Posts Tagged ‘film’

A documentary film titled ‘Beyond All Boundaries’ directed by Sushrut Jain will have its Indian premiere at the Mumbai Film Festival this year. The film is produced by Kunal Nayyar (of Big Bang Theory fame) who also helped Sushrut raise funds for the project.

TRAILER

OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS
This 98 minute documentary tells three true life stories of cricket lovers and fanatics who gave up everything to pursue their passion. Woven through the tale of India’s progress in the 2011 World Cup are three separate story arcs that speak of the roles cricket can play in the lives of ordinary Indians, for whom the game becomes a source of aspiration, desperation and devotion.
BABPosterFinalsmallDETAILS
Beyond All Boundaries takes a look at the life of three people
1. Sudhir Kumar Gautam, the well known Indian cricket fan who loves his team, his stars, and at the heart of it, eventually the game.  He is India’s most recognizable fan who turns up at matches, his torso and face painted in the colours of the Indian flag, and “Tendulkar” and the number 10 on his back.
2. Prithvi Shaw, a 12-year-old batting prodigy from one of Mumbai’s distant suburbs, whose life and career are driven by the prototype sporting parent – a single father obsessed with turning his son into a professional cricketer.
3.  Akshaya Surve, an 18-year-old girl trying out for the Mumbai Under-19 team. Cricket is the centre of her existence and a potential exit for her and her mother, trapped in a single room in one of Mumbai’s many narrow bylanes.
– To know more about the film, click here for its website

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Black was heavily inspired from The Miracle Worker. Some scenes were exactly the same, just with some more background music added to it. And now, it seems Karma’s cycle is complete as someone has made it in Turkish (Titled Benim Dünyam, which means My World). Interestingly, the lead actor of the film, Ugur Yucel, is also the director.

We are not sure if it’s official remake or just plagiarised. But from the trailer it’s easy to spot that it’s a frame by frame copy of Black. Though whatever little we could gather with the help of Google Translator, many Turkish articles do mention the film Black. So it might be official remake. Have a look.

Phoring2

In the last few years, Bengali cinema has been trying and delivering some really out of the box gems. Films which don’t follow the conventional rules. If you follow the blog regularly, we try to put the spotlight on those films whenever we can.

A new film titled “Phoring” caught our attention. Have a look at its trailer. It has English subs.

Though the topic is not new but the setting and the detailing makes it really look good. Have never heard this description of Coca Cola. The film is directed by Indranil Roychowdhury and is releasing on September 27, 2013.

It was also in NFDC’s Film-In-Progress Lab and had won The Prasad Lab Award for DI and Colour correction.

Official Synopsis

Phoring is a story of adolescence that most adults deny they ever had. In fact, we all prefer to believe that we jumped straight from the flowery innocence of childhood to the informed maturity of adulthood. The mid-greys of awkwardness, lack of direction, gawkiness, lack of identity are the themes that we prefer not to associate with ourselves. Phoring is a sweet reminder of a film in that sense. It’s a children’s story for adults.

– To know more about the film, you can follow its FB page here. And can read a Business Standard piece on the film here.

(PS – Look at that gorgeous font/design)

 

“Tagore-on-an-acid-trip” – that’s how Qaushiq Mukherjee, or Q, as he is popularly known, has described his latest film, Tasher Desh. We discovered Q with his last film Gandu which still remains unreleased in India. And we have been following all his work since then – shorts, music, documentaries.

Here’s the director’s note on his new film which is set to release on 23rd August in Mumbai and Kolkata. It’s based on one of the popular musical dramas of Rabindranath Tagore.

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(Click on any pic to enlarge and watch the slide show)

Since I was five, Tasher Desh has been on my mind. It’s that fantasy that I always knew I wanted to touch. That elusive texture of human existence, devoid of transient truth. Reality is indeed transient; shifting all the time yet every civilization holds on to its truth till whatever time they can, always leading to antagonism and discontent. The cycle of time makes sure that periods of extreme confusion and chaos happen to alter realities, and we are at the thresholds of such a time.

Tagore wrote Tasher Desh as a mythical utopian expression against the backdrop of a violent turbulence. India was in the process of forming an individual and collective identity. Shaking off a history of oppression and forging a modern society. Tagore saw it as an opportunity perhaps, to tell a story removed so far from reality that it forced the listener to be objective. Modern society is marked by one overwhelming human condition. Of melancholia or depression. Slowly becoming one of the most important issues of our daily reality.

Depression is a symptom of a gloom caused by social system and its invariable ability to isolate individuals.

The film is not about the narrative of the fairy tale. It is but a reflection of how I see the world right now. As it was then, when the piece was written, the world is in a flux. India is changing radically, along with the politics of the world, and these changes are essentially driven by system driven violence. My storyteller, therefore, is a lost soul. Unable to deal with the cacophony of his circumstances, he dives into the fable, as if to save himself. The characters of the fairy tale are all extensions of the storyteller, and the story itself has a life of its own. Every story is the same. And it is always the telling that shifts the paradigms.

In the film, it’s his story that helps the storyteller overcome his ennui and to take a decision that would change his life.

The prince is depressed, because the storyteller is. A deep isolation caused by the sense of loss, of one’s self. Stagnant and paranoid. Stuck in a space and time that is almost a cocoon, with the appearance of a prison. While the storyteller is confined within the two parallel railway tracks, the prince is in his palace, a hopeless fortress, as it seems to him.

Tasher Desh is also about belief and magic. The oracle, the fairy watching over our prince, is needed because impetus is external. This is what connects us to the world outside our mind. Instead of drawing inspiration from the mundane reality, the storyteller as the concerned friend of his protagonist invokes the fairy. The prince’s transformation is immediate. Touched by the power of illusion, he suddenly begins to realize that his emancipation is in movement. He needs to go away. One of the most important things holding him back was his broken mother. He comes out to his mother, and then dives into his fantasy. The storyteller also jumps the wall of his reality.

It could be argued that social governance and its monotheistic, patriarchal nature cause collective depression. Tagore’s utopia is bizarre, with masked beings, strange rules and social paranoia of change. The cards in the film seem to have lost all human tendencies.

When the prince and the friend meet them. But the prince, newly liberated, is impatient to try out the power he has been given. A demi god now, devoid of intrinsic human folly, he delivers the message to the ace of hearts.

The storyteller travels the path he has often traveled in his fantasy, and when he arrives at the palace of his dreams, he finds her. The ace of hearts, a widow living in the shadows of a ruined structure. Mystical, magical, she is the one he was waiting for. Suddenly he has someone to tell the story to. Get it out of his soul. The widow and the ace of hearts merge in his story, and a revolution begins.

Tasher Desh symbolizes the triumph of a pagan form of ritualistic cleansing through love and identification of the self, in a postmodern society. it’s a vision of the man cleansed pure by the woman, and the seed of identity being sexual in nature. The ace of hearts takes away the storyteller’s attention, at the same time making his story more palpable, more intense, and more romantic. The film turns a sharp corner therefore, and begins to intensify on finding that one point, the spark. It’s a feminine revolt that the story narrates now, no longer a tale of male neurosis. A non-­‐violent revolution fuelled by love. In utopia. Tagore was a pure romantic, and i have tried to place his sensibilities in the confusion of our time. a violent world without any screen violence. A fairy tale without any fabrication and frills. I have tried to find the unreal right beside me. All the art properties in the film were objects we can find easily. The locations were live. The look, inspired heavily by Japanese forms, from kabuki to manga, had to be basic. There are no visual effects used, apart from layering two or three visuals together, to find an image that allows all the realities to exist together, form a relationship. And a video game reference that was done with video moshing, a very low fi technique. The idea was minimalist. Within that apparent reality, we would try to find the sublime. The magical.

The film is a musical. Following an ancient oral form, we have retained the songs as they were, written eighty years back. Associating with some of the finest musicians across the world, I have tried to place the sound of Tagore’s time with the current ones. The words of the songs, so eloquent, emerging from a romantic poet of the highest standard, are actually lines for the characters that sing them. With the use of music, the reality is broken time and again, but every song contains a message so intrinsic to the character, one can lose one’s self in them. Sound and colour play crucial roles in the film, creating the environment and the tension of the spaces explored.

Tasher Desh is an experiment in form and structure, using one of the most popular scripts of India’s recent history. I wanted to remain as faithful to the original idea as I could, and then use my treatment to bring the seed of the story out of its stagnancy, caused by the sterility of my culture. It is a story about revolution after all, and magic, and I strongly believe in both.

Q

What’s Tagore’s Tasher Desh is all about

A king banishes the older queen and his son to a palace where they lead a life of luxury and decadence. An oracle whispers the secret words to the prince and he leaves the palace with his friend, the merchant’s son. Their boat sinks and they arrive at the land of cards where the inhabitant cards are governed by a military regime. The prince and his friend get caught and bring about a change in the women cards with music and prophecies of love. The woman cards revolt. The king surrenders and the prince finds the meaning of life.

What’s Q’s Tasher Desh is all about 

Once upon a time, there was a storyteller. In a lonely railway station, somewhere in Kolkata, he spoke to trains. He wanted to tell a story. It was not a new story. But for him, it was the only story to tell. Inside the darkness of his mind, his story unfolds, a kaleidoscope of fantasy.

Once upon a time, there was a prince. a victim of his destiny, he was banished with his mother to a dark and distant prison palace. Here he grows up, without hope, without a future, with his mother drowning herself in alcohol. His depression countered only by his friend, the merchant’s son, who argues that it was indeed the prince’s choice to remain locked in. realizing the extent of his despair, the friend invokes the oracle. A mysterious figure, the oracle passes on a message of liberation. The prince realizes that he is indeed a prisoner of his mind. He takes a decision, to leave. He has a final moment with his mother, who lets him go. The prince takes hold of his destiny, and sets off on a voyage with his friend, searching for an adventure.

The storyteller begins his journey as well, leaving the city, and traveling to a ruined palace, which is where we had found the prince. Here, he encounters a strange woman, a widow, living alone, as if waiting for him to turn up. He is mesmerized by her, and soon, begins to tell her the story. She is his muse, the one who he was waiting for. Finally having found the listener, the storyteller launches into an even more intense narrative.

Shipwrecked on a paradise island, the prince and the friend encounter a strange culture. The islanders are all soldiers, who call themselves the cards, and live by a code of rules that outlaws any human behavior. Before they know it, an aggressive party of the islanders, holds the visitors captive. Presented at court, and having angered the cards by defying their court customs, they are pronounced guilty, and banished. But before he leaves, the prince asks for a last word, and takes the opportunity to whisper the same message of liberation he received from his guardian angel to a few of the card women. The result is chaos. The women are completely shaken, and soon the land of cards sees dissent for the first time.

– For more info on the film and release schedule, click here for its FB page.

The Act of Killing

This was long before Tehelka had done any expose. I think the year was 2006. A junior from college had gone on to become a yogi of sorts – a spiritual guru who over the next few years would gather a bunch of powerful politicos as his disciples and put an Orkut profile photo showing Narendra Modi reading Time Magazine with him, in his Yogi costume, on the cover.

I had shifted to Bombay to become a writer and his phone call started with respect for this ‘brave’ decision of mine. Over the next few phone calls during the week he told me about his vision for India and his love for cows, both quite reasonable, and I listened out of curiosity and courtesy. Then, after his self-praise ran dry after multiple ejaculations over 4-5 days, he came to the asli mudda.  He wanted me to head the national cultural wing of some organization/movement he was launching soon, in association with Bajrang Dal or VHP (my memory fails). I asked him what are his views on allegations on these organizations being responsible for Gujarat riots, and pat came his monologue which came back to me right after I started watching Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing.

He said of course it’s a matter of pride and an act whose time had come. It’s a happy situation that we still have youth who can put their lives on line for their nation. He said he is in fact sitting with two bhai jis who murdered a few people, including a pregnant lady and her child, with their own hands. Sensing my shock he said he and bhai jis can explain everything if I meet them in person just once. And then he handed the phone to one bhai ji when I cut the call in horror. College junior/Yogi called back saying he can understand the fear of rationals over such acts but he is sure that once I know the full story, I will not just accept but hug and applaud these people who murdered muslim women and children on the streets. A more heroic me would have gone to the cops or some TV channel, but I just cut the phone and never took his call again. (He called a number of times over the next month or so.)

This nonchalance puzzled me, kept me awake for many days. I rationalized that he might have been bluffing only, or trying to test me on something. It was too difficult to believe that people could boast about their crimes so easily, that too to almost strangers.

While watching The Act of Killing, in which gangsters hired by Indonesian military regime to kill more than 15 Lakh alleged ‘communists’ in the country revisit their acts with pride and glossy rationalization, I kept swinging between the two extreme emotions. One was the feeling of shock at this bizarre scenario – gangsters were told to re-enact the murders in whatever cinematic genre they want to and they obliged by enthusiastically recounting the methods, madness (sitting on a table placed on victim’s neck and jumping while singing), and ‘reasons’ (“God hates communists”) behind via many genres including musical, war film, crime drama, and comedy. The other was the feeling of familiarity – the feeling of having lived among such people, known them (and we all have known them in India who say ‘Sahi kiya Modi ne!’), and hence feeling no shock at this kind of behavior. It was like looking into the future if we have a Hindu-Military regime someday. The same guys I spoke to on the phone might be calling me   again to write songs for the film they would be making to celebrate their own acts of 2002.

So yes, there was a third feeling too. Feeling of ‘Is it okay if I laugh at this scenario?’ Very few films can put you in that space, that uncomfortable space between humaneness and detachment. I did laugh in a few scenes, in spite of being brain-shocked by it.  It was farce performing cunnilingus on reality.

The story unfolds through Anwar Congo and his sidekick Herman Koto. Anwar was a gangster (he says gangster means a ‘free man’) in 1965 and killed more than 1000 people in his ‘office’ by his own admission. He loved watching movies, looked like Sidney Potier, and ran the ticket business of cinema halls, and hence appears most earnest about this project presented to him by Oppenheimer. His sidekick, a present day gangster, clearly has acting ambitions as he puts his soul and direction skills in this fractured, b-grade production they are making. The film keeps switching between extremely violent and surreal recreations of 1965 killings, present day life of these gangsters (sometimes watching and critiquing their day’s work like big stars would), and moments of serene silence. And the silences are the most uncomfortable, as they should be.

Is there some moral redemption at the end of this “high-fever dream”? I don’t think there is much. Though director in an interview said of Anwar and his friends’ casual justifications for killing while recreating the scenes as their “desperate attempt to justify what they have done,” and thus, we see their ultimate humanity. If they have to cover it, they must know they have something to cover. In the recognition is the humanity. But redemption is not what the film seeks to achieve. Its attempt, in my opinion, is a much simpler one. It just wants to push these bad men into doing something decent (making cinema), and us into doing something bad (watching murder in a lighter vein, almost like they watched when they committed them). A two-way documentary, in a sense.

Not for the faint-hearted, but this is as explosive a mix of documentary, cinema, human condition, and horrors of prejudice as you will ever see. GUT-WRENCHING is an understatement.

– by Varun Grover

Bidesia In Bambai

“Bidesia in Bambai” is a story of music, migration and mobile phones. Ah, that sounds interesting – the title and its description. And what a gorgeous poster too. Not sure what exactly i was googling when i landed up on this blog. Just found out on Film Divison’s FB page that the first trailer of the film is out. Have a look.

For a better view, you can go directly to its vimeo page here.

Here’s more on the film (from the director’s blog) – Migration is the predominant theme in the music, and the phone is a recurring motif. Mobile phones are also used to circulate the music. And it’s the only way to stay connected to the mothers and wives back home in the village. This film follows two singers in Mumbai who occupy extreme ends of the migrant worker’s vibrant music scene, a taxi-driver chasing his first record deal and Kalpana, the star of the industry.

Film details – 86 minutes/2013/ Bhojpuri and Hindi/ with English subtitles/ INDIA

Screening – The film will have a screening in Mumbai on 20th July. You can follow the FD FB page for venue and other details. Hopefully they will update later on.

If you want to know more about the film, copy/pasting her latest post from the filmmaker’s blog

Bidesia is Bhojpuri for ‘the one who leaves home’. One in four migrants in Mumbai is Bhojpuria, a people from the north Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Bambai is their name for Mumbai/Bombay.

The bidesia in Bambai, like most recent migrants in this ‘global city’, inhabit the precarious edges of Mumbai. Along with his meagre belongings though, the impoverished migrant brings with him a vibrant musical culture.

Bhojpuri pop music is produced, circulated and performed in the crumbling sites that is home to the bidesia in the big city. Migration is the predominant theme in the music, and the mobile phone is a recurring motif in the songs. Frequently sexually charged, at times religious, often lyrical and occasionally political, the migrant is both the subject of, and the audience for this music. The musical landscape he inhabits mobilises notions of masculinity; gives form to his identity; makes tangible his desire for a place in the city; and evokes his longing for home.

This feature-length film attempts to make the migrant visible by celebrating the musical sphere that he inhabits, in a city that renders him illegal and unwanted.

– Click here to go to Surabhi Sharma’s blog.

Poster/Trailer courtsey – Surabhi’s blog.

I got to watch the film on Tuesday. This was amidst too much hype, too much expectation, pressure to like/dislike instantly, and too eager to react. By that time reactions from the film fraternity had already started pouring in. And as a member of the crew told me during the screening, honestly, it’s impossible to make out anything from the pre-release screenings. Also, if one has read the script, one might be reacting differently from others.

In terms of reactions, Lootera has turned out to be strangely divisive films. The reaction of critics and audience going in extreme directions is quite obvious for most films these days. But here the critics rating varied from 2.5 to 5 stars. I can only think of Dev D which went further extreme and got ratings from 1 to 5 stars, and everything in between. But strangely, the audience reaction have also been extreme with Lootera. To give an example, as this twitter friend tweeted – “In our theater, about 15 ppl walked out. And about 15 broke into applause at the end. Strange. Didn’t think Lootera would be so polarizing.”

Anyway, after watching the film i told Motwane that i will mail my reaction, all in detail. Can’t react so quickly. And VM has responded to the criticism. Much thanks to him as most filmmakers in B-town run away as soon as their film releases. Also, thanks for agreeing to make the mail public.

Actually we wanted to do a post-release Q and A with him and his DoP Mahendra Shetty. But as the joke goes, Sonakshi is spreading her Lootera disease quite fast. So me and few others have been coughing like her since the film released, and hopefully these few answers are better than having absolutely nothing else.

Lootera

What worked for me

– as i told you i loved the second half. I loved the way it’s shot, so dark ( i hope it’s visible in theatres with bad projection. i remember problems with Kaminey, Gangster), the mood it creates and almost meditative in its space and silence. it’s GORGEOUS!

– as expected from you, it’s very well directed. well mounted, well captured.

– acting across the board is good, from leads to small roles.
– the pace is slow or leisurely which goes well with the mood and setting. good you didn’t hurry anywhere – consistent through out.

– the romantic village portions with so much brightness was looking tacky to me in the trailers. Thankfully it doesn’t feel so in the film. Right rustic touch with a FabIndia colour palette , if i can say so 🙂

– BEST part – you didn’t hit the excess notes for melodrama, perfect balance, didn’t even try to cash in on deaths on screen. That’s GREAT!
i was actually waiting to see if you will go Bhansali way with the father and friend’s death 😉 but you didn’t even go close there. Smart! and smartly handled.

what didnt work for me (and VM’s reply below each point)

– i think people will love the 1st half more but i didn’t feel that romance or passion in the first half. i am not sure why. or was it the heavy  background that you were using to make the point which was distracting me.

VM : It’s the same issue I have with the script in it’s current form. Though when I tried to think back to my original intention when writing the screenplay, it was pretty intentional to make it a love story that wasn’t quite a love story. It’s wasn’t supposed to be the achy type of love story and wasn’t supposed to become that way at all, even towards the end. I always wanted a lightness to the film throughout. So can’t say whether this is better or that. It is a flawed screenplay. Willing to live with that.

– actually the sound design at two places in 1st half was very odd, i felt. when the father starts narrating the story to Sonakshi in the beginning, the music suddenly fades in and goes so high. It was very out of place. i know you might be trying to make the easy connect with the sound so that it can be used in 2nd half with Sonakshi and tree. But it was too loud and so suddenly.

VM : The intention wasn’t to connect the music with the second half. It was a background piece. Maybe it was too loud. Didn’t seem that way when mixing it.

– similarly the use of that old hindi song that goes through all the montage when they are at the site and many such odd things, as in not romantic stuff but the song goes on, and just stops with the news of zamindari over. again very out of place.

VM : It stops with the zamindari news because that’s where the plot changes a little bit. And it feels loud because it’s mono and it cuts through the rest of the dialogue. Something we discovered too late and only at the final mix stage. No matter how soft we had it, it cut through,

– why so much grainy footage in 2nd half?

VM : Aesthetic call that me and (Mahendra) Shetty took. We both like grain and purposely went for a high grain stock. Wanted to give an aged, period feel without making it glossy or sepia tinted. In fact, there is more grain in the injection scene in the first half, which is just an under-lit scene. Mistake on our end.

–  And this might be nitpicking – when he climbs the tree, and the climax sequence – when he is walking, she is coming out of the house – at few places one can see the (VFX) jugaad – foreground and background not in sync especially when Ranveer is walking towards the police, the light, the things you have cheated – i mean it’s nice but not pitch perfect. similarly with snow and when he falls from the tree, you can make out it’s fluff. maybe if you are watching minutely then only.

VM : If you’ve seen the making video, you know what we had to go back to shoot snow sequences in summer with fake snow. Which means VFX work. Work that we have shot on grainy film, without green screen, with handheld camera. It’s the worst kind of situation for a VFX team and under the circumstances, they did an amazing job. The whole tree climbing and shoot out is VFX created. There are shots and mattes and snowflakes that make me cringe every time I see them but it’s just something we have to live with. Will do better next time.

– Basically, overall another good film. But you are so strong at filmmaking aspect, the craft, why tell a bollywood story. I hope you go beyond it now that you have done your conventional part. a more non-conventional/interesting/out of box idea/tale to match up to the talent of your craft.

VM : So the indie world thinks i’m telling a bollywood story. And the bollywood world thinks i’m too indie. You think this is conventional, they think this is too out of the box. So I can’t win…

Fact is, I went to tell a story that I believed in, warts and all. I can make all the excuses in the world about not having enough time to fix the script before shooting because we only had two months of pre-production blah blah but it’s pointless. This is the film I chose to make and I stand by it. Nobody knows and feels and understands the flaws of the film better than I do but that’s a discussion for another day.

I don’t want to get stuck making 4 crore films for the rest of my life because that’s what happens in this industry. It gets very easy for them to slot you into a ‘type’ of filmmaker. For better or for worse, this film was my attempt to break out of that.

– Posted by @CilemaSnob

(Pic courtesy – Lootera FB page)