The Indian Filmmakers Whose Films Are Competing For The India Gold At MAMI 2015!

By Nita Deshmukh. Posted on October 16, 2015

The list is out. Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, one of our favorite film events is here and we can't wait for the festival to start. While there's a veritable gold mine of international films at the festival this year, we are particularly excited about the India Gold section that features some of the most exciting independent Indian films.

The last few years have seen films like Fandry, Labour of Love, Killa, Liar’s Dice, Crossing Bridges play in this section. This section has evolved as a great space to discover exciting new talent and this year seems to be no different.

Here's a brief profile of the films & the filmmakers competing in this category. Over the next few days we will be profiling each of these filmmakers in greater detail.

1. A Calling (Kaul) – Aadish Keluskar

Aadish Keluskar graduated from K.C. College with a mass media degree. He joined FTII  for a film direction course but dropped out in the third year. He later made short films like Tatpaschat, Zero By Zero, I Love You Too, which have been screened in several international film festivals. A Calling (Kaul) is his debut feature film.

A Calling (Kaul) is a 118 min long Marathi fantasy thriller. The movie narrates the story of a school teacher in a village who goes through a mind-wrecking journey without a choice. He witnesses an extraordinary supernatural event, but doubts its authenticity.

Featured  below is Keluskar's  I Love You Too,  a film that talks about the dark side of love. The filmmaker has indeed handled the delicate subject with depth and significance. This film gives ample evidence of the truly unique voice this young filmmaker has.

2. The Fourth Direction (Chauthi Koot) – Gurvinder Singh

Gurvinder Singh is one of the most unique voices to have emerged in India in recent times. While his first short film Pala was a documentary based on the Punjabi folk singers, he is best known for his first feature film Anhe Ghore Da Daan (Alms for a Blind Horse) which also won him National Film Award for Best Direction at the 59th National Film Awards.

Chauthi Koot (The Fourth Direction) competed in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival this year alongside Masaan. This film narrates two different stories set in a post-Operation-Blue-Star Punjab in the ‘80s and is based on writer Waryam Singh Sandhu's collection of short stories of the same name and set in militancy-era Punjab, the film was shot in Amritsar and Ferozepur and does not feature any professional actors. The film explores the dilemma of the common man trapped between excesses of the military on one side and terrorists on the other, leading to an atmosphere of suspicion, fear and paranoia.

3. G – A Wanton Heart- Rahul Dahiya

Rahul Dahiya worked as an assistant director to Sudhir Mishra on his films Khoya Khoya Chand and Tera Kya Hoga Johny. G- A Wanton Heart is a 103 minutes long bilingual film, shot in Haryanvi and Hindi.  It  is a story about desires that provoke jealousy, pride, aggression, repression and hypocrisy.  It also shows how even parents could turn murderers, when feudal vigilante law fails. The film was official selection for Chicago South Asian Film Festival 2015.

Sadly we couldn't find any trailer of the film online.

4. Mor Mann Ke Bharam (Illusion Of My Mind)- Karma Takapa, Heer Ganjwala and Abhishek Varma

Mor Mann Ke Bharam is the story of an author who is struggling to write a novel. In a dingy lodge in an obscure town in Chhattisgarh, he finds himself caught between illusions and realities that surround him. As the lines between his stories start blurring, he finds himself entangled in the web of his own imagination.

The film has been completely shot in Raigarh in Chhattisgarh, with the active collaboration of the local theater group, IPTA Raigarh and its members. This film is a unique experiment in collaborative filmmaking with artists from different fields involved in the making. It features four different folk songs of Chhattisgarh, in their original form and uses local motifs embedded in Chhattisgarhi culture that have not found space on the big screen till date.

What's more, it has 3 directors credited. Karma Takapa, born in Sikkim, has been trained in film direction at FTII.  His earlier work includes Yahin Kahin NahinPangtoed Chaam and Thutse Kyuma.

Heer Ganjwala, born and brought up in Mumbai, has been trained in film direction at FTII.  Her notable work includes Nikhil And The Magic Market, Reeti and The Pilgrim. 

Abhishek Varma, born in Lucknow, has studied Film Direction at FTII. He has earlier movies include Zero, W:/M:  and Deritus.

5. Interrogation (Visaaaranai) - Vetrimaaran

Vetrimaaran is an established director in the Tamil film industry. He started his career in 1999 as an assistant director for Kadai Neram -  a TV serial directed by Balu Mahendra. He made his directorial debut with the critically acclaimed Polladhavan (2007). His second feature film Aadukalam (2011) won five National Film Awards, with Vetrimaaran receiving two awards for Best Direction and Best Screenplay.

Visaranai is a 2015 experimental thriller and was recently screened at the Venice Film Festival. It is adapted from the novel 'Lock up', written by M. Chandra Kumar who is Coimbatore based auto rickshaw driver. Interestingly Kumar also traveled with the crew to the Venice Film Festival.

6. Island City – Ruchika Oberoi

Ruchika graduated from FTII in 1998. She later worked with MTV India on the  popular show - Filmy Fundas. At the same time, she was also working as an associate director and writing stories.

Spread across three separate episodes, Island City, recounts three stories that intertwine owing to the unpredictable nature of destiny. The film is set against the backdrop of city, Mumbai, which is changing before their very eyes. The script of the film was a part of the NFDC Screenwriters Lab 2012. The film is co-produced by NFDC, who have tied up with Stray Dogs for the international distribution of the film. The film won Ruchika the Fedeora Award for 'Best Director Of A Debut Film' at Venice Days - the sidebar of the Venice Film Festival.

7. Munroe Island (Mundrothuruth) - Manu

Manu has worked as an editor, columnist and film critic in different publications.  His first independent short film was Exit (2004), a satirical take on the Indian theory of ultimate renunciation. Goli (The Marbles Game -2006), tale of a “honeymoon divorce”, won State awards and Jeevan-Atlas awards for direction, story and script. Mundrothuruth (Munroe Island - 2015) is his debut feature film.

Mundrothuruth (Munroe Island) is a film about Keshu, a spaced out teenager, and his father  who come to their ancestral home in Munroe Island where the grandfather lives with Kathu, the maid. The father wants to take Keshu for proper psychological treatment. The grandfather strongly wants his grandson to stay back in the island.

8. The River Of Fables (Kothanodi) – Bhaskar Hazarika

Bhaskar Hazarika decided to crowdfund his first feature after he had shot half the film and couldn't raise funds from traditional film investors. He personally reached out to almost every person he had met in his life, so did others in the team and they managed to raise nearly Rs 22 lakhs in the end, possibly the biggest such amount raised in India by any film project.

Kothanodi is the re-imagination of four popular fables from Assam. It's a dark and moody narrative offering alternate interpretations of characters in these well known folk tales, especially the female characters. The film was recently screened at Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) in the ‘A Window on Asian Cinema’ section and will play at the ongoing BFI London Film Festival as well.

9. Song Of The Horned Owl (Dau Huduni Methai) - Manju Borah

Manju Borah  is a multiple award-winning  film director and short story writer from Assam. Manju has also served as the Jury Member at festivals like IFFI, MAMI, 3rd Eye Asian Film Festival and the National Film Awards.

Borah's first feature film 'Baibhab' (A Scam in Verse), which released in 1999, received the jury's 'Special Mention' certificate at the 47th National Film Awards in 2000. It was also declared the best film in Asia at the 6th Dhaka International Film Festival in the same year. In 2012, her film 'Ko:Yad' won multiple national award, including for best cinematography. Her film 'Aai Kot Nai' won the award for best film on national integration in 2008.

Song Of The Horned Owl (Dau Huduni Methai) is about the suffering of innocent Bodo villagers due to rampant militancy and violence. The film was screened earlier this year at the Montreal World Film Festival (MWFF).

10. The Head Hunter- Nilanjan Datta

Nilanjan Datta is an associate professor of film editing at FTII and a visiting faculty at MIT Institute of Design. He won the National Award for Best Film on Environment in 2009 for Bhanga Ghara. The Head Hunter is Nilanjan’s first feature film. Before that he has made documentary films and short fiction film. Born in Assam and having lived a part of his childhood in Arunachal Pradesh, Nilanjan aims to tell stories from that region, a region that is still unheard of & enshrouded with myths and mysteries.

The Head Hunter is about an encounter with ones own past and how it tries to create a single world order.

BHANGA GARA (To break...To create...) from Nilanjan Datta on Vimeo.

11. Umrika – Prashant Nair

Prashant Nair is an Indian-born film director & screenwriter best known for his new Age Indo-American films.  Nair started his film career as a screenwriter and his first filming venture was a rom-com short titled Max & Helena. He  wrote, directed & produced Delhi in a Day in 2011.

Nair's Umrika won the World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award at this years' Sundance Film Festival and has since been on a roll, screening at festivals like the Karlovy Vary & the London Indian Film Festival. The film, produced by Swati Shetty & Manish Mundra of Drishyam Films, has also released in many countries across the world.

Umrika is set in the 1980s, in the distant Indian (fictional) village of Jitvapur, the film follows Ramakant (Suraj Sharma), a teenager searching for his older brother Udai (Prateik Babbar), who lost touch with his family after leaving their rural home for America in pursuit of a better life.

12. The Violin Player - Bauddhayan Mukherji

Bauddhayan Mukherji is one of India's leading ad film directors, best known for the campaign against domestic violence called 'Bell Bajao'. Bauddhayan has numerous awards under his belt including the Silver Lion at Cannes.

His debut feature, Teenkahonreleased recently to much acclaim after completing a successful festival run across the world.

The Violin Player is the story of one day in the life of a Bollywood session violinist who finds expression in an unlikely place. The day unfolds to reveal startling truths about music, art, life and survival.

13. The Wretched (Haraamkhor) - Shlok Sharma

Shlok Sharma has worked as an assistant director with two of the most exciting India directors of our times, Vishal Bhardwaj & Anurag Kashyap. for Dev.D (2009) and Gangs of Wasseypur (2012). His poetical short film 'Tubelight ka Chaand' won  the best short film award at Bollywood and Beyond film festival in Germany (2011). His other short films include Sujata and Joy of Giving. Sujata was featured in Shorts - a compilation of  short films directed by Neeraj Ghaywan, Anubhuti Kashyap, Shlok Sharma and Gitanjali Rao, that was released by Anurag Kashyap.

His debut feature The Wretched (Haraamkhor) is about the illicit relationship that develops between a teacher & his teenage student and the disastrous consequences this has on them and the people around them.

Starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui and produced by Sikhya, Haraamkhor opened IFFLA 2015 and also played at the 15th New York Indian Film Festival where Nawazuddin Siddiqui won the Best Actor award.


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