In India, Malayalam actress Kani Kusruti earned accolades for the powerhouse performance in the film Biriyaani. Now, she is winning at international platforms too. Recently, Kani bagged an award at the Imagine Film Festival in Madrid, Spain. The film, Biriyaani, revolves around the life story of a young Muslim woman and Kani plays the lead role of Khadeeja. The movie is about how as a married woman Khadeeja breaks free of religious and societal norms.

Directed by Sajin Baabu (known for films like Asthamayam Vare, Ayaal Sassi), Biriyaani has been receiving praises at film festivals across the globe. Now, Kani emerged as a winner at the Madrid festival by an eminent team of a jury which was comprised of Afghan actor, Leena Alam and Kazakh filmmaker, Olga Kalasheva, claims a report published in MBS News.

Global exposure

On March 4, the film won the Special Jury Award at the 12th Bengaluru International Film Festival 2020 for a “powerful portrayal of the struggles and plight of suppressed women of the society,” according to a report by The Hindu. It also won the Padmarajan Award for Best Screenplay in Bangalore.

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Interestingly, Biriyaani premiered at the Asiatic Film festival in Rome, which was held in Italy on October 3, 2019. It won the NETPAC award for the best film there. It was one of only two Indian films to be screened at the film festival. “I come from a very remote village in Thiruvananthapuram where the supply of electricity commenced only in 2005. So receiving international recognition and getting a chance to be part of such festivals gives me the strength to go become more productive in the future,” its director Sajin Babu had said to TOI.

Also Read: Helpline For Muslim Women Gets Majority Of Calls From Men

The movie also achieved yet another milestone when it was selected in the BRICS competition category at the 42nd Moscow Film Festival, including various international film festivals across the United States, France, Germany and Nepal.

Who is Kani Kusruti?

Actress Kani Kusruti has acted in notable films like Cocktail and Shikkar. She has also played brief roles in Tamil films Pisaasu and Burma. However, she rose to fame after her lead role in the short film Maa, directed by Sarjun KM.

Her critically acclaimed performance in Kerala Cafe made her a prominent face in the industry. She also acted in an award-winning short film called Memories of a Machine, directed by Shailaja Padindala. The film showcased the story about the sexual awakening of a young woman played by Kani. The film received a good response at Bangalore Queer Film Festival in 2016.

Born in Kerala, Kani Kusruti was raised by social activist parents. At a very young age, she was introduced to the theatrical and studied physical theatre for two years. Talking about getting into the film industry and personal satisfaction, Kani had earlier said, “I am not a star, I am an actor. A star is bound to work in a way that brings him/her a steady stream of roles, whereas in my case I do roles that I find interesting. In some cases I accept roles because my friends are part of the project.”

“Of late, there has been a change in the outlook towards women working in the film industry.”

She further claimed that “The working atmosphere has changed a lot, we are treated in a better way now. As for the content, at least a few films are trying to have realistic portrayals of women.”

Last year, revealing the darker side of the film industry, Kani had reportedly quit acting for a while alleging sexual demands made by filmmakers. She went on to make the shocking claims that filmmakers even approached her mom to convince her for sexual favours. After that, Kani chose to go back to theatre.

Currently, she lives in Mumbai with her partner, the filmmaker and science communicator, Anand Gandhi.

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