Our TIFF Insider, Daniel Pillai, had his hands full with film premieres, hanging out with his famous client, and filming segments for his regular TV gig. After taking a well deserved break, he shares his memories from the Toronto International Film Festival.

Waking up with only 3 hours of sleep a night can get challenging over a certain period of time, but during TIFF, you have no choice but to pull yourself together and charge hard. The second half of the epic festival was full of highlights and eventful happenings for me – and I’m so excited to share them with you!

Photo Shoots

A wonderful experience was witnessing the behind-the-scenes action that takes place during a photo shoot. Abhay Deol was invited by the Doha Film Institute for a special photo shoot to feature in their multi-media exhibit and book called, “I AM FILM.” The aim of the photo shoot was to capture cinema icons from around the world in their most natural states, and it was so amazing to see renowned photographer Brigitte Lacombe capture Abhay Deol’s unique personality on camera. Simply mesmerizing!

Partying, Mumbai Style

To celebrate the culture and work of filmmakers in the City-to-City Mumbai lineup, TIFF threw an amazing party celebrating Mumbai culture. Instead of a wristband, invited guests were given an Indian shawl to adorn over their arms, shoulders, heads or around their neck, creating a gorgeous, colourful atmosphere. Personal highlights of the evening included sharing a drink with Shriya Saran (Midnight’s Children), having a candid chat about commercial cinema with Shahana Goswami (Midnight’s Children, Rock On), and talking about life over cupcakes with Anita Majumdar (Midnight’s Children).

I also had the pleasure of talking about cinema with director Anurag Kashyap, and having a brief meet and greet with Anupam Kher (Silver Linings Playbook with Robert De Niro and way too many movies to list). It was a fabulous evening full of Bollywood talent and glamour. AND, this day got even better when Bollywood starlet, Priyanka Chopra, released her debut single called, “In My City” featuring Will.I.Am. It doesn’t get more Bollywood than that.


The biggest highlight of my TIFF ride has to be the moment I met Sridevi. Having watched her films and song sequences as I grew up – it was a “time stood still” kind of moment when I met her. Of course, I had Veronica Chail (Host of Bollywood Boulevard) with me and we both managed to grab a photo with the Diva. Such a pleasure.

English Vinglish in Toronto Voronto

One of the films that I was most excited to see this year was English Vinglish, and it did not disappoint, but before there was the World Premiere, there was the red carpet. Sushmitha Rao and I covered the red carpet for OMNI Television and Sridevi stole the show – media were enamored by her dignified presence and big, bold eyes. She was a beauty in a black velvet and mint green saree embellished with gold embroidery and a subtle floral pattern by the one and only, Sabyasachi. PS. Her comeback film after a 15-year absence from the silver screen was amazing. English Vinglish was an emotional, yet triumphant journey of Shashi, who struggles with the English language. A film I recommend to anyone and everyone (and now in theatres across North America!).

Bollywood Boulevard

Of course, I cannot forget my on-air duties. Between attending press screenings of Mumbai’s King, managing interviews for Abhay Deol and Manjeet Singh, and attending to media inquiries – I was also preparing and shooting for TV show, Bollywood Boulevard. Of course, it’s never a GIANT task since Host Veronica Chail and I are great friends on and off screen – so it makes the job easy. After meeting Sridevi, Veronica and I sat down for a nice cold glass of iced tea and discussed how women post 30 in Bollywood need more screen space and support to continue to stay strong in a male dominated industry.

And with that, we conclude our TIFF Insider Diary series for 2012. Still coveting Daniel’s insider access? We’re launching something special with Daniel very soon – stay tuned.


Read TIFF Insider Diary: Day 1

Read TIFF Insider Diary: Day 2 + 3

Story By: Daniel Pillai  |  Photography: Daniel Pillai + Filmicafe.com