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BEST INDIAN FILMS TO WATCH AT MAMI 2017 (10+1LIST)

Best Indian Films to watch at MAMI 2017

written by Souranath Banerjee

Best Indian Films to watch at MAMI 2017.

As the Mumbaikars bid adieu to the colorful Navaratri and Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations and await for the dazzling Diwali fiesta to begin, there is another very important Festival that the film-lovers of Mumbai couldn’t afford to miss!

A unique festival of Cinema that promises to entertain us for seven days in a row, from 12 to 18 October!

Yes, the 19th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival is here, and it’s raining films from all across the globe! To be more specific there are in total 220 films from 49 countries and in 51 languages!

Indian-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017Along with a number of prestigious movies under the World Cinema and the International Competition category, MAMI also offers a great selection of Indian Cinema under the sections India Gold and India Story. Other categories are the Half Ticket (for children), Spotlight, Restored classics, After Dark (focused on the horror/fantasy genre) and many others.

Konkona Sen Sharma being one of the Jury member at MAMI this year.

Be specific of which films you pick and I hope this list helps you to choose among some of the Best Indian Films to watch at MAMI 2017. Make sure you don’t miss any of these!

10. Mukkabaaz (2017)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zg1CMYVhR9o

Indian-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017The return of director Anurag Kashyap with his 13th feature which is also the opening film of the festival!

As the title suggests the film is based on the story of a lower-caste boxer from Uttar Pradesh (Vineet Kumar Singh); his career and his love-life, focusing on both his professional and personal struggles.

Already had its world premier at the Toronto International Film Festival, don’t you miss the Asia Premiere of this highly awaited movie!

9. Ajji (2017)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9OZI1SQFJc

Indian-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017This film deals with the issue of child-rape and its aftermath; the repercussions of such a heinous crime on the society and also what the child and her family goes through.

Directed by Devashish Makhija, his second feature is a dark and gritty film; bold, brutal and yet with a hint of retribution.

Already screened at the Busan International Film Festival, undoubtedly one of the most interesting Indian films to look for!

8. In the Shadows (2017)

Film trailer: Not available yet.

Indian-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017Already selected at the Chicago International Film Festival and Busan International Film Festival, and finally ready for the Indian audience!

Directed by Dipesh Jain, the story of a man lost in the maze of the numerous lanes of an old city (Old Delhi), and then his mind plays tricks on him! Manoj Bajpayee, Ranvir Shorey, Neeraj Kabi and Shahana Goswami – with all these brilliant actors put together this one is definitely a film to look forward!

7. Pushkar Puran (2017)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pn9xigYlIoo

Indian-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017Director Kamal Swaroop‘s cult classic Om Dar-B-Dar was a film far ahead of its time!

And after three decades the filmmaker comes back to his hometown (Rajasthan) to film this unique documentary on Pushkar!

The brilliant visuals blended with certain innovative soundtracks and ambiences – this one will be a memorable experience for sure!

6. Kaccha Limbu (2017)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjgTnBIkg0o

Indian-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017An emotional movie that tells the story of a family, their joy and sadness. Most of film being shot in black and white, very much set with the overall mood of the film.

Directed by Prasad Oak, and starring Ravi Jadhav, Sachin Khedekar and Sonali Kulkarni guarantees superb performances.

In the Marathi Talkies section this film is definitely worth your time.

5. The Hungry (2017)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gfg8gGR-3oA

Indian-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017An adaptation of the Shakespearian tragedy Titus Andronicus.

Set in the contemporary New Delhi, the backdrop being an extravagant surroundings of an Indian wedding, this film is a brutal tale of patriarch and corruption.

Directed by Bornila Chatterjee, and starring Naseeruddin Shah, Tisca Chopra, Antonio AakeelSayani Gupta and Neeraj Kabi among others. 

4. Sexy Durga (2017)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07a0pUkktBc

Indian-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017A young couple – Durga, a north Indian and Kabeer, a Keralite are running away to catch a train at the middle of the night. But how safe is it to travel in the dark!

Starring Rajshri Deshpande, Bilas Nair, Arun Sol, directed by Sanal Kumar Sasidharan this is one movie that has managed to create a lot of curiosity and also some controversy regarding the name of the film.

3. Village Rockstars (2017)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTov2nVgXaU

Indian-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017Based on a 10-year-old young village girl, who has grown up in deprivation, as she learns to fend for herself in the hostile surroundings while nurturing her dream to own a guitar and eventually forming a band with some local boys – the official ‘Village Rockstars!’.

Shot, directed and produced by Rima Das, the film had its world premier at the Toronto International Film Festival!

2. Zoo (2017)

Film trailer: Not available yet

Indian-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017The film depicts lifestyles in and around the ghetto co-existing with the people residing in the upmarket, high-rise buildings of Mumbai.

Directed by Shlok Sharma, starring Shweta Tripathi and Shashank Arora this will be an interesting film to watch out for.

  1. The Song of Scorpions (2017)

Film trailer: Not available yet

Indian-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017Though featured in the ‘Spot Light’ section, but this film is set in the backdrop of the vast deserts of Rajasthan is a brilliant tale from the Indian director Anup Singh.

Starring Irrfan Khan, Tillotama ShomeWaheeda RehmanShashank Arora and the Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani this is a unique story of love, retribution and the power of song. A must watch!

and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most innovative one. A must watch)

+1. Ask the Sexpert (2017)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yRR1_VU1cQ

Indian-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017Mahinder Watsa, a 92-year-old gynecologist and obstetrician, and also the daily adviser on matters related to sexual behavior in the Mumbai Mirror tabloid for the last 40 years!

Directed by Vaishali Sinha, this interesting documentary is about how the Mumbai’s oldest and best-known sexologist shoots to popularity when the Indian schools in many states puts a ban on comprehensive sex-education!

A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings by Prateek VatsReturning to the First Beat by Surabhi Sharma and Ralang Road by Karma Takapa.

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com.

In Conversation with Rohit Mittal – the very talented writer/director of Autohead!

In Conversation with Rohit Mittal – the very talented writer/director of Autohead!

interviewed by Souranath Banerjee

Rohit Mittal – the young independent filmmaker who is not afraid to experiment with the ‘form’ and ‘content’ of Cinema!

His film Autohead is been considered as one of the most innovative films at this year’s Mumbai Film Festival and immensely appreciated by all.

In Conversation with Rohit Mittal as he talks about his journey as a filmmaker!

Welcome to Cinema Forensic Rohit!

Thank you.

Autohead, your debut feature film got such positive reaction from the crowd recently at Mumbai Film Festival. What do you have to say about it?

It’s great. Honestly I was a little scared to screen the film in India and MAMI being the first Indian screening. Because the thing is that it’s a different kind of format in terms of the treatment and all, it’s a Mocumentary and so I didn’t know how the audience will react to it. But thankfully it was great!

We have already been to five festivals before, MAMI was the sixth one and every time the reaction of the audience has been positiveConversation with Rohit Mittal. I will be going to New York in a couple of weeks for the South Asian International Film Festival too!

That’s great Rohit, congratulations again!

Thank you. We hope to do some more festivals may be till Feb or March next year and then probably go for a small theatrical release.

But then again when it comes to distribution in India, I don’t have to prove anything to anybody now, since the film has been received so well in the festivals and the reviews are so very positive. And I actually don’t see a point in running behind distributers to release it.

And thanks to technology, I can say this now that I am also looking at  digital release probably – anyway that will give me a wider audience. Channels like Amazon and Netflix, I have heard that they also pay well. So there is a higher possibility that I go for that and that’s fair enough because I would want to be in an environment where I am respected as an artist and you know like I don’t have to do the same things that most people have done in the past.

So me and my film’s co-producer, we are kind of relieved that we also have this digital option and again, I am not trying to prove anybody that I am the next Bollywood big thing, it doesn’t even exist for me!

As you said your film is a Mocumentary  it’s kind of a new genre in India right? So what made you choose this genre?

I have always enjoyed watching experimental genres – be it American or European films, particularly Mocumentaries because you are always breaking the fourth wall and then again you also have to justify the presence of camera. And then you can experiment with the narrative as well, the way you treat scenes – it’s real, sometimes it’s very real, sometimes it’s hyper real – you are mocking reality itself, often mocking the film-narrative itself. And of course it’s mocking documantary, that’s given for sure. A very intriguing format where the possibilities are endless!

Then in treatment also you can use jumpcuts, handheld camera and things like that. I really enjoy – you know when I watch some of these French New Wave films all they did were use handheld cameras and jumpcuts!

That’s so true! So after you wrote the script, how did you plan the production part?

We took four months of preproduction, I needed that time to spend with my actors – workshops and everything. And in that time we started looking for different locations as well. Sometimes I would go Conversation with Rohit Mittalwith my actors on these locations and rehearse. And lot of times I would randomly roam around the city checking out new places, and at the same time making changes in my script to adopt according to the locations and things like that.

And Autohead is more of a street movie, I think 70% of the film is on the streets. I wanted it that way. And because of certain constraints of money I wanted to be pretty sure about the way the shoot had to be executed. We had exactly 15 days of shooting plan and it had to be very precise.

How important is the working with the actors for you?

Very important. The more time you spend with them the more you can trust eachother.

What I feel about acting is – yes, it has to be real but is real enough? It has to be interesting also. So then we take off from realism and merge the actor’s self-awareness and imagination – then only it gets more interesting. That is why I like to give my actors freedom in terms of movement and behaviour. Plain realism doesn’t really work for me, and since it’s a Mocumentary it’s always about questioning the real!

And the post production part, how different was it to edit a Mocumentary?

(Laughs) It took three and a half months just to edit the film! Because you know honestly there is no narrative. My film is kind of anti-narrative!

So the film can be placed anywhere – the end of the film could be the beginning of the film. Then of course we had the script but then when you have so many options in the edit it’s more like always a Conversation with Rohit Mittalchallenge to make it better. And again as I said before, you have to always justify the camera and in editing and that becomes a problem. Because you cannot suddenly jump to an angle or a shot which will completely destroy the idea of a Mocumentary. We had to be careful about that. Then again there are lot of jump cuts but they are actually not random cuts, they were planned even before the edit.

So in this film we have a lot of times taken many bold narrative steps and that is a plus for editing a Mocumentary!

That’s great! So, you were the writer, director and also the producer of the film?

See, the idea for me was to get enough money to shoot and edit the film and then I had to show it around to people to get the money for the grading and DI and everything else. So after the editing I waited for almost two months to get the rest of the funding. Then I got the other producer on board, so I would say it took seven to eight Conversation with Rohit Mittalmonths after we finished the shoot – three months of editing, two months of waiting, and then again three months to finish it off.

Overlooking every aspect of production was a challenge for me. Every night I would come back from shoot, transfer all the footage, at the same time go through all the bills, pay everybody – but it was fun! When I look back it was this rush and there was lot of energy and I don’t even feel like I have worked hard because it was so much fun!

And honestly when I was making the film I never really thought that the film will go to a lot of festivals or anything like that. I didn’t have any festivals or market in my mind – it was just about the film and the passion of making it!

And as you said before the interview started you are currently writing your next script. Tell me something about your next project?

I have two scripts actually, one is already finished, the second one I am writing. And I am still talking to people, may be this time I will have four-five different companies producing the film. But I am also kind of being careful about that, because answering to a lot of people can drive you crazy!

Now tell me something about yourself Rohit, where are you from and how did your passion for film evolve?

I am from Bombay, born and brought here. When I was 18 me and my family shifted to Pune. I studied law there! But then it was never my thing (laughs). Even in the law-school all we ever did were watch movies and write screen plays and make short films. Me and some of my friends use to run this literary magazine – so you know it was all about that. But looking back I think it was one of the best times!

But then when I graduated, I had to get a job somewhere because there was pressure from all side. I took a job in Bombay in a law-firm but it was a horrifying experience. I hated that job!

Even then I was writing and making short films and videos during the weekend. And by the end of the first year I got so frustrated that I left. For the next two-three monthes I was just thinking like where to go and what to do. That was when I decided that I have to go to a film Conversation with Rohit Mittalschool just to have that kind of space for myself; not really for training purposes but also to explore things on my own. That is why I went to New York Film Academy. I was there in the NewYork campus for four months and then I moved to the LA campus. I was in LA for around two years. I studied there and also worked there after graduation. I worked with Roger Corman, the king of B movies, and I was working with him on a daily basis; was a part of both the development and the editing team. And it was one of the best learning experience of my life!

I got to see a lot of B movies, and other very rare films there. One thing I regret is I didn’t steal those dvds from there because I just can’t find those movies here (laughs).

But then when did you decide to come back to India?

The idea was never to get stuck to a job or stay in the US just for the sake of it. Making 2000 dollars a month – that was never my plan. For me it was always to make a film!

In LA the scene for independent film makers is not that good, it’s very expensive there. That is why I had to come back and by that time I had this idea about making a film about somebody who is a criminal but at the same time it’s not just about the story – I wanted Conversation with Rohit Mittalto do something with the ‘form’ of the film. How can I change it, do something new with it, make it interesting – that thing was constantly nagging me. Some famous filmmaker said in an interview to ‘rip apart the form’ – it was his advise to us – digital filmmakers. So I was constantly thinking about it. So that is when I finally came up with this Mocumentary.

And then a lot of Indian so-called indie movies pissed me off because they were mostly about social issues, emotional, very Satyajit Ray kind of films which I hated at that time. I don’t have problems with Ray but it has to go ahead from there right? It all got stuck. Why are they still trying to perfect the same story? So why not critise it and question it? This was also one big reason to make Autohead.

It is so rare for filmmakers to experiment with the ‘form’ nowadays – thanks for being so innovative Rohit!

Thank you. And the kind of response I got in MAMI – for some kids who were watching Ray and Ghatak in their film school, Autohead came as a shock to them. And I was like – Yes! mission accomplished! (Laughs).

IN CONVERSATION WITH RIMA DAS AS HER FILM PREMIERES AT THE TALLINN BLACK NIGHTS FESTIVAL TODAY!

In Conversation with Rima Das as her film ‘Man with the Binoculars’ premieres at the Tallinn Black Nights Festival today!

interviewed by Souranath Banerjee

Rima Das – an actor turned writer/director, a rare combination of a spiritual soul and a beautiful smile!

Her debut film Man with the Binoculars : Antardrishti was recently been selected, screened and very much appreciated in this year’s Mumbai Film Festival! 

In Conversation with Rima Das as she talks about her journey as a filmmaker!

Hello Rima welcome to Cinema Forensic!

Thank you so much. My pleasure.

Your debut film ‘Man with the Binoculars’, originally titled as ‘Antardrishti’ recently got selected in MAMI and it was very much appreciated by the audience! What do you feel?

I am very happy!

Actually my film was earlier screened at Cannes this year and it recently got officially selected at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival too!

And being a regional film (it is in Assamese) Conversation with Rima Daswhile I was writing the script, I was sure that may be only 30% people will like it. Because ‘silence’ is one of the main characters in the film and I didn’t know if it will connect to the audience. Though I didn’t have any particular audience in mind while making it but then again I was scared; specially in MAMI being the first public screening in India. But people really loved it, even the youngsters liked it. That really encouraged me!

And now I can think about the release of the film. I feel a little relaxed (laughs).

Wow! Silence being the protagonist of the film – that’s really interesting! Tell me how did you come up with the story of your film?

One day at a friend’s place, I saw a pair of binoculars. He told me he was planning to gift it to his retired father. That intrigued me. I wondered what the old man would do with the binoculars. What would he look into, what would be see? And that became the primary idea of my film, and then there are four different love stories also played in the film.

And yes, Silence – actually the films that I could really relate to are those which have more of silent moments you know. Then in Mumbai there is so much noise, I feel people need some time to Conversation with Rima Dasbreathe, and through my cinema I want people to understand the beauty of silence. Personally silence always relaxes me.

So from being an actor to a filmmaker – how did that happen?

While into acting I was always interested in direction. Then I got to know about the 5D DSLR camera, a small wonder with which I can do all my experiments.

Actually in 2009 I made my first short film, ‘Pratha’. It was selected in Chicago Short Film Festival and some other festivals as well. So that way I got some confidence. I understood that I just needed to tell my story, bought a 5D and in the next one year I did almost ten short films and music videos. I kept on experimenting.

But then for my first feature I needed time, and to avoid any external pressure I didn’t want to involve anyone else. So this film is self-produced. I realised that I needed a good cinematographer and lot of time – then only my vision can truly come out in my film. My film is more of a visual thing – it’s a visual poetry!

That’s brilliant! So how was the shoot like?

I wrote the script for almost one and half years while in Mumbai. Then I shifted to Assam and within eleven days I fixed all casting, costumes, location, props everything. Thanks to a bunch of energetic youngsters from my village and my younger cousin-sister Mallika Das who were helping me with all Conversation with Rima Dasthese. Only my cinematographer and the main actor were professionals. Other than that everyone was inexperienced, just helping me out.

My protagonist is working for more than 40 years, he is a National award winner actor! So again it was a challenge for me to direct somebody so experienced along with all the new faces. But I was very sure that I will do only two or three scenes a day, and there were lots of retakes also specially for the long takes.

You also acted in the film right?

Yes, but I don’t think it was a very good decision, probably the only thing I regret while making the film (Laughs). I feel I could have concentrated more on direction but at the time it was also difficult to get some other actress, so I had to do it.

But then also everything went perfect and you have made such a great film! Now tell me something about yourself, where are you from? 

See I belong from a very small town in Assam. I grew up watching a bit of television but then again my father being a teacher – it was always like studies come first. I wasn’t aware of much of cinema,
Conversation with Rima Dasspecially world cinema.

But from my childhood I was interested in acting, even in school and college I did plays and all. Then I decided to come to Mumbai and try out acting as a career. But being from North East my Hindi and English were not so good; I was always the best in my hometown but in Mumbai it was very difficult – I got insecure and went into depression.

But one thing that happened good in Mumbai was that I got exposure to world cinema and I got addicted to them. And then I wanted to create, I think that is when the transition from an actor to director happened for me.

And what are your inspirations, any particular films or film makers you particularly admire?

See I like to watch all kinds of films, from Tarantino to Bergman – everything. But then again Iranian films, films of Wong Kar-Wai. Oh and then Terrence Malick – I somehow connect with him more because may be I am a spiritual person and so …  I also like to Conversation with Rima Dasknow what is life and all these things you know.

Even Pather Panchali by Ray inspired me a lot!

Even while working on my second film ‘Village Rockstars‘, a story inspired by incidents from my own rural upbringing, I keep taking inspiration from the these great film makers.

It’s like a privilege to watch such directors you know –  ‘aisa lagta hai ke humne toh kuch nehi kiya, humme toh bas dekhne ko mila hai!’

All the best for your second film! It all sounds like an awesome journey Rima, congratulations once again!

Thank you so much. Ya, now sitting here and looking back it feels amazing, it’s like a miracle! (laughs).

In Conversation with Akshay Singh – the inspiring writer/director of Pinky Beauty Parlour!

In Conversation with Akshay Singh – the inspiring writer/director of Pinky Beauty Parlour!

interviewed by Souranath Banerjee

A sensitive writer, an innovative director and also a fabulous actor – yes that’s Akshay Singh for you ladies and gentleman!

His film Pinky Beauty Parlour is already creating an audience for itself even before it’s been released.

In Conversation with Akshay Singh as he talks about his journey as a filmmaker!

Hi Akshay welcome to Cinema Forensic!

Thank you so much.

Your debut film Pinky Beauty Parlour created such a buzz in the Mumbai Film Festival recently and you have just revealed that it’s also been selected in the Goa International Film Festival! Congratulations – how does it feel?

Thank you! I am really happy, really glad, in fact I got overwhelmed with the response which my film have got!

Conversation with Akshay SinghUsually I had this idea that in festivals only those films get appreciated which are really intense you know. My film though it has a very serious issue but the treatment is very entertaining – it’s a multi genre film – there’s suspense in it, it’s a black comedy and
satirical as well. And then again it’s a social drama about the issue of the skin-colour bias which is very universal issue in a way.

Actually even before MAMI, the first screening we had was in Cannes Festival. There we had a market screening, people from around the globe were there and the response was again very encouraging.

So I was hoping MAMI will also be good but then again I was nervous. The first screening happening in India and being an Indian film, an Indian story – I was expecting a reaction that will give me an idea of how will it go when the film gets actually released in the theatres. And then you see people queuing up for your film and for the first screening some 30 odd people could not see the film because it was house full!

MAMI was indeed a great platform for me and this time they have organised it so well – yes, I am thankful to them.

The reaction of the audience was really good after the screening. Did you felt it too?

Ya. In MAMI the best thing that happened was after the screening I heard someone saying a dialogue of my film! It’s so encouraging when people say ‘apke film ke dialogues bohot sahi hai’ and being also Conversation with Akshay Singhthe writer of the film that feels really great – i mean this is something every filmmaker craves to hear right?

Even there is a song in the film that is very catchy – a kind of folk fusion. And for the lyrics of this song I had given a few specific words to my lyricist like ‘talcum powder’ and ‘phair phair gal’ which actually means ‘fair, fair cheeks’ – you know in UP the pronunciation is a little (laughs) … and many people told me that I should promote my film through this song!

Some people after the Q n A session told me that ‘you are a revolutionary filmmaker!’ I was like ‘why?’ – but I think it was because we started a campaign called “Let’s unlearn”. It’s like the skin-colour-bias is something we are taught, not something we are born with. So let us unlearn this thing – you see? One person asked me ‘Do you really think your film will make a difference?’ and I said ‘Ya it might. Now since you are asking this question it is making a difference. And then this is only the first screening!’

Even Aj Tak covered this campaign in a big way.

So how did it all started, i mean the whole journey of this film?

It all started exactly one year back. We started the shoot in October last year. Because my film is based in and around Dussehra, so I shot the whole sequence in real locations in Varanasi during the festival! Lots of guerrilla shoots (laughs).

When I started planning for this film, I chucked out one thing out of myself – the fear of failure!

While writing the script – actually I get many ideas specially when I am travelling and listening to music but I used to keep coming back to this one again and again. This was not even supposed to be my first film – I have written another script which I sent it to Script Lab, Conversation with Akshay SinghFilm Bazar, and it initially got selected also. But by then I was so much into this script of Pinky Beauty Parlour, i simply had to make it.

Around July we had a test shoot; I crunched my whole script into five pages and the whole thing was like a short film. So we hired a bungalow in Madh Island and our whole team was there. And me and my wife decided on some guide lines – like nobody will raise their voice during the shoot.

So from this one day test shoot we got the confidence to go ahead and shoot the whole film by ourselves!

Wow! And so you decided to produce your own film right?

Initially I had somebody who wanted to produce the film but at one point of time it was getting delayed because of the funds and all. And I needed to shoot the film in October because Dussehra is in October and my film revolve around that period. And again I knew I can never recreate anything like that. So we had the test shoot and Conversation with Akshay Singhall, we were confident but still we didn’t have the money (laughs).

And then one evening I came back home and told my wife ‘Let’s shoot the film. Let’s plan the first schedule’. And that same evening, you won’t believe me, within ten minutes I got a message from Citibank that you have a pre approved loan of this, this and this – and I was like ‘Wow the amount looks good!’ Seriously man, the universe really gives you if you really want something from your heart!

I totally believe in that Om shanti Om dialogue!

That was awesome! So you started production right away after that?

That was 29th of September when the funds came in and Dussehra was on 20th of October!  So we didn’t have even one month pre production time. But the script was so detailed – I must have written more than twenty drafts and then lost count of it. So after working almost two years on this script I was crystal clear about every detail. And being the writer and the director there was no conflict there and so the shoot happened very smoothly.

We had to get up at 4 in the morning but the team was so charged up! We shot in real locations, we even shot a real Ram Leela and people didn’t had a clue! There I completely improvised a scene – just told my DOP to follow me with the camera and I went ahead and said live in front of the stage ‘Yeh 101 rupeeya Pinki Beauty Parlour ke taraf se’ – that whole thing was so spontaneous and completely improvised (laughs).

Again during the Ganga Arti shoot, there is a scene where Sulagna Panigrahi had to go and sit on those steps by the Ganges. And we got it all planned and shot the whole sequence but by the end of the shoot people started to recognise her. Then we had to quickly wrap up and take her away. But it was such a sensitive emotional scene.

You know in number of scenes I haven’t used dialogues at all, specially in scenes when a character is expected to react I have made her go quite, no music nothing. Because I believe silence speaks a lot!  

Very interesting! Tell me something about yourself, when did you decide to be an actor, and then how did the transition from an actor to a writer and then a director happen?

I had my schooling from Dehradun, boarding school. I belong to a place called Ghazipur – a small town near Varanasi. So in my school I used to write skits in the annual functions and all, which were mostly spoofs of films. So from that time I knew I had to do something in the film industry. So gradually I realised I wanted to become an actor.

So the moment I passed out from school I decided I need to do theatre and for that I have to go to Delhi. So for my graduation, since I was a good student I got to a very good college in Delhi university. So my family was also happy. But I was more interested in theatres than studies. Conversation with Akshay SinghSoon joined a two year course of Performing Arts and did many plays.

Then after graduation it was time to come to Mumbai. And because of my theatre background I started getting work in television. And in television you are paid well, so that sometimes pushes you in that mode where you get relaxed. So that happened to me as well. In 2003 I got my first break in a show called Kashmir! I got praised for my role by Farooq Sheikh, I still have the message which he sent me!

I learnt so much from the director of the show – the technicalities and all but it was always like what if I had directed this shot myself? I would always sit near the monitor and i think somewhere it was there in my subconscious mind that I want to direct.

I did a few films as an actor, decently made films but not very well promoted – so people are not aware of them. Then I started writing and soon I was writing for some of the big names in the industry. But still somehow things were not really happening and it kind of made me angry.

Ultimately I decided I have to direct my own film now!

So you being the writer, director and also an actor in Pinky Beauty Parlour, it must have been an incredible journey for you!

(Chuckles) In the time of post production I didn’t have any assistants because I didn’t have the money to pay them. So I was alone doing everything. There were days when I slept in the studio only. But this whole thing was a blessing in disguise. I have conceived this idea, like from the first word that I have written till the post production – and today I know everything is my vision and I cannot blame anybody. So Conversation with Akshay Singhthis was the journey and I loved it!

And then also after completing the film we didn’t have enough money for marketing and distribution, so we are going for crowdfunding through Wishberry. So in a way we are asking for money also and at the same time our film is getting promoted!

It’s just that I don’t sleep much otherwise everything is good (laughs). It’s huge pressure because me and my wife’s savings are all gone while making this film but then again we made the film in our terms!

And I think it’s people like you who are giving us that platform where I can talk and reach out to my future audience!

My pleasure Akshay. That’s the least I can do specially for films like yours that are made with such integrity and good taste.

Thank you. That’s very encouraging you know, thank you so much!

JIO MAMI – DAY 3 (Cinemas and interactive sessions)

JIO MAMI – Day 3 (Cinemas and interactive sessions)

written by Souranath Banerjee

JIO MAMI 17th Mumbai Film Festival, 200 films from over 35 countries – it’s happening right now, right here and it’s a heaven for film lovers.

A brief description of the cinemas i have watched on the third day of the festival and also some exclusive snaps from the brilliant interactive sessions with film makers.

 

Day 3 (1st NOV)

My third day in MAMI starts with The Assassin (2015), beautiful Chinese cinema with breathtaking visuals.

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKFtNsQ78oI

assassin-posterDirected by Hsiao-Hsien Hou, who already won the best director at the Cannes Film Festival for this film!

As the name suggests, it’s the story of an assassin, whose conscience often comes in-between the path of her ruthless missions.

Set in 7th century China, the film is brilliantly shot by Ping Bin Lee.

Powerful performances by Qi ShuChen ChangSatoshi Tsumabuki, a film that needs your patience (as it’s slow paced) but it’s definitely worth the time.

 

The second film, my favorite film of the day is called Jafar Panahi’s Taxi (2015).

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eM2tblIkL4g

TAXI-posterDirected by Jafar Panahi (of course), the Iranian director has taken up the challenge to make his new film even after a 20-year-ban was imposed on him that restricts him from making any movies in Iran.  

So, becoming a taxi driver he shot a brilliant satirical comedy that reflects the socio-political scenario of his country.

The innovativeness of the film and the natural performances by all the actors have made this a very enjoyable taxi ride indeed.

 

And then there was Girish Kasaravalli‘s documentary on one of the most prolific film makers of India, Adoor Gopalakrishnan.

It’s called  Face to Face: Images / Reflections.

The film is not like any other documentary where simply a rally of questions and answers continue mostly praising the film maker’s talent and career.

With this particular film Girish Kasarvalli have genuinely tried to MAMI-AdoorGirish-Pic1understand the thought process of Mr. Adoor Gopalakrishnan while he makes his masterpieces. Being one of the most intellectual mind of our country, Adoor Sir explains through this film his process of thinking and planning before he sets out to make cinema.

And a rare chance to meet the legends as well, as there was the interactive session after the film screening: Girish Kasarvalli in Conversation with Adoor Gopalakrishnan.

A pleasure to be just a part of the audience and honored to interact with the two masters of Indian Cinema.

 

And the last but not the least, the day ended with a very unusual film called Ludo (2015).

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJrYWZDF2Es

LUDO-posterDirected by Qaushiq Mukherjee (Q) and Nikon, the film is a horror flick and probably the most gory film ever made in India.

With great performances by Rii and an unexpected cameo by Tillotama Shome, the film is a good experiment of horror and gore within a very small budget. But unfortunately, for me, the film remains as an experiment only.

MAMI-Ludo-Pic2Ludo is best described by Q himself when he along with the cast of the film takes a round of questions from the audience after the screening – according to him ‘it’s the story of four teenagers who plans to get laid but are fucked instead!’

MAMI-Ludo-Pic1Again, it was great being an audience in this interactive session with the films cast and crew.

A day very well spent, full of enjoyable cinema and great chance of interactions with some of the best film makers of our country.

 

If you want to join me in this exciting journey of the best Cinemas from around the world – just get a registration and hop in. If you love Cinema JIO MAMI is the place to be.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.comblog.thefilmstage.comfilmmakermagazine.comfilmschoolrejects.com