While we all wait for Rima Das’ Village Rockstars’ theatrical release, there is more good news for the film and its fans.

Village Rockstars has been selected as India’s official submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars.

The 12-member selection committee of the Film Federation of India, led by Kannada producer-director Rajendra Babu, announced the decision after watching 28 entries, which included Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi, R Balki’s Padman, Shoojit Sircar’s October, Dipesh Jain’s Gali Guleiyan, Nila Madhab Panda’s Halka, Siddharth Malhotra’s Hichki, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat, Tabrez Noorani’s Love Sonia, Ashwin Nag’s Savitri biopic Mahanati, Ravi Jadhav’s Nude, Chezhiyan’s To-let, Rahi Barve’s Tumbbad, Sukumar’s Rangasthalam, Rahul Bhole and Vinit Kanojia’s Reva and Deb Medhekar’s Kabuliwala adaptation Bioscopewala.

The director-cinematographer-editor-producer Rima Das says, “I have been waiting for this day and praying! Luckily, I got this news in my village at Chhayagaon, Assam (I arrived last night) I am glad that I am with my family and the cast of the film. Otherwise, a news like this, if you are alone in some far off land, could put you off the balance! Although I have been jumping around uncontrollably and creating all sorts of a nuisance. I still can’t believe that our film is India’s Oscar entry. I am pinching myself, screaming shouting with joy.”

She adds, “We are totally overwhelmed by the announcement that Village Rockstars is India’s official entry to Oscar this year. I am so grateful to the selection committee for believing in our film.”

The film which had its World Premiere at Toronto International Film Festival and India Premiere at Mumbai Film Festival 2018 has screened in more than 70 prestigious international and national film festivals and won 44 awards including 4 National Awards (Best Feature, Best Editing, Audiography and Child Artist).

It was an official selection at Film Bazaar Recommends (at NFDC Film Bazaar 2016), 2017 Marche du Film (Cannes) Work-In-Progress, San Sebastian International Film Festival 2017.

Until now only three Indian films have made it till the last round and were, as a result, nominated in the foreign language film category at the Oscars – Mehboob Khan’s Mother India (1957), Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay! (1988), and Ashutosh Gowariker’s Lagaan (2001).

The 91st Academy Awards is scheduled to be held on February 24, 2019.

Here’s Rima Das sharing her joy on Twitter:


(Photo by Aditya Varma. You’ll want to keep an eye on this talented fella.)

After touring film festivals the world over, Nandita Das’ eponymous film on Saadat Hasan Manto releases in theatres today. While we are excited to watch it, and hear from others about how they like it, here’s something from someone who has worked on the film.

Anubhav Dasgupta had posted this on his Facebook page initially, and we thought it’d be a fit here at MFC. Anubhav has worked on Manto’s post-production.

Over to Anubhav:

In the summer of 2017, I was doing nothing. I’d practically severed ties with everyone I knew and I wasn’t close enough with my Whistling Woods friends to really hang out with them. Consumed by ennui and the buzzing background noise of clinical depression, I barely acted or reacted to anything that was happening around me. The fact that I had topped my batch earlier in the year did nothing to stir my spirits. I was just pretty fucking down, man, and I recognised that as a problem. I got an email about a senior student asking for an additional editor and one of my professors had recommended me, impressed as he was by my work throughout the first quarter of the editing course. Having little else to do, I jumped on it.

Shashwat Gandhi and Yugshrestha Karpatne had adapted Saadat Hasan Manto’s sweet and quietly devastating tale of child prostitution, Dus Rupay, as Five Hundred Rupees for their final year diploma film. Their original editor had begun working with Subhash Ghai but their lovely film remained unfinished so I stepped in to help them complete it. I didn’t think much of Manto back then. I was exposed to his work by a few adaptations fellow colleagues had done and I was quite turned off by the use of schlock and horror. Male perspectives presented his stories as nothing but lust and violence and relied less on the depth and empathy Manto brought to his characters than the violent twists and lurid storytelling. Having avoided Manto because of these misrepresentations, Manto’s stories remained unread. I thought that Five Hundred Rupees would be the end of my sojourn with Manto but I was wrong. I don’t know what forces were in play, but Manto found his way into my life once again.

The work I did on Five Hundred Rupees would lead me to a chance meeting and that chance meeting would lead to a WhatsApp message asking whether I would like to assist on a feature film. It was being directed by a reputed woman filmmaker and starred one of my favourite actors, so I replied, “Yeah sure, why not?” and didn’t hear back from them.

A few weeks later, I was at a crosswords store, browsing their Indian fiction section, shifting aside the usual Durjoy Dutta and Chetan Bhagat schlock to find a copy of Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy. I took it in my hands, leafed through it and balked at the price point. As I carefully slid it back into its spot, I noticed a book with an orange cover right next to it. I pulled it out, Bitter Fruit — A Collection of Short Stories by Saadat Hasan Manto, and just looked at it for a bit. At that same instant, my phone rang and someone asked me if I could make it to Bandra in a few hours. School was out, so I answered in the affirmative. Then I had lunch and set off to Bandra on a Sunday. And that’s how my Manto journey began.

I joined in as an edit intern, late in the film’s post-production stage. It was pretty much complete but Nandita Das wanted to cut it down a little more and needed someone who could carry out the necessary exports as the film neared completion. Manto had a small in-house team — initially just me and her assistant Riya — and I found myself taking up more responsibility than I’d anticipated. And through the film Manto, Manto the man and the writer was revealed to me. The film peeled away the layers of grime and violence and revealed the true core of Manto’s stories: empathy, even for the cruellest and the worst, and a terrible sadness at the things that men do. His works and writings became a prism through which I processed my own feelings about the state of the world, the division and the cruelty that men have succumbed to, the blatant permission to commit cruelty that the current rulers seem to have signed off on. The film, too, is in part Nandita’s response to our times. I’ve seen it nearly a hundred times now as a result of my work and each viewing reveals a new detail, a new perspective, evident of the fact that the film was made with a lot of love and passion. Some days I’m moved by it, some days I’m ambivalent. I’ve been moved to tears by it just the one time, but maybe the first time will do it for you. It’s a good film with great scenes, two of which remain my favourite scenes from any film this year.

In some way, because of the coincidences, and especially of Manto leading me to Manto, I believe I was meant to work on this, for my own selfish self-improvement if nothing else. I’ve come in contact with some of the most talented and eminent people in the course of this journey, Sneha Khanwalker, Avani Rai, Tahir Bhasin, Resul Pookutty, Nawazuddin, Rasika Dugal, Kartik Vijay, Manto’s daughters Nuzhat and Nusrat, Nasreen Munni Kabir, Ashok Kumar’s daughter Bharti, Cameron Bailey, just to name a few. This has been one of the more fulfilling experiences of my life so far and I think I’m not the only person who has been changed by working on Manto. It was a special experience for everyone involved.

In becoming an inextricable part of my life Saadat Hasan Manto has achieved his ultimate revenge on me, someone who was militantly ignorant of his works, who went out of his way to avoid Manto. I cannot escape him now, and I’m glad to join the ranks as a Manto fan.

All I’ll say is, I’m proud to have worked on this film, to have worked on a film that I quite like, featuring some of my favourite actors, Neeraj Kabi, Rajshree Deshpande, Nawazuddin, and more, and a film that couldn’t be any more relevant, when the people in power have decided that they do not like what we say and want to rule through paranoia and phantom enemies. Please watch it tomorrow, I can’t assure you that you’ll like it, but I’m sure you will feel the passion and love that has gone into every frame of the film. I would like to thank everyone who was instrumental in making this happen, the people I know, the people I don’t and the people who I have come to know through this film.

Here’s to many more.

Please watch Manto. Out in theaters in this Friday. It’s been made with a lot of love, reverence and passion.

Anubhav Dasgupta

Filmmaker Rima Das’ National Award winning film Village Rockstars is slated for a Pan-India theatrical release on 28th September, 2018.

The film will be released through VKAAO, a joint venture of PVR Pictures and Bookmyshow in metros cities of India and in more than 30 screens in Assam through Kamakhya Films.

Village Rockstars is the story of Dhunu, a girl who grows up in poverty and learns to fend for herself. However, that does not prevent her from following her dream of forming a rock band and owning a guitar someday. Most of the cast members of the film are non-actors including Rima Das’ niece Bhanita who plays Dhunu and the other kids who hail from Das’ native village in Assam.

The film which had its World Premiere at Toronto International Film Festival and India Premiere at Mumbai Film Festival 2018 has screened in more than 70 prestigious international and national film festivals and won 44 awards including 4 National Awards (Best Feature, Best Editing, Audiography and Child Artist)

It was an official selection at Film Bazaar Recommends (at NFDC Film Bazaar 2016), 2017 Marche du Film (Cannes) Work-In-Progress, San Sebastian International Film Festival 2017

Rima Das’ debut film as a writer-director-producer, Man with Binoculars (Antardrishti) premiered at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival 2016. Village Rockstars, her second feature, premiered at Toronto International Film Festival 2017 under Discovery Section. Bulbul Can Sing made its World Premiere at Toronto International Film Festival 2018 and will make its South Asia Premiere at the prestigious 23rd Busan International Film Festival 2018.

(click on any pic to start the slide show)

Vasan Bala’s Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (The Man Who Feels No Pain) became not only the first Indian film to be featured in Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness, but also the first Indian film to get the Grolsch People’s Choice Award in the same segment.

Here’s Vasan’s acceptance speech at TIFF…

 

And this is how the film was introduced by the Midnight Madness curator Peter Kuplowsky. So much fun!

Here’s all the early reviews from TIFF:

Writer-director Vasan Bala’s wild and wacky yet also warm and fuzzy fable about a resourceful young man who transcends ostensible physical limitations to become a two-fisted, swift-kicking hero likely will prove to be an irresistible crowd-pleaser on the global fest circuit, and in international release on various platforms.

Review on Variety by Joe Leydon

But those getting superhero fatigue should not worry, for along came an Indian superhero origin story inspired by every action movie on the planet that’s so funny and meta, Deadpool is crying of jealousy. This is The Man Who Feels No Pain.

Review at Bloody Disgusting by Rafael Motamayor

Through the tongue-in-cheek humor and mind-blowing action, the makers of the film manage to capture the crowd-pleasing essence of a masala film, without any of the problematic aspects of the genre. In a time where every Bollywood movie is eager to teach and preach, ‘Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota’ takes you back to the time 7-year-old you broke your leg trying to leap into a flying kick. But instead of yelling at you for being an idiot, Vasan Bala gives you a mat to cushion your next fall and a bottle of water to keep you hydrated.

Review at BizAsia by Sahar Junejo

His film, whose title toys with Amitabh Bachchan’s 1985 Mard, summons many adorable tropes of Bollywood and superhero films — bachpan ke dost, dadaji as teacher-mentor, mother’s murder and a haunting chain, limping and one-legged martial arts masters, evil villains — but each one has its own dancing, subversive curlicue that twists and twirls the cliches, making them funny, cool, with oodles of street cred.

Review by Suparna Sharma

– Review at NowToronto by Norman Wilner

Busan International Film Festival 2018 will see 5 Indian films having their World Premieres in the section titled A Window on Asian Cinema.
The festival is being held from 4th to 13th October 2018.

Namdev Bhau In Search of Silence

Screenplay, Director: Dar Gai
Producer: Dheer Momaya
Starring: Namdev Gurav, Aarya Dave, Zoya Hussain
Running time: 84min

Bhonsle

Director: Devashish Makhija
Producer: Saurabh Gupta, Namita Lal, Piiyush Singh
Starring: Manoj Bajpayee, Santosh Juvekar, Ipshita Chakraborty Singh, Virat Vaibhav
Running time: 128min

Widow of Silence

Director: Praveen Morchhale
Running time: 85min

Kaamyaab / Round Figure

Director: Hardik Mehta
Producer: Manish Mundra, Ridhima Lulla
Starring: Sanjai Mishra, Deepak Dobriyal, Sariika Singh, Isha Talwar, Kaurwakee Vasistha, Amitabh Shrivastava, Avtar Gill
Running time: 111min

Yours Truly

Story, Screenplay, Director: Sanjoy Nag
Producer: Platoon One Films, MDC Filmworks
Starring: Soni Razdan, Pankaj Tripathi
Running time: 78min

When master of the modern Hindi noir, Sriram Raghavan, announced his next project ‘Andhadhun’, there was a lot of discussion around the name, what it meant, and how it was supposed to be spelt. And of course, what the movie would be about.

The trailer and new poster for the film was released today (film’s new release date is now 5th October), and it shows that it is the love story of a blind pianist, who meets a terrific girl and then another woman, and then many things happen to him. Among his inspirations for the film Raghavan counts Fargo, both the film and the series.

The premise is interesting enough, and the trailer makes it even more so. The IMDB synopsis on the film reads: “He sees what he shouldn’t. She sees what he couldn’t. So the question is, does he see it or not?”

The trailer also revealed that the film stars famous 70s actor Anil Dhawan, which is causing much excitement amongst fans.

Here’s the trailer of the film:

Starring: Radhika Apte, Ayushmann Khurana, Tabu, and Anil Dhawan
Producer: Matchbox Pictures, Viacom18 Motion Pictures
Writer & Director: Sriram Raghavan
Editor: Pooja Ladha Surti
Co-writer: Arijit Biswas
Music: Amit Trivedi
Lyrics: Jaideep Sahni
Release: 5th October 2018

Here is Sriram’s interview regarding the film on Scroll.

The 2nd edition of Singapore South Asian International Film Festival 2018 (Sg.SAIFF) will open with actor-director Nandita Das’ Manto which stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the titular role as Sadat Hassan Manto and follows the most tumultuous years and times in the life of the famed writer and of the two countries he inhabits — India and Pakistan.

The 2nd edition of the festival held from 5th to 14th October 2018 in Singapore will commence with an opening ceremony on 5th October at Carnival Cinema and close on 13th October at Resorts World Sentosa will also include the awards ceremony.

The film was chosen for the prestigious Un Certain Regard section at Cannes 2018 and features an impressive ensemble of actors including Rasika Duggal, Rajshri Deshpande, Rishi Kapoor and Paresh Rawal. The screening at SGSAIFF 2018 marks the film’s South East Asian premiere and will be attended by Nandita Das.

Das who will be presenting the film at the festival says, “We are delighted to screen Manto as the opening film at SGSAIFF. Manto was very much a South Asian writer. But unlike the Europeans, we South Asians do not own this identity, despite many cultural and social similarities amongst the countries in the region. Therefore, it is important to support such festivals that celebrate cinema from the Subcontinent. Last year, SGSAIFF screened a film I acted in, Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai as the opening film, which is yet to be released. I was unfortunately unable to make it. So, I very much look forward to attending it this year.”

Abhayanand Singh, Chairperson of SGSAIFF, whose association with Nandita Das started with Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai, the film co-produced by his production company, Muvizz says, “It’s a great honour to open the 2nd edition of SGSAIFF with one of the most important Indian films of this year, MANTO. We are happy that Nandita Das accepted our invitation to come and present the film at the festival.”

The SGSAIFF 2018 lineup which will be announced shortly includes an interesting mix of features, documentaries and shorts which includes titles from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal and Afghanistan.

About The South Asian Singapore Film Festival

Singapore South Asian International Film Festival (Sg.SAIFF) is devoted to a greater appreciation of South Asian cinema and culture. The festival seeks to support emerging filmmakers, open a fertile space for dialogue and collaborations within the industry, and most significantly share with the audience of Singapore the diverse and complex experiences of South Asia through the intimate storytelling medium of cinema.

With the impetus to effectively channel the expansion of South Asian cinema beyond the subcontinent and engage with a wider spectrum of audience. Singapore with its sizable population of South Asian descent, is a natural choice for this purpose. Supported by the Singapore Indian High Commission(IHC), the festival is a landmark initiative to serve as a cultural gateway between the global city of Singapore and the developing nations of South Asia.

Singapore, being the gateway of Asia, only enhances the potential of the festival to emerge as the melting pot of diverse cultures using cinema as a medium.