Posts Tagged ‘Ashim Ahluwalia’

As we have done in the past, this year too we are trying to source the scripts of some of the best films of the year. As most of you know, the scripts of Hollywood films are easily available online, even the unreleased ones. But we don’t have any such database of Hindi or Indian films. So that has been the primary reason for this initiative. And it has been possible only because some of the screenwriters and filmmakers have been very supportive about it. It’s only for educational purpose and much like the spirit of the blog, is a complete non-profitable exercise.

Ashim Ahluwalia’s Miss Lovely was easily one of the best films of the year. A film so strong in its atmosphere, it makes you feel you are in the middle of that era where the story is set. And that’s what sets this film distinctly apart from the rest. Smoke-filled rooms, garish costumes, sleaze in every corner – you could almost smell the walls and feel the claustrophobia of the B-movie world created by the filmmaker.

So thanks to Ashim Ahluwalia, we are the sharing the script of Miss Lovely. This is the original English version, without the Hindi dialogues.

In our “Best Of 2014” series, here are the other film scripts that we have shared so far – Ankhon Dekhi is here, Queen is here, and for Dedh Ishqiya, click here.

Film : Miss Lovely

Director : Ashim Ahluwali

Story : Ashim Ahluwalia

Screenplay : Uttam Sirur and Ashim Ahluwalia

Do click on the “Scripts” tab on the top right corner of the blog page to access all the other scripts that we have posted in the past.

NFDC (National Film Development Corporation Ltd) today announced the six finalists of the Screenwriters’ Lab 2014.

In its eighth edition, the first stage of the Lab this year will be held in Sarajevo Film Festival (15 – 23 August 2014) culminating in the second stage prior to and during Film Bazaar (20- 24 November 2014). The market, like every year, will be held along side IFFI (International Film Festival), in Goa.

 The six scripts / screenwriters selected are:

  1.  The Boyfriend – Vidur Nauriyal and Ashim Ahluwalia
  2. Winter– Aamir Bashir
  3. Char Log Kya Kahenge – Hitesh Bhatia
  4. Flow – Vandana Kohli
  5. All about Her – Ruchi Joshi
  6. The Sunset Club – Karan Tejpal

Details about the scripts/writers

– Vidur Nauriyal and Ashim Ahluwalia – The Boyfriend will be the second feature from the team behind Miss Lovely, directed by Ashim Ahluwalia, which was screened at Un Certain Regard at Cannes Film Festival 2013. Ashim recently received the Hubert Bals Fund for script and project development (a Rotterdam festival initiative) for The Boyfriend. Miss Lovely was one of the five projects at Film Bazaar’s Co-production Market 2008 and Work-In-Progress Lab 2011.

– Aamir Bashir – Winter, is the second feature to follow Harud (Autumn), Aamir’s debut film, which premiered in Toronto Film Festival 2010. As an actor he has also appeared in some of the highlights of the new independent cinema including A Wednesday, Peepli Live and Frozen (TIFF 2007)

– Hitesh Bhatia – Comes to the Lab with a wealth of experience in commercials and directing commercial TV shows and has moved his focus to feature films as he embarks on this new phase in his career with his project Char Log Kya Kahenge

– Vandana Kohli – Has scripted, directed and edited projects for clients including The National Geographic Channel, The History Channel, and India’s national broadcaster Doordarshan. Also a photographer and musician, Flow is Vandana’s first feature film project.

– Ruchi Joshi – Followed her film studies in Melbourne Australia with work in music videos, commercials and independent feature films in Mumbai. All about Her is her second project as a screenwriter.

– Karan Tejpal – Has worked for several years in the film industry making commercials for global brands and working as assistant director on mainstream feature films including the mega-hit 3 Idiots, Lage Raho Munnabhai and Ferrari Ki Sawari. His first feature will be The Sunset Club, adapted from Khushwant Singh’s novel of the same name.

– The mentors of the Lab include noted experts from the industry, namely, Marten Rabarts, Senior Consultant – Training and Development, NFDC Labs; Olivia Stewart, Script Developer; Urmi Juvekar, Script Developer; Bianca Taal, International Industry Advisor.

– NFDC’s Screenwriters’ Lab was introduced in the year 2007 with the Co-production Market in the inception year of Film Bazaar. The Lab gives an opportunity to six independent screenwriters to develop their skill under the guidance of a variety of industry experts from across the globe. Through one-on-one sessions with their mentors, the Screenwriter fellows are advised on tools and techniques required to improve their scripts and methods to pitch the same in the international domain. The previous editions of the Lab were held in Locarno, Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals.

– The Screenwriters’ Lab is specially re-designed to prepare screenwriters with original Indian stories for working with the international filmmaking market.

– The Screenwriters’ Lab 2013 finalists at Film Bazaar included: Rajesh Jala’s Chingari (The Spark), Nikhil Mahajan’s Dainik (Daily), Bela Negi’s Kaalapani (Dark Waters), Varun Grover’s Maa Bhagwatiya IIT Coaching Class (Mother Goddess Coaching Class), Shanker Raman’s My Brother the Salesman and I, and Ashish Aryan’s T Se Taj Mahal (T for Taj Mahal). While Rajesh Jala won the Incredible India award for Chingari and also got Cedomir Kolar’s France based ASAP Films board as the co-producer of the film, Nikhil Mahajan’s Blue Drop boarded Varun Grover’s Maa Bhagwatiya IIT Coaching Class as the producer of the film.

– Please visit http://filmbazaarindia.com/programs/screen-writers-lab/ for more details about the Lab and its mentors.

Ashim Ahluwalia’s film Miss Lovely premiered at Cannes Film Festival in 2012 and has been doing the fest rounds since then. Finally, it’s all set to release this friday.

The official synopsis describes the film as follows – Set in the lower depths of Bombay’s “C” grade film industry, MISS LOVELY follows the devastating story of two brothers who produce sex horror films in the mid-1980s. Some of us saw the film at Mumbai Film Festival and loved it. A great atmospheric film which makes you feel claustrophobic and displays great filmmaking craft which is so rare in Indian cinema.

In this post, Ashim takes us behind the scenes of the film and tells the story of making of the film through these 8 images. Do click on any of the pic to start the slide show and do watch the images in full size because even these stills capture the mood of the film so well.

PIC 1 – Nawaz (top left)

I was very lucky to cast Nawaz in his first leading role – he had struggled for ages and nobody would give him a lead, only character parts. I didn’t know who he was, but when he did the screen test he appeared so broken by the industry, so frustrated, with a lot of pent up anger, I was amazed. I realized that he was, in real life, just like my character Sonu Duggal – who is also very unfulfilled, working like a donkey for his dominating elder brother.

PIC 2 –  DoP, Horror film set (top right)

My DoP is Mohanan. He shot my first film, John & Jane. We are like brothers separated at birth. He gets me – we discuss stock, processing, colour temperature, texture, framing  – and we are almost always on the same page. Miss Lovely is in some ways about the end of celluloid, the end of cinema as we know it – so I didn’t want to shoot digital – it needed to be on film. I wanted Miss Lovely to look like it was shot on the (now unavailable) Indu stock of the 1980s. F**ked up, warm, grainy, with a very particular desi look. He thought I would ruin his career with all the Ramsay Brothers gels that we were using, but I think that he now feels very proud, like this is one of the more beautiful films he has shot.

PIC 3 – Cat fight. Crowd (2nd from top right)

We don’t have enough cat fights in our films anymore and I kind of miss that. This is a scene where two actresses – Poonam and Nadia – get rough with each other. Poonam is from a previous generation, she’s had her time, and Nadia is young and all set to replace her. Nadia is wearing an outfit straight out of a silk smitha film. Unfortunately, they actually started fighting and it got out of hand. Nawaz tried to separate them and got slammed into the mattebox of the camera. He was bleeding – it was stressful to shoot this scene.

PIC 4 – Movie on screen

Everything was shot on location. We were trying to recreate a Bombay of the mid-1980s that is also the Bombay of mid-1980s cinema. You will get it if you’re from a certain kind of background. I wanted quintessential Hindi cinema—the villains by the pool, the cabaret. Miss Lovely is an architectural film—it’s my kind of Bombay film, in a way.

It’s virtually impossible to recreate 1980s Bombay since there’s almost nothing left. Forty per cent of our locations have been knocked down.

The times were flash but also faded. We spent a lot of time dipping costumes into tea and deteriorating them. I wouldn’t let anybody take a shower or wash off make-up. I wanted things to look lived in.

 PIC – 5, 6, 7 (Nawaz on bed, Anil George with crowd, Legs on top)

Shooting a fake porn scene at the Darukhana ship breaking yard was not easy. We didn’t have permission and while we were shooting the police raid where Sonu gets arrested, all the dock workers showed up to watch the shoot. They saw cops (who were actors in costume) chasing a woman covered only in a bedsheet and a guy in his underwear and thought that there was something serious going on. They thought we were TV crews covering the real event. I decided to include the actual crowd in the scene without them realizing it – it was total madness, an almost riot-like situation, but I am most happy with this scene.

PIC – 8 (Niharika on the sets)

Both Nawaz and Niharika were frustrated with the industry when I met them. I didn’t know either – I just screen tested them. Niharika had shot two Himesh Reshimmiya films that had been shelved. She was fed up waiting to be a heroine and was ready for something new. Her character Pinky is a struggling actor, who is also very exhausted trying to make it – so like Nawaz her real life overlapped a lot with her character in the film.

 – To know more about the film, cast and crew, click here.

Ashim Ahluwalia’s film Miss Lovely is finally all set to release on 17th January, 2014. For its domestic run, the makers have released a new trailer of the film.

The film premiered at Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain regard section and it stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Niharika Singh and Anil George.

Official Synopis

Set in the lower depths of Bombay’s “C” grade film industry, MISS LOVELY follows the devastating story of two brothers who produce sex horror films in the mid-1980s.

A sordid tale of betrayal and doomed love, the film dives into the lower depths of the Bollywood underground, an audacious cinema with baroque cinemascope compositions, lurid art direction, wild background soundtracks, and gut-wrenching melodrama.

To know more about the cast and crew, check out this embedded pdf file to read their profile.

Rangbhoomi

Rome Film Festival has announced its first list of selection for this year. It includes two interesting films from India.

Rangbhoomi by Kamal Swaroop and The Seventh Walk (Saatvin Sair) by Amit Dutta have been selected in the CinemaXXI section of the fest.

I have always believed that Amit Dutta is country’s best experimental filmmaker who has a distinct strong powerful visual style. Though you will hardly get to read about him or his films in mainstream media, it’s heartening to know that he quietly keeps on making films.

The CinemaXXI section is dedicated to new trends in world cinema and will feature 16 Feature films, 6 Medium-length films and 13 Short films.

Kamal Swaroop’s Rangbhoomi is in competition in the CinemaXXI section of the festival. The film is based on the autobiographical play written by Dadasaheb Phalke, considered as the father of Indian cinema.

Amit Dutta’s The Seventh Walk will be the the closing film of CinemaXXI Section and is not in competitive section.

The festival will run from November 8 to 17, 2013.

UPDATED (26th Oct, 2013) – Rome Film Festival has added two more Indian films in its list.

– MAKARA by Prantik Basu, India, 2013, 20’ (World Premiere) in the Medium Length and Short Film Competition

– OM DAR BA DAR / I AM DOOR BY DOOR by Kamal Swaroop, India, 1988, 101’. Special Screening of the World Premiere of the restored version, on the occasion of the 100 Years of Indian Cinema.

Apart from these two films, Indian filmmaker Ashim Ahluwalia will also be at the fest as Jury member on the CineMAXXI.

Miss Lovely

It’s that time of the year again. You sit back, relax, remember the titles, ponder over it and decide what has stayed back with you.  I have been thinking about writing a post on Ashim Ahluwala’s Miss Lovely and Anand Gandhi’s Ship Of Theseus for a long time. But something or other came along and it kept on getting postponed. Now that am thinking about year-end posts, these two films stand out completely from the rest. And strangely, both have many things in common, starting from redefining the “indie” cinema space in its truest nature.

The term “indie” has become quite convoluted in India and we have started using the term broadly for any film which isn’t exactly mainstream. Also, because by conventional rule book, bollywood’s studio system used to be quite different till few years ago. Now, these two films – Miss Lovely and Ship Of Theseus, can be called true blue indies. They have been financed and produced independently, not only outside the studio system but even completely outside the bollywood network. Forget being big stars, the lead actors are not even known faces except for Nawazuddin who was nowhere on the cinema map when he shot Miss Lovely. And most importantly, both the films tell “our” stories – rooted and distinct to the core.

Once you have seen both the films, you realise that it’s finally coming of age moment for desi indies which mostly either look tacky because of lack of budget, or at most we end up giving grace marks and credit to them for at least trying something new. These two films stand strong on their own merit and doesn’t want you to give them “indie sympathy” for just trying to making a different film. They deliver it and how! May i add that these two are easily the best desi films of the year i have seen and they stand on par with the world cinema titles of the year.

As most of you know by now that Miss Lovely is set in the underbelly of Bombay where people churn out B-movies full of sex and horror. The story, as evident from its trailer,  is about rivalry of two brothers as a new actress joins the industry. But the film is so much more than that. It doesn’t follow the conventional narrative rule book, it’s more of an “atmospheric” film. You can smell the walls and feel claustrophobic because of the mood it manages to create with its visuals. It’s documentation of an era, of a time, of history and culture. It’s indulgent with minimal dialogues and will test your patience too, but i don’t remember seeing something so brilliantly crafted on indian screen in a long time.

Ship Of Theseus

Ship Of Theseus is on the other end of the spectrum. It’s verbose but never dull. It’s philosophical but not pretentious. It questions life, death, morality, religion, humanity, existential issues, and if all that makes it sound like a boring and serious film much like its title, then let me assure you that it isn’t. Even though it doesn’t have a known face but Gandhi’s direction is so assured that it keeps you engaged throughout the film. And what impressed me the most was that the filmmaker had so much “empathy” for the characters. That’s quite rare quality in our films.

I have been following Gandhi’s work since his short film, Right Here Right Now which i first saw at a film club in a cafe. He followed it up with brilliant short called Continuum, and i have been hearing about this feature since last 4-5 years. No wonder it took him so long to put it out finally because the film is completely uncompromised, much like Ashim’s film. Gandhi’s producer is one of the actors in the film, and Ashim managed funding through co-production deals in various countries. But unlike their previous generation, these two represents a new breed of filmmakers who are not willing to find a balance between bollywood and the cinema they associate with and want to make. They want to sail in only one boat and am glad that they could find producers who backed them in their vision.

Though Ashim had made the docu John and Jane earlier but Miss Lovely can be counted as a narrative debut of Ashim. And SoT is the first feature of Gandhi. Desi debut film which is ambitious, assured, and shows so much maturity is a rare find. And in a year when we get to see two such films, i think our cinema future is not very bleak.

To quickly check where these two debut films will stand in comparison to others, i tweeted and asked people to name some of the best desi debut films. I got all kind of replies – DCH, KKHH, Udaan, Masoom, Aaranya Kaandam, Makdi, Munnabhai MBBS, Sarfarosh, Socha Na Tha, Salaam Bombay, Ankur, Ishqiya, Khosla Ka Ghosla, Ek Haseena Thi, Black Friday, Ab Tak Chappan, DDLJ, Luck By Chance, Bhavni Bhawai, Hyderabad Blues, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, Neecha Nagar, Dharti Ke Laal, Uski Roti, Musafir, Khamoshi, MPK, Pather Panchali, Ghatashraddha, Om dar-ba-dar and many more.  This was just a fun exercise for me – if i am saying these two are such great films, would they fit in the company of some of these debut films? I think they will and will stand out too because of their distinct narrative and treatment.

But test of time?

Well, that also depends on what they do next. I keep on hearing from people that both of them sound so cocky in their interviews, and are completely dismissive when it comes to bollywood and other kind of films. I think it’s good to be cocky as long as you can deliver a good film, and especially so when you do it by remaining completely outside the system. Or maybe there’s other way, as a filmmaker once said, it’s a great film but just don’t tell the director for his sanity.

It’s also great that both these films managed to get a good round of fest selections and screenings. Our cinema desperately need to go beyond the corporates obsessed with box office numbers and coke-corn-crap movie going audience. We need to tackle new territories and gain new markets on the world cinema map. But it would be sad if these two films don’t get a release in India. If not this year, am hoping it will happen next year because otherwise the loss will be entirely ours.

Toronto International Film Festival’s focus in this year’s ‘City To City’ program is Mumbai and its showing Manjeet Singh’s Mumbai Cha Raja (The King of Mumbai), Anand Gandhi’s Ship of Theseus, Mohit Takalkar’s The Bright Day, Hansal Mehta’s Shahid along with Anurag Kashyap’s two-parter Gangs of Wasseypur, Ashim Ahluwalia’s Miss Lovely, Habib Faisal’s Ishaqzaade, Dibakar Banerjee’s Shanghai and Vasan Bala’s Peddlers.

TIFF has made the presser video online where are all the directors were present and they talk about various subjects – festival, female directors, reviews, bollywood vs indies, changing film making scenario,

16:50 onward – On reviews. Waah, Vasan!

19:80 onward – Ha! Good try, Mr Habib Faisal to defend the regressive Ishaqzaade.

39:15 – Balaji took bits and pieces from Miss Lovely and made The Dirty Picture – Ashim Ahluwalia.

40:15 – If you send a script like this, i will file a criminal complaint with the police.