Archive for the ‘Regional’ Category

After having its premiere at Cannes Film Festival, doing the international fest rounds, and bagging the National Award for Best Punjabi Film, Gurvinder Singh’s Chauthi Koot has finally released in India.

Official synopsis : Punjab. The mid 1980s. A train journey to Amritsar. A dog that barks. Unwelcome guests late in the night and early morning. Dilemmas and fears.

Chauthi Koot‘ is Singh’s second feature after ‘Anhey Ghorhey Da Daan‘. Based on the short stories of Waryam Singh Sandhu, it’s a reflection on the undercurrents of the 1980s in a fear ridden Punjab post the Bluestar.

Cast : Suvinder Pal Vicky, Rajbir Kaur, Kanwaljeet Singh, Gurpreet Bhangu, Tommy
Crew :
Cinematography: Satya Rai Nagpaul
Sound: Sushmit Bob Nath
Executive Producer: Kartikeya Narayan Singh
Production Design: Priyanka Grover
Costumes: Navjeet Kaur
Associate Producer: Himmat Sarkaria

Click here to read what Dibakar Banerjee thinks about the film. And click here to read Singh’s profile in India Today. Waryam Singh Sandhu’s interview is here.

Here are the show timings across the country

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Earlier this year, Singh had refused to accept the National Award for the same film. Our post on the same here and here.

Honoured and so happy to receive the National Film Award yesterday. Here’s the picture for you to like!

GS

This is the image that filmmaker Gurvinder Singh posted on his FB with a status update. A post with such black humour, we couldn’t resist the urge to share it with our readers.

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Gurvinder’s film Chauthi Koot was awarded the National Award for Best Punjabi Film, and the citation reads as follows –  ‘Effectively captures the sense of fear psychosis and tension during the times of insurgency in Punjab’. The Rajat Kamal Award includes cash prize of Rs 1,00,000/- each to the Producer and Director. He refused the award as a mark of protest for the choices the jury made, especially for Baahubali winning the Best Film Award. We had written about it earlier. Though he made it clear that his producer friend will accept the Producer’s award.

Recently, he shared another anecdote on his FB questioning the choice of National Film Awards jury.

Accosted by a young man dressed smartly in a black suit at the Kayseri bus station helping us book a bus to Ortahisar in Cappadocia, the land of magical landscapes and cave homes where Nuri Bilge Ceylan shot “The Winter Sleep”, we drink Turkish tea to kill time as he tries to communicate with us jovially in his bare knowledge of English, sometimes with the help of ‘Google Translate’ on his mobile. Once he knows we are from India, the topic veers towards Indian movies. He tells us that Indian movies are very popular in Turkey and they like the songs and dances. This after a woman in a shop in Istanbul had said she loves Paro, but cannot remember her name as its too difficult to pronounce. Aishwarya Rai, we told her. Yes yes, she nodded enthusiastically. And after a man in the same market had proudly proclaimed to us that he is Shah Rukh Khan’s father!

Now the young man at the Kayseri bus station asks us if we have seen ‘Baahubali’? My jaw drops. Sunayana laughs. We ask him whether he likes the movie? Then he goes on to type something on his mobile in Turkish on Google Translate. It gets translated into English as ‘nonsense’! We all laugh and I heave a sigh of relief. To reiterate, he says its crazy and stupid.

This ‘nonsense’ will be awarded the Best Indian Film of 2015 at the National Film Awards tomorrow. Hats off to the esteemed jury for this remarkable selection.

An alumni of FTII, Gurvinder 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.

And as long as Singh’s fearless sense of (black) humour is intact, we will always be cheering for him.

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I know Marathi just like I know Guitar and Keyboards. I can sense their presence but can never play with them (publicly) because I don’t understand them. My exposure to non-Hindi film music has been similar. My Marathi music ‘plays’ have been limited to the music of Shala, Balak Palak and Natarang. Cut to the first teaser of Sairat that I came across, and all of that changed. I have since then tried to explore Ajay-Atul’s work in depth, and most of it has been in Marathi, but more on that later. With absolutely no comment/interpretation on the lyrics of this film album, here is what I think of the album that hit me like a bolt of lightning!

Yad lagla is decorated so well as a composition that even before Ajay gets behind the microphone you would be swaying at those definitive violin riff repeats. Not only in the opening, violins are almost a second voice throughout the song. Even when we hear Ajay in antras, we can hear those violins and they are in no way bothersome to ears. A song that to my ears sounds like musings of a man madly in love. A song extremely high on melody.

Part college-festy (like Koi Mil Gaya from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai) and part Kannum kannum (from Thiruda Thiruda), Aatach baaya ka baavarla’s high points are those variations that Shreya takes in both the antras. The pause in between is only an excuse to hit the listeners with those layered percussion and strings almost immediately. Like I said, Shreya is top class in the song be her biting ‘attacha’ in every antra or her tempo variation. The backups reminded me a lot about ARRahman and his use of backups in 1990s, especially in the film, 1947 – Earth. An insanely enjoyable song!

In what soothes like a balm to the senses, Chinmayi Sripada starts Sairat zaala ji, and is almost immediately joined by Ajay. The song flows like a symphony and the overall mood doesn’t weigh you down because the antras are playful and easy on ears. I did feel the percussion could have been a bit lighter in the song. The flute in the second part of the song is all sorts of cute and the bagpipe parade like tune in between is actually smart. I felt the song gave more room to Ajay to improvise than it did to Chinmayi.

What is clearly, unabashedly and LOUDLY a celebration song, Zingaat is Ajay-Atul playing in their familiar territory. It is exactly *that* song which would haunt us Bombay-walas in the coming days whenever there is *any* celebration. The song has brass band as well, but you really don’t notice their presence because of the constant *dinchak dichak*. Length wise, this is the shortest song of the album, but impact wise, probably the song that will outlive the film, in Maharashtra.

Ajay-Atul’s symphonic inclination is well known, so much so that back in 2002, they came out with an album titled ‘Ganesh Symphonic Chants Experience’ which is quite something. Some kind friends have passed me the music of films like Natarang and Jogwa, and it suffices to say that the sound of Sairat is a step forward by Ajay-Atul in terms of marrying their favourite sound with the limitations that a typical ‘film album’ presents them with. Thumbs up for that!

I just have one grouse –  if not checked, Ajay-Atul can quickly sink to where our favourite ‘It’ boy went – using their own voice a bit too much in their albums.

Overall, this is the album that I have heard the most number of times vis a vis any out and out non-Hindi album that I have laid my hands on in the last couple of years. The madness that this album infected me with reminded me of film album by ARRahman titled ‘Boys’ that came out long time back.

When I heard Jogi, I wanted to learn Kannada

When I heard Jhiri jhiri chaitali, I wanted to speak Bengali.

When I heard Nenjukulle, I wanted to understand Tamil.

Sairat makes me want to write poetry in Marathi..

It is exactly the kind of music that makes you want to pay for it, twice! The album costs just 48 bucks on iTunes. Buy it, celebrate it. It’s well worth it!

Rohwit

Jukebox of Sairat here

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Knowledge is acquired.
Art is inherent.
Knowledge solves complexities.
Art gives birth to those very complexities.

There is a whole scene dedicated to this Knowledge V/S Art (Vidya V/S Kala) debate in Katyar Kaljat Ghusli — and it is easily my favourite part in the movie. A musical maestro’s protege aches for knowledge. The knowledge that can hone his skills, set him apart. But he completely overlooks the fact that even without the knowledge, what he already has within him — the raw art of music — is far more valuable.

Anybody who has grown up in a typical Marathi household has heard their mothers and fathers sing Ghei Channd Makarand. It won’t be blasphemous to say that it is our equivalent of a Bachchan or Tagore poem, if not as widely popular. So when the film adaptation of the cult musical, Katyar Kaljat Ghusli, was released, all of us got a call from home urging us to go see what a spectacle it is.

And I’m happy to report that it has lived up to the hype. The plot is simple: Pt. Bhanushankar of Vishrampur (Shankar Mahadevan) discovers Khan Sahab (Sachin Pilgaonkar) in one of his mehfils and brings him back to his town. But Khan Sahab’s talent always ranks below Pt. Bhanushankar’s, and a fierce sense of competition starts to rise within him. Competition culminates into sabotage and Pt. Bhanushankar loses his voice as a result of a vicious scheme. As Khan Sahab settles into the comforts of the palace and new his designation of the Royal Singer, Pt. Bhanushankar’s protege, Sadashiv (Subodh Bhave) enters the scene to win his mentor’s honour back.

The most interesting thing about Katyar… is the use of music. It feels as important to the anatomy of the film as a limb (props to writer Prakash Kapadia, who has emerged as the master of the Indian epic. His next is Bajirao Mastani). While most films about music add songs just to authenticate the genre (here’s looking at you, Aashiqui 2), Katyar’s music takes the narrative forward and keeps you glued to your seats even through songs. While Ghei Channd will always remain a favourite, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s Sur Niragas Ho and Yaar Illahi could easily become the next generation’s favourites.

I may be at a disadvantage, having not seen the original musical, but my father tells me that the film was about 80% true to the source material, which is not a bad percentage at all. The dialogue is dense with beautiful lines about music, art, the value of commitment, envy and the evil in one’s heart. Shankar Mahadevan appears to be surprisingly comfortable in his role and Subodh Bhave — with his ability to be believable as Anybody — is honest. Sachin Pilgaonkar has walked away with the lion’s share of compliments, but I can never shake the feeling that his brand of acting is similar to Aamir’s — where, with each movement and each gesture, he wants you to know just how good he is. Frankly, he overdid some scenes, but let’s not focus on that.

The good thing is, the movie has released with subtitles and, for once, the person who has done the subtitling deserves a pat on the back. They have masterfully turned colloquial Marathi phrases into English lines, and successfully translated the humour when required.

Yes, the plot is predictable and spoon-fed to viewers, but if you’re in for a true musical with hair-raising compositions embedded into the story, and the magic of simple storytelling as well, this is your pick.

Nihit Bhave

(Nihit Bhave is a freelance writer based in Bombay. Was Features Writer with Hindustan Times’ Sunday magazine, HT Brunch until recently)

Kothanodi

There I lay my head on the pillow, snuggled into my blanket ready to surrender to the world of talking animals and strange beings my mother was about to conjure for me. It was delicious.

Then one day, I found my sister reading a 1000 page fat book with tiny font and pictures. Strange, I thought. In my world only children’s books (or textbooks and magazines) had pictures and never in tiny font. Tiny font was ‘meant for grown-ups’ territory, one to be stayed away from, so boring. But curiosity got the better of me and I went down the rabbit hole a-la Alice and landed in a wonderland of rolling peas, talking trees and 3/6/12-headed dragons. It was a much-to-be-thumbed Book of Ukranian Folk Tales.

None of it was incredulous; magic never is when you are a kid. Just curiouser and curiouser. It was a real world, with real people living in real houses and doing real things, but that world was full of strange phenomena. It brought magic right onto my doorstep. These weren’t Disney’s amusement park-like fairylands visiting me, but home-grown magic churned like butter from daily life with all its shades intact. Kothanodi – River of Fables is something like that.

It opens on the darkest tone possible. A man is burying a living infant in a mysterious forest full of strange, eerie sounds. Wails and whispers are all around, suggesting something sinister is on. And you are intrigued to know more. This seems like more than a fable, more than folklore, you say, when suddenly an elephant apple comes rolling along. It is following a woman, carefully, loyally. A loving father is taking leave of his young daughter as a suspicious-looking step-mother looks on. A python is stealthily being caught in the forest and next thing we know it is being welcomed into a household to be wedded to a human girl. The setting is tribal, somewhere deep in the interiors of Assam, along a river that carries the fables from the shore of one house to another, from one mother to another.

A narrative connect of four mothers weaves four different folktales into one solid film. The screenplay is based on events and characters described in popular Assamese folk tales compiled in the anthology ‘বুঢ়ী আইৰ সাধু’ or Grandma’s Tales, by Assamese literary luminary Lakshminath Bezbaroa, and first published in 1911 (source: link). Each story soaked in the ethos of its space and time, flows in and out of each other.

The mother-daughter thematic motif makes it tempting to dig deeper to look for hidden sub-text of social comment, only to find it is a formal element instead. This realisation dawns as the film draws towards its unique and dreadful conclusions and with it takes away the pressure of decoding it, replacing it with the pleasure of magic realism.

The joy of the film lies in its naturalistic setting and use of melodrama to suitably evoke earthy, home-grown environs of tribal India where witches and teachers, merchants and snake-grooms, mothers and talking dead bodies, live together. The emotional decibel of the film is tuned in balance, with a heightened measure of melodrama where required (in Tejimola and snake-groom stories), and controlled where necessary (the elephant apple story and buried babies stories.) The play then, of the baby burying scene (which plays out in all its eerie glory), cutting in between stories to unsettle the mood a bit, lest the fable become a dream removed from reality, becomes interesting. The joy of a fairy tale is in its mirth and that of a fable in its mystique, while folklore is rooted in common, realistic setting. The more rooted the setting the more absurd and mysterious does the magic seem. Yet, surprisingly more real. You can touch it, almost. And in River of Fables we don’t question the magic, we just let it happen, like we did when we saw it when we were young.

Perhaps, the biggest achievement of the film is bringing magic into the adult, mainstream language back by seizing it from children’s territory to a very adult world and adult problems and demystifying it by laying bare its darkest shades, without sugar-coating, something we don’t encounter often in children’s fables or popular folklore. And here the film does not differentiate or take sides with white or black magic, rather treats it like yin and yang. Exactly how it is. I hope this isn’t reduced to an over-simplified argument of fanning superstition.

The film would have been lesser if not for the gravitas that Adil Hussain, Urmila Mahanta and Seema Biswas lend to their characters and the story. They carry the inter-woven, longform narrative with assured grace and control that is a pleasure to watch.

Certain portions of the film, especially the eerie sequences, do have a tacky, under-done feel, partly in budget, partly in design and partly in imagination. Yet, it does not become a hindrance in enjoying an otherwise delectable fare much like that other gem in the same genre ‘Goynar Boksho’.

I lost my Ukranian folk tales book to a raddiwala because parents mistakenly thought I was too old to be interested in them anymore. River of Fables lessened the ache a little.

Fatema Kagalwala

Mumbai Film Festival – our annual movie ritual is on. And like every year, we are going to cover the festival like nobody else does it. moiFightClub regulars and readers will bring you all the day’s reccos and reviews.

Our Day 1 Wrap is here.

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Impressions:

Things looked way more organised today as no screenings got cancelled and in spite of the weekend, the crowd management was quite smooth. Quick tip for people watching movies at PVR Juhu – head over to Dakshianayan next to ISCKON temple (5-mins walking) for a quick bite or lunch if you are hungry. Very reasonably priced and the best South Indian food on the western line.

Caught three films today too. (While getting nostalgic about the days we would catch 5 films daily. Sher buddha ho gaya ab.)

DHEEPAN by Jacques Audiard

Audiard’s Palm d’Or winner is a continuation of his theme of looking at the French underbelly and the lives of migrant communities there and it’s as brilliant as we have come to expect from him. This time the focus is on Sri Lankan Tamils through the life of a defeated LTTE soldier and it’s easy to understand why it won him the top award at Cannes. The refugee crisis Europe is in the middle of right now finds an intimate reflection in the struggle of Dheepan, played with a breathtaking intensity by ABC, whose own life has many parallels with the fictional story. He moved to France from Sri Lanka 24-years ago, on an illegal passport, escaping from the life of a child-soldier for LTTE. Today he is a known Tamil writer in France but his sincerity in portraying the role probably comes from a line he said while replying to an audience question – “For a refugee, the closure never comes.”

THE IMMORTALS by Shivendra Singh Dungarpur

Shivendra Singh’s documentary feels more like a walk in a brilliantly curated museum of Indian Cinema History, complete with a very romantic audio-guide. It does give us a look at some rare pictures, equipment, stories, and relics from an era that seems to exist in a time thousand years ago, and not just 100. It’s shot like a dream with every frame looking like a master photographer’s creation but the missing names of interviewees, the poetic but rambling narration, and the abrupt narrative stop it from becoming a great film. It’s puzzling that the Director chose this route as he had some great material at hand. But then, every passionate lover has his/her own way of courting the muse. This one happens to be a bit too personal.

THITHI by Ram Reddy

A hundred-year old man (Century Gowda) dies in a village and his family and villagers prepare for the grand feast (Thithi) to celebrate the life of the grand old fucker. Very few Indian films portray village with as much irreverence, quirkiness and in shades of grey (instead of the standard glorification or demonization) as Thithi manages to and that is probably because of Raam Reddy’s writer and Casting Director Eregowda who hails from the same village.

The film is populated with “more than 100” characters, all non-actors casted locally and they bring so much novelty and weight to this occasionally uneven (the last chunk felt like going in too-many-directions) but very ambitious script. A must watch, not just for the humor but also for the philosophical undertones pulled off quite effortlessly.

– Varun Grover

CHAUTHI KOOT by Gurvinder Singh

Gurvinder Singh picks a potent premise – the everyday fears & paranoia of 1980s Punjab & yet delivers a film that feels mostly ineffectual. Singh eschews drama for mood & atmosphere but never quite seems to be in control of his craft enough to deliver the horror that the material intends. What doesn’t help is that the film is full of opaque characters who lack psychological depth – Tommy the dog (who is a crucial part of the narrative) feels like the best realized character. Slow, D.E.L.I.B.E.R.A.T.E.L.Y paced – the kind of film you can snooze through a couple of times without missing much. Underwhelming.

The Sky Trembles and the Earth Is Afraid and the Two Eyes Are Not Brothers by Ben Rivers

Since I’m not into vipasana & don’t plan to do the Iron Man triathlon anytime soon, I compensate by watching the occasional extreme art-house film as a feat of endurance. The reviews for TSTATEIAATTEANB (phew!) promised a tough, challenging watch and that’s exactly what the film delivers.

This visually striking film doesn’t have much of a narrative, instead it plays as a parable on control & the loss of it (or that’s what I think it’s about). It follows a French filmmaker trying to make a film in the majestic yet inhospitable Atlas mountains of Morocco (reminded me of Herzog & Fitzcarraldo) who is kidnapped & subsequently has graphic, painful misfortunes visited upon him. The film’s language is part surreal art project, part improvised documentary and is always destabilizing audience expectations.

Difficult to say that I liked it, though it does have some moments of amazing cinematic power. More appropriate to say that I’m proud I lasted the whole course. Many others in the hall didn’t – haven’t seen these many walk outs during a screening since Love Story 2050.

@Sumit Roy

PLACEBO by Abhay Kumar

Rarely a film hits you so hard, and that too at the right spot. An investigation of lives at the medical school which has one of the toughest admission process, Placebo is a brave, brave documentary film.

The film creates such a stark mood, and at times, it’s so funny and disturbing. The editing must have been crazy as Abhay shot the film over a period of 2 years.  Special mention for the sound design and background score.

Placebo shook me completely. It’s easily one of the best documentaries i have seen coming out of India in the recent times.
There is one more (last) screening on 3rd November at 6.30 pm (PVR ECX Screen 4) Please DO NOT miss it.

Prince Shah

TAXI by Jafar Panahi

Film is Taxi, and its driver and director are the same person – Jafar Panahi.  As he roams around on the streets of Iran pretending to be a taxi driver, people get in/out of his taxi, and the film captures the changing society and it’s morality. Peter Bradshaw aptly described it as Anti-Travis Bickle.

For most part of the film, everything happens inside the taxi. And yet, it’s funny and poignant in equal measure. It’s great fun as passengers of different nature/social status get in and make their point. But it’s sad when you think about the extreme that Panahi has to go to make a film. It’s heartbreaking. Don’t miss the text end plates of the film. This one is a Must Watch.

DHEEPAN by Jacques Audiard

Audiard’s Dheepan reminded me so much of his earlier film, A Prophet. As a ex-LTTE soldier moves to France and tries to start a new life, we realise that it’s never going to be easy for him. Forgetting the turbulent past, making sense of the confusing present, and fear of the unknown future – he and his two unknown companions, who pretend to be his family, battle it everyday.

In the last half hour, the film takes a dramatic turn which is quite different from the tone of rest of the film. But it still remains a powerful film which has empathy for its characters. It completely belongs to his lead actor Antonythasan Jesuthasan who is there in almost every frame, and has a great screen presence.

Jesuthasan was at MAMI to present the film and for the post-screening Q and A. Interestingly, the film mirrors his journey as he was also a member of the LTTE, and later settled in France as a refugee. When i asked him if his life has changed for any better after the film got critical acclaim, bagged the Cannes top award, and he is being invited all over. He said earlier he wouldn’t buy the metro train tickets in France. Now people recognize him and he is forced to buy that 2 Euro train tickets. So that has changed for him – expense of extra 2 euros. And he is still a refugee in France. The difference between life and cinema. Do watch it.

NotSoSnob

Raam Reddy’s directorial debut, Thithi has been selected for the prestigious Locarno International Film Festival. Also, this marks the end of a dry spell of eight years since an Indian film made it to the competitive section at the fest. This year’s edition of the festival will take place from August 5 – 15, 2015.

Thithi will be presented in the Concorso Cineasti del Presente (Filmmakers Of The Present) section and will be competing for the Pardo d’oro Cineasti del presente – Premio Nescens at the festival. This section features 14 films this year.

Last year, the Kannada-language film was selected for the Work-in-Progress Lab at the NFDC Film Bazaar where it was declared the Best Work-in-Progress Fiction Feature.

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.

Anurag Kashyap’s Bombay Velvet will also have its screening at the festival.