Bombay Calling

With Pakistan all over the news, the fifth San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival seemingly arrives at a perfect time. Alas, the lineup of the 3rd I fest, as it's more familiarly known, includes zero films from Pakistan — which tells you more about the state of individual and cultural expression under General Pervez Musharraf than anything you'll hear on CNN. The compensation is that neighboring India is abundantly represented in the weekend program, starting with the opener John & Jane Toll-Free, a wonderfully disorienting nonfiction portrait of half a dozen newbie Bombay office workers. The setting shifts to Calcutta for Dosar (The Companion), Rituparno Ghosh's artful black-and-white drama about three cheating couples. The fest's designated Bollywood slot is filled by Don, a crowd-pleasing action-musical propelled by megastar Shah Rukh Khan. It runs three hours, needless to say, which is more than enough time to forget that Pakistan not only has a tottering dictator, but a nuclear bomb. Let's dance!

Today's screenings start at 11 a.m. with Pyaasa (Eternal Thirst) at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro (at Market), S.F.
Nov. 16-18, 2007

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