What's New - Festival Highs

Italy to get a taste of 'Biriyaani'

by Gehna Kapany


Sajin Baabu’s third venture, ‘Biriyaani’, will premiere at the 20th Asiatica Film Festival to be held in Rome, Italy from October 3-9. 


Starring Kani Kusruti and J. Shailaja in the lead roles, ‘Biriyaani’ is a hard-hitting, suspense-revenge drama. Shot in various regions spread across Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the movie captures the essence of life from a conservative, religious and rural background.

It tackles the persecution of a family through a woman’s perspective, Khadeeja, when her brother is radicalised and has joined the Islamic State. Baabu did his share of meticulous research and spoke to families that had been traumatised by the disappearance or arrest of a family member, so as to consciously address a sensitive topic. After the disappearance of her brother, Khadeeja finds herself trapped, saddled with a mentally challenged mother and cut off from her son, while her mind dawdled in a different existence. She embarks on a perilous transformation to attain financial and sexual liberty, from a conservative sheltered homemaker to a woman thirsting for revenge. 


Kani in a still from 'Biriyaani'


“Nothing infuriates society like a woman who is in control of her mind and body. In that case, she is instantly perceived as a threat. They fight a thousand injustices every day. The movie is an ode to the women who have chosen the path of defiance.”

Baabu’s debut feature film, “Asthamayam Vare" won numerous accolades including the Best Feature Film at The Bangalore International Film Festival in 2014. In his films, the common theme of self-discovery is triggered by the strangest needs and impulses, and in ‘Biriyaani’ he chronicles Khadeeja’s spiritual-sexual quest with an inquiry into the prejudice faced by the families of Muslims accused of being terrorists. 


The Asiatica Film Festival recognises the globalised reach and the universal socio-economic dynamic of Asia and provides a platform to connect Asian cinema with Italy. ‘Biryaani’ has been selected in the competition category and is set to open the festival.