Arup specializes in any job that requires stretching out his legs – whether it is on a reclining chair at the beach, or in the Economy Plus seat of United Airlines, or on the shoulder of the person sitting in front of him in the theatre. And when dreaming, travelling for work and watching movies is not keeping him busy, he tries to write. He lives in Naperville with his wife and son, who are cinema freaks as well.

This edition of Bolly Volley is not about Bollywood! It is in fact about celebrating that section of Indian and other South Asian cinema that does not get labeled as “Bollywood”. These are the movies that not many people may make a song and dance about, but these are brilliant movies that movie-buffs would never want to miss!  The problem always has been that there are not many opportunities to watch such movies in theaters that are too busy screening the latest blockbusters starring the Khans and  Kapoors of Bollywood! So when there is Film Festival just a few miles away that takes care of this problem by showing some of the best of South Asian cinema over a weekend – I can’t help but write about it because everyone must know! Until Dhoom 3 (shot in Chicago) releases later this year, there can’t be any better news for South Asian movie lovers in this city. No wonder TimeOut Chicago has listed attending the Chicago South Asian Film Festival 2013 (now in its 4th year) as one of the top 10 things do in the city this weekend (!

Whatever be the reason – watching the amazing movies being presented this year, or to get to see the celebrities attending opening night (including Farooq Sheikh) or to celebrate 100 years of Indian cinema – this appears to be an event that will be worth every dollar spent on it (individual screenings are just $15 but Festival Pass gives a bigger bang for your buck).

While the festival includes many movies – features, shorts, online movies from India, USA, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka, here are some previews I found very interesting. Complete Film Guide, Schedules and Ticket information is available at


(starring Raj Kumar Yadav of Kai Po Chhe!, Gangs of Wasseypur-2  and Talaash fame)

Synopsis: “Shahid” traces the true story of slain human rights activist and lawyer Shahid Azmi. In the backdrop of communal violence that was unleashed on the city of Mumbai since 1993 we see a remarkable tale unfold. From attempting to become a terrorist to being wrongly imprisoned under a draconian anti-terrorism law to becoming a criminal lawyer Shahid traces the inspiring personal journey of a boy who became an unlikely messiah for human rights while following the rise of communal violence in India



(directed by Mira Nair starring Riz Ahmed and Kate Hudson)

Synopsis: At a café a Pakistani man, Changez tells Bobby, an American journalist, about his experiences in the United States. The American Dream seems well within his grasp, complete with a smart and gorgeous artist girlfriend, Erica. But when the Twin Towers are attacked, a cultural divide slowly begins to crack open between Changez and Erica. Changez’s dream soon begins to slip into nightmare: he is transformed from a well-educated, upwardly mobile businessman to a scapegoat and perceived enemy.



(starring Farooq Shaikh, Sarika and Satish Shah)

Synopsis: Five irrepressible club members whose lives revolve around a tennis court of CLUB 60 inspire a couple under depression to come out of it and fall back in love with life again!



(starring Deepak Dobriyal of Omkara, Delhi-6 and Dabaang-2 fame)

Synopsis: In the crowded by lanes of old Delhi, Shukla ji runs a small photo studio as a front for small time crime. Over the years he has groomed a bunch of youngsters in the art of pick pocketing and petty crime. Then one day a girl comes into their midst and then everything collapses.


And of course the opening night film


Synopsis: When Kiku was 11 years old, her life was like a dream – time spent running around in the fields in her village and playing with her little sister. Like any other girl of her age, she dreamt of a bright future that good education could provide her. This ambition took her all the way to Delhi – only to be sold to a brothel where she was drugged, raped, kicked and punched. Everyday a little more of her soul was crushed. However, she believed that she had to win this battle for freedom to help rescue other victims like her.