Archive for June, 2013


This one seems like a great and unique retrospective. Check out the details and if possible, do attend it. Copy-pasting the info from the official release. And the best part – Entry is FREE!

(from official release)

Retrospective of Indian cinema and video
28, 29, 30 June 2013
FD Zone, Films Division, Mumbai

Print Courtesy: DFF, FTII, SRFTI, NFAI, NID

ENTRY – All screenings are free!

CURATED by – Ashish Avikunthak & Pankaj Rishi Kumar


Day 1 – 28 June, 2013, Friday

Session 1: Experiments with Gods 

10.00-12.30 pm
A collection of early films made by D.B. Phalke between 1913 and 1935.
Raja Harishchandra (20 mins, 35mm, 1913)
Lanka Dahan (9 mins, 35mm, 1917)
Shree Krishna Janma (6 mins, 35mm, 1918)
Kaliya Mardan (50 mins, 35mm, 1919)

Session 2: Experiment in the State

 1.15- 3.45 pm
The earliest robust experimentation in India begins under the imaginative tutelage of Jean Bhownagary while he headed the Films Division in 1965.
Explorer – Pramod Pati (7 mins, 35mm, 1968)
Claxplosion – Pramod Pati (2 mins, 35mm, 1968)
Trip – Pramod Pati (4 mins, 35mm, 1970)
Koodal – Tyeb Mehta (16 mins, 35mm, 1970)
Abid – Pramod Pati (5 mins, 35mm, 1972)
Child on a Chess Board – Vijay B. Chandra (8 mins, 35mm, 1979)
India ’67 – S. Sukhdev (57 mins, 35mm, 1968)

Session 3: Experiment in the School 

4.00- 6.45 pm
FTII became the centre of experimentation soon after it was headed by Ritwik Ghatak. Since then, along with SRFTI, it has continued to be a space where experimentation in cinema occurs on a regular basis.
Bodh Vriksha – Rajan Khosa (27mins, 35mm, 1987)
In Short – Kuntal Bhogilal (18 mins, 35mm, 1996)
Repentance – Rajeev Raj (22 mins, 35mm, 1997)
Chinese Whisper – Raka Dutta (27 mins, 35mm, 2006)
Airawat – Renu Savant (10mins, 35mm, 2011)
Moon Stars Lovers – Jessica Sadana (10 mins, 35mm, 2012)

Session 4: Feature Film 1 – Kanchan Seetha (87 mins, 35mm, Malayalam, 1977) by G. Aravindan

7.00- 9.00 pm
Ending the first day with Malayali Filmmaker Aravindan’s masterpiece Kanchan Seetha – an invigorating reworking of the Ramayana, which opens up a new discourse on Indian cinema and its interpretation of religion. This film is located here to be in direct conversation with Phalke’s cinema of religiosity.

Day 2 – 29 June, 2013, Saturday

Session 1: Experiment with the Documentary
10.00- 12.30 pm

Documentary has been a formidable cinematic form in India. Although most innovation has occurred in world of the political, it has also has seen serious experimentation.
I am Twenty S.N.S. Sastry (20 mins, 35mm, 1967)
Tales from Planet Kolkata – Ruchir Joshi (38 mins, 16mm, 1993)
Brahma, Vishu, Shiva – R.V. Ramani (19 mins, video, 1999)
Presence – Ekta Mittal & Yashaswini B. R.- Behind the Tin Sheets Project (18 mins, HD, 2012 )
Nayi Kheti – Pallavi Paul (11 mins, HD, 2013)

Session 2: Experiments with the Short Film

Saturday, 1.15- 3.45 pm
This section focuses on films that were made outside the institutional framework of the state or the school and can be understood as independent experimentations, especially focusing on the short form.
Nirjan Godhuli – Santosh Gour (10 mins, 16mm, 1993)
Dust – Ashim Ahulwalia (20 mins, Video, 1993)
Atreyee – Shumona Goel (17 mins, Video, 2003)
Straight 8 – Ayisha Abraham (17 mins, Video, 2005)
Bare – Santana Issar (11 mins, Video, 2006)
Jan Villa – Natasha Mendonca (20 mins, HD, 2010)

Session 3: Experiments in the Gallery

4.00- 6.00 pm
In the last decade, the Art Gallery has become a vibrant space for exhibiting moving images mostly in the form of video art and installations. This section attempts to grasp with this new space of experimentation. It has been co-curated by Mortimer Chatterjee.
Record/Erase – Nalini Malani (10 mins, Video, 1996 )
Flight Rehearsals – Kiran Subbaiah (7: 26 mins, Video, 2007)
Dance Like Your Dad – Hetain Patel (6:15 mins, Video, 2009)
There is a spider living between us – Tejal Shah (7 mins, Video, 2009)
Man Eats Rock – Nikhil Chopra & Munir Kabani (22:11 mins, Video, 2011)
The First Dance – Hetain Patel (7:44 mins, Video, 2012)
Forerunner – Sahej Rahal (12:16 mins, Video, 2013)
File not Found – Jaret Vadera (1 min, Video, 2013)

Session 4: Feature Film 2 – Satah Se Uthata Aadmi (114 mins, 35mm, Hindi, 1980) by Mani Kaul

6.30-8.30 pm 
Mani Kaul is known mostly for his landmark film Uski Roti. However, the Satah Se Uthata Aadmi is probably his most conceptually rigorous and philosophically penetrating work. Based on the writings on Muktibodh, this film is a deep philosophical articulation on post-colonial modernity.

Day 3 – 30 June, 2013, Sunday

Session 1: Experiments with Animation

10.00- 12.30 pm
Co-curated by Nina Sabnani, this section examines experimentation in the world of animation. We shall look at the way in which animation directors have pushed the boundaries and expanded its scope in process, materials, concepts and its functions.

Session 2: Cinema of Prayoga

1.30- 4pm 
The invocation of “prayoga” from Sanskrit etymology is Amrit Gangar’s radical move of rejecting the Western art historical terminology of experimental and avant-garde to explain the specific nature of experimentation in Indian cinema. This section has been co-curated by Amrit Gangar.
And now i feel i don’t know anything – Kabir Mohanty (35 mins, 35mm, 2001)
Egotic World – Vipin Vijay (21 mins, 35mm, 2002)
Kramasha – Amit Dutta (22 mins, 35mm, 2006)
Vakratunda Swaha – Ashish Avikunthak (22 mins, HD, 2010)
21 Chitrakoot – Sambhavi Kaul (9 min, HD, 2012)

Session 3: Feature Film 2- Kaal Abhirati (120 mins, 35mm Bengali, 1989) by Amitabh Chakraborthy

4.15- 6.30 pm 
This is a significant film of this era that explores the complexities of human existence within the confines of Indian philosophy and discourse. This film, along with Kamal Swaroop’s Om Dar Badar, is the link between experimentations by Mani Kaul and Kumar Shahni and contemporary articulations by the ‘Cinema of Prayoga’ filmmakers.

Session 4: Round Table Discussion

6.45- 8 pm 
The curators along with filmmakers, discussants and respondents will have a Round Table conversation teasing out and putting on the board the major points/ issues /debates that have been brought out in these three days.

RR Theatre, 10th floor, Films Division
24, Pedder Road, Mumbai – 400026

– The exhibitional emphasis of this retrospective has been to show almost all the works in their original format – 35mm, 16mm and digital video.

If you want to know more about this retrospective, keep reading.

– FB page of the event is here.


This retrospective is a celebration of the spirit of experimentation in Indian cinema; from the moment of its mythic birth in 1913, with Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra, to the innovative and challenging moving images produced and exhibited today. The films brought together chart the transformation of experimentation, from early celluloid spectacle to contemporary digital adroitness. The curatorial impetus of this retrospective is marked by an emphasis on tracing the chronology of experimentation through the history of Indian cinema. It halts at pit stops of radical moments of experimentation and underscores it.

The idea of ‘experimentation’ rather than the experimental or avant-garde drives the films put together in this retrospective. The conceptual rubric of this ‘experimentation’ traces its theoretical genealogy from Gandhi’s “Experiments with Truth” rather than the Western art historical lineage of experimental or avant-garde. Although these terms are temporally analogous to the 1920s and have an aesthetic origin, experimentation in Gandhi has a metaphysical, self-reflexive and ontological root.

In this retrospective, experimentation is viewed as a philosophical response to colonial and postcolonial modernity in India. These films challenge modernity by generating a contemplative dialogue with Indian history, tradition, culture and religion. Experimentation then becomes a dexterous rejoinder, like Gandhi’s experiments that rupture the trajectory of modernity. These are careful, controlled and meticulous interventions in the world of cinematic modernity, than fortuitous laboratory experiments. These films are not driven by the desire to just produce an aesthetic artifact, but rather to create a discursive field. Here, corresponding to Gandhi’s “Experiments with Truth” cinema is an engagement with the self, located in the world.

The retrospective begins by underscoring that the moment of birth of Indian cinema with Phalke was the first experiment – the “Experiments with Gods”. The kinesthetic employment of the divine sparks a birth of a representation medium in India that catapults modernity and tradition into a cinema of religiosity – a dominant form of cinema of the silent era. Here, the cinematic apparatus becomes a technological conduit, comparable to the oral, the visual and the written, for the manifestation of that religiosity.

It was more than 50 years later that the first experimentation occurred within the bureaucratic confines of the post-colonial Films Division in the late 1960s. These films challenged the formidable account of the sturdy developmentalist state and shattered its edifying edifice. These were the first cinematic critiques of the nation – forthright, trenchant and angry. S. Sukhdev, Pramod Pati, S.N.S Shastry and K.S. Chari among others, radically altered the possibilities of cinematic representation in India.

Soon the films funded by Film Finance Corporation (later NFDC) ushered the much-celebrated rise of the Indian New Wave. Mani Kaul’s Uski Roti (1969) and Kumar Shahani’s Maya Darpan (1972) spearheaded profound experimentation in this period. However, the foundation of this continued experimentation was first established in the venerable FTII under the tutelage of Ritwik Ghatak. The section “Experiment in School” is a small curatorial gesture towards the pioneering works produced in its confines along with the later established SRFTI.

Just like the narrative feature, documentary, short film and animation were also formidable sites of experimentation. There are sections devoted to each of these forms in this retrospective that will showcase some of the most cutting-edge works made in recent times as well as in the past. The films in these sections push the boundaries of form and structure in a direction not seen earlier; like the enlivening usage of found footage or the construction of disjunctural narrative structures. Films were not only made with state funding, but also by filmmakers who were outside institutional settings.

In the last decade, the meteoric rise of contemporary Indian art along with the technological democratization of video has allowed for a productive intersection. Now galleries and museums have become fecund locations of experimentation in moving images. The section “Experiment in the Gallery” focuses on both established as well as emerging artists experimenting with digital video and specifically showing in the gallery/museum context. The works selected here are particularly single-channel works that also have exhibitive possibilities outside of the installation context.

Finally, the emergence of the term ‘Cinema of Prayoga’ coined by Amrit Gangar to challenge the hegemonic category of the experimental and avant-garde. It has been one of the most significant moves in the history of Indian cinema. The term ‘Prayoga’ in “Cinema of Prayoga” is in conversation with the Western art history term ‘experimental’, by unequivocally critiquing it. Simultaneously, it argues for a new imagination for comprehending idiosyncratic cinematic practices in India. It signals the conceptual inadequacy of the term ‘experimental’ and at the same time opens up a richer discourse to understand what is happening in India. It roots its discursive imagination within the world of Indian philosophical theories that accentuate temporal probabilities.


This retrospective is conceptualized as a conversation with cinema, cinematic experience and cinematic thought. The curators hope that the three-day festival will provide opportunities for thinking through the nature of experimentation in Indian cinema in a historical fashion – the transformation of form and structure through time. The conceptual tension of terms like experimentation, experimental, avant-garde and Prayoga hope to be debated upon and thought through.

It also responds to the careless and ahistorical usage of the term ‘experimental’ in media and popular culture. It delineates a clear genealogy of experimentation and creates a lineage. More than a curatorial assertion, this retrospective is a historical framing of experimentation in Indian cinema. It builds upon the pioneering work of curators like Shai Heredia and Amrit Gangar, who have in the past decade signaled a robust nature of experimentation in Indian cinematic modernity.

As a disclaimer, it should be noted that this not a comprehensive historical delineation of experimentation in Indian cinema. Some key and very important works by filmmakers like Mani Kaul, Kumar Shahani, G. Arvindan, John Abraham are missing because the curatorial emphasis has been on showing rarer, and unseen films rather than known masterpieces.

The various sections of this retrospective are not mutually exclusive. Some films and filmmakers can exist in more than one section if not multiple. The quantum of experimentation in Indian cinema is multifarious; therefore as a curatorial policy we have decided to show only one film by a contemporary filmmaker. Due to time constraints, we have focused on shorter works rather than epic and longer works which are equally important. Here it is imperative to mention films by Amar Kanwar, Arghya Basu, Kabir Mohanty, and feature length narratives by Amit Dutta, Vipin Vijay and Ashish Avikunthak.

We would also like to note that the curatorial ambitions of this retrospective have been thwarted due to the lack of original prints for exhibition of some films that we would have liked to show. Here we would specifically like to name Kamal Swaroop’s Om Dar Badar (1988), S. N. Dheer’s Pratishodh (1982), Vishnu Mathur’s Pahela Adhyay (1981) and Nirad Mahapatra’s Maya Miriga (1983).

– The exhibitional emphasis of this retrospective has been to show almost all the works in their original format – 35mm, 16mm and digital video.

The office of the Director-General of Films Division who have artfully negotiated the bureaucratic maze of the Indian government to get us these prints have made this retrospective possible. We take this opportunity to thank them. We would also like to thank the National Film Archive, Pune, Directorate of Film Festival Delhi, Film & Television Institute of India, Pune Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute, Calcutta and National Institute of Design for loaning us the prints for this retrospective.

– Ashish Avikunthak is a filmmaker, film scholar and anthropologist. He has been making films for the past eighteen years and his films have been shown in film festivals and museums worldwide. He is an Assistant Professor in Film Media at the University of Rhode Island and has a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from Stanford University.

– Pankaj Rishi Kumar is a graduate from FTII who began his career as an assistant editor on Sekhar Kapoor’s Bandit Queen. He has been working as a documentary filmmaker for more than 20 years and his work has been shown at festivals all over the world. He has won grants from Hubert Bals, IFA, Jan Vrijman, AND (Korea), Banff, Majlis, Sarai and and was awarded an Asia Society fellowship at Harvard Asia Centre (2003). He also teaches and curates.

Other Screenings

6th July : To Let The World In, Volume 1 by Avijit Mukul Kishore
13th July : To Let The World In, Volume 2 by Avijit Mukul Kishore
20th July: BIDESIA in BAMBAI by Surabhi Sharma


Jahnu Barua has won 11 National Awards. And there’s high chance that you might not have seen a single film of his, even if you are a die-hard film buff. The reasons and excuses can be many. So here’s your chance to change it. His latest film Baandhon is going to be released in 7 cities across the country, and with English subs. The film is being released under PVR Directors Rare banner and will have shows in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai  (special screening on Saturday/Sunday), Bangalore, Pune and Ahmedabad.

– Baandhon (Waves of Silence) is the first Assamese film to be released outside the state. It is produced by the Assam State Film (Finance & Development) Corporation ltd. (ASFFDC) and has won the award for Best Assamese Feature Film at the 60th National Film Awards in 2012.  It opened the feature film section of Indian Panorama at the 43rd International Film Festival of India and was also screened at the International Film Festival of Kerala.

– The film is 96 minutes long and features Bishnu Kharghoria, Jatin Bora, Bina Patangia, Zerifa Wahid, Abastosh Bhuyan & Anshuman Bhuyan.

– Synopsis : Baandhon is a story of an elderly couple – Dandeswar and Hkawni whose lives are deeply impacted when their grandson goes missing in the attacks of 26/11 in Mumbai. The film captures the turmoil and the upheavals the couple goes through in trying to come to terms with the void that has been created in their lives forever.

And here’s the trailer of the film (with subs)

TRANLITE new low(1)

Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap and producer Guneet Monga under their banner, AKFPL, will be releasing SHORTS (a collection of 5 short films) on July 12 2013.

The films will be released by PVR Directors Rare across Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Kolkata, Surat, Cochin, Ahmedabad and Bangalore in select theatres. The five shorts are directed by Shlok Sharma, Neeraj Ghaywan, Rohit Pandey, Siddharth Gupt and Anirban Roy. The films feature Huma Qureshi, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Richa Chadda, Vineet Singh, Aditya Kumar, Ratnabali Bhattacharjee, Shweta Tripathy, Satya Anand, Preeti Singh among others.

Synopsis of the 5 Shorts –

1. SUJATA by Shlok Sharma

Starring: Huma Qureshi, Shweta Tripathi, Satya Anand & Aditya Kumar

– Sujata is a riveting tale of a young girl, who is struggling to come out of the clutches of her tormenting cousin brother. At a very young age, she is forced to live with her cousin and his family. Herein, begins a life of incessant harassment by her cousin brother.

Even as an adult she lives in the shadow of fear. For years, she changes addresses and identities in the hope of finding freedom; but each time he hunts her down. Neither the police, nor the NGOs are able to help her. Pushed to a corner, she decides to take the extreme step.

2. EPILOGUE by Siddharth Gupt

Starring: Richa Chaddha and Arjun Shrivastav

A relationship that has already fallen apart and is just about to snap. It describes the love and intimacy, the entangling of two lives and the completely symbiotic nature of a couple.

It reflects the possessiveness control isolation, depression and desperation that a relationship can lead to, representing a cycle that needs to be broken in order to keep sane.

3. AUDACITY by Anirban Roy

Starring Preeti Singh, Sankar Debnath and Kanchan Mullick

A thirteen-year-old girl has her first real confrontation with authority when her father forbids her to play the American dance music she loves. When she decides to take revenge, the situation escalates to become a neighbourhood scandal.

A dark comedy about parental authority, teenage rebellion, curry, whiskey, and house music.

4. MEHFUZ by Rohit Pandey

Starring: Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Aditi Khanna

In an ambiguous space and time. The city has turned mad, as violence has taken its toll. But, far away in the sounds of silence at the border of the town, a man takes care of all the death around. He drags away this usual routine with every passing night.

One night, he notices a strange woman wandering on empty streets. As her behavior changes, so does his journey.

5. SHOR by Neeraj Ghaywan

Starring: Vineet Singh and Ratnabali Bhattacharjee

Lallan and Meena, a couple from Banaras, are consumed by their pursuit to survive in the city of Mumbai. Meena takes up a job in a sewing factory.

One day over a phone call, they find each other while embracing death, divorce and redemption. It takes the darkest hour of our life, the fear of death, to regain our consciousness back in to life. To find the beauty that is lost in our relentless angst towards an unyielding life.

Ship Of Theseus

With UTV and Kiran Rao in the picture, Anand Gandhi’s Ship Of Theseus is getting some much deserved attention. The film is scheduled to release on 19th July in Mumbai, NCR, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Pune. To get the film released in other parts of the country, one  can now VOTE for it. This kind of “Demand the film in your city” initiative is quite common in US and they have been able to release many films through it. Good to see the idea being tried here.

So if you are not from Mumbai, NCR, Kolkata, Bengaluru or Pune, this what you need to do watch SoT in your city – To submit a vote one needs to visit the ‘Ship Of Theseus’ Facebook page with or without logging in. And then go to ‘Vote For Your City’ tab and cast your vote. Cities that hit the 100% mark will see a guaranteed release.

The options include, but are not restricted to, Ahmedabad, Allahabad, Aurangabad, Baroda, Chandigarh, Chennai, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Kochi, Lucknow, Ludhiana, Raipur, Rajkot and Surat. To choose any other Indian city, click on the ‘Others’ option and type out the name of your preferred location. Click ‘Submit’ to finalise your vote.

Click here to VOTE and DEMAND Ship Of Theseus in your city.

There’s only one reason why you should vote and demand the film – It’s easily one of the best films of the year. And you need to see it on big screen. Don’t get scared by it’s title if it seems pretentious to you. The film is accessible to anyone.

– To watch its trailer, and to read the synopsis, click here.

– Our recco post on the film is here, here and here.

Raanjhanaa(Has SPOILERS)

Like most Bollywood films these days, Raanjhanaa is completely two different films packed in one – pre and post-interval. One is the “politics of love” and the other is “lovers in politics”, and there’s a big difference between the two. As the initial reactions and reviews started pouring in, the verdict seems to be unanimous – first half is fun, the curse of 2nd half strikes yet again. As i stepped into the theatre, i was ready for it. But as i came out of the theatre, i realised that i belong to that minority group which liked the second half more.

First half is easy, you know the tricks, you have seen it many times, love stories in small towns and galli mohalls is not new. It’s charming and easy to like. There’s no way one cannot not like it. Some might argue that it’s stalking and glorification of it, then let me say that you have never been part of any small town love story. It’s stark reality. That’s the way it happens. If you don’t know a friend who has cut his wrist or drank kerosene (sleeping tablets is for metroes), the film might seem a bit stranger to you. But what stood out for me was how ruthlessly selfish the lovers are. Sonam (Zoya) knows Dhanush (Kundan) loves her. And so she uses him in every possible way. It’s the same with Kundan, who knows that Swara (Bindiya) can do anything for him. And he uses her blatantly. It all seems fun and jovial on the surface but scratch it and you realise how cunning their acts are. It’s the politics of love. Their love might be pure but the tricks aren’t.

Some even might point out the physical equation between Kundan, Bindiya and Murari. How can you hit her? i would say this is what “camaraderie” between friends is all about, without being aware of one’s gender. And in the scene when Bindiya says kewal mere baap ke hi kapde phadega, and Kundan backs out, you know that she isn’t the shy kind. If she had protested, these guys would have backed out long back. It’s part of the game, of growing up together.

Now, the second half seems like a completely different film.  A death, and the childhood romance of Benaras moves to ambitious student politics of Delhi. Kundan doesn’t know why he is there. He is lost. He is not sure what to do with his life. He has tried every possible option. Is he still chasing Zoya? Yes. Kind of. Does he know why? No. Has he any more hopes from her? No. The simple chasing the girl routine turns into a heavy cocktail of ambitions and emotions. Let’s see how. So Zoya aspires to fulfill the ambitions of her dead lover (Abhay/Akram). But slowly it looks like all these dreams will come true only through Kundan whom she hates now, whom she holds responsible for Akram’s death. It’s a difficult choice to make. Can she accept Kundan now? And even if she does, the world will curse her for being selfish and opportunist who forgot her lover after his death. Between love, life and dreams, she is confused with no easy way out. And then comes an opportunity to turn it all over and conquer it all. She opts for it too but the guilt is too heavy to bear.

Kundan is caught in a similar situation. He is aimless, he is just tagging along and is getting lucky wherever he puts his foot, except in love. And when it all comes to the conclusion, he realises that even if he wins everything, he has lost the only thing he ever wanted from life – love. So what’s the point of living? Someone who can slash his wrist so easily, he has no fear of death. The monologue in the climax wraps it up beautifully. Lovers always claim to be ready to die in love. But only few dare to do it. And very few directors and writers dare to opt for such uncompromised end for a love story. Nothing else was possible. All credit to writer Himanshu Sharma and director Anand L Rai for going the whole hog. And this is exactly why i liked the second half more. It’s complicated,  and the makers went for the unusual choices. I think first half is easy to write, and easy to like. Second half is damn difficult to write from the point when Dhanush lands up in Delhi not knowing what to do. I could hear the writer’s voice there – what to do with this mujhe-bus-Zoya-chahiye character? He (character and writer) really doesn’t know what to do now.


Now, the running joke. In a scriptlab where Sriram Raghavan was our mentor, we used to joke that whenever you are stuck at any page, just put a gun in that page. Sriram will like it for sure. Here the formula is slightly different – stuck on the page, opt for the blade. Not once or twice, but three times. Woah!

Interestingly, the entire film is one long montage cut on back to back songs. You can exactly count the numbers of the scenes where the characters talk. But the flavour of the real locations and the terrific acting by Dhanush, Swara Bhaskar and Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub makes it look perfectly smooth. Also, it might be a smart decision keeping Dhanush’s dialogue delivery in mind. They have justified his character, and his hindi diction is weird but it’s not jarring to ears. So a big credit must go to its music director A R Rahman. His music is the thread that holds this complicated tale of unrequited love together. Sonam seems to have improved a lot from her previous films but her dialogue delivery is still irritating. And Kumud Mishra is always quite pleasant to watch onscreen.

I never bothered to watch Rai’s earlier films. But going by Tanu Weds Manu (i like it and TERRIFIC album) and Raanjhanaa, i think Imtiaz Ali has some competition finally. Especially if it’s matters of hearts in small towns. And Dhanush, welcome to bollywood.

Watch it. And if uncomfortable, take off your “metro” shoes.


This one is a brief  (and spoiler free) recco/review of the film. We happened to catch this at a private screening and quite enjoyed it. Here’s the post containing the trailer and the short story on which it is based on. The film releases on 12th July. Here are two small reviews by Kartik Krishnan and Nusrat Jafri.

BA Pass3

Ajay Bahl takes us through the narrow lanes of Pahadgunj and the badi badi kothis of Kamla Nagar/Rajpura/DU in his adaptation of Railway Aunty by Mohan Sikka (one of the many stories in the must read book Delhi Noir). The days are lazy with the freshly served wahi-purana-Rajma-Chawal-wali-Punju-Middle class Dilli-Roohafza sherbets-Cokey Coley; while the nights are neon lit with all kinds of depraved creatures on the prowl (Beer se naha kar Gaddi chalane wale Jaat, Rishwatkhor Thulley – you know the ilk). Such is the world the characters of BA Pass inhabit.

The story is fairly straightforward in the Noir ballpark. This ‘Postman Always Rings Twice‘  begins with the very talented Shilpa Shukla playing the seductress with zestful ferocity and oomph, charming the young & unsuspecting Shadab Kamal, who then delves deeper into the behind-the-parde-wala world of Kothiwali aunties residing in posh Delhi colonies. Money is tempting; Sex with ‘experienced’ married (lonely) women is irresistible, and a combination of both is a potent enough mindf**k for any below average BA/B Com/B Sc student. Not only is he struggling to make ends meet with two younger sisters (and their troubles) but is also feeling suffocated in a not so pleasant rishtedaaron ke ghar mein PG environment. Slowly but steadily, the pyaada goes onto becoming the wazir but not before he traverses through the netherworld, with the transition punctuated by clear daylights transforming into rang birangi tubelit hazy nights.

This erotic drama boasts of arresting performances by the supporting cast right down to the junior artists. While the ‘Bijis’ & the ‘Chachis’ add color to the story, the benevolent gravedigger Johnny (played adequately by Dibyendu Bhattacharya – though may be a Vinod Nagpal or M K Raina might have taken the role to another level) and the ever reliable Rajesh Sharma (once again pitching in with a bravura 3-4 scene performance) stand out. Shilpa Shukla nails Sarika Aunty to perfection and hope she gets meaty roles like this in Bollywood. One wishes however, that the pivotal performance by the sincere Shadab Kamal had been a little more nuanced and multi layered as opposed to the two note one. Also may be the film could have gone one a tangent than in the somewhat predictable direction, but that is perhaps a limitation imposed by a faithful adaptation of the short story.

But a special mention for Ajay Bahl (the Director – Dop – Producer) who’s done quite an impressive task of faithfully adapting the story and embellishing it with realism and drama. It is to his credit (along with the enthusiastic production design) that the film (considering the subject material at hand) steers away from B Grade/Kanti Shah/tacky-pulpy/Low budget ‘gareeb’ film territory and that there is enough foregrounding/back grounding in the frames to lend an aesthetic richness to the film. Definitely looking forward to the director’s next.

Kartik Krishnan

Ajay Behl’s Erotic Noir film, BA PASS is based on Mohan Sikka’s short story “Railway Aunty,” which was published in Delhi Noir. And true to the tagline of the book, B A Pass is indeed the story of “Darkness and Despair.”

Mukesh, is a young, shy, small town boy, who moves in to live with his Bua’s family in Delhi, after tragedy strikes home. He is burdened with the responsibility of two younger sisters, with whom he longs to re-unite. He runs errands in the house and plays chess in a graveyard at leisure. Until Mukesh meets the flirtatious Sarika “Aunty” at his Bua’s kitty party, and his rollercoaster ride of sex, life and deceit begins. Their surreptitious affair and dealings go on till Sarika’s husband walks in on them. Things go out of control and life reveals it’s ugly teachings to Mukesh.

When I saw the promo of the film, I was captivated. It looked classy and well made, even though the amount of sex in the promo itself was a bit concerning. Films made on such shoe – string budgets, can easily look tasteless but B A Pass is aesthetic to say the least.

Ajay Behl, donning the cap of both the Director and the Cinematographer takes you into the world of Mukesh, the naïve, and emotionally vulnerable boy. In a perverse world that not only exists but also flourishes behind the veneer of boredom that middle class lives project. It takes us into the mysterious world of Sarika, who is not only fiercely attractive but has desires that break the hypocrisy of our middle class notions of modesty. Shilpa Shukla, adds power to the character with her is impressive performance. She has gotten into the skin of the character and not let inhibitions get in the way. Rarely seen in Indian films.

Sex is a big part of the film.  Seeing purely from the growth of Mukesh’s character, it goes from initial lust driven to fulfilling the quirky requests of Sarika, to hilarious script narrations with one of the other women clients! But never once is it lewd.  The scene when Khanna, (Sarika’s husband) walks in on her and Mukesh, gave me goose bumps. It was scary and real in equal measures.

Behl has captured a middle class Delhi of colonies and gullies. One that is aspiring and ruthless at the same time. He uses sound and silences beautifully. Shadab Kamal, is raw and his performance as the lonely, timid and vulnerable boy, is very good. Though at some point I felt the transformation in his character didn’t surface too well. Supporting cast members, Dibyendu as the graveyard caretaker and Sarika’s husband are all fantastic.

I loved Bibiji, in the scene (it’s in the trailer too!) when she says “vo dayan hai” to Mukesh, she is brilliant!

Mohan Sikka’s short story ends quite metaphorically; Behl’s screenplay leaves Mukesh with even fewer choices.

If Noir has it’s roots in German Expressionist Cinematography, BA Pass has it’s in Neon – Realistic Cinematography (If I may be allowed to coin a phrase!). This is the Pahargunj we saw in Dev D, but only more asphyxiating, garish, neon lit, and yet real. Tough lessons for this BA Pass.

Nusrat Jafri

logo1NFDC (National Film Development Corporation) has announced the Call for entries for one of its important programs, Co-production Market at Film Bazaar 2013 (Nov 21st- 24th). The seventh edition of South Asia’s Global Film Market- Film Bazaar, will be held from November 20th-24th, alongside IFFI (Nov 20th- 30th), in Goa.

– The first of its kind in South Asia, the Film Bazaar Co-Production Market offers a unique opportunity to filmmakers with South Asian stories seeking international co- productions as well as artistic support.

– Every year, the Co-Production Market invites a select number of directors and producers to present their projects to international producers, distributors, sales agents, funding representatives and other financial partners from across the world.

– Film Bazaar Co-production Market boasts an eclectic range of films that were successful outcomes, namely; The Lunchbox (by Ritesh Batra), Monsoon Shootout (by Amit Kumar), Titli (produced by Dibakar Banerjee), Deool (by Umesh Kulkarni), I AM (by Onir), LSD (by Dibakar Banerjee), Shor in the City (by Raj Nidimoru), to name a few, from the past editions.

– Film Bazaar Co-Production Market 2012 selected twenty six South Asian projects from thirteen countries, namely, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, USA, UK, Germany, France, Algeria, Canada, Netherlands and India including an Independent Filmmaker Project, USA.

– The deadline for applications is July 30, 2013.

– There is an entry fee of Rs 3,500.

– For more details on the program and its process, click here.

(All info from press release)

Features Kartik Krishnan, Varun Grover, Namrata Rao and Richa Chadda.

Vibhendu Tiwari, the well known quizzer on national quizzing circles had put up a 100 question quiz-paper recently on Indian Cinema,  for the Bombay Quiz Club, to commemorate 100 years of Indian Cinema. We are sharing the Quiz Paper here for the film buffs and readers of our blog.  We will share the answers subsequently in a few days.

Till then you can try cracking the quiz and post your answers  in comments section (with respective question number). Get ready to test your Cinema Quotient.

if you are unable to view quiz questions above, try this dropbox link

[Vibhendu Tiwari can be reached on Twitter at @vibhendu –

The Bombay Quiz Club Blog : ]

The header surely gives you an idea what this post is all about. And going by the latest trend, most of you might have skipped M. Night Shyamalan’s latest release, “After Earth”. But Rahul Desai saw it, and he argues that there’s more to him than what the world wants you to believe. Read on.


‘After Earth’ is realistically Shyamalan’s solo follow-up to ‘Lady In The Water’.

The latter was an original fairytale written from scratch by Shyamalan for his daughter, an urban mythical world imagined and created by the filmmaker – based within the confines of an apartment complex. It had fairies, creatures, parallel worlds, rules and characters intertwined with everyday life. It was a fascinating play on children’s classics, and if not for the limited tolerance of many of today’s film analysts, it could stand alone in its right on any illustrated bookshelf across the world. It was very much how a child with vivid imagination would look at today’s routine worldly scenarios, right from a boring stuttering caretaker to an eccentric writer neighbor. With ‘Lady In The Water’, I personally felt that M. Night Shyamalan cemented himself as one of the foremost storytellers of our times, even if his filmmaking wasn’t always as riveting as his writing.

Many called it an intensely personal and boring project, and concluded that he wasn’t the next Hitchcock or Spielberg after all.

It is interesting that while Americans and Hollywood in general rejected this melancholic little tale, countries like France embraced it and gave it glowing reviews – understanding the originality and simplicity at the root of his effort. This is not surprising considering the fact that movies like Avengers, IronMan and Harry Potter rule American box-offices, while the success of Avatar is attributed to more of a global phenomena with its path-breaking technology.

Shyamalan didn’t do himself any favours by making his only big mistake of his career in the name of ‘The Last Airbender’, and became the favorite whipping boy of American critics- who dismissed his films before they even hit screens anymore. This odd allergy even reached Indian shores, where reviewers began to rate his films at par with their own filmmakers dismal commercial projects- when in reality, no single Bollywood filmmaker is even half as original or is a visionary enough to match Shyamalan at his worst. Not to say reviewing is much of an art in countries like India, but this was not the first time they let the West influence their own opinions.

‘After Earth’ was meant to be a simple tale about a son trying to rescue his soldier father in a dangerous forest. Until Will Smith stepped in. It soon became a fantastical visual extravaganza about a son’s journey and redemption on an uninhabited dangerous waste planet named Earth.

Shyamalan took reigns of this project despite it being his first directorial venture not written by him. This was after the disastrous ‘The Last Airbender’- similarly heavy on VFX and mythical madness- and demonstrated Shyamalan’s willingness to step back into the ring for another brave round. Sneers that accompany his name on screen- either as story or screenplay writer of ‘Devil’- were from people who had forgotten that even his worst effort, allegedly ‘The Happening’ or ‘The Village’ was more original and daring than millions of book-to-screen adaptations and special effect orgies hitting the screens lately.

What is noteworthy is the storyteller’s consistent craving to tell and create new stories- not as films or Hollywood blockbusters- but as tales told with a whispering voice by the fireplace on a cold winter night. The seriousness and self-awareness that his stories contain isn’t necessarily a bad thing- with even superhero classics being dumbed down and sexed up for audience votes these days. And yet, Shyamalan is the man solely responsible behind possibly the greatest superhero story of our time- the unassuming and path breaking ‘Unbreakable’. It was the near perfect anti-epic that took the extraordinary-man-in-ordinary-world genre to another level. It used comic books and graphic novels (again a lead up to ‘Lady In The Water’) to illustrate the clear good v/s evil relationship in an unlikely unique tone.


With the amount of preparation put into ‘After Earth’- a 300-page Bible about the history of mankind and their decision to leave Earth (much like Wall-E) written by award-winning comicbook writers- Shyamalan took charge of the immense visual part of the project- blocking and constructing shots with his trademark anticipation-of-fear-is-greater-than-fear-itself style.

The monologues in the film bear a very existential ‘The Village’ feel about them, deconstructing basic human emotions, fear and danger, under the hood of survival and invincibility. At the center of it all was a fractured relationship between a warrior named Cypher Raige who has overcome fear and a son (Kitai Raige) that is struggling to overcome their history. This is portrayed wonderfully by an I-Am-Legend zoned Will Smith and his real-life son Jaden, who impressed all with his physicality and versatile talents in the nth version of Karate Kid a few years ago. The boy’s desire to acquire his destiny- convinced that is it different than others, much like Phoenix in Village, or Gibson in Signs, or Willis in Unbreakable- forms the crux of this post-apocalyptic story. Concepts like ‘ghosting’ and ranger-codes were created, along with the current destructive nature of Earth- all given a form not too dissimilar from the likes of Pandora or wasted Earth in Wall-E.

Yet, Shyamalan’s version of Earth was rejected before even being given a chance, despite Smith and his son carrying on admirably from where they left off in ‘Pursuit of Happyness’. Adjectives like ‘terrible’ and ‘unbearable’ were thrown around carelessly by respected critics like Bradshaw and the likes- in the process only further highlighting the huge dent caused to film criticism after the passing of master Ebert.

In the film, the talented father-son Smith duo make their relationship believable enough to even forgive the disappointment of the rather tame revelation of those-who-we-cannot-speak-of creatures at the end.
The filmmaker’s Hitchcockian awareness of the sheer bone-chilling result of what can be heard but not seen on screen, remains in tact, even in this attempt to tell a story over a vast canvas.

There is a particular scene that involves a big angry bird and Jaden. It portrays the most basic of primal emotions and could seem comical on paper- but Shyamalan’s understanding of when to reveal the bird in conjunction to Jaden’s startled face is second to none. It is a typically underplayed yet important moment in the film. It possesses wordless undertones that pretty much define Katai’s existence uptil then- constructed in a masterfully subtle manner that escape the blind rage of reviewers today. Instruments like adding the audiovisual contact at all times between father and son- letting the father view his son’s journey to manhood at close quarters while being helpless, or the position-mapping technology visible to father but not son- only add to Shyamalan’s impressive ability to manipulate simple visual situations into something far more suspenseful.

His framing has always been a highly underrated skill, and one can only imagine him snatching the screenplay away from the original writers to give it his own signature.
His use of a rousing background score still manages to tell its own individual story- words that cannot be read between the lines even on paper.

Often enough, his obsession with twist endings and surprise climaxes that try to convince the viewer that it was happening all along has led to his overambitious downfall- but the manner in which he uses dramatic orchestral themes at every single crucial second of such climaxes will be appreciated in the years to come, just like ‘Lady In The Water’ and ‘After Earth’ are destined to become perfect Sunday afternoon family viewings/storybook sessions for generations of Americans kids whose ancestors scoffed at a brooding serious auteur South-Indian writer that once told a slow-burning ghost story and a superhero tale that challenged the very concept of genres it represented.

(For more posts by Rahul, you can visit his blog here)