Mahindra Indo-American Arts Council organises 9th annual festival in New York

MIAAC Film Festival once again sets the stage for some of the most highly anticipated films of the year. Presented by the Indo-American Arts Council in collaboration with the Mahindra Group, MIAAC showcases the best of Indian cinema from India and the Diaspora.

Sep 25, 2009 07:09 IST India Infoline News Service

The Mahindra Indo-American Arts Council (MIAAC) Film Festival announces the Opening, Closing & Centerpiece Films for its 9th Annual Festival in New York City. Following hot on the success of the 2008 festival, which saw a stellar line up of films and talent including the NY premiere of Oscar-winning film “Slumdog Millionaire,” this year’s opening film is “Today’s Special.” Director David Kaplan's film written by and starring Comedy Central star Aasif Mandvi accompanied by renowned Indian actor Naseerudin Shah as well as author and actor Madhur Jaffrey. Tennis celebrity and media executive Vijay Amritraj will present Santosh Sivan's “Tahaan” set in Kashmir, as the prestigious Festival Centerpiece. The festival this year packs a bang with the closing film “Antaheen - The Endless Wait” starring two film luminaries discovered by Satyajit Ray - Sharmila Tagore and Aparna Sen – both of whom will attend this U.S. premiere at the Walter Reade Theatre, Lincoln Center. MIACC 09 will run from November 11-15, 2009 and all public screenings will be at the Quad Cinemas, New York City.

MIAAC Film Festival once again sets the stage for some of the most highly anticipated films of the year. Presented by the Indo-American Arts Council in collaboration with the Mahindra Group, MIAAC showcases the best of Indian cinema from India and the Diaspora.

Opening film “Today’s Special” is A heart warming food comedy based in New York and brings together Aasif Mandvi to share the spotlight with Naseerudin Shah and Madhur Jaffrey. Aasif Mandvi who co-wrote the film as well as stars in it says, “I am very excited that my film ‘Today's Special’ has been invited to open this year's MIAAC Film Festival. It's an honor to be in the company of the films and filmmakers who make up this year's festival.  Having had a relationship with the Indo-American Arts Council for some years now, it's exciting to see not only how they have grown over the last decade, but how their support and promotion of the work of the Indian American artist has never been distracted,” says Aasif Mandvi. The centerpiece film is Santosh Sivan's film “Tahaan” and is about the adventures of a little boy and his pet donkey in militant Kashmir. It has won myriad accolades at international film festivals and will celebrate its NY Premiere at the MIAAC Film Festival. Closing film “Antaheen – The Endless Wait” director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury's film that brings Satyajit Ray’s two actresses’ – Sharmilla Tagore and Aparna Sen together on screen for the first time. Set in modern day Kolkatta, the film crisscrosses between the loves, passions and relationships of these two actresses. 

These three films represent the festival's focus, genres, and themes - from independent films to Diaspora artists; from New York to the new Global India; from social concern to romantic comedy. Celebrities who will represent these three films at the festival include the entire New York cast of ‘Today's Special’ led by Aasif Mandvi, Naseeruddin Shah and Madhur Jaffrey; Santosh Sivan, Vijay Amritraj, Aparna Sen, Sharmila Tagore, Kalyan Roy and Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury. MIAAC 09 will announce the complete lineup of films, programming and celebrities in the first week of October.

"I am thrilled that ‘Today’s Special’ will open MIAAC 09", says Aroon Shivdasani, Executive Director of the IAAC. “We have seen the film grow from its play reading to its staging with Aasif Mandvi, a long time friend and family member of IAAC. We are thrilled to see its development into film and delighted to present a New York film set in our phenomenal diverse city- home of the MIAAC Film Festival."

Tickets for 2009 Festival

Tickets prices will be $15 general admission; $12 IAAC members & students w/ID.

Public screenings of the festival will be at the Quad Cinemas. For more information, please visit and

MIAAC 09 Opening Night Film: TODAY’S SPECIAL

Directed by David Kaplan.

US, 2009, RT. 90 mins. NY Premiere.

Inspired by Aasif Mandvi’s Obie Award winning play Sakina’s Restaurant, “Today’s Special” is a heartwarming food comedy set in New York City.  Samir (Aasif Mandvi), is a Souse Chef who dreams of being Head Chef of his boss’s hot new restaurant. After being passed over for the promotion, he abruptly quits and hatches plans to go to France and study under a legendary Chef. But when his estranged father, Hakim (Harish Patel), has a heart attack, Samir’s life takes a detour back to his parents home in Jackson Heights, Queens, where he takes over the failing family business: Tandoori Palace.  With one foot out the door, Samir must come to terms with the loss of his older brother a few years back, and the sadness that engulfs his parents.

Luckily, his paths cross with Akbar (Naseeruddin Shah): a taxi driver, former chef in Mumbai, and irrepressible raconteur who lives in the moment, breaks conventions, and inspires Samir to embrace life, save Tandoori Palace, and his family along the way

MIAAC 09 Festival Centerpiece: TAHAAN

Presented by Vijay Amritraj.

Written and Directed by Santosh Sivan

India, 2008, 105 min. Hindi with English subtitles

Tahaan lives with his family in the Kashmir valley. The eight-year-old's father has been missing for over three years. The local moneylender takes away the family's assets including Tahaan's pet donkey, Birbal. The boy is determined to bring Birbal back home but is told that an old man (played by Anupam Kher) bought the donkey. Tahaan goes in search of the old man but finds he has to do a teenager he meets a favor to get Birbal back. Director Sivan, who had previously shot Mani Rathnam’s Roja in Kashmir, developed his fable-like screenplay after reading a story in an Indian newspaper. With Purav Bhandara, Anupam Kher, Rahul Bose, Rahul Khanna, Victor Banerjee. Santosh Sivan and Vijay Amritraj in person.


Story and Direction by Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury.

India, 2009, 120 min. In Bengali with English subtitles. NY Premiere

A new Kolkata glitters to life, all intelligence and smooth surfaces, as loves, passions, and relationships crisscross in a shifting web brought to the screen. Abhik, a police officer, loses faith in the real relationships and seeks solace in the virtual world where he develops an online relationship with Brinda, a journalist. Ranjan and Paromita, an older estranged couple, become the bridge between the two younger lovers, nursing as they do their own separation and tenderness. The Endless Wait brings to the screen some sterling performances, including Satyajit Ray’s legendary discoveries, Sharmila Tagore and Aparna Sen, in their first film together. Also with Rahul Bose, Kalyan Roy. Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, Aparna Sen, Kalyan Roy and Sharmila Tagore in person.

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