succor to an Indian immigrant in New York City in the 1973’s; the film along with another Grover starrer I Am Kalam, were two of nine movies that were screened over three days at the festival this year. Also in attendance was Desperate Endeavors’ French-Algerian director Sam Khassa, and Prashant Nair, director of Delhi in a Day that bagged the Best Feature Film Jury Award.
The event began with a cocktail reception followed by a plated dinner and the awards ceremony. Masters of Ceremonies for the evening were Melissa Wilson and Len Cannon, news anchors with television channels Fox 26 and KHOU 11 respectively. In her welcome address, IFFH founder/director Sutapa Ghosh said that the festival aimed at promoting the diverse perspectives of the Indian diaspora by showcasing quality films.
“We are devoted to creating a greater appreciation of India’s multi-faceted culture and long history of filmmaking,” said Ghosh. “This festival provides programming and activities that no other festival in Houston offers, and has the unique potential of reaching a crossover audience,” Ghosh said. She added that the festival attracted a record number of about 3,000 attendees this year.
The charismatic Grover, dapper in a burnt orange shirt, patterned silk tie and grey suit, lauded Ghosh for her effort in making the festival possible in this city.
“Previously, I never did connect Houston with art,” confided the actor wryly. “I was thrilled to feel the energy and enthusiasm. This festival is truly the beginning for Houston becoming a destination for film lovers and I hope it grows every year,” added Grover. He spoke a little about his reluctance in accepting a role in Desperate Endeavors.
“I did not want to take the role because it scared me, it was a challenge transitioning from a bad guy to a spiritual one,” Grover said. “But I am so glad I did, and I am very grateful to the director for being so confident in selecting me,” he added. Grover’s role as a tea-stall owner in I Am Kalam has also drawn critical acclaim and broadened his acting repertoire in other genres.
He accepted his award from the Consul General of Austria, Gerald Seidl, and the Director of the Film Commission of Houston, Rick Ferguson.
Other award winners were director Rupam Sarmah’s In Search of God that garnered the Best Documentary Film Jury Award, Fatakara directed by local filmmaker Soham Mehta that took the Best Short Film Jury Award.
The Special Recognition for Outstanding Contribution was awarded to Ellen Goldberg for her work in bringing together diverse cultures. Goldberg, who visited India for the first time when she was 41 years old, told of her lifelong fascination with that country and a sense of “kinship” with Indian people.
“I was impressed by their values and attitudes, and when I returned to Houston, I became involved with the community. Some wonder how a Jewish woman could be so involved in activities with Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and other communities. The secret is in treating everyone with dignity,” said Goldberg.
During dinner, local super group Rhythm India treated guests to vibrant dances choreographed by the artistic director and founder of the dance company, Arzan Gonda.
For additional information about the Indian Film Festival of Houston, visit www.iffhinc.org