Author Archive

The 2017 edition of Berlin International Film Festival has come to an end and the awards were declared tonight. Some good news for two Indian films at the Berlinale – Amit Masurkar’s Newton and Amar Kaushik’s Aaba.

Newton was given the CICAE Art Cinema Award in the Forum section of the fest. The “Confédération Internationale des Cinémas d’Art et d’Essai” (C.I.C.A.E.), the International Confederation of Art House Cinemas, forms one jury for the Panorama and one for the Forum. Each jury awards one prize in its section. Pedro Barbadillo, Tanja Milicic and Rainer Wothe were in the jury panel for Forum section.

CICAE was founded in 1956 by the national art house cinema associations of Germany, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland as an international lobby or pressure-group in order to support the art cinema sector and to protect the cinematographic diversity against the supremacy of so-called commercial filmmaking. Since then it unites about 3000 independent as well as already nationally associated art house cinemas, 15 festivals and a certain number of film distributors from approximately 30 countries from all over the world in an international umbrella association.

The Art Cinema Award is awarded twelve times a year to art house films at certain cooperating festivals such as the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes, Panorama and Berlin International Film Festival in Berlin and the Venice Film Festival.

Amar’s Kaushik’s Aaba has been awarded the Special Prize of the Generation Kplus International Jury for the Best Short Film. This includes cash award of  € 2,500 by the Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk (The Children’s Charity of Germany). The jury noted that it tells a story of the circle of life in an elegiac and slow pace with a beautiful cinematography.

Filmmaker Gurvinder Singh has been quite vocal about the steps that the Government has taken regarding Film and Television Institute Of India (FTII) in the last two years. He criticised Gajendra Singh’s appointment, and also refused the National Award last year in protest against the choices made by the jury. Now, there is another controversy regarding a diploma film which was being shot. Click here to read about it.

On his FB page, Gurvinder has clarified his stand on the controversy.

Some stills from ‘Sea of Lost Time’, the diploma film for acting students of FTII which I was directing but stopped midway due to exceeding the ‘shooting ratio’!

The real reasons though lie elsewhere. ‘Shooting ratio’ is a relic from the age of shooting on film stock. One student was rusticated just before the shoot started. He filed a writ petition in the Bombay High Court challenging his rustication and pleading he be allowed to act in the film. I gave a statement stating if the court allows he can join the shoot. Which is what the court did. That made the FTII administration, and specially the Head of Department of Acting, Tom Alter, see red. And dutifully the axe fell on the shoot.

The reason: I had exceeded the shooting ratio! Yes, I did. But the norm was thrown at me after the shoot started. I even offered to delete the excessive footage and comply with the norm for rest of the shoot if the norm was so vital to the shooting of the film. But no. All pleas fell on deaf ears. I was given a letter asking to proceed with editing the half-shot film! The entire class and the crew of the film are being penalised for supporting the rusticated student. I wonder if the film will be completed ever.

But we shall fight! The work of the students and all of us who have worked hard on the film deserves to be seen. But the film under production is of no concern to the administration of the Institute. All they care for is ‘norms’ and ‘rules’, which helps them in their vendetta. Tom Alter, backed by the Director and the Chairman of the Institute, and I suppose with full backing of the I&B ministry, have all ganged up to stop this shoot. This is what happens when you appoint mediocre people who have no eligibility to head such institutes.

Vengeance is all that they are there for.

He also shared some stills from the shoot. Click on any still to start the slide show.

(PS – And if you are philistine like this current Government or Gajendra Chauhan, bit on Gurvinder here – An alumni of FTII, Gurvinder Singh is one of the most promising and fearless young filmmaking talent in the current generation. Chauthi Koot (The Fourth Direction) premiered at Cannes Film Festival in 2015. His debut feature film, Anhe Ghorey De Daan, was selected to premiere at Venice International Film Festival. And it bagged 3 National Film Awards – For Direction, Cinematography, and for Best Punjabi Film)

Amit Masurkar’s new film Newton had its world premiere at the ongoing Berlin International Film Festival. Here’s all the buzz about the film from the fest.

(click on any of the pic to start the slide show)

Finding humour in the tenuous nature of democracy might be a hard task on the global stage at present; however, in Newton’s darkly comic exploration of one official’s attempt to uphold the election process in India, it’s simpler than it sounds. The second film from writer/director Amit V Masurkar bows in Berlinale’s Forum section with a sense of chaos and absurdity, while remaining aware of the drama of reality. When the feature emphasises either extreme, it proves engaging viewing.

–  From Screen Daily’s review. Click here to read the full review.

– Rajeev Masand’s video-blog on the film –

 

Newton is a very important film, despite its satirical tones, laced with a lot of humour and irony. It is a film that should make viewers think about how important their right to cast a vote is.

– from Aseem Chhabra’s report on the film. Click here to read the full report

Newton is a brave attempt. Because it uses the feature film format to tell a story about on-going violence and exploitation and cynical political aggrandisement : anytime you hear the words Naxal, or Maoist in a film, it falls into the tried and tested formula. Newton breaks that mould, refreshes hardened tropes, and makes us smile and think. Really hard. Because what effects India Interior today will one day ripple over and claw its way into our complacent urban, mall-infested enclaves.

– from Indian Express. Click here to read the full report.

– Some tweets on the film:

(pics taken from Twitter)

2wwi_swa_screenwriting_workshop

2016 can be called the year of the Indian screenwriter! With a slew of films powered by some scintillating scripts blazing new trails, the scramble for good scripts gets a shot in the arm. Writers’ visions seem to be driving storytelling in the Hindi film industry. Those who were part of this trail-blazing year are happy to share their knowledge, experience and guidance, via interactive masterclasses in the workshop!

With the aid of new examples, references and illustrations, the Workshop Instructor will cover all the useful principles of screenwriting, the navrasa theory, Indian mythology, copyright law, writers’ contracts, and offer professional guidance.

WORKSHOP INSTRUCTOR

Anjum Rajabali (Drohkaal, Ghulam, The Legend of Bhagat Singh, Raajneeti): Head of Screenwriting at Whistling Woods, erstwhile honorary head of Screenplay Writing at FTII, and an activist of SWA. Conducts workshops, script labs, seminars and fellowships for screenwriters in India and abroad.

Guest Speakers

Jaideep Sahni (Chak De India),  Shakun Batra (Kapoor & Sons), Nitesh Tiwari (Dangal) (TBC), Gauri Shinde (Dear Zindagi), Juhi Chaturvedi (Piku), Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari (Nil Battey Sannata), Sriram Raghavan (Badlapur), Shridhar Raghavan (Dum Maro Dum), Nikhil Mehrotra (Dangal), Shreyas Jain (Dangal)

FEE

For SWA members: Rs. 8500/- (Inclusive of taxes, tea/coffee and lunch on all days)

For non-SWA members: Rs. 11000/- (Inclusive of taxes, tea/coffee and lunch on all days)

*If you wish to become an SWA member, please visit www.fwa.co.in

VENUE

5th Veda Auditorium, Whistling Woods International, Film City, Goregaon East, Mumbai – 65

– For more information and to register for the workshop, please call 30916003 or email: kanchi.parikh@ whistlingwoods.net

emb1

NFDC Screenwriters’ Lab, a 2-part workshop is designed to prepare screenwriters’ with original Indian stories for working with the international filmmaking market place. It aims at improving a completed screenplay in its final stages and to increase the international marketability of the same.

ELIGIBILITY
  • Open only for Indian citizens residing in India
  • Open only for feature length fiction films
HOW TO APPLY
  • Create a MyFilmBazaar Account.
  • Use this ID to access the online application form.
  • The Regular Deadline for applications is 3 March 2017 (6 pm IST).
  • The Extended Deadline for applications is 13 March 2017 (6 pm IST).
  • Applications will not be considered complete till the payment has been processed.
  • Email/hardcopy applications will not be accepted.
SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS
Before you begin, please make sure you have the following:

  • Logline
  • Short Synopsis (500 – 600 words)
  • Writer’s Statement (500 words)
  • Updated Bio

In addition, you have the option of submitting either

  • Full Screenplay

OR

  • Story Synopsis (6 -10 pages | 12 point font, single spaced, 1” margin)
  • First 20 pages of the Screenplay ( in industry accepted format)

Shortlisted applicants will be called for an interview, either in person or on Skype (in the month of April)

DATES FOR THE LAB
  • Session 1 – end of May 2017
  • Session 2 – 6 weeks after Session 1 concludes
  • Session 3 – 8 weeks after Session 2 concludes
  • 20 – 24 Nov, 2017 – Film Bazaar
FEE
  • INR 3000 for applications submitted on or before the Regular Deadline, 3 March 2017 (6 PM IST).
  • INR 5000 for applications submitted after the Regular Deadline from 4 March to 13 March 2017 (6 PM IST).
CONTACT
  • For further clarifications, write to screenwriters-lab@filmbazaarindia.com.
  • For more details, and to apply, click here.

the-unreserved

While watching Garath Davis’ film Lion last week, i was wondering why we don’t shoot the Indian Railways the way these firangi directors capture it in their films. Remember the thrilling sequence with the kid hanging upside down in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire? Till 80s, we were still portraying the trains in our films. But now it’s limited to occasional chaiyya chaiyya or tap tap tippa.

And here comes an entire film set in our railways. Three friends – Samarth Mahajan, Rajat Bhargava, and Omkar Divekar embarked on a train journey covering a distance of about 25,000 km over a period of 17 days. They documented their stories on twitter too (click the thread embedded in post). Almost after a year, all these stories have turned into a film.

Here’s the trailer of the film

The film will be available online from 15th Feb.

Exclusive preview to biggest and deepest Hindi film number of 2017.
(And it’s only February now!)

Recently, I had the opportunity to listen to and rate some of the best songs of 2016 (more about it in a different post). The one thing that struck me about lyrics of many songs was the rampant fake Sufism, faux Punjabiyat and false soulfulness running through them. There seems to be a random Sufi song generator app that lyricists have got their paws on.

This has prompted me to pen my own blockbuster Hindi film song for 2017. I mean, why not? I too have no talent.

This song’s got everything: Amir Khushro, Surdas (why not?), Peer Meher Ali Shah (for the undivided Punjab diaspora), Rahim (Why Kabir everytime?) and Surdas again (making up years of neglect). I have written the song below in Devanagari and provided some context to the lyrics to give you a sense of the ‘depth’ of this song.

This is the song that 2017 has been waiting for. Please spread this far and wide and help me turn into a Hindi film lyricist. 2017 will be poorer without this.

My wishlist for this blockbuster:

Composer: Pritam or anyone who needs a hit
Singers: Arijit Singh, Kavita Seth, Nooran Sisters, Mame Khan, Jasleen Royal, Benny Dayal, Shillong Choir
Picturised on: Ranbeer Kapoor /Salman Khan / Siddharth Malhotra with Alia Bhatt / Deepika / Kangana Ranaut chipping in. Though I won’t mind Chunky Pandey singing this in Sajid Khan’s next
Situation: Heartbreak song that plays randomly through the movie in surprising upbeat fashion. The Surdas elements play out to hiphop beats at nightclubs

अरब यार तोरी बसंत मनायो
सदा रखिए लाल गुलाल
हज़रत ख्वाजा संग खेलिए धमाल
खेलिए धमाल, धमाल, धमाल

The song starts off with Amir Khushro’s lines thereby immediately establishing its depth. Plus, we get Khwaja which is necessary. And, most importantly, a hook – dhamaal, dhamaal. It can’t get better. Wait, it can if you get Mame Khan Manganiyar to start this in a full-throated way.

What do these lines mean?
Just focus on dhamaal.

दिल इज़्तिरार, दिल इज़्तिरार,
है बेक़रार, है बेक़रार,
मुंतज़िर है तेरा, तू है मेरा,
चाँद को डाले जेब में, घूमे दर-ब-दर,
सब को नकार, ख़ुद को नकार
Now we get into my original song writing territory. What I have done, cleverly, is to bring some heavy-lifting Urdu words that rhyme. Look up their meaning on the web since I too didn’t know them till this morning. But they all make sense. Then, I swerve into Gulzar territory by putting the “Chaand” in the “Jeb” and round it up with a self destructive idiom (Khud Ko Nakaar). We will have Arijit Singh sing these lines in his usual short-of-breath, deep in pain but soul-less way. I can almost picture Ranbir Kapoor running the streets of London, colliding with assorted NRIs while these words ring away in the background.

दिल मचाये यह बवाल, यह बवाल
ख्वाजा संग खेलिए धमाल, धमाल

This is to be sung in chorus by Shillong Choir. See, the value of picking that dhamaal hook!

हरी ना मिले माइ जनम, ऐसे ही लाग्यो जान
जोवति मघ बासर निसि, जात जुग समान
चात्रिग पिक बचन सषी, सुने न परत कान

Ladies and Gentlemen, behold! Surdas makes an entry into Hindi film songs with these words of ‘birah’. Kavita Seth to sing this while Alia Bhatt is downing tequila shots at a LA bar.

यह वस्ल मेरा कब से मुसलसल,
बेबाक़ आरज़ू मेरी कब हो मुकम्मल,
तुझ से कुरबत चाहे, तेरा सुकून चाहे,
दिल की दराज़ में है रखे ख़ाक तेरे प्यार के,
सीने में है उठाए दर्द-ए-सकल

Back to my original lyrics territory! These lines are actually quite good. Benny Dayal can sing them normally and then do a little rap jig with them.

किथे मेहेर अली, किथे तेरी सना,
ग़ुस्ताख़ अँखियाँ किथे जा अदियाँ,
अज सिक मित्रां दी वधेरिए,
क्यूँ दिलरी उदास घनेरिए?

Pir Meher Ali Shah comes in to play now. The theme is separation as it has been through the song. But this could be interpreted as separation from the motherland at the diaspora level. The punjabiyat of the lines make them perfect for Nooran sisters to croon their hearts out.

लकीरों से कर चला हूँ मैं शिकायत,
सरफिरा मलँग हूँ ना मानु मैं हिदायत,
(ज्यों नाचत कठपुतरी, करम नचावत गात,
अपने हाथ रहीम ज्यों, नहीं अपने हाथ)
उड़ गया है परिंदा बाग़बान छोड़के,
हाथों से अपनी क़िस्मतों की ज़ंजीरें तोड़के,
ख़ुद की कही को कर चला हूँ मैं रवायत

Again, my original lines but in Amitabh Bhattacharya (AB) mould this time. Because my aim in life is to be poor man’s AB. There is enough parinde, baaghban etc to fool you into believing this is AB.

But note my subversion. In between (in brackets) I have incorporated a Rahim doha. Just to maintain the cosmic balance from overuse of Kabir dohas. That doha is perfect for Jasleen Royal to sing in a breathless, hurtful manner. All other AB like lines are perfect for Arijit Singh to cry his heart out.

जा दिन तें नैननी अंतर भय
अनुदिन मुश बाढ़ी अति बारि
मनहु सूर है सुभग सरोवर
उमगि चले मरजाद उदारि

Back to the criminally neglected Surdas with Benny Dayal this time rapping on them. Alia Bhatt tequila shots continue unabated.

दिल मचाये यह बवाल, यह बवाल
ख्वाजा संग खेलिए धमाल, धमाल

Close the song out with unlimited repeat of these lines; all building into a crescendo of the kind that will have you imagine Sufi dervishes whirling away like Hrithik Roshan in Jodhaa Akbar. Bring back Mame Khan for this.

There you have it. The perfect 2017 blockbuster number.

I have put the whole song together below for you to consume in how God meant it to be consumed.

अरब यार तोरी बसंत मनायो
सदा रखिए लाल गुलाल
हज़रत ख्वाजा संग खेलिए धमाल
खेलिए धमाल, धमाल, धमाल

दिल इज़्तिरार, दिल इज़्तिरार,
है बेक़रार, है बेक़रार,
मुंतज़िर है तेरा, तू है मेरा,
चाँद को डाले जेब में, घूमे दर-ब-दर,
सब को नकार, ख़ुद को नकार

दिल मचाये यह बवाल, यह बवाल
ख्वाजा संग खेलिए धमाल, धमाल

हरी ना मिले माइ जनम, ऐसे ही लाग्यो जान
जोवति मघ बासर निसि, जात जुग समान
चात्रिग पिक बचन सषी, सुने न परत कान

यह वस्ल मेरा कब से मुसलसल,
बेबाक़ आरज़ू मेरी कब हो मुकम्मल,
तुझ से कुरबत चाहे, तेरा सुकून चाहे,
दिल की दराज़ में है रखे ख़ाक तेरे प्यार के,
सीने में है उठाए दर्द-ए-सकल

किथे मेहेर अली, किथे तेरी सना,
ग़ुस्ताख़ अँखियाँ किथे जा अदियाँ,
अज सिक मित्रां दी वधेरिए,
क्यूँ दिलरी उदास घनेरिए?

लकीरों से कर चला हूँ मैं शिकायत,
सरफिरा मलँग हूँ ना मानु मैं हिदायत,
(ज्यों नाचत कठपुतरी, करम नचावत गात,
अपने हाथ रहीम ज्यों, नहीं अपने हाथ)
उड़ गया है परिंदा बाग़बान छोड़के,
हाथों से अपनी क़िस्मतों की ज़ंजीरें तोड़के,
ख़ुद की कही को कर चला हूँ मैं रवायत

जा दिन तें नैननी अंतर भय
अनुदिन मुश बाढ़ी अति बारि
मनहु सूर है सुभग सरोवर
उमगि चले मरजाद उदारि

दिल मचाये यह बवाल, यह बवाल
ख्वाजा संग खेलिए धमाल, धमाल

– Subrat Mohanty