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Indian American Ben Rekhi’s film ‘The Ashram’ to be screened at Cinequest festival

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Two Indian films will also feature at the Silicon Valley film festival, which will be held from February 27 to March 11.

Indian American filmmaker Ben Rekhi’s movie The Ashram will be screened at the upcoming Cinequest film and VR festival to be held in the Silicon Valley from February 27 to March 11.

The 28th edition of the festival will also screen two Indian films, Love and Shukla and Purdha.

The Ashram revolves around the life of Jamie, an American skeptic, following the trail of his lost girlfriend to a mystical Himalayan community. His quest to find Sophie leads him to an ashram where an evocative cast of characters, including Nitin (played by Kal Penn), awaits. He has reason to suspect everyone but needs to trust each to help him.

Besides Penn, the film features several prominent actors, including Sam Keeley, Hera Hilmar, Oscar winner Melissa Leo and Indian actress Radhika Apte. Shot in various locations in India, the screenplay was written by Binky Mendez and Rekhi.

Ben Rekhi
Ben Rekhi; image via YouTube screen capture

Rekhi, son of noted venture capitalist Kanwal Rekhi, graduated from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. His Waterborne had won a Special Audience Award at the 2005 SXSW Film Festival. He is a producer of and director of photography of Bomb the System (2002).

Indian filmmaker Siddartha Jatla’s Love and Shukla portrays the life of a rickshaw driver in Mumbai, the country’s financial capital.

Shukla, a rickshaw driver, deals with a multitude of passengers on the roads of city. Some of them take advantage of him, but they can’t rob him of his prized possession – his decency. A new marriage and a pretty bride bring up many unanticipated challenges. Before Shukla can get lucky, he has to grab life by the horns.

Saharsh Kumar Shukla and Taneea Rajawat play the lead roles in the Hindi drama penned by Siddhartha Jatla and Amanda Mooney.

Purdah, a documentary directed by Jeremy Guy, portrays the struggles of 20-year-old Kaikasha and her two sisters, who are Muslims.

Their father wants them to wear burkas and to have arranged marriages, but these determined young women have dreams of their own. This beautiful and rousing story follows Kaikasha in her quest to be the first Muslim on the Mumbai women’s cricket team and then follows her into a corridor of uncertainty after a shocking turn of events changes the fate of her family.

The 13-day festival will screen 258 film and virtual reality works from 45 countries. The invitees and attendees will also get a chance to experience virtual reality as a new medium of story-telling at its curated VR Cinema and VR Experience Lounge.

This year’s program includes 74 World and 55 US premiering films, starring award winning actors including past Maverick Spirit Award winners William H. Macy, Rosario Dawson and Peter Fonda, as well as Kal Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, James McAvoy, Hilary Swank and Stanley Tucci.

“We’ve seen the power of film to not only delight and entertain, but spark awareness, create connections and galvanize communities,” Halfdan Hussey, co-founder of Cinequest said in a statement.

“Our theme for this year’s festival is ‘Impact’, reflected by the exceptional films, VR, and interactions with the torchbearers in entertainment and technology-programmed to give our audience a venue for engagement and empowerment,” he added.