Sapna Moti Bhavnani
India. 60 min. 2019
‘Who am I?’ and ‘Where do I come from?’ are questions that most of us inevitably ask ourselves at some point in our lives. Some of us learn about our roots by talking to our relatives, some of us read about history, some go on solo trips to better understand themselves. Sapna Bhavnani decided to make a documentary, and to represent her identity on her skin — through tattoos.
Bhavnani is a Bandra resident who has also spent a considerable part of her life in the US, but she traces her roots back to Sindh. Growing up, Sindhi culture for her was kadhi, and a mention in the national anthem. What puzzled her was that despite having a place in the anthem, this region wasn’t represented in the geography of the country. “We Sindhis are like magic, hum hai bhi, hum nahi bhi hai!”
SAPNA MOTI BHAVNANI
India. 137 min. 2013
Anwar is a private detective working for a seedy agency specializing in hunting down cheating spouses and vetting potential mates for middle and upper class families. It’s his job to keep an eye on the prospective fiance(e)s and let the parents know if this is a suitably virginal match (most often it isn’t, this is 2014 after all). However, Anwar has a problem, it is the big beating heart in his chest that can’t quite seem to disconnect from his job when he’s undercover. He instinctively wants to protect true love from the harassment of arranged marriage, and it’s not good for business. As he finds himself falling deeper and deeper into cases, he ends up finding out that (surprise!) the intentions of his clients are less than noble and winds up on a journey to hunt down his own past and discover just how good a man he can be.
Director Buddhadeb Dasgupta is a multiple National Award winning Begali director with a CV going back nearly four decades, but this is the first of his films that I’ve seen. If this is the sort of work I’ve been missing, it’s definitely time to catch up. The combination of a filmmaker with such deep emotional bonds with his characters and India’s greatest character actor turned leading man in Nawazuddin Siddiqui is impossible to ignore, and the results are staggeringly heartfelt. Dasgupta treats his world with care, weaving himself in and out of his characters lives, delicately laying strands between them that will tie themselves into seemingly impossible knots that can only be undone with kindness, it is inspiring stuff.
India. 82 min. 2018
Bachchu Mondal is a car mechanic, but most importantly, he is a dreamer. His dream is a simple one, he just wants to fly, an aspiration he shares with his wife, but mostly his son, who actually enjoys his father’s attitude, since Bachchu behaves like a child (in a good way) quite frequently. Eventually, Banchu discovers the crash site of a World War II Japanese plane and decides to rebuild it, without, though, having any clue on how to accomplish that. Furthermore, the place the plane is lying is “inhabited” by ghosts, who have the tendency to share their life stories with our protagonist. While his wish brings him to Kolkata in search of parts, the authorities also begin to investigate him as a life threatening series of bizarre events conspire.
It’s certainly a far cry from the barbarism and stark violence of Dasgupta’s well-known The Wrestlers (Uttara), which won him best director kudos in Venice in 2000. Here, the violence lies within the hearts of people who can’t say no to their futile, dangerous desires, even though they are destroying their happiness. The Indians have been preaching the folly of being attached to worldly things for thousands of years, but evidently the lesson has not yet sunk in.
India. 87 min. 2016
Deep in the wilds of rural Bengal, eccentric faded aristocrat Raja is living in palatial splendor with his voluptuous mistress Rekha. But their relationship is clearly doomed. While he dances to crackly old songs played on a vintage vinyl turntable, she dreams of swimming off to faraway lands with mysterious strangers. Both appear stranded in antique fantasy versions of India, so it comes as a mild shock when a modern film crew arrive from Kolkata with their laptops and digital cameras, enlisting Raja to help them track down a tiger for a documentary project.
Meanwhile, not far away, former postman Goja has seemingly lost his mind and reinvented himself as a tree-dwelling soothsayer, gleaning sufficient clues from stolen mail to offer plausible-sounding prophecies to his gullible customers. And Munni is a pre-teen nomad girl who earns a meager living for her impoverished lower-caste parents with her dazzling public displays of tightrope walking. All these narrative threads initially unfold separately, then cross and intertwine.
The Bait is based on a macabre short story by Narayan Bandyopadhyay, which Dasgupta first earmarked for adaptation over a decade ago, but which initially proved too blunt and spare for his maximalist magic-realist style. The film retains Bandyopadhyay’s shock final twist, which crystallizes one of many possible meanings of the title, but also fleshes out his blueprint text with extra characters and subplots.
READ INTERVIEW TO BUDDHADEB DASGUPTA
We, the people
India. 28 min. 2018
“We, The People” explores dissent in India through protests on Jantar Mantar Road, a mile-long protest street in India’s national capital Delhi. Through three indefinite protests at Jantar Mantar Road, the film questions the socio-political reality of India vis a vis the ideals the nation set out with.
Samarth Mahajan is a self-taught filmmaker passionate about telling stories from India that remain invisible to the mainstream. His documentaries have received critical and mass attention in media. “The Unreserved”, his national award-winning debut documentary, premiered at Film Southasia 2017 and has been screened in more than 50 national and international forums. “We, The People”, his documentary about India’s protest street Jantar Mantar Road, won multiple awards at Docedge Kolkata – Asian Forum for Documentary. He is currently directing “The Borderlands”, a documentary capturing human stories from India’s borders. Samarth completed his education from IIT Kharagpur and Young India Fellowship.
Samarth Mahajan : email@example.com
Mrinal Sen, an Era in Cinema
India. 35 min. 2017
A biographical documentary that tries to decode the layers of political ideology, which have been the cornerstone of auteur Mrinal Sen’s cinematic expression. Inspired by Satyajit Ray and Italian neorealismo, Sen, a forerunner of the Indian New-Wave used a range of aesthetic styles to explore the socio-political climate of his times.
Rajdeep Paul is an independent filmmaker and writer, an alumnus of Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI), India and recipient of the National Film Award from the Honourable President of India for the feature length documentary film “At the Crossroads Nondon Bagchi Life and Living” at the 61st National Film Awards 2013.
He has written and directed several documentary films, short fiction films, PSA, Animation and New Media films etc and has worked with both international and national producers of repute like PBS & ShowOfForce, USA, Native Voices, UK, Films Division, Doordarshan, Prasar Bharti & Public Diplomacy Division, Ministry of External Affairs, Aurora Film Corporation, Krish Movies etc from India. His debut feature film script “The Biryani Seller” has undergone mentorship in the first edition of Mumbai Mantra Cinerise Screenwriting Programme 2014-15 from the likes of Michael Radford, Audrey Wells, Sebastian Cordero, Sriram Raghavan and Anjum Rajabali, and was one of the 18 official selections in NFDC Film Bazaar Co-Production Market 2016. In most of his works he has collaborated with Sarmistha Maiti as co-writer and co-director.
Apart from his film career, he has written two books “3 on a Bed – Contemporary Indian Novellas” and “Davyaprithvi – Heaven on Earth” both published in 2013.
PSBT : firstname.lastname@example.org
Tales from our Childhood
India. 69 min. 2018
What was it like to grow up in Assam in the 1990s and be squeezed between an insurgency and the Army? Mukul Haloi’s Tales from our childhood sets out to find out.
Made between 2016 and 2017, the documentary comprises shards of real and imagined memories of the battle between United Liberation Front of Assam militants and the Indian Army for the state’s soul. Apart from interviews with Haloi’s family members and friends, the 69-minute film includes staged sequences in which the director’s friend wears an ULFA uniform and poses as a rebel soldier.
Mukul Haloi : email@example.com
Sri Lanka. 85 min. 2018
Paangshu revolves around Babanorna (Nita Fernando), a launderer belonged to one of the lowest castes in Sri Lanka. Babanorna is summoned to an identification parade where she identifies Lionel as one of the paramilitary men who abducted her son during the 1988/89 insurgency. While Indika (Jagath Manuwarna), the young public prosecutor shows little or no interest in helping Babanorna finding her missing son, Namalee (Nadie kammallaweera), the pregnant wife of the paramilitary man seeks forgiveness from the launderer. As the prolonging hearings in the dilapidated courthouse continues for months, shameful secrets are gradually unearthed by the defeated rebels, victorious soldiers and those who were crushed in between.
Visakesa Chandrasekaram : firstname.lastname@example.org
Side A Side B
India. 115 min. 2018
A comedy about Kashmir? Probably not. Well, not at all. The latest film by director and co-writer Rahat Kazmi is a delightful, charming and poignant drama about growing up in a conflict zone. Between the bombs and the bullets, a group of college friends are trying to get the most out of their lives but they need their downtime… like anyone in that situation. Focusing on an intrepid group of four friends (following the style of “Inbetweeners”), are bond by the love of cinema, they get together to buy VHS Bollywood movies but when the prohibition of TV and movies appears (as happened in 1994), the four friends are not to be defeated. What happens then is fun, totally believable and very entertaining. It ends perhaps on a more tense posture. But as Kazmi said at Mantostaan’s presentation at last year’s festival, “it’s a beautiful place with intelligent, cultured and educated people. They deserve the best. And this movie is a love letter for the people of Kashmir, and one that will touch a lot of people”.
Rahat Kazmi is an internationally acclaimed director known for his hard hiting films like Mantostaan and Identity Card. Rahat has won many international awards for his film including Best Director at London Asian Film Festival 2017 for Mantostaan, Best Director and Best film at San Francisco Global Movie Festival 2014 and also Rahat’s feature Identity Card’s scenes were shown at Europian Parliament as a reference for debate on Kashmir conflict.
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The indian director Buddhadeb Dasgupta will recieve the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 18th edition of Imagineindia International Film Festival Madrid.
Here is an interview to the director by the critic and writer Amitava Nag for The Hindu :
I need my solitude. I need to be with myself: filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta
Buddhadeb Dasgupta, who will complete four decades in filmmaking, chooses to stay outside the mainstream.
Continue reading Interview to Buddhadeb Dasgupta (Amitava Nag)