Category Archives: Festivals

Best of Cinema from around the festivals

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.

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

Best International Films to watch at MAMI 2017

written by Souranath Banerjee

Best International 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 simply can’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!

Best-International-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017Along with a number of prestigious International 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), After Dark (focused on the horror/fantasy genre), Spotlight, Restored classics and many others.

And then of course if you want a picture with Monica Bellucci, most welcome!

Too many good movies and not so many days, so be specific of which films you pick and I hope this list helps you to choose among some of the Best International Films to watch at MAMI 2017. 

Make sure you don’t miss any of these!

10. On Body and Soul (2017)

Teströl és lélekröl (original title)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfGeMbSEx9k

Best-International-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017The setting being a slaughter house, this is an exceptional love story between two ordinary people wrapped in strange identical dreams.

Brilliant performances and a unique script, directed by Ildikó Enyedi, the Hungarian film has already won the prestigious FIPRESCI Prize and the Golden Berlin Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival!

9. Call Me by Your Name (2017)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9AYPxH5NTM

Best-International-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017‘Call me by your name and I’ll call you by mine.’

It is about an affair between two men, a young visiting student and the son of the American professor.

Premiered at Sundance Film Festival, the critics already raving about this one, directed by Luca Guadagnino, the film promises a heartfelt yet heartbreaking story of two people in love on a hot summer somewhere in a small town of Italy!

8. The Florida Project (2017)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwQ-NH1rRT4

Best-International-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017Set up just in the outskirts of Disney World this is the story of a mischievous 6-year old (Brooklynn Prince) and her friends, her mother, her neighborhood – basically the world around her!

Directed by Sean Baker (of Tangerine fame), and also featuring Willem Dafoe this film is attracting a lot of attention (mostly praises) from the critics as well as from the general audience.

7. On the Beach at Night Alone (2017)

Bamui haebyun-eoseo honja (original title)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7CP5ipqqwU

Best-International-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017‘Where’s love? It’s not even visible. You need to see it in order to search for it.’

This South Korean cinema is about an actress who roams around a seaside town contemplating on her realtionship with a married man.

Directed by Sang-soo Hon, the protagonist Min-hee Kim already won the Silver Berlin Bear as the best actress for this year.

6. The Third Murder (2017)

Sandome no satsujin (original title)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Plr3V4TYBQE

Best-International-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017A man with a criminal record gets accused and arrested again and this time it seems to be an open and shut case. But then a prominent lawyer turns around the facts and this will make all the difference between life and death!

Directed by aclaimed Hirokazu Koreeda, this Japanese film with two brilliant actors Masaharu Fukuyama and Kôji Yakusho looks promising court-room drama!

5. The Other Side of Hope (2017)

Toivon tuolla puolen (original title)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85cyiMBvPXQ

Best-International-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017A Finnish man who opens his own restaurant and a Syrian guy who comes to Finland in order to start a new life. The stories of these two men finally meet up and become one!

Realistic et with a comic touch, acclaimed filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki won the Silver Berlin Bear at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival in the Best director category!

4. A Gentle Creature (2017)

Krotkaya (original title)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sun3D8VqkGY

Best-International-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017Nominated for Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, this Russian film is the story of a woman who investigates a return of a parcel that she sent to her husband who is serving prison time in an isolated town in Siberia.

Directed by Sergei Loznitsa, this one is an perfect example of superlative acting and brilliant story-telling, a slow yet highly cinematic experience.

3. 24 Frames (2017)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBO0rqY4uQY

Best-International-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017A collection of 24 short four-and-a-half minutes films inspired by still images, including paintings and photographs!

An experimental project directed by the acclaimed filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami over the last three years of his life. I am sure this will be a film with great aesthetics, simple yet artistic like all the earlier films from the director.

2. Loveless (2017)

Nelyubov (original title)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLegoO4NdD8

Best-International-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017The film that won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, the ARRI/OSRAM Award at the Munich Film Festival and was nominated ‘best film’ at the London Film Festival this year!

Directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev, this one is about a couple who must team up to find their missing son although they are going through a divorce.

Official submission of Russia for the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ category of the 90th Academy Awards in 2018.

  1. The Square (2017)

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

Best-International-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017“The Square” is the name of a unique contemporary show that has gained huge popularity

Swedish director Ruben Östlund (of Force Majeure fame) has made a brilliant satirical drama, absurd and surreal but very entertaining!

Along with many other wins in numerous film festivals, the film swept away the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival this year!

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

+1. Mother! (2017)

Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpICoc65uh0

Best-International-Films-to-watch-at-MAMI-2017The peaceful life of a couple is disturbed by some uninvited guests.

Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer all together in a psychological horror thriller directed by Darren Aronofsky – this only should be reason enough to watch this film!

Though incredibly mixed reactions from the audiences, I guess it will be one of those films which you will passionately love or hate!

A few other films that are very much worth checking out are 

November directed by Rainer SarnetCity of Ghosts directed by Matthew HeinemanBeach Rats directed by Eliza HittmanIt Comes at Night directed by Trey Edward Shults.

Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com.

KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival – 147 films from across 45 countries!

KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival

written by Souranath Banerjee

Founded in 2010, and now voted as one of the Top 5 LGBT Film Festival in the world, KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival is South Asia’s biggest queer film festival and the only LGBT film festival in India to be held in a mainstream theater.

KASHISH MIQFF 2017 is held over 5 days at two venues, at Liberty Cinema and Alliance Francaise in South Mumbai. Held between May KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival24-May 28, 2017, it is the first Indian LGBT festival to be held with approval by the Information & Broadcasting Ministry, Government of India.

Delegate Registrations are open on Book My Show https://in.bookmyshow.com/festival/mumbai-international-queer-film-festival

THEME of KASHISH 2017 : ‘Diverse, One’ 

The theme of KASHISH 2017 explores the diversity of the LGBTQ communities. The diverse shades of the rainbow remind us that as people we are all different and we are all unique. In the fight for an equal society, basic human rights and against laws that criminalize and discriminate, it is our shared values that bring us together. We are strongest when we come together, when we embrace one another’s uniqueness and celebrate our differences. We are Diverse, We are One.

KASHISH 2017 will have South Asia’s largest prize money for LGBTQ films – 147 films from 45 countries competing for total cash award of Rs.2.20 lakhs.

KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film FestivalThe 8th edition of KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival this year will feature the largest prize money for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer films in South Asia. Around 43 of the 147 films that will be screened at the festival will compete in the eight competition categories for a total cash award of Rs 2.20 lakhs. The prize money will be sponsored by Anupam Kher’s Actor Prepares, Whistling Woods International, Shri K.F. Patil Charitable Trust, Wadia Movietone and Lotus Visual.

“It gives us immense pleasure to announce an increased bouquet of cash awards at KASHISH 2017,” said Sridhar Rangayan, Festival Director. “We have been really trying hard to up the value we bring to the independent filmmakers who put in so much of effort to make LGBTQ films across the world. We are truly delighted by the support we have received from individuals and organizations to nurture talent. KASHISH is happy to spread rainbow sunshine among the film making community,” said Rangayan.

The highest award at KASHISH, Best Narrative Feature (Rs. 30,000) as well as well as those for Best Indian Short Film (Rs 20,000) and KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film FestivalActor in a Leading Role (Rs 15,000) are sponsored by Anupam Kher’s Actor Prepares.

“I am heartened to see KASHISH growing year by year, providing a fantastic platform for independent queer cinema, bringing together films and offering a bridge to many cultures around the world. Actor Prepares is committed to nurturing talent and we are delighted to continue our support, for the fourth year, to three of the awards at the festival. I wish the festival even greater success,” said acclaimed actor Anupam Kher.

A newly introduced award this year is for the Best Student Short film with a cash award of Rs 15,000 sponsored by film school Whistling Woods International. LGBTQ short films made by students of film and media schools will compete for this award.

“Whistling Woods International is proud to continue its association with KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, a wonderful initiative that encourages aspiring filmmakers to come forward and spread awareness about the LGBT community, sensitively and artistically. KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film FestivalLove is universal and it is fantastic to have a festival that celebrates love from the point of view of the individuals belonging to the LGBT community. We need more platforms like this, which not only promotes cinema but also unearths some truly unique talents every year. This year, we have taken our association further by sponsoring the Best Student Film Award. It adds another layer to our objective of partnering with KASHISH, which is to encourage young students to express themselves through the power of cinema. Like every year, we look forward to a positive response, and would like to convey our best wishes to the students,” said Meghna Ghai Puri, President, Whistling Woods International

Two competition categories this year will have cash awards – K.F.Patil Unity in Diversity Award for Best Documentary Feature (Rs.15,000) and K.F.Patil Unity in Diversity Award for Best Documentary Short – Rs.10,000. The cash awards are  sponsored by K.F.Patil Charitable Trust.

KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival“Discrimination is a human man-made phenomenon and it is against the very principle of nature which celebrates diversity. Unfortunately society does not and every voice that calls for freedom and inclusivity is important. KASHISH is one such voice standing for freedom and acceptance for a group of people all over the world who have been marginalised simply because of their sexual orientation. The K.F. Patil Charitable Trust which stands for Unity in Diversity is proud to associate with KASHISH which through the medium of a film festival informs, educates and shares with people the agonies and ecstasies of these people. The documentary awards instituted by the Trust are a token of our appreciation for Kashish and for the filmmakers to carry the message forward to thousands of people,” said National award winning filmmaker Arunaraje Patil, who is the Chairperson of Shri K.F. Patil Charitable Trust.

The Riyad Wadia Award for Best Emerging Indian Filmmaker was KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festivalinstituted in memory of Riyad Wadia, who made the country’s first gay film – BomGay. The cash award of Rs 15,000 is sponsored by Wadia Movietone.  “Encouraging new and young filmmakers was something my late brother Riyad Wadia always used to do, and this award in his name at the KASHISH  symbolizes some of the help and support he provided so many during his all too brief life.  Wadia Movietone remains proud to be associated with Kashish and we look forward to many years together,” said Roy Wadia, who heads Wadia Movietone.

The QDrishti Film Grant returns for the second year to KASHISH. It is an artistic grant to support and promote independent filmmakers based in India making LGBTQ themed films. Short Narrative or Documentary Films made by India-based filmmakers compete for this honour that gives Rs 1 lakh grant to the chosen film maker to make their next LGBTQ themed film. The chosen filmmaker will be mentored by noted filmmaker Aruna Raje and actor and theatre person Shernaz Patel.

“With the rise in global intolerance and violence against minorities, it is paramount for sexual minorities to have a safe space to voice their views. We are delighted to strengthen our partnership with KASHISH in KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festivalannouncing this year’s QDrishti grant with a joint vision of providing a safe platform for film makers who challenge us to celebrate our differences,” said Lotus Visual that has sponsored the grant. 

The competition categories and the films competing are as follows:

Narrative Features: 4 films: Apricot Groves, Glory and Grace, Play The Devil, AWOL

Documentary Features: 4 films: Storm-Drenched Minds, In Love As In Live, Transitioning : Transgender Children, No Dress Code Required.

Documentary Short: 6 films: Single Men, Naked Wheels, Still Burning, A Doll’s Eyes, Across Gender, Lands of Lost Content

International Narrative Short: 17 films: Dive, Java, Transmission, You Deserve Everything, No Way to Paradise, A Meal With Dad, Ladybug, Home, Ariel, The Devil is in the Details, Stay, In The Mirror, Scar Tissue, Lily, Rink, Princess, Superheroes

Indian Narrative Short: 7 films: Aarsa, Wajood, Shehenaiiya, Maacher Jhol, Chudala, Devi, Sisak

Riyad Wadia Award: 8 films: The 6th Element, Shehenaiiya, Wajood, Maacher Jhol, Chudala, Devi, Sisak, Tremors

QDrishti Film Grant: 8 films: The 6th Element, Shehenaiiya, Wajood, Maacher Jhol, Chudala, Devi, Sisak, Naked Wheels

Student Short: 12 films: Lethe, The Tiger’s Fight, Flora, Still Devout, Stumbling Out, Heart Station, Tremors, Beautiful Figure, Alfa, Dawn, The Dam, The Other Side

Crowdfunding for KASHISH 2017

For the fifth year in a row, KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival will be raising funds through crowdfunding. The global campaign to raise funds was launched on India’s leading crowdfunding portal –

Wishberry:https://www.wishberry.in/campaign/kashish-2017-diverse-one/

The target for this year is to raise Rs 3 lakhs, which will partly fund the festival expenses including theatre and equipment rentals. To KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festivalfurther deepen its engagement and provide a platform for Indian filmmakers who make films on LGBT themes, KASHISH 2017 crowdfunding campaign will also use part of the funds raised for a scholarship for selected filmmakers from outside Mumbai to come to the film festival and interact with the audience, film making fraternity and showcase their films.

Content and Photo courtesy: KASHISH MIQFF Team.

Village Rockstars – a film by Rima Das all set for Cannes!

Village Rockstars – a film by Rima Das all set for Cannes!

written by Souranath Banerjee

Rima Das, a filmmaker from Assam based in Mumbai, whose debut film ‘Man with the Binoculars‘ had been screened and appreciated last year in numerous film festivals across the globe, including Tallinn Black NightsCannes (market screening) and Mumbai Film Village RockstarsFestival; and this year Rima is back with her second feature called Village Rockstars.

Village Rockstars – shot, directed and produced by Rima Das without any professional help as such; her cousin being her chief assistant and the young enthusiastic actors from the village playing their parts – being Rockstars!

“I was shooting Man with the Binoculars, which was my first feature film, and I discovered these children and villagers celebrating life [while] living in deprivation. It made me realize what I was missing in Mumbai even surrounded with all this technology,” said Das in an interview with Asia Times.

The film is centred around a 10-year-old young village girl, Dhunu, 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 Village Rockstarsand eventually forming a band with some local boys, the official ‘Village Rockstars!’.

Dhunu, however, has to fight gender stereotypes on what a local girl should do amid poverty and other hostile conditions.

“She (Dhunu) considers herself as capable as boys in a patriarchal society. She was brought up by a non-conformist mother who gave her full freedom of expression,” Rima said.

Like Dhunu, girls in the village where Rima is from, face a lot of restrictions due to their gender specially post puberty.

Village Rockstars“The way they are living their lives make them rockstars. They are the real rockstars to me,” Rima said with enthusiasm.

Village Rockstars got shortlisted among the eight films selected in the Work-In-Progress Lab at the 15th Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum, a great platform which aims at helping filmmakers secure post-production funding, sales agents and film festival support.

The festival’s collaboration with Festival de Cannes to present the “Hong Kong Goes to Cannes” programme assures Village Rockstars’s official selection for the 2017 Marche du Film (Cannes), Village Rockstarsa festival that celebrates its 70th birthday, from May 17 to 28 this year.

Currently being edited in Rome by French editor Jacques Comet, Village Rockstars is all set to enthral us with it’s brilliant storytelling and captivating visuals.

Congratulations Rima Das!

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

Content and Photo courtesy: Rima Das.

Elle (2016) – BEST OF 18TH JIO MAMI MUMBAI FILM FESTIVAL 2016!

Elle review.

written by Souranath Banerjee

If a rape victim desires to return to the act itself, then the next time, does she still remain a victim?

My Ratings: 4/5

Quality erotic thrillers are hard to find but then Basic Instinct director Paul Verhoeven often comes to our rescue.

elle-reviewHis latest French thriller Elle was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and also has already won the Golden Globe Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language and the lead Isabelle Huppert won for the Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama!  

The film starts with a disturbing rape scene that makes the audience uncomfortable enough but then the alarming normality maintained by the ‘victim’ as she continues to perform her daily routine becomes even more disturbing. Why doesn’t she complain about her violation? How can she be so inert about her abuse? Does she know the attacker or will she track him down?

Multiple relations and several interesting plot lines crisscross their paths, and one has to admire the Dutch director’s subtle use of comedy throughout the movie, but then again, the erotic undercurrent is what makes the film so special!

elle-reviewAnd of course Isabelle Huppert‘s brilliant performance!

Actually “Elle” means “She” and so the whole film is seen from the perspective of the central character Michèle and Isabelle Huppert simply owns the part. Her beautiful, sexy looks, her cold and courageous character, her raw animal desires and her level of supreme confidence – no doubt she is the spine of this film.

Though according to me the ending of the film doesn’t justify her character at all but then again a performance to cherish for sure.

Based on the novel “Oh…” by Philippe Djian, I think the best compliment for this film would be that it feels very much like a Michael Haneke film, a lighter version may be with a hint of comedy in it!

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com.

In Conversation with Milind Dhaimade – the very talented writer/director of Tu Hai Mera Sunday

In Conversation with Milind Dhaimade – the very talented writer/director of Tu Hai Mera Sunday.

interviewed by Souranath Banerjee

Milind Dhaimade – an independent filmmaker who believes that everybody is born for some purpose in life and for him it is film making!

His film Tu Hai Mera Sunday is been considered as one of the most entertaining films at the recent Mumbai Film Festival and immensely appreciated as well.

In Conversation with Milind Dhaimade as he talks about his journey as a filmmaker!

Hi Milind, Welcome to Cinema Forensic.

Thank you so much.

Your film ‘Tu Hai Mera Sunday’ was screened in Mumbai Film Festival and got a very positive response. Feels good? 

Great actually!

I never thought of Tu Hai Mera Sunday as a festival-film at all. It’s a very ‘happy’ kind of film, if you know what I mean. It’s a Bombay-story and bits of it is from my life. So when we got selected for Film Bazar and for BFI London Film Festival, I was pretty shocked! I mean U R M SUNDAY TYPO (2)wow! looks like we have made something that also has an international appeal (smiles).

But for me the real joy is always home you know. You want to know what will people think in India, in Bombay. We did some screenings and we always got positive responses from the audience. And that’s why Mumbai Film Festival was fantastic for me, home ground – the ultimate test and it all went so well!

Superb! So tell me how did it all start, you have an advertising background right? 

Yes. See, though I come from a non-filmy background but from my childhood I was very much interested in theatre and films.

But I come from a tough family where people expect you to have real jobs. Then somebody told me about advertising where you can be creative and also have a job, like I can write and make my own stuff. And that’s how I started the journey of advertising and I enjoyed it very much; a great training process of instantly thinking on your feet, thinking of 10 different things at one time and all. But at the back of my mind this filmmaking thing was always there.

So when did you start planning to make a film? 

Actually there was no proper plan as such. It was not like ‘ok look, so after ten, twelve years I will make a film’.

While making ad films I met some very good filmmakers and had a great time working with them. Soon we (me and my wife) were way up in the corporate ladder, we could go higher as well but at some In Conversation with Milind Dhaimadepoint you realise that the higher you go the lesser is the creativity part you know. It’s more of people management and salaries and stuff like that. Then we realised that we are getting away from the things we liked to do, it’s all about sustaining in the corporate goals and all.

At that time in 2005, me and my wife had a chat and decided we should do what we always wanted to do. So we quit our jobs and started planning to make a film. For me it’s like from a very early age you know that you are born for a purpose and you kind of know that you are gonna do it somewhere down the line no matter when. So I was pretty sure about this. The only thing I didn’t know was how?

So by this time you have decided on a particular story?

I started developing a few stories, and then what happened, I had a friend in advertising, Vinay Kanchan and they have a group called Juhu Beach United. So these bunch of guys play at Juhu Beach every Sunday. They come from mixed background and they just love playing football. So it just struck me that what would happen if these In Conversation with Milind Dhaimadeguys couldn’t get a place to play on a Sunday – what would they do? That’s how the story started developing.

Finally in 2008 I started writing this, and I took my time. As I said there was no plan or deadline as such. So for one and half years down the line we kind of had the final version. And also over the years I have picked my team, it took time but it’s very important that you choose the right people with whom you want to work.

Then the other thing was shopping the script. Not that we went to too many studios but you also realise that there is a certain film culture here which is little weird, basically it’s not based on scripts but it’s based on casting and actors. But this film is about everyday guys – if you put some high profile stars in it – it simply won’t work. And we were very sure whom we wanted to cast and the casting directors Anmol (Anmol Ahuja) and Abhishek (Abhishek Banerjee) did a great job. Be it Barun SobtiShahana GoswamiPallavi Batra, Avinash Tiwary, Vishal Malhotra, Masnvi Gagroo, Rasika Dugal, Suhas Ahuja, Nakul bhalla, Jay upadhyay and Shiv Subhramaniyum – it was a perfect cast.

So finally we decided to fund it ourselves, put together whatever money we had and the best part is my wife agreed! Surprisingly! (laughs).

In Conversation with Milind DhaimadeAnd finally in 2015 we started putting it together, by then the script was locked and the casting was done, and the funds ready. Then I spent six months with my music director Amartha Rao, doing the songs and the music. Each song is based on some idea in the film so – we wanted the songs to be really special! And ya, so by May 2016 we were on floor, shooting it.

And so for how many days did the shoot went on?

It was a 38 days schedule – mostly Bombay and a few days in Goa – a week or so. It was amazing because 38 days was 38 days. Nothing went off track and everything was fantastic! My producer Varun Shah had planned it beautifully. Normally whoever comes out of a film shoot comes out with a regret, barring whoever has invested in it but here everybody was happy, everyone enjoyed. All of my crew are actually writing to me saying ‘now make the next film’. We had a great time!

That’s so cool! So after the shoot got over did it take much time in the post? 

Yes, we took our time in post as well. It took around six months, I think by 2015 December it was done. We also had some international buyers and distributers interested in our film, so some time went in getting an international cut as well. They wanted a shorter version.

So when is ‘Tu hai mere Sunday’ going to release in the theatres?

See the good thing about this film is it’s not totally a festival film nor entirely a commercial film. It can be very well enjoyed by the In Conversation with Milind Dhaimadeaudience, intelligent audience. So currently talking to people about the whole distribution and marketing plans – and I am realising a lot of stuff about ‘making-a-film’ Vs ‘selling-a-film’. And that making is actually very easy – like 25% of the whole process. The harder part is of course selling it. But then we have lot of positive responses, but we just have to choose the right kind of partnership. So, it will be releasing soon.

All the best for the release of your film Milind and now tell me something about you, like when did your get interested in filmmaking?

Thank you.

Well, as a kid, when I think back now – I always loved movies. I had a ritual of watching one film a week without my father knowing about it. I would flick money from his wallet and I would go alone and watch films (laughs). Yes, all my childhood I have seen movies alone!

But that time of course I wasn’t thinking of movies as a career or so, it was just my passion. And my favourite thing was to watch these In Conversation with Milind Dhaimademovies and then narrate them to my friends and that too I would put my own masala in those stories while narrating them. I think I loved entertaining people and also the attention!

With my friends I used to do plays in my locality when we were just six, seven years old. During the summer time we didn’t have much to do, so we would write our own crap and perform. Once I remember we saw The 36th Chamber of Shaolin and we made our own play based on that. It was rubbish but that’s how it all started (laughs).

I was supposed to study science and get a decent job, the typical middle-class Maharashtrian path all chalked out for me. But in college I soon realised I was not cut out for science and ended up joining commerce. My dad freaked out and finally decided I should go for CA. I also promised I would study hard. But then I got introduced to theatre and that changed my life.

There was this intercollegiate competition where me along with my friend put up a play and it won all the awards! And after that there was no looking back for me. We started writing, acting and directing our own plays and I thoroughly enjoyed this process. I liked directing more than acting and so I slowly shifted on this side of the camera.

So in college we were obsessed with theatre and films, and now when I look back it’s great, I realise this is what I always wanted to do – making films!

In Conversation with Alankrita Shrivastava – the very talented writer/director of Lipstick Under My Burkha!

In Conversation with Alankrita Shrivastava – the very talented writer/director of Lipstick Under My Burkha!

Interviewed by Souranath Banerjee

Alankrita Shrivastava – a filmmaker drawn to telling women’s stories, inspired by different forms of art, who sometimes uses books and paintings to prepare actors!

alankrita-20Her second film, Lipstick Under My Burkha was selected and well appreciated at this year’s Mumbai Film Festival.

In Conversation with Alankrita Shrivastava as she talks about her journey as a filmmaker!

Hello Alankrita, welcome to Cinema Forensic! Lipstick Under My Burkha got such a positive response at MAMI this year – how do you feel about it?

Thank you. Yes, it is very exciting, very heartening to know that it’s been so well received.

It is a very gratifying feeling for a film maker when people are watching and enjoying their film; also it is very interesting to see the reaction of people, even from other cultures. My film is rooted in a specific Indian cultural context. So it’s exciting for me to see the universality of emotions and characters cutting across cultural barriers!

Yes indeed. Lipstick Under My Burkha – such a unique name and also a very different storyline, so how did you come up with this idea?

I don’t know, I didn’t think about it consciously. There was this thought that just emerged in my head – that I wanted to tell the story of four women who are kind of cloistered, want to do more lipstick - plabita - press release 3with their lives and how they go about doing it.

Even though I am brought up in a very liberal and educated background, I still don’t feel fully free and so wanted to explore that feeling. Sometimes I feel like something is holding me back. I thought that it would be interesting for me to explore that in a way where there are also external things holding you back, not just internal things. The whole idea was that how one can sort of break free even while being cloistered.

That’s very interesting, and when you wrote the script of the film how did you start with it – like you have written the script in one go or like …

No, this script is a very long story in itself, because I thought of the title and the essential concept more or less at one go. I wrote it in 2012 and took it the NFDC Screen Writer’s Lab. That was a very helpful experience. But that time I was also trying to write another film which finally didn’t happen.

So, then at the end of 2013 I decided to work on the script again.

And then I got my friend Suhani Kanwar,  to  help me with additional screenplay, and Gazal Dhaliwal to work on the dialogue. So the script developed over time.

Most good scripts come out like that only huh?

Ya? (smiles). I don’t think any writer intends to be like that but then sometimes it takes long. But I agree because I feel if you let a thought stay for a longer time it just matures in a way, it deepens.

So, after the script is final, then how do you plan the production, like how did you get in touch with the producers, and what about the casting process?

Casting Koko (Konkona Sen Sharma) and Ratna (Ratna Pathak) was relatively easy – I sent the script to them and they liked it.

Mr Jha had come on board as the producer earlier, since I had been working with Prakash Jha Productions for many years. They Lipstick - ratna - press release -2produced my first film as well.

But for the other two girls and for selecting the rest of the cast I will give full credit to my casting directors Shruti Mahajan and Parag Mehta. They worked really hard.  We tested a lot of people and then finalised Plabita (Plabita Borthakur) and Ahana (Aahana Kumra). So I honestly give credit to the casting directors and my assistants for digging out the many gems in my film. They did a fantastic job!

And so after the cast being decided, did the production start write away?

It took a while. We finished shooting in the first half of 2015. I was editing for a while. Then I took the cut to the Work-in-progress Lab at Film Bazar. The lab was very helpful, because we had editors from other parts of the world, and programmers and producers who were part of this panel. They watched the film a few times and gave us feedback and then an editor actually worked with us. My editor Lipstick - aahana - press release 4Charu Shree (Charu Shree Roy)  and I both gained a lot through that process and made some dramatic decisions about the overall edit of the film.

For me what is nice is that I have really grown with the project because it has almost been like film-school like thing. The screen writer’s lab, the edit lab… And even the actor workshops with Atul (Atul Mongia). He is just fantastic. I learned so much as a director working with Atul, about how to work with actors.

It’s really been a process you know and it’s still going on (laughs) – currently we are finalising the distribution deal for the film’s release and again that’s a challenge.

Wish you all the best Alankrita. Now tell me something about yourself – how did you become interested in films, like from the childhood – your journey as a film maker?

No, actually I went to this all-girls boarding school in Deharadun called Welham Girl’s School and there we had this activity class – where the senior girls would make audio-visual films which were alankrita-2screened at the annual day. It was like huge screen and thousands of people watching. I saw that when I was in a junior class and I just wanted to be one of the girls in that AV team. So I joined the Audio Visual class.  I guess that was the beginning for me. I felt the power of telling the story through this medium. Also I always used to read books since I was very young, then my father always told me stories – so this storytelling process was always in my mind. (smiles).

I did my BA honors in journalism from Lady Shriram College and did lots of media internships during that time.

And then I did my masters in Mass Communications from Jamia Milia Islamia. After that I was very clear that I wanted to do films. I started working with Mr.Prakash Jha as a trainee assistant, then one thing led to another. I assisted on Gangaajal and then I was chief assistant on Apaharan, I was associate director on Rajneeti and in between I was executive producer on Sudhir’s film Khoya Khoya Chand and also another film called Dil Dosti Etc. In-between I made my short film (Open Doors with Tisca Chopra), and after Raajneeti I directed my first feature Turning 30!!!

And finally some films that influenced you, made an impact on you as a filmmaker?

I’m not that influence by films in terms of my thought process but I Lipstick - konkona- press release 1am much more influenced by books, especially female feminist writers like Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen, Toni Morrison and most recently by Elena Ferrante.

I am not sure I love watching films as much as I love reading books. I love making films though!

Thats really interesting because most of the filmmakers say that films have been their major inspiration but for you it has been books!

Because you know, what I feel is that, honestly if you are expressing yourself in a certain medium, that doesn’t mean that all your influences have to come from that same medium. I think film is after all a coming together of different art forms!

So while directing Turning 30!!! the references I gave to my actors were paintings, and excerpts from novels which I felt represented their characters in the film!

Manchester by the Sea (2016) – BEST OF 18TH JIO MAMI MUMBAI FILM FESTIVAL 2016!

Manchester by the Sea review

written by Souranath Banerjee

A film so full of joy and sorrow, a sea of emotions and so very real!

My Ratings: 4.2/5

Certain films stay with us much longer than expected – like those few silly innocent moments of childhood, like a faded perfume of some beloved or like the sudden news of death of someone close to us.

Yes, writer/director Kenneth Lonergan‘s latest Manchester by the Sea is one such film that makes you relate and recollect to something deeper in yourself, a soul-stirring experience much more than manchester-by-the-sea-poster1just some characters stuck in a movie.  

It’s the story of Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) who unexpectedly becomes the legal guardian of his teenage nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges) after the sudden death of Lee’s brother Joe Chandler (Kyle Chandler).

A relatively simple storyline but uniquely layered and put together with sufficient expertise. Creditable both on the writing level as well as for it’s superb editing style. The whole movie goes back and forth in between the present and the past, and thanks to editor Jennifer Lame, the experience is both genuine and emotional.

In the acting department this is undoubtedly Casey Affleck‘s best performance till date. I wish he gets all the awards this year for his flawless portrayal of an irresponsible loner afraid of any kind of commitments in life.

Michelle Williams (small yet memorable performance)Lucas HedgesKyle Chandler and child artist Ben O’Brien simply adds more value to the film, superb performances.

And on top of that Lesley Barber‘s soulful music and Jody Lee Lipes moody cinematography makes Manchester by the Sea an experience you don’t want to miss.

So, don’t you dare miss it!

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.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).