Our mind plays all kinds of tricks, often dangerously merging the line between reality and imagination. And we poor mortals, dazed and confused and tortured by our own conscience, desperate to restore some comfort and tranquility. But alas! peace cannot be reclaimed that easily.
The story of Professor Saurabh Sharma (Manav Kaul) is one perfect example of such a psychological discord, intensified by his wife gone missing, and he himself being an insomniac doesn’t seem to help either.
Entangled in-between the police officer’s inquisitions and the advancement of a flirtatious student, and also under the influence of the the unending sleeping pills, the professor’s life looks more distorted than ever.
Disturbing? Yes, thank you very much!
Be it the blood-filled bathtub mysteriously clogged by a bundle of human hair or a chopped up human finger under the cabinet, Maroonisa dark and trippy psychological thriller that seems to have it’s roots deeply embedded into our human psyche; stimulated by that part of our unconscious brain that deceives our consciousness, and makes us vulnerable yet so dangerous.
Overall an intelligently made film, based on one single location, entirely interiors. With only a handful of characters writer/director Pulkit have managed to weave an intricate tale of murder, betrayal, love, adultery and insanity!
Superb performance by Manav Kaul, he portrayed the tired and delusional man desperate to find his wife, with enough conviction.
Devyani Cm as the young seductress and Sumeet Vyas the hot-tempered lover-boy are really good but one particular actor needs a special mention, Saurabh Sachdeva playing the character of Inspector. R. Negi was simply brilliant!
Nowadays it’s difficult to find the right combination of talent, determination and humility all in one person. And Pulkit, the young and gifted filmmaker have all these qualities and that too with a great sense of humour!
In Conversation with Pulkit as he talks about his journey as a filmmaker!
Hi Pulkit welcome to Cinema Forensic!
How does it feel to watch your first feature film Maroon on the big screen at the prestigious Mumbai Film Festival?
It’s Great! It’s also a very weird kind of feeling I must tell you. You know when your film gets selected in the film festival they do a technical check, so they called me for that. On 24th morning I was sitting alone in the theatre and they played my film. Suddenly I started crying you know – what was happening! Something that I always dreamt about – I felt my career, my schooling, my college, came to Bombay, just being 5 years in Bombay and now watching my own film in the big screen – it was a superb kick!
And then I was very nervous on how people will react, because you always love your baby, but the film is not for you na? So during the actual screening I couldn’t watch the film with the audience. I left the theatre. I came down, had coffee, cigarettes; and my assistant who was there in the theatre, she kept messaging me – like people are smiling, giggling, how they are reacting and all that.
Even after the screening, the question answers and all, I met the audience – ya it was superb. I know I will make another film but this thing won’t happen again – the first time experience – it was like ‘pehli baar apko pyaar ho gaya‘. Very beautiful feeling!
Congratulations again Pulkit! Now let’s begin from the beginning. Tell me something about yourself, your background.
I was born in Bihar, Muzaffarpur. My parents still live there.
As a kid I was never good in studies (laughs). Actually my father being a businessman in Bihar I had so many restrictions – because at that time in Bihar children of businessmen used to get kidnapped a lot. So I wasn’t allowed to play with other kids, it was just going to school and back to home. I didn’t have any friends. I didn’t know what was happening around the world. Even in the newspapers it was always stories about crimes and murders. May be that’s why I am so keen in making dark films (laughs).
But the best thing happened to me in Bihar was music. Since I wasn’t allowed to play I got interested into Indian classical music – I played Tabla for thirteen years!
And so I asked my father to get me out of Bihar. And after 10th my dad got me admission into a boarding school in Haryana and I passed my 12th from there and that too with superb grades!
Then I took admission in Amity university Lucknow but I never wanted to be a graduate. So I didn’t attend any classes and just before my final exams I shifted to Mumbai!
It was May 2011. I got admission in Barry John Acting Studio but then again I realised i am too shy to be an actor. Then I tried assisting few people, some of the big shots in this industry. And within two years I became an associate and made good money but still there was no satisfaction. Night after night all you had to do was watch foreign films and copy references from them. I don’t believe in this module.
So, then me and Jyotsana (Jyotsana Nath is the current producer of Maroon), we both decided to quit our jobs and start something of our own.
And soon I wrote my first short film Bombay 1992, but that time we went over budget on the film. So I had to sell my car, ask money from my dad and finally the film got made. This short film taught me how important it is to control your budget.
And then how did the journey of Maroon got started?
Actually before Maroon I wrote another script in 2014 and one of the big studios was backing it at the time but due to their interference in the casting I had to take leave from the project.
Then it was very difficult, people here in Bombay they don’t entertain you, don’t trust you – why will they talk to me, why will they listen to my script? You go to a producer and they ask who is the actor? Then if you go to the actor he asks who is the producer? So independent directors are always in trouble.
So after writing the script of Maroon I narrated it to so many people, everyone loved it and they said ‘you should make it’ but no one actually stood by me. That’s the sad part.
But then Jyotsana was brave enough to come as producer and make this film happen because it was very important for me and Jyotsana to set an example – and we really did it without any compromise!
So after you wrote the screenplay of Maroon you were sure of Manav Kaul as the lead?
I approached Manav in 2014 with a different script of mine, a satire – controversial and dark. Manav said it will be difficult to get this film funded and even released and asked me to write something else instead. He even assured me that he won’t charge a single penny from me!
And then I wrote Maroon. The idea was there with me for some time and I wrote the full screenplay in just thirteen days! I was assisting a friend of mine who was in the hospital and there only I wrote my first draft. And on the 14th day I went back to Manav, narrated the script and he said ‘let’s do it’!
How difficult was it to shoot the entire film within the specific time and budget constraints?
We started preproduction in June and we finally shot Maroon in October 2015.
We didn’t have any production team and we didn’t even know much about production. So a friend of ours, Vivek Kajaria who is a well known Marathi film producer – I asked him for guidance and he came on-board. So we took an estimation of how much money we have in our hands and how many exact days can we shoot without compromising the film.
The good part was all my actors, be it Manav Kaul or Sumeet Vyas didn’t take any money from us. They just loved the script and said ‘we will make it’!
So we shot the entire film in 15 days without a break!
Everybody got so tired. And then again I wanted the film to be handheld and the Alexa camera is very heavy – so my DOP Soumik Mukherjeewas drained and frustrated. For actors also, specially for Manav – what did go in favour of his performance was the actual lack of sleep which his character did require!
Three months of preproduction, fifteen days shoot, three months for sound and for music another four months!
Wow! So how did you plan out the sound design and music for Maroon?
The basic sound design of the film was there in my very first draft. Sound plays such a important role and I always wanted that sound should be the hero of my film. So yes Mandar Kulkarni did a great job.
And for the music Sagar Desai came on-board only after the edit of the film. When I met Sagar I asked him to see the rough cut without sound, without music and asked for his suggestions. And he was so excited and came up with so many ideas – I really liked his excitement.
And lastly Pulkit, now that you have made your film and I am sure you will keep making many more and keep inspiring us, which are the directors who inspired you?
Till 10th, 12th standard I didn’t have much exposure to films. While in Lucknow I started watching a bit of Hollywood films for the first time.
And then of course after coming to Bombay I started watching the so called classics. The first film that really inspired me was A Short Film About KillingbyKrzysztof Kieslowski. Then I watched films of David Fincher, David Lynch andHitchcock. I am always attracted towards dark kind of cinema because I really feel we all have a dark side that we tend to hide from everybody. And I know every one loves to watch dark films.
Thank you so much Pulkit for sharing your journey with us!
To engage and communicate with the film buffs of our country Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival for the last few years has been including multiple interactive sessions and events that make the overall experience of the film festival all the more interesting!
So here are some of the best events of this year!
Jio MAMI Movie Mela with Star ended on a high note with three panel discussions and up close and personal chats with some of the most celebrated names in the Indian film industry.
Panel One: VR discussion with Gabo Arora, Raja Koduri, Anand Gandhi and moderator Shakun Batra pondered upon current usage of virtual reality.
Panel Two: In conversation with Directors – Rohit Shetty, Zoya Akhtar, Vishal Bhardwaj, Gauri Shinde and Shoojit Sircar, moderated by film critic Rajeev Masand and Jio MAMI with Star, Festival Director Anupama Chopra.
Panel Three: Actor Shahid Kapoor in conversation with Rajeev Masand and Anupama Chopra about his journey in the industry so far.
PLAY SECTION ON WEB SERIES
Jio MAMI 18th Mumbai Film Festival with Star had an exciting day at PLAY, the youngest section which celebrates the digital narrative through the best of web series of India.
Panel one: The Writers Panel saw some interesting insights on how the web series content is driven to the young audience and how writers want to connect to the youth of India because television as a medium has nothing for them. This panel had Sumeet Vyas (TVF- Permanent Rommates & Tripling), Nidhi Bisht (TVF), Sattvik Mishra (ScoopWhoop), Varun Grover (Writer), Preetika Chawla (Actor-Producer), Naveen Richard (Writer-Actor) in conversation with Shreevasta Nevatia.
Panel two: The Business Panel had some industry experts talking about the business of web series and how profitable the model is? This panel included Sameer Saxena (TVF Originals), Anand Tiwari (Actor-Writer), Rohan Sippy (Producer), Ashish Patil (Y-Films), Samir Nair (Balaji Telefilms) and Swara Bhaskar (Actor) in conversation with curator Nikhil Taneja.
The Best of PLAY saw the team of TVF Permanent Roommates, TVF Tripling, Y-Films Sex chat with Pappu and Pappa, Not Fit by Dice Media and many more.
PLAY also world premiered some of the web series which included Little things (Pocket Aces), NRI (OML), Qisson ka Kona (OML), Ramsay Reloaded (101 India), Sneh (ScoopWhoop) and Yes Kaneez (OML).
SPECIAL SCREENING FOR THE UNDER PRIVILEGED YOUTH OF THE COUNTRY
Jio MAMI 18th Mumbai Film Festival with Star, in association with Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA), presented a special screening for the under privileged youth of the country. Le Reve (Globus), Bandra hosted the screening of ‘Shree Devi Phataka’, directed by Navin Chapade on October 23rd, 2016 for youth from the deprived areas of Mankhurd, Ambujwadi, Jogeshwari, Wadala, Chembur and few other parts of Maharashtra.
WOMEN IN FILM
Day Five at the Jio MAMI 18th Mumbai Film Festival with Star saw some great sessions for film as well as television audiences.
Starting from the Oxfam and Jio MAMI with Star Women in Film Brunch at JW Marriot saw some powerful like MAMI Chairperson, Kiran Rao, Oxfam head, Nisha Agarwal, Konkana SenSharma, Richa Chaddha, Poonam Dhillon, Ekta Kapoor, Leena Yadav, Deborah Young, Maanvi Gagroo, Nidhi Singh and more.
Oxfam discussed Women and Films with Oxfam Head, Nisha Agarwal, Christine Vachon, Leena Yadav, Rucha Pathak, Tala Hadid, Vibha Bakshi, Tillotama Shome and moderator Rahul Bose. The discussion covered topics like the portrayal of women in Indian cinema and how it affects the way we portray their roles in our society.
And then there were some very interesting events to follow:
Television Vertical screened the world premiere of ‘P.O.W.’ The panel included Primetime Emmy Winner Cary Fukunaga, Gideon Raff, Gaurav Banerjee and Nikkhil Advani in conversation with Nikhil Taneja about the changes in the way TV series have evolved over the years.
Mani Kaul’s tour de force, Ahamaq, was on the big screen for the first time. Uncut and in its pure form Ahamaq a nostalgic celebration. Present for the screening were cast including Mita Vashisht, Ashish Rajadhyaksha, D Wood, Vikram Joglekar and others.
Remembering Bimal Roy was a special tribute to someone who has a big contribution to our entire cinema heritage. Joy Bimal Roy, Jaya Bachchan, Apurva Asrani, Nasreen Munni Kabir, Namrata Joshi in conversation with Rauf Ahmed.
Events and Films, 18th JIO MAMI MUMBAI FILM FESTIVAL with STAR 2016 a heaven for all you Cinema-Lovers. Enjoy!
Directed by Alankrita Shrivastava, the film featured in the Section: India Gold chronicles the secret lives of four small-town women who wants to break-free from their regular lives, and rebel in search of freedom.
Directed by Milind Dhaimade, this is the story of five friends who struggle to find a place to play football in Mumbai.
Featured in the Section: India Gold, this movie is not only about missing the every-Sunday football game ritual at the Juhu Beach, but it’s also about growing up, about friendship and about finding one’s own space, and then of course happiness!
The genius dancer Uday Shankar directed and acted in this classic film which is currently featured under theSection: The New Medium at the festival.
A unique form of story telling, a real “dance film” – rare and brilliant, such accurate compositions and use of various dance forms makes this film visually breathtaking and highly unconventional as well.
Section: India Gold, directed by Rohit Mittal, this one is a feature length mockumentary in which a documentary crew follows a notorious auto rickshaw driver called Narayan in the suburbs of Mumbai.
The movie overall has a voyeuristic quality since the film-crew directly becomes the part of this weird, sexually frustrated and often mentally deranged life of the auto driver. Dangerous and realistic at the same time!
Directed by Akshay Singh, this film makes a statement on the Indian obsession of fair skin! The story revolves around a certain beauty parlour in Banaras run by two sisters Pinky and Bulbul.
But the film takes a different turn when a body is being found and soon two police men come to investigate. Featuring under Section: The India Story, this film is surely something to look out for in this festival.
Though categorised as a Canadian entry, this film is based on an Indian issue, the language is Hindi and it’s also made by an acclaimed director from Indian origin, none other than Deepa Mehta!
The film revolves around the brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old girl by six men inside a moving bus in New Delhi, December 2012. A fictionalised take on the incident and the consequences of such a gruesome crime on our society.
Self-empowerment of rural women – Parched instantly reminded me of Ketan Mehta’s Mirch Masala!
My Ratings: 4/5.
Seldom issue based films (especially in Bollywood) suffer from striking a balance between telling a story that is both entertaining as well as didactic.
And that is exactly where Leena Yadav‘s remarkable film Parched comes out as a winner!
Dealing with four rural female characters in the lead – Rani (Tannishtha Chatterjee), Lajjo (Radhika Apte), Bijli (Surveen Chawla) and Janaki (Lehar Khan) and then of course their struggle in a male-dominating society being the core of the film, Parched has done an incredible job in charming the audience, mostly through it’s unapologetic dialogues (thanks to Supratik Sen) that ranges from being real, straightforward to vulgar!
The film through each of its feminine-character’s remarkable journeys efficiently tackles so many women-oriented social issues like domestic violence, sexual harassment, education, child marriage, dowry, status of the widows, choice of asserting her sexual preferences, fertility prejudices, prostitution, even the importance of rural small-scale businesses and then of course the independence of women on the whole!
Such powerful acting by everyone in the film but electrifying Radhika Apte surely leads the pack.
Through the lenses of ace cinematographer Russell Carpenter and the appropriate melodious music by Hitesh Sonik, Parched has definitely managed to tell a fascinating story, most importantly something very different and genuine.
The backdrop being Rajasthan, and essentially dealing with strong women characters, Parched instantly reminded me of Ketan Mehta‘s epic film Mirch Masala (1987).
But i guess the real success of a film like Parched will be when the women of rural India can get to watch it and enjoy as much as the urban multiplex audience did!