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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.

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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!

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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!

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Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Nocturnal Animals review

written by Souranath Banerjee

A film entirely based on performances and awesome editing!   

My Ratings: 3.9/5

There’s a very interesting dialogue in the film that says ‘When someone loves you, you have to be careful with it!’ I think it applies to Cinema as well!

I mean when a film starts good, interesting characters and situations that quickly grab our attention, and a certain level of anticipation Nocturnal Animals reviewbuilds up – but at this point the director has to be ‘careful’ with his film. The ending if not delivered as per expectation can hurt the feelings of the audience.

Nocturnal Animals is one such crime drama that grips you right away with it’s unique nonlinear story telling but then by the end, the film tends to loose it’s excitement.

A woman reads a book manuscript written by her ex-husband while she ponders upon her relationships. Often brutal and painful, the script adopted from Austin Wright‘s novel is very real and told in style.

Some directors have a valour for the art of parallel editing, that is telling multiple stories together and ace fashion-designer turned director Tom Ford definitely have set an example of that technique in this film. The way he along with his editor Joan Sobel have played Nocturnal Animals reviewwith the time line of the film – switching back and forth between the fiction and reality, and also the past and present with recurring time jumps and match cuts is definitely commendable. 

Pretty realistic performances by Amy AdamsJake GyllenhaalMichael Shannon and especially by Aaron Taylor-Johnson as the lawless, conscienceless wicked soul.

Abel Korzeniowski‘s music gives the film the needed anchor that connects and binds the multiple stories together.

But I only wish that as an audience I could get as involved as Amy Adams while reading her ex husband’s novel till the very end.

A good one time watch though, specially if you want to learn some cool editing! 

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – it’s all about HOPE!

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – it’s all about HOPE!

written by Twishashish Roy

If you’re a fan of the Star Wars series two things apply to you. One, you are NOT confused by the order in which they release their movies because you’re used to  Yoda talking and two, you have seen Rogue One.

Now for those of you who haven’t, I suggest that you don’t read this rogue-one-poster12articles because this contains spoilers.

Rogue One directed by Gareth Edwards in a way changed the way I looked at the original series. Now, it doesn’t have any massive plot twists but perhaps reflects on one of the messages from the series.  HOPE!

Now anyone who has seen the original trilogy would think that the title for Episode IV was a reference towards Luke. Luke being a ‘New Hope’ in dark times.  And probably that is what was meant. However, Rogue One makes you look at the Hope message from the series in a very different way. Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) was not a Jedi.  She was a simple warrior who went into war against the evil Empire on nothing but hope.

Rebellions are made on hope”, she said.  The Empire brings a monarchy in the Galaxy. They want to introduce a submissive rule.  The Death Star will bring that submissive rule. Jyn Erso and the rogue-one-poster10warriors of Rogue One have something to say about this.

And if you look at it, it was their sacrifice that ultimately helped Luke, Leia and Han to destroy the Death Star. And like Leia (Ingvild Deila) said at the end of the movie, Rogue One sent them, “ Hope”.

What this says is that A New Hope not only referred to Luke but to the entire Rebellion. The War to not fall under the Evil Emperor’s submission.  And all if it happened because of a decoy imperial starship named Rogue One.

Rogue One, may the force be with you.

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com.

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La La Land (2016)

La La Land review

written by Souranath Banerjee

A Classic is born and it will make you sing and fall in love all over again!

My Ratings: 4.3/5

The original 1953 20th Century Fox logo reappears on the big la- la-land-posterscreen and makes it seem even bigger, and then the magic begins!

Yes, the resurrection of the old Hollywood charm, that feeling when the white shoes start tapping in rhythm and the dialogues metamorphose into soothing songs – the sheer magic of experiencing a musical, an odd combination of a modern classic!

And you are lost in the darkness of the theatre, well suspended on your disbeliefs, wondering in a world so full of love and dulcet melodies, absorbed in the sheer beauty of brilliantly choreographed, colourful, talking Cinema!

“How are you gonna be a revolutionary if you’re such a traditionalist? You hold onto the past, but jazz is about the future.”

Director Damien Chazelle‘s love for Jazz was pretty evident in his previous film Whiplash but this time he makes a more definite statement – a desperate effort to save Jazz!

And thus he join hands with Ryan Gosling who learns to play piano like a professional just for this film, and then Gosling’s chemistry la- la-land-poster1with Emma Stone (undoubtedly one of the best actresses at present) is just so sublime! When they dance looking at each other’s eyes – that’s a major part of the ‘magic’ in the film that I was talking about earlier!

Long song and dance sequences masterfully choreographed that takes Justin Hurwitz‘s music to another level; great camera work and colour play by Linus Sandgren and crisp editing by Tom Cross. But again along with superlative directional capabilities thanks to Damien Chazelle‘s brilliantly written love story!

Recommended only for those who adore Jazz, Musicals, Ryan GoslingEmma StoneDamien Chazelle and powerful Cinema!

P.S – Oscar winner J.K. Simmons makes a guest appearance where he seems to hate good music!

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com.

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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.

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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).

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Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2016)

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk review

written by Souranath Banerjee

Rather than labelling it as an ‘anti-war film’ let’s say it is an emotional tale of war and the warriors! 

My Ratings: 3.9/5

Crouching Tiger, Hidden DragonBrokeback MountainLust, CautionLife of Pi – there is one man who is behind all these masterpieces, the acclaimed Chinese director Ang Lee!

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk reviewAnd it’s a war film! Well, actually a more sophisticated version of a war movie where the aftermath of the battle takes up the centre stage.

Based on the novel by Ben Fountain and screenplay by Jean-Christophe Castelli, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk essentially revolves around 19-year-old Billy Lynn, a war hero, retuning home from Iraq on a victory tour with his entire squad (the survivors of the gruesome war). 

His memories and flashbacks of the battlefield, his personal heroic efforts and the lives lost in the combat – these are the crux of the film, put across through a superbly knitted nonlinear storyline.

Through John Toll‘s brilliant visuals and Tim Squyres innovative back and forth editing, no doubt Ang Lee has told his story in style!

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk reviewBut then again the performances make the 1h 53min film such a delight to watch; especially debutant Joe Alwyn who played Billy Lynn was incredibly natural!

Then of course we have brilliant actors like Garrett HedlundSteve MartinChris TuckerKristen StewartVin DieselBeau Knapp among others who have perfectly balanced the film. 

The only thing that bothered me was that it was a bit too vocal, like every emotion was spoken out in elaborate sentences loud and clear for the audience!

Then again Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is definitely a Cinema worth your time, highly emotional and also a cinematic achievement since it is the first film to be shot at 120 frame rate!

Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com.

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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).

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