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A bunch of festival news about Indian films from across the world.

Busan International Film Festival will open with Mozez Singh’s debut feature, Zubaan this year. The film has Vicky Kaushal, Sarah Jane Dias, Manish Chaudhary, Meghna Malik and Raaghav Chanana in lead roles. For more details about the film, click here.

Aprt from Zubaan, Busan will also have a bunch of Indian films in various categories. In its ‘A Window On Asian Cinema’ section, there is Meghna Gulzar’s Guilty (Talvar), Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh, Bhaskar Hazarika’s Kothanodi, Biju Viswanath’s Orange Candy, Mani Ratnam’s O Kadhal Kanmani, Neeraj Ghaywan’s Masaan, and Suman Ghosh’s Peace Heaven.

The “New Currents” section has Hari Viswanath’s Radio Set and the “Cinekids’ section will screen Nagesh Kukunoor’s Rainbow (Dhanak). The fest also has few Indian films in docu and shorts categories. The festival will run from 1-10th October, 2015.

Also, Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap is on the Jury for “New Currents” section of the fest.

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Toronto International Film Festival has few more Indian titles to their 2015 edition. Apart from Meghna Gulzar’s Guilty (Talvar) and Leena Yadav’s Parched, it also has Pan Nalin’s Angry Indian Goddesses in the same ‘Special Presentations’ section. The film stars Tannishtha Chatterjee, Sandhya Mridul, Sarah Jane Dias, Pavleen Gujral, Anushka Manchanda, Rajshri Deshpande and Amrit Maghera

Here’s a short description of the film from the fest site – On the eve of their friend’s wedding in Goa, a group of women discuss everything under the sun — from their careers, sex lives, and secrets to nosy neighbours and street harassment — in this largely improvised and refreshingly frank depiction of contemporary Indian society from award-winning director Pan Nalin.

TIFF will also screen Shambhavi Kaul’s Fallen Objects, Shai Heredia & Shumona Goel’s An Old Dog’s Diary in “Wavelenths” section, and Megha Ramaswamy’s Bunny in “Short Cut” section.

NFDC Film Bazaar

NFDC Film Bazaar, 2015, is calling for entries for the Work-in-Progress (WIP) Lab and the Viewing Room (VR). This year, the Film Bazaar will be held from November 20-24, 2015 at the Goa Marriott Resort, alongside the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2015.

Films previously in the Work-in-Progress Labs at Film Bazaar have had their world premieres at leading international films festivals, often winning awards as well as enjoying successful theatrical runs.

WIP Labs

– Submissions are invited for the two WIP Labs: WIP Fiction and WIP Documentary.

– In each WIP Lab, upto five projects in their rough-cut stage will be selected for mentoring and presentation to a panel of international film experts.

– The WIP Documentary Lab is only accepting feature-length creative documentaries in the rough-cut stage, aiming for a theatrical release.

– Feature-length films of any genre in the rough-cut stage are invited to apply to the WIP lab.

Viewing Room

– Films of all genres and lengths, in rough or final cut, are invited to apply to the Viewing Room where films seeking finishing funds, world sales, distribution partners and film festival exhibition are presented.

– The Viewing Room hosts individual computer terminals in private booths, where investors, world sales agents and film festival programmers attending the Film Bazaar can watch submitted films via specially designed software. This allows them to contact the director or the producer directly through email.

– Feature length films in the rough cut stage are eligible to apply to both WIP Lab and Viewing Room.

– This year, NFDC Film Bazaar has introduced an Early Bird Deadline of 10th September 2015 for application to the WIP Lab and Viewing Room, which offers a discount on application fees.

– The regular deadline is 30th September 2015.

– Please visit www.filmbazaarindia.com for Application Forms and more details.

– For further queries, write to: films@filmbazaarindia.com.

– The most recent successes of the Film Bazaar WIP Labs are:

  • Raam Reddy’s Thithi(Premiered at Locarno Film Festival 2015 and Winner of ‘Golden Leopard, Filmmakers of the Present Competition’ as well as ‘Best First Feature Film Award’)
  • Avinash Arun’s Killa(Premiered at Berlin Film Festival 2014 where it won the ‘Crystal Bear Award’ and National Award winner)
  • Kanu Behl’s Titli(Premiered in the ‘Un Certain Regard’ section at Cannes Film Festival 2014)
  • Ashim Ahluwalia’s Miss Lovely(Premiered in the ‘Un Certain Regard’ section at Cannes Film Festival 2012 and National Award winner)
  • Anand Gandhi’s Ship of Theseus(Premiered at the Toronto Film Festival 2012
  • Gyan Correa’sThe Good Road (National Award winner and India’s selection for the Oscars)
  • Ajay Bahl’s BA Pass(Premiered at and won Best Film at the 12th Osian’s Cinefan Film Festival
  • Sange Dorjee Thangdok’s Crossing Bridges(National Award winner)

The first look of Meghna Gulzar’s Talvar is out. Starring Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma, Neeraj Kabi, Sohum Shah, Atul Kumar, and Gajraj Rao, the film has been written by Vishal Bhardwaj who has also given the music. It has Gulzar’s lyrics and has been shot by Pankaj Kumar.

Do check out the trailer.

The film is based on Aarushi Talwar murder case and looks at it from the point of investigation.

Talvar will have its world premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

11889612_1628033344103209_9087625749038085119_nSome facts about the FTII director issue.

It was not a gherao. It was a meeting between students faculty and the director. The meeting can go on for any number of hours.

The students had asked only one question that why do you think the assessment is valid? It was the director’s whim that he did not answer us for 7 to 8 hours. He kept repeating that he has orders. Let us also ask him how can it take him so long to answer the question.

Students were not carrying any guns or bombs. He could have easily gone out. He was operating his mobile in the room. Nobody had snatched the mobile from him. If he wanted to call security, if he felt so threatened he could have called the police immediately. Why did he chose to remain in the room without calling anyone to rescue him? The point to be noted here is he chose to sit there evading the question for 8 hours so that he could build a case against students.

The police got involved late. Why did he call the police only at 10 pm? And why the commotion started as soon as the police entered the room? A student was thrown on a chair so the chair got broken. A police fell on a glass door so the door broke. We have video footage to substantiate this.

Immediately after this incident the director talked to media and said that there was no case of violence and he was not mistreated. He said he will get back to the students tomorrow morning.

Then next day he did not show up at all. He went to the police and wrote an FIR stating that the students held him captive for more than 8 hours, mistreated him and vandalized the property. Why did he do that when he had already told the media day before that he was not mistreated by the students? Why is he lying?

So the police came to the campus after midnight as if terrorists are hiding there and takes away only 5 students with them who are our main spokespersons.

A. Why after midnight? They could have easily requested the registrar that these are the students and ask them to report to the police station tomorrow morning. The students could have reported to the police station on their own. Why waste 3 vans full police force?

B. when the police came why the registrar did not pick the phone, did not get up and stayed with the students after repeated knocks on his door?

C. Why only 5 students taken when the fir is against 15. All the students were present there. It is because the next day they can say that other students ran away and hiding somewhere. They do not leave any opportunity to turn students into criminals.

D. If they really came to arrest 15 students and there were names of three girl students in the fir how can they forget to bring ladies constables with them? So did they really come to arrest all the students? Or just wanted to terrorize us.

Finally after all this drama the faculty had to intervene, and Mr Kedarnath Awaty, who is the President of FTII Teachers Association wrote a letter to the Ministry saying that they were present in the meeting till the last moment and there was no incident of violence!

We also have a 5 to 6 hour long footage of the meeting. The director too has it.

So when the director of such reputed institute lies so blatantly in front of the students, faculty and the nation we know that something is terribly wrong with the government.

– Kshama Padalkar

FTII Student

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The book titled ‘Baat Niklegi Toh Phir’’ by Sathya Saran attempts to give us a peek into the man who mesmerized one and all with his innovative take on Ghazals. The book quotes liberally from another book that can be found here.

The book traces Jagjit Singh’s life from his childhood days. His name change, religious beliefs, his quirks, everything is mentioned liberally and for those who are long time followers of his work, it would be a good account to go through. I don’t intend to ruin the book for you but I didn’t know he was a good hockey player too.

The book beautifully captures his journey from college days to striking it big and becoming a genre in himself. As we go along this ride, there are moments of humor, insight and pain that shaped the man. The days of struggle are detailed  particularly  well. I didn’t know he was good friends with Subhash Ghai. Of course, after reading about this friendship in the book, I quickly reminded myself that about 3:29 minutes in Subhash Ghai’s ‘Hero’, you could hear a faint ‘la pila de sharaab ae saaki’ by Jagjit Singh. May be there is a story there. Anyway, coming back to the book, it also mentions a lot about other friends which you must find out as you go along the pages. There are only 200 of them so try to not finish them up quickly. There are a lot of pictures and trust me you haven’t seen most of them!

There is enough film world trivia in the book. Also, some ‘greats who had access to the industry’ and their rigidity is mentioned particularly well in the book. These days when people romanticize their ‘struggles’ on their smartphone and blame their bitterness to their ‘struggles’, it is heartening to see that the author hasn’t preached against the big bad film world. Keep in mind that Jagjit Singh was trying to make it big in the world of film music when the greats and their gatekeepers had defined what should a song sound like and no ‘exceptions’ were allowed.

The book bares all about the beginning of the relationship that Chitra Singh had with Jagjit Singh, and how it blossomed into a partnership which would go well beyond music. I don’t know about you but I always thought Chitra Singh had a prior knowledge of Urdu. I was wrong. Her Urdu diction was corrected by Jagjit Singh, and my God, was Chitra Singh a superb student or what!

What came as a surprise to me was that Jagjit Singh established himself as a live singer and then went on to cut albums when the record company gave him a green signal. This means, there should be a lot more ‘private recordings’ in the world. I wonder how to get them all. Of course the book touches upon this as well. Apparently Chitra Singh is trying hard to collect all of Jagjit Singh’s recordings and present it to the world.

What I absolutely liked is the fact that the book doesn’t try to paint the man as someone who had no human flaws. Some people might find the details of his charities quite overwhelming. Remember, all this was done when there was no internet and no one was bending over backwards to prove that they are being human. Also, we are reading about all this four years post his demise.

There are bits which I didn’t quite agree with, for example – the author feels Jagjit Singh signed on ‘any record company’ towards the later part of his career which resulted in poor quality of music from him. I feel every album had at least 3-4 ghazals which made it a worthy proposition for ghazal lovers to buy the album which is a stark contrast from Ghazal albums of today. It is a known fact that Jagjit Singh always looked for lesser known poets and showcased their work through his albums. The book makes a fleeting reference to this. It would have been great to hear from those poets about their interactions with Jagjit Singh. There are also some not so good facts about certain albums which might disturb an avid follower of his work, but then what is perfect?

Towards the end of the book, a rather touching description is given about Chitra Singh of today. Author tells us that Chitra Singh has resigned herself to a world where she treads cautiously because it is filled with old memories and the pain they bring along. She doesn’t meet anyone.

Jagjit Singh ensured ghazals reach a larger audience, and presently, Chitra singh is trying hard to bring all the recordings of the legend to listeners and she is having a tough time doing that. Irony loved Jagjit Singh in more ways than we can imagine.

Since the day he has left the world, I have heard him less. Probably because I started listening to him when I was 12, there are ghazal albums etched in my mind and that is why I don’t need to hear his work to remember how he lent a voice to millions like me, our lives, our happiness, our joys, our rhythmic claps in his concerts (and sometimes in our living room, alone) etc. The claps have long gone, the echoes remain.

For me there cannot be a bigger reward to stay alive than any new piece of information or a ‘rare and unheard’ piece from Jagjit Singh because I have lived my life with Jagjit Singh’s ghazals in the background. There can never be one definitive work that can encompass the whole life of an artist like Jagjit Singh.

This book is a ‘must-have’ for commoners and collectors, just like his ghazals were a treasure for both the breeds of music listeners.

Dear Jagjit Singh, you once said

मेरी आवाज़ ही पर्दा है मेरे चेहरे का,

मैं हूँ खामोश जहाँ मुझको वहां से सुनिए…

We are listening, we always will.

– Rohwit

(Thank you Prashant, for gifting this book well ahead of its release. Indebted)

Price : Rs 699

Pages : 200

Raam Reddy2

And the good news for the desi indies continues. This time it’s from Locarno Film Festival. Raam Reddy’s debut feature Thithi has bagged 2 top awards at the just concluded festival.

The First award is Pardo d’oro Cineasti del presente (Golden Leopard Filmmakers of The Present) – Premio Nescens worth 40,000 CHF, to be shared equally between the director and the producer. The second award is in the category of First Feature – Swatch First Feature Award (Prize for Best First Feature) 15,000 CHF to be shared equally between the director and the producer awarded to the Best First Film screened in the Piazza Grande, Concorso internazionale, Concorso Cineasti del presente, Fuori concorso or Signs of Life segment.

The film is a dramatic comedy about how three generations of sons react to the death of Century Gowda, their great grandfather, who is a locally renowned, and is a highly cranky 101-year-old man. Set in a village in the Mandya District of Karnataka, the three storylines intertwine before converging at Century Gowda’s thithi, the final funeral celebration 11 days after a death.

Shot in the Mandya district of Karnataka, this was co-written and developed along with Eregowda, who spent most of his childhood in the same village that the film was shot in. The cast of the film comprises of completely non-professional actors.

Filmmaker Raam Reddy is a graduate of St. Stephen’s College, Delhi and Prague Film School. Previously, he directed a critically-acclaimed short film called Ika (Feather). He has also published a novel titled It’s Raining in Maya.

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Little Terrorist, a short film directed by Ashvin Kumar was nominated for Academy Award for Live Action Short Film in 2005. And if you haven’t seen the film yet, here’s the good news – the filmmaker has put the film online.

Here’s his note with the film –

The Gurdaspur Attack, the arrest of Mohameed Naved and escalation of hostilities on the LOC raise troubling questions about freedom and independence. Real people live real lives on either side of these fences. Barbed wire cuts the landscape of humanity, culture, civilisation; dividing children from their history. They stymie that very human touch that could resolve such a conflict. I don’t know which film-maker would say this, but I am almost dismayed that this film has aged so well. Its message of hope, my wide-eyed idealism for an even handed resolution feel a bit naive, given the hawkish, illiberal, imperialist impulses that have come to characterise public life today. Sigh. Anyway, suspend disbelief for fifteen minutes on the fifteenth of August and feel good.