Bauddhayan Mukherji On The Struggles Of An Indie Filmmaker & Significance Of Film Festivals!

By Srikanth Kanchinadham. Posted on September 01, 2015

Bauddhayan Mukherji's Teenkahon, is all set to release after an year of travelling to festivals and winning acclaim. We've been following the film and the filmmaker since last year when we watched the film at MAMI and fell in love with it. We are in good company including that of noted Bollywood director Imtiaz Ali, who is now presenting the film. The film releases in theaters on 11th Sept.

Earlier this year we'd spoken with the filmmaker on his film & filmmaking journey. With Teenkahon releasing this month, we interviewed the director about the difficulties of an independent director, significance of festivals and much more. Do read it right here:

1. Your debut film is releasing on the 11th of September. Could you elaborate on the difficulties an independent film goes through goes through while getting their film released?

Getting a film released is far more difficult than getting a film made. An independent filmmaker’s responsibility does not end with just making the film – it continues while looking for the correct release and hoping to have all the paraphernalia in place for the release. Getting a distributor, getting the right time of the year for the release, getting the right theatres, getting the right show time, getting the right publicity, getting the right people to talk about the film, getting theatres to hold on to the film and not pull it down within one week... the list is endless and each is a mountain to move.

2. How did Imtiaz Ali get involved with your project?

Imtiaz watched the film during our India Premiere at MAMI. Post the screening he was one of the most vocal members of the crowd who grilled me during the Q&A. I guess he liked my answers! A week later he sent a text to Mona (Monalisa Mukherji, my wife and the producer of Teenkahon) saying how much he liked the film. Armed with the text we approached him to present Teenkahon. We were absolutely prepared for a resounding NO when he sweetly said YES! And ever since... he has been the friend, philosopher and guide. Amidst his hectic schedule of Tamasha he has taken time out to shoot for the theatrical trailer, dub for it, help us plan the PR activities, offered to hold a screening for his Bollywood friends... he has been outstanding.

3. Your film has now been screened at festivals across the world. How do film festivals help independent filmmakers like you?

Of course it does. Apart from the clichéd “buzz” that it creates in the festival circuit it grabs a lot of eyeballs back home. That’s how Teenkahon got Viacom18. We were approached by Viacom and they expressed their desire to see the film. We were quick to point out that it is a Bengali film. They actually knew more about Teenkahon than a lot of people at my office. They saw the film and decided to distribute it. This wouldn’t have been possible if Teenkahon had not gone to festivals and made a name for itself.

The other thing that definitely helps an independent filmmaker is the film market that a lot of festivals run in tandem. Teenkahon got picked up from the industry screening at the NFDC Film Bazaar by a Canadian distribution company which went on to acquire the international sales and distribution rights.

4. Teenkahon is finally releasing after more than a year of journey across festivals. How has the journey been till now? What are some of the compliments you treasure the most?

Often I think I am dreaming! Such has been the impact of this incredible journey of Teenkahon. Till now we have been an Official Selection to more than 35 film festivals. Won 22 awards and nominations... I guess Teenkahon has received much more than it deserved. Honestly. And what a journey it has been! I have seen Teenkahon with Spanish subtitles in Madrid, with French subtitles in Paris, watched Teenkahon with UN Peace Corp at Kosovo, been to five continents for premieres, been party to a discussion with US Congressmen on policy formulations, met some incredible filmmakers from different parts of the world, made friends, been house guests to the warmest people I have known... the world has shrunk for me in the last one year.

Compliments... plenty... but the one that stands out was from Laurence Kardish, arguably the most respected curator in world cinema. He watched Teenkahon, sent me a mail where he drew parallel to Ray’s films and hailed me as ‘a significant new talent in world cinema.’ I still pinch myself.

5. Now that you have made your second film, how were your experiences with Teenkahon helpful?

It has taught me what NOT to do... where to spend money and where not to, which festivals to send to and which ones to avoid, when to start looking for a partner – everything where we had gone wrong on Teenkahon have been rectified or at least we have tried to rectify.

6. Bengali films have had a great year with films like Nirbashito and Labour of Love coming out. What is your take on the current state of Bengali cinema.

It has been a stupendous year for Bengali films. Two of the most coveted debutante director awards have been pocketed by Bengalis this year. Aditya won the National Award for Labour of Love while I won the Aravindan Puraskaram. Churni’s Nirbashito has looked at society through a completely new prism. The content of Bengali films has just undergone a sea change thanks to Nirbashito and Labour of Love.

This year has also been the year of globalisation for Bengali films. Labour of Love and Teenkahon between them have gone to more than 80 film festivals, won truck loads of awards and put Bengali films right back in the world map. Both the films have thought of commercial releases and have sold in the international market. I really hope that the trend continues in the near future and helps opening up new possibilities for all our fellow Bengali filmmakers in an otherwise cash strapped Tollywood.

7. At what stage is your second film? When can we expect to see it in theatres?

The Violin Player has just been completed. From now on we would try to take it to the film festivals. One year from now is when you should see it in the theatres.


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