Indian Independent Films Wed, 16 Apr 2014 11:46:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Independent films sweep 61st National Awards Wed, 16 Apr 2014 11:19:43 +0000 national awards

Independent films swept the 61st National Film awards in all the major categories. Anand Gandhi’s Ship of Theseus was named the Best Feature Film, while Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox remained conspicuous by its absence in the list of awards.

The award for Best Director went to Hansal Mehta for Shahid. Shahid also won Rajkummar Rao the award for Best Actor which he shares with Suraj Venjaramoodu for Malayalam-film Perariyathavar.

The National Award for Best Actress went to Geetanjali Thapa for Liar’s Dice. The film also won the Best Cinematography award for Rajeev Ravi.

Fandry won the award for Best Debut Film of a Director.  The award for Best Child Actor went to Somnath Avghade for Fandry which he shares with Sadhana for Tamil film Thanga Meengal.

The National award for Best Production Design went to Ashim Ahluwalia, Tabsheer Zutshi and Parichit Paralkar for Miss Lovely. The film also won the Special Jury award.

Best Children’s Film went to Batul Mukhtiyar’s Kaphal.

In the non-feature category, Kamal Swaroop’s Rangbhoomi won the Best Film. Shubhashish Bhutiani’s Kush won the award for Best Promotional film.

Nishtha Jain’s Gulabi Gang took home the awards for Best Film on Social Issues as well as Best Editing. Best Investigative Film went to Deepti Kakkar and Fahad Mustafa’s Powerless (Katiyabaaz).

Chidiya Udh by Pranjal Dua won the award for Best Direction.

Complete list of winners:


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Producer Guneet Monga’s 10 tips for indie filmmakers Tue, 15 Apr 2014 05:57:32 +0000 DearCinema organized an interactive session with leading independent producer Guneet Monga on “From the Producer’s Perspective” on April 12 in Mumbai.

For those who couldn’t attend the session, here are 10 takeaways from it:

Producer Guneet Monga at DearCinema Session in Mumbai held on April 12

Producer Guneet Monga at DearCinema Session in Mumbai held on April 12



The best way to approach a producer is through references. For me, one should reach out through one of the filmmakers I work with. Producing a film is about building a personal equation over time so that you trust each other to take the project further. More than the script, it’s the people behind it. What is their voice? What is their individuality? It’s very difficult to understand that in one meeting unless it comes through a proper channel. A producer is so overwhelmed with content that it’s always better to reach out through a reference.


Platforms like NFDC Film Bazaar and Screenwriters’ Lab are very useful for networking. People actually let their guard down there. At Mumbai Film Festival and Film Bazaar in Goa, you have captive buyers and mentors who are willing to talk to you. Each one of those people knows at least ten other great people. That’s how you build your network. That one ticket to a film festival is worth investing in.


When you are going to a film festival/market, do your research well in advance. Who are the people attending the market? Who are the people you want to meet? Study the catalogues. You don’t get these opportunities again and again, so it’s about how prepared you are. Be smart in booking your meetings a month in advance.


As a producer, you should start with a project that you can wake up every day feeling passionate about.  It’s important to find that project and that collaborator you want to work with. Once you have a clear vision, then there’s no stopping you. You will get the film made somehow, you will get it released and you will become a producer. Producing is no rocket science; it’s just the will of doing something.


When I approached the studios for releasing The Lunchbox in India, I was told that it’s very arthouse: The people who go into cinemas are 15-21 years old. This film’s target audience is 35+. That audience comes only in week 3 and this film will not last till week 3 for the audience to come. That audience only spends their 300 rupees on two films in a year. Even the P&A budget of The Lunchbox will not be recouped. It’s amazing how they tell you the demographics. There is no credit given to the content of the film; that let’s release a film because it is good and it will work.


What I have learnt from the experience of The Lunchbox is that there is a way US works and there is a way Europe works. I won’t mix US and Europe on one project in the future. If you have a choice, you should go with lesser partners in a film.


As Indians we don’t carry a great reputation of being transparent. It’s very important to be transparent in your dealings because you are representing other Indian producers and a lot depends on you whether that international producer will work with India again or not.


Self- distribution of independent films is a trend that’s going to mature in India in a couple of years. You can use the digital domain in favour of distribution of experimental content.


Producers can approach us (Sikhya Entertainment) with their films. If we like them, we will represent them internationally for festivals and sales like we have done recently with Kanu Behl’s Titli and Nagraj Manjule’s Fandry.


The best workshops for producers are: Producers Network, Cannes and Independent Producers Network ‘s (IFP) Independent Film Week.


If you would like to attend DearCinema sessions in future please fill up this form to receive notifications.

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“The World Before Her” raises INR 31 lakhs through crowdfunding Mon, 14 Apr 2014 07:19:55 +0000 the world before herThe Kickstarter campaign for Nisha Pahuja’s award-winning documentary, The World Before Her, ended successfully on Sunday, surpassing its goal of 50,000 Canadian dollars.  The documentary raised a total of 57,290 Canadian dollars (approx. INR 31 lakhs) with the support of 382 backers from all over the world.

The money will be used for the India campaign to screen the film across the country and raise awareness on women’s rights issues. Being presented by Anurag Kashyap, the film will be screened in schools, universities, villages, NGOs and online.

Pahuja said, “I am thrilled that we reached our target.  Only 44% of Kickstarter projects are successful and most of those are under the 10k level. Our success is a testament to people’s belief in what we are doing and a desire to stand up for women’s rights.”

“What was fascinating about our campaign is that a lot of support for our page came from India and people sharing it through their Facebook and Twitter networks. But most of our funding came from abroad which often meant that I was up all hours of the night engaging with people. Crowd funding hasn’t caught on here yet as it has in North America,” she added.

Set between the fascinating worlds of a Durga Vahini training camp and the Miss India Pageant, The World Before Her has been screened at more than 125 film festivals across the world and has won over 19 awards including best documentary feature at Tribeca Film Festival 2012 and best Canadian Feature at Hot Docs Film Festival 2012.

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Fandry, Powerless win top prizes at IFFLA 2014 Mon, 14 Apr 2014 05:13:42 +0000 A still from Alchemy

A still from Alchemy

Nagraj Manjule’s  critically acclaimed film Fandry won the Jury Grand Prize for narrative feature film at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) 2014.

“It is an award for me that I am here in LA, in the USA,” Manjule said in his acceptance speech.

Siddharth by Richie Mehta won the audience choice award in narrative feature category.

In the documentary category, Powerless (Katiyabaaz) by Deepti Kakkar and Fahad Mustafa won the Jury award and Pan Nalin’s Faith Connections won the Audience Choice award.

Alchemy, directed by Pranay Patwardhan, Shivangi Ranawat and Janmeet Singh, won the Jury Prize in the short film category while Kush by Shubhashish Bhutiani won the Audience Choice award.

The 12th Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles was held from April 8-13, 2014.

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Gulzar to be conferred Dadasaheb Phalke Award 2013 Sun, 13 Apr 2014 06:12:05 +0000 gulzar

Veteran film lyricist, director, screenwriter, producer and poet Gulzar has been conferred the 45th Dadasaheb Phalke Award for the year 2013.

The award is conferred by the Government of India for outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian Cinema. It consists of a Swarn Kamal (Golden Lotus), a cash prize of Rs.10 lakhs and a shawl. The award was decided on the recommendations of a seven-member jury set up by the Government for this purpose.

Born in 1934 in Punjab in pre-independence India, Gulzar started his career in 1956. As a lyricist, he got his first break in Bimal Roy’s Bandini. He has worked with leading music directors including Sachin Dev Burman, Salil Chowdhury, Shankar Jaikishan, Hemant Kumar, Laxmikant-Pyarelal and Madan Mohan. He has had outstanding partnerships with Rahul Dev Burman, A. R. Rahman and Vishal Bhardwaj.

Films directed by Gulzar include Mere Apne, Koshish, Aandhi, Kinara, Khushboo, Angoor, Libaas, Meera, Lekin and Maachis. He is also credited for creating outstanding television series like Mirza Ghalib and Tahreer Munshi Premchand ki.

Gulzar was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2002, and the Padma Bhushan in 2004 . He has won a number of National Film Awards and 20 Filmfare Awards. At the 81st Oscars in 2009, he won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Jai Ho” (shared with A.R. Rahman), for the film Slumdog Millionaire. In 2010, the same song won him a Grammy Award in the category of ‘Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media’. ]]> 0 New York Indian Film Festival unveils full line-up Fri, 11 Apr 2014 09:05:02 +0000 A still from Sulemani Keeda

A still from Sulemani Keeda

The 14th New York Indian Film Festival, to take place from 5-10 May, has unveiled its full line-up of films which comprises of a mix of 23 narrative features and 11 documentaries.

Anurag Kashyap’s Ugly is set to open the festival while Geethu Mohandas’ Liar’s Dice will be the centerpiece film. The festival will also present a retrospective of Gurinder Chaddha’s documentaries and will close with Aparna Sen’s Goynar Baksho.

Karan Bali’s 80 minute documentary, An American in Madras, based on American-born filmmaker Ellis R. Dungan’s travails in the Tamil film industry will get a screening alongside the recently released Gulabi Gang by Nishtha Jain.

Nagraj Manjule’s Fandry, Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukthankar’s Astu and Gajendra Ahire’s Postcard are the three Marathi features which will  screen at the festival. Assamese feature As The River Flows (Ekhon Nodir Xipare), by Bidyut Kotoky, will also be screened.

Utpal Borpujari’s documentary on Naga folk music, Songs of the Blue Hills, will also screen at the festival. Sumanta Ghosal’s The Unseen Sequence, a documentary exploring the dance form of Bharatnatyam through the art of Malvika Sarukkai, will also get a screening. Neela Venkataraman’s Sound Check is another documentary on music that will play at the festival.

Nagesh Kukunoor’s Lakshmi, the winner of Toronto Reel Film Festival and Amit Masurkar’s Sulemani Keeda will be screened at the festival. Jaideep Varma will present his new documentary on Indian stand-up comedy, I Am Offended.

Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s Nawaazuddin starrer Anwar Ka Ajab Kissa and Kamal Swaroop’s documentary about Dada Saheb Phalke’s life in Varanasi, Rangbhoomi, will also play at the festival.

The festival is curated by Aseem Chabbra, a senior Indian journalist based in the US.

For more details on schedule, click here.

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Satyajit Ray’s Mahanagar to re-release on April 18 Fri, 11 Apr 2014 03:22:20 +0000 Madhabi Mukherjee in Mahanagar

Madhabi Mukherjee in Mahanagar

A digitally restored version of Satyajit Ray’s Bengali classic Mahanagar (The Big City) will be released on April 18, in select theatres in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Pune, under the PVR Director’s Rare banner.

The film, which was originally released in September 1963, will be re-released with English subtitles.

Mahanagar has been digitally restored by The RDB Organization headed by Kamal Bansal. The British Film Institute (BFI), had held screenings of the restored version in the United Kingdom last year to mark the 50th anniversary of the film.

Made in 1963, the timeless classic based on Narendranath Mitra’s short story ‘Abataranika’, stars Madhabi Mukherjee as Arati, a housewife who takes a job of a saleswoman and unsettles her family in the process.

Ray won the Silver Bear for Mahanagar at the 14th Berlin International Film Festival in 1964.

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Party Girl to open Un Certain Regard at Cannes Thu, 10 Apr 2014 15:14:49 +0000 A still from Party Girl

A still from Party Girl

Party Girl, a first film written and directed by Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis, has been chosen to open the Official Selection of Un Certain Regard at the 67th Cannes Film Festival.

Party Girl shows the life of Angélique, a 60 year-old night club hostess who still loves men and enjoys partying, but now as the senior member on staff, feels she has reached the end of the line. On an impulse, she agrees to marry her regular client, Michel. The film is a portrait of a free woman who has chosen to live on the margins of conventional society, and delves deep into a France that is often underrepresented. With total realism, the lead role is played by the real-life Angélique.

The three co-directors met at Fémis film school in Paris, where they studied screenwriting and editing and began their collaboration. They produced short films that amassed awards at several festivals: Forbach (Cinéfondation Second Prize, Festival de Cannes 2008 and Grand Prix at the 2009 Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival), C’est gratuit pour les filles (Semaine de la Critique 2009 – César Award for Best Short Film, 2010) and Demolition Party (2013).

Party Girl will be screened as the opening of Un Certain Regard on 15th May 2014. The full programme for Un Certain Regard will be announced, together with the full category of Official Selection, on Thursday 17th April in Paris.

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Five Days as a Writer: Reflections on Sundance Mumbai Mantra Screenwriters’ Lab Thu, 10 Apr 2014 06:29:42 +0000 Sundance Institute | Mumbai Mantra screenwriting fellows and mentors on an early morning hike by the shores of Lake Pavna"

Sundance Institute | Mumbai Mantra screenwriting fellows & mentors on an early morning hike by the shores of Lake Pavna
Photo credit: Dani Sanchez-Lopez | Bernat Camps for Mumbai Mantra

I had thought that writing a few paragraphs about my experiences at the Sundance Institute | Mumbai Mantra Screenwriting Lab would be pretty much a piece of cake, but as is so often the case, the task of distilling a flood of thoughts into a more or less concise and coherent narrative feels like an exercise in reduction.

I might begin by mentioning how I submitted my script mainly for the deadline, or more pertinently for the external discipline I hoped the deadline would impose upon me to finish a new draft.  That’s certainly not to suggest I didn’t care one way or the other whether I got selected… the lab frankly sounded a bit like paradise, and a couple of friends who had been part of previous editions attested to the accuracy of this impression.  Somehow, however, perhaps to inoculate myself against likely disappointment, I felt convinced that my project would be seen as rather odd and unusual, and probably too political in an Indian context to appeal to whoever was making the fateful decisions.  Also, I’ve not generally been the type to get selected for things, and thus rather tend toward plowing forward with ideas and seeing how they turn out, even in a vacuum of outside affirmation.

Everyone you meet who has experienced it personally will tell you that entering the Sundance fold is something akin to joining the Cosa Nostra.  Once they have chosen you, they never let you go.  You’re part of the family, the tribe.  From the first ‘get-to-know-you’ meeting we had on March 16thin Juhu for the eight screenwriting ‘fellows’, mentors and facilitators, I unmistakably felt that inimitable spirit of Sundance flooding back to me.  

The project I submitted, tagged with the working title “The Last Day of Winter”, is based on a story which came to me one ordinary afternoon quite a few years ago.  For want of a better appellation I often end up describing it as a political parable, based on the idea of extrapolating what kind of country, or world, we would be living in if all the petty corruptions and degradations we in India take upon ourselves on a daily basis were to be played out to their logical conclusions.  I had enlisted my friend Vikramaditya Motwane as co-writer and we hammered out a promising draft and a half.  Then we both got busy with other directing projects and ‘LDoW’ was put on the back burner.

Some years passed as I struggled with “Fire in the Blood”, an overly ambitious debut film if ever there was one.  In my suffering and perceived isolation I often wistfully cast my mind to Vinit, the young protagonist of my dormant script.  The actors I’d had in mind while writing had all begun to become too old for their parts. I felt like a neglectful, disorganised and uncommunicative parent, sidetracked by life’s quotidian labours and banalities, but still beguiled by the strange beauty and intelligence of his progeny.  How would I ever find a way back into Vinit’s favour?

Mercifully, “Fire in the Blood” was selected in competition for the Sundance Film Festival last year, and the two weeks I spent in Park City comprised the most exhilarating, affirmative and gratifying experience any filmmaker could ever reasonably hope for.  The kindness, generosity, wisdom and unaffected love of the art form I encountered there, surrounded by the breathtaking snow-capped peaks of Utah,far exceeded anything I have come across before or since.

The incredible care with which the Sundance selection was curated and the immense sense of responsibility the people organising the festival feel for promoting, incubating, encouraging and giving a platform to all that film at its best can be matched only by their enthusiasm for having filmmakers from all corners of the world there to celebrate what for almost everyone was the world premiere of their film after many months and years of extremely hard work.  More than anything else, I was deeply moved by the enormous importance they as a festival placed on putting us together with fellow filmmakers as much as they possibly could, consciously creating a tight network of exceptionally talented (barring the odd outlier like myself) people with truly unique voices.

Everyone you meet who has experienced it personally will tell you that entering the Sundance fold is something akin to joining the Cosa Nostra.  Once they have chosen you, they never let you go.  You’re part of the family, the tribe.  From the first ‘get-to-know-you’ meeting we had on March 16thin Juhu for the eight screenwriting ‘fellows’, mentors and facilitators, I unmistakably felt that inimitable spirit of Sundance flooding back to me.  I have been lucky enough to have had the chance to participate in many, many festivals, film events, conferences and markets in various parts of the world, but for me, Sundance is really just light years ahead of them all in terms of aspiration and sheer force of belief in the projects they select.

As my fellow-fellows began describing their projects, stories and journeys, I felt a strong sense yet again of the immense care and thought which went into bringing this specific group of people together.  Levels of experience varied widely, from an Oscar nominee to a woman who had nervously left her corporate career behind to pen her very first script. The projects presented a range of undeniably diverse flavours, but there was a harmony forming in the voices through which the careful, conscious calibration of this particular group could already be discerned, after just a few minutes of listening.

I had been surprised to be selected because I thought my script would be far different in sensibility to what was being sought, but as the other writers began to reflect on their ideas, I could clearly see that there was a distinct reason for me, and all the others, to be there… together.  During the course of the lab, once we had retreated to the idyllic, serene, perfectly-suited setting of Lake Pavna, Lonavla, we had an opportunity each day to watch and discuss previous works of both screenwriting fellows and mentors.  This added immeasurably to all of our individual and group discussions, both about process and the specifics of our individual scripts.

Each day I would have one or two one-on-one sessions with mentors to discuss my script.  These sessions ranged in length from two to four hours.  It was extremely humbling to realize how much thought and work the mentors had invariably put into understanding and getting to the heart of our scripts.  In my case, they all approached the project in decidedly different ways, from varying angles.  Each morning the mentors would get together and discuss all the projects among themselves, to make sure that each session built upon the last one and wasn’t simply a repetition of conversations. The idea was not for us to write, or rewrite, during the lab; but to explore and question all aspects of the concept, the conflicts, the characters and the process of bringing them as successfully and authentically as possible onto the screen.

I could see that the responses of some of my fellow writers ranged from exhilarating highs to wrenching, despair-filled lows.  Some had great epiphanies and completely re-envisioned their screenplays.  All were demonstrably energized and empowered.  For myself, I had deliberately not spent much time with my script in the run-up to the lab.  I’d done some rewriting last August and September in order to get it ready for the submission deadline after not so much as glancing at it for a couple of years, but I wanted to be certain I could listen as closely as possible to the feedback which would come my way at the lab and let it wash over me without taking things too personally or becoming overly protective of certain aspects of the script.

Although it was clear that someone had liked the project enough to select it from among hundreds of submissions, I had never gotten any actual feedback on it from ‘outside’ people (meaning those not either very close to me personally or part of the presumptive team which would eventually be making the film) before coming to the lab.  That said, I always believed in the story… the fact that it had stayed with me and grown in force over long years was enough to underscore my instinctive belief that it needed, and needs, to be made.  My experiences in the past have taught me to always trust that inner voice over everything else.

Nonetheless, it was eminently clear to me that for this story to achieve its rightful potential I would undoubtedly need an enormous amount of input from people with no small degree of wisdom, experience and skills different than my own.  And thus it was an incomparably beautiful gift to have had the chance to spend these five days with the group of people Sundance and Mumbai Mantra brought together for this lab.  The mentors’ intense passion for exploring, discovering and in an ideal world even elevating the art form was incredibly infectious, inspirational and humbling at the same time.

For globally-admired screenwriters at the very top of their profession to give so much of themselves (one of my mentors had actually sketched out all the scenes of my film) was, on the one hand, profoundly moving, and on the other, a uniquely powerful reminder of how much we as filmmakers, creative people, or even individuals trying to bring about change in any sphere of life must always strive to help and support one another.

The lab was an onslaught of inputs and mental gymnastics, thoroughly exhilarating and exhausting.  The carrot and stick of affirmation and challenge, hard questioning and the odd ‘eureka moment’, an emotional wringer marinated in positivity, palpable good will, lifetimes of writing chops and tough love… no description I can muster will ever be able to do it justice.

I would genuinely wish for everyone to experience this kind of tsunami of creative energy at least once or twice in the course of a lifetime.  Leaving the cocoon of Lake Pavna was a trauma of sorts for all concerned, a harsh return to the everyday life of trying to write, and all the other things we try to do.  This was the first time in my life I could be a writer and nothing else for five whole days.  The feedback I received clarified a thousand things in my mind and underscored my belief, echoed by those who so ruthlessly raked me over hot loving coals, that the film I’m determined to make from this script is one which absolutely must be made, that surrender is interdicted.  The power of the support and passion I received during the course of this lab is something I can’t imagine ever forgetting.

Having had some time to decompress, reflect and reintegrate into the mortal world, I feel so immensely grateful to have been included in the group which the Sundance Institute and Mumbai Mantra in their infinite wisdom decided to bring together for this lab.  The constant refrain that the lab itself was “only the beginning of the process” is both heartening and credible.  I know all the other fellows share my sentiments when I say we look eagerly forward to being there for each other throughout the process of bringing our respective works to the screen, and that each resulting film will be an immense source of pride to us all.

This is a slightly-adapted version of a blog piece Dylan wrote for the Sundance website.

The author wishes to express his thanks and gratitude to Michelle Satter, Paul Federbush, Rohit Khattar, Aparna Purohit, the Sundance Institute and Mumbai Mantra teams who made this workshop happen, and happen so beautifully, as well as to all of the brilliant and wonderful mentors (especially those who worked directly on his project) and his equally brilliant and wonderful fellow writers, Ashvin, Bornila, Deepanjali, Gaurav, Navneet, Neeraj and Sanjay…

Dylan Mohan Gray’s award-winning film, Fire in the Blood, releases on DVD in India later this month

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Kaafiron Ki Namaaz to compete at Jeonju International Film Festival Thu, 10 Apr 2014 05:00:12 +0000 Kaafiron Ki Namaaz

Kaafiron Ki Namaaz

Kaafiron Ki Namaaz (The Virgin Arguments), an independent feature film directed by Ram Ramesh Sharma, has been selected in the International Competition section of the 15th Jeonju International Film Festival to be held in South Korea from 1- 10 May.

Scheduled to have its international premiere at the festival, Kaafiron Ki Namaaz is a thriller that tells the story of three men- a recently court-martialed army officer, a writer and his camera assistant- who have a dramatic conversation as the camera assistant becomes a mute spectator to what turns out to be a chilling meeting between the two.

Debutante director Ram Ramesh Sharma studied Cinematography in Whistling Woods International Film School. The film has been produced by Bhargav Saikia, under his banner Lorien Motion Pictures, set up in 2011.

Geethu Mohandas’ Liar’s Dice will also be screened at Jeonju, out of competition.

Started in 2000 in South Korea, Jeonju IFF is one of the major independent film festivals in Asia. The festival hosted a special section on Indian cinema last year.

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