This debut feature from Indian artist and curator Natasha Mendonca follows the intersecting lives of Suman, a punk, jazz and slam poetry vocalist, and Khush, a rickshaw driver in the process of transitioning to a male body. Unrequited love, betrayal and friendship underlie a larger narrative of city hustle as Suman explores what forms her artistic practice can take outside of the predominantly hetero-patriarchal Bollywood industry and Khush strives to make a working-class wage. Through its intimate gaze, Strange Love investigates how attitudes toward sex and relationships are shaped by mainstream entertainment and how these longings cut across the class divide.
As an artist, I am keen on gathering the living force within a community for the collective effort of cinema. This film entered people’s lives, as they entered the film in equal measure … Boundaries blur, truth and fiction are intermingled. The introduction of fact does not necessarily make fiction more real, but possibly more strange. Ajeeb Aashiq / Strange Love asks viewers to embrace this formal and conceptual hybridism as a strategy meant not so much to dupe, mislead, or mock, but to offer an alternate lens and documenting tactic, one which may address the complex realities of identity, class and the politics of representation.
Natasha Mendonca Strange Love [Ajeeb Aashiq], India 2016, DCP, colour, sound, 75 min, English, Hindi and Marathi with English subtitles
The screening is followed by a discussion with the artist via Skype.
About Natasha Mendonca
Natasha Mendonca (b. India) is an artist and film programmer based in Mumbai. In 2003, in the face of India’s tough censorship laws, she co-founded Larzish, the nation’s first international film and video film festival on sexuality and gender. She has also programmed films for other festivals including the Berlin Lesbian Film Festival and Queer Zagreb. She holds a Master in Film and Video from the California Institute of the Arts and has exhibited her work at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Los Angeles County Museum; and Kochi Biennale, among others. Her collaborations include work with Olafur Eliasson and Ai Weiwei.
In 2011, her short film Jan Villa won the Tiger Award for Short Film at International Film Festival Rotterdam, the Ken Burns Award for Best of the Festival at the Ann Arbor Film Festival and the Adolfas Mekas Award for Best Film at Experimenta India. Her debut feature Strange Love received the Hubert Bals Fund for production in 2011 at International Film Festival Rotterdam.