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SPLIT WIDE OPEN

India, 1999 (MIFF 2000, International Panorama)

Director: Dev Benegal

A pacy, ultra-hip mosaic unlike anything previously seen from India. Dev Benegal has crafted a dynamic expose of India's great metropolis, Mumbai (Bombay). Some of the most expensive real estate in the world is here and yet as we learn at the film's close, in March 2000, 900,000 people were denied water for a week and rioted. Kut Price (KP), a young hustler is paid to unlock taps for the poor, taps controlled by the local mafia.

When KP lines up a deal of his own, his bosses punish him brutally. He returns home, beaten, only to find the young, pretty flower-seller in his charge, Didi, whom he treasures, missing. The film cuts back and forth across several different story lines focussing around a television show. Split Wide Open, which provides a forum for the impoverished citizens of Mumbai to share their secrets and plights. Inevitably, the world of television and the mean streets of Bombay collide when Nandita, the show's host, and KP meet and find their own destinies inextricably linked to a web of corruption and the predatory world of child prostitution.

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