Kanchivaram

Special admission prices apply: General admission, $10 until March 11, $11 on or after March 12; BAM/PFA and Center for Asian American Media members, $8; Students, seniors, and disabled persons, $9.

Priyadarshan, the famed Malayaman director of such Bollywood hits as Virasat and Garam Masala, returns to his South Indian roots with Kanchivaram, a combination of Bollywood flair, social commitment, and film-noir grit that follows one man's political awakening in 1940s Tamil Nadu. Humble silk weaver Vengadam (well-known character actor Prakash Raj) and his colleagues know that they will never earn enough to afford the saris they weave, but the arrival of a communist organizer soon awakens their dreams. Falling under the spell of the man's rhetoric-and promising his own daughter a silk sari for her wedding day-Vengadam feverishly devotes himself to the cause, but ultimately must decide which cause-the political or the personal-to embrace. Swapping Bollywood's typical Day-Glo vibrancy for a strikingly earthy, rain-soaked aesthetic, Priyadarshan delivers a film of astonishing visual richness, complete with deep-focus cinematography and a striking John Alton–like attention to darkness and light. A politically charged Tamil Citizen Kane, Kanchivaram is a hard-hitting union of the commercial and the committed in Indian cinema.

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