Showbiz / These South Asian Stars Will Shine At TIFF 2019

These South Asian Stars Will Shine At TIFF 2019

Showbiz Sep 03, 2019

ANOKHI previews the top South Asian films and talent coming to this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Check out these South Asian stars who will shine at TIFF 2019. 

Cinema luminaries from across the globe once again converge on Toronto, as one of the world’s biggest, most prestigious film fests starts rolling this Thursday, headlined by such hotly anticipated titles as the Joaquin Phoenix-starring Joker  and Tom Hanks’ Mister Rogers biopic A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. ANOKHI is once again on the scene to spotlight the South Asian gems nestled amongst TIFF’s truly gargantuan lineup. Here, we look ahead to some of our most anticipated, a list topped by intriguing new projects from Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Dev Patel, Kunal Nayyar and breakout Yesterday star Himesh Patel. Check back throughout the fest for our ongoing coverage.

The Sky Is Pink

South Asian Stars At TIFF 2019
South Asian Stars At TIFF 2019: Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Farhan Akhtar play two parents whose love is tested by their daughter’s illness. Photo Credit:

Global super-duper-star Priyanka Chopra Jonas is back at the fest as producer and stars of this bittersweet, fact-based dramedy. Helmed by Shonali Bose, who gave us previous TIFF fave Margarita With a Straw, the film centres on recently deceased teenager Aisha (Dangal‘s Zaira Wasim), who from beyond the grave, recounts her short life battling a terminal condition, as well as the poignant, quirky, inspiring love story of her parents (Chopra Jonas and Farhan Akhtar), who struggled valiantly to save their daughter and keep their fragile family together.


Moothon (The Elder One)

South Asian Stars At TIFF 2019: A young man searches for his brother in Mumbai, getting caught up with a gang of orphans, while the truth about their murky past is revealed. Photo Credit:

Indie provocateur Anurag Kashyap produces and Geethu Mohandas directs the story of 14-year-old Mulla, who flees his sleepy fishing village in search of a brother who did the same years earlier. But just as Mulla is drawn into the big-city underworld, we flash back to his brother’s days back home, when a “charismatic mute” changed the course of his life. The film is said to vacillate between “bracing violence” and “heartbreaking tenderness,” as it digs into “questions regarding gender, sexuality and tolerance.”


Geraldine Viswanathan

On the strength of her work in such projects as the refreshingly unconventional teen-party flick Blockers and the Daniel Radcliffe-costarring TV comedy Miracle Workers, Geraldine Viswanathan has been selected as one of TIFF’s 2019 Rising Stars, the fest’s annual mentorship/networking program. The young Australian — daughter of a Swiss mother and Malaysian Tamil father — is appearing in two highly touted TIFF 2019 entries:


South Asian Stars At TIFF 2019: Rising Star Geraldine Viswanathan as conflicted Pakistani-American teen Hala. Photo Credit:

Minhal Baig adapts her own 2016 short to feature length, casting Viswanathan as the title character, a Pakistani-American teen caught between a conservative mother and a progressive father, as she embarks on a forbidden romance. But as Hala comes of age, her perspective on mom, dad and herself will change dramatically.


Bad Education

South Asian Stars At TIFF 2019
South Asian Stars At TIFF 2019: Hugh Jackman plays a harried school superintendent in dark comedy Bad Education. Geraldine Viswanathan (not pictured) co-stars as the precocious teen reporter who instigates his misery. Photo Credit:

Helmer Cory Finley made a downright auspicious debut with 2018’s pitch-black comedic thriller Thoroughbreds. Which makes his follow-up a festival-circuit must-see. Loosely based on a true story, Bad Education plumbs similar bitingly satirical territory, centring as it does on a chipper Long Island school superintendent (Hugh Jackman) whose existence is thrown into chaos when an intrepid teen reporter (Viswanathan) exposes an embezzlement scheme within his district.


Bombay Rose

South Asian Stars At TIFF 2019
South Asian Stars At TIFF 2019: A star-crossed romance is just one of myriad poignant, gorgeously animated stories that make up anthology film Bombay Rose. Photo Credit:

This strikingly animated anthology feature takes viewers into the lives of various city-dwellers: a humble flower vendor with fairy tale dreams, an English teacher quietly mourning her husband, a star-crossed Hindu-Muslim romance and more — all bound together by one fateful flower.


Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator

South Asian Stars At TIFF 2019
South Asian Stars At TIFF 2019: The misdeeds of yogi Bikram Choudhury are interrogated in this incendiary doc. Photo Credit:

An incendiary doc for the #MeToo era delves into the story of Bikram Choudhury, who, starting in the 1970s, helped bring hot yoga to North America. He’s also been steeped in allegations of sexual harassment and rape. Interviewing former acolytes and Choudhury’s longtime lawyer, director Eva Orner revisits the guru’s rise and fall, in the process exploring the inherently fraught concept of the “messianic figure.”


Sweetness in the Belly

South Asian Stars At TIFF 2019
South Asian Stars At TIFF 2019:: Dakota Fanning plays a white Muslim refugee, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as the long-lost doctor she loves. Photo Credit:

An adaptation of Canadian novelist Camilla Gibb’s bestseller stars Dakota Fanning as Lilly, an English girl who makes a life for herself as a white Muslim woman in Ethiopia after being abandoned by her parents. But when that life is suddenly, violently upended, Lilly flees back to London, where she endures a more privileged version of the typical refugee experience, and resolves to help reunite fellow refugees with their loved ones while also searching for a doctor (Aquaman’s Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) with whom she previously . . . had a moment.. The Big Bang Theory’s Kunal Nayyar also stars.



South Asian Stars At TIFF 2019
South Asian Stars At TIFF 2019: A trans woman looks to break down barriers in short film Darling. Photo Credit:

Premiering as part of Short Cuts, TIFF’s short-film showcase, director Saim Sadiq’s poignant drama follows a Pakistani man who attempts to help his transgender friend land the lead role in an erotic dance show, pushing boundaries and redefining possibilities.


The Aeronauts

South Asian Stars At TIFF 2019
South Asian Stars At TIFF 2019: Oscar-nominee Felicity Jones stars as a devil-may-care hot air balloonist in this biopic. Photo Credit:

The toast of awards season in 2015, The Theory of Everything co-stars Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne reunite for another prestige biopic. This one delves into the true story of 19th-century meteorologist James Glaisher (Redmayne), who teams with devil-may-care hot air balloon pilot Amelia Wren (Jones). He’s looking to prove theories on weather prediction, she’s looking to reach a new high, in an odd-couple partnership that will put both their lives on the line. Yesterday breakout Himesh Patel plays a pivotal supporting role.


The Personal History of David Copperfield

South Asian Stars At TIFF 2019
South Asian Stars At TIFF 2019: Dev Patel takes on the title role in director Armando Ianucci’s reimagining of the Charles Dickens classic. Photo Credit:

Veep creator Armando Ianucci applies his singular acerbic wit to the work of Charles Dickens, adapting the iconic author’s eighth novel with subversive aplomb. He casts Dev Patel as the title character, a long-suffering writer who’s cast out of a loving home by his stepfather and documents every last harrowing, blackly amusing experience thereafter as he makes his way through a typically gritty, colourful Dickensian world. The enviable supporting cast includes Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, Gwendoline Christie, Benedict Wong and Ben Whishaw.


The 2019 Toronto International Film Festival runs from Thursday, September 5 through Sunday, September 15. For more info on films and tickets, check out


Main Image Photo Credit:

Matthew Currie

Matthew Currie


A long-standing entertainment journalist, Currie is a graduate of the Professional Writing program at Toronto’s York University. He has spent the past number of years working as a freelancer for ANOKHI and for diverse publications such as Sharp, TV Week, CAA’s Westworld and BC Business. Currie ...