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Chandigarh Prepares for Debut Cinevesture Int’l Film Festival

More than 15 curated projects by creators with a strong presence in the Indian film industry are being presented at CIFF/market. CIFF will also feature workshops, master classes, and panel discussions for the benefit of festival and industry delegates…reports Asian Lite News

Chandigarh, which is set to host its first international film festival — Cinevesture International Film Festival (CIFF) from March 27 to 31 — is not just meant to expose the audiences in the region to around 80 of the finest international and Indian films, but will also boast of a CIFF/market to facilitate the business and craft of filmmaking.

The film festival will open with the Cannes Award-winning French film ‘The Taste of Things’ starring Juliette Binoche, and close with South Korea’s highest-grossing film of 2024 to date — the Horror-Mystery-Thriller ’Exhuma’ (Pamyo) which premiered at the 2024 Berlinale.More than 15 curated projects by creators with a strong presence in the Indian film industry are being presented at CIFF/market. CIFF will also feature workshops, master classes, and panel discussions for the benefit of festival and industry delegates.“We are expecting a lot of potential producers and filmmakers to come face-to-face. There are also a lot of producers who wish to enter the industry but do not know how to. For filmmakers, it is very tough to raise funds in this industry. And setting up venues and meetings will help,” Nina Lath, Founder & CEO of Cinevesture told IANS in a special interaction.This former MD of the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC), who joined the organisation in 2006 after quitting the Indian Revenue Service, was instrumental in giving NFDC a new lease on life. It was under her leadership that NFDC produced or co-produced some very fine films — Dibakar Banerjee’s ‘Shanghai’, Qaushiq Mukherjee’s ‘Tasher Desh’, Gurvinder Singh’s debut film, ‘Anhey Ghorhey Da Daan’, which premiered at the Venice International Film Festival and won three National Awards, Anand Gandhi’s ‘Ship of Theseus’ and Ritesh Batra’s ‘The Lunchbox’.She also set up the successful Film Bazaar, the Screenwriters Labs, and the Viewing Room. Almost every movie in the WIP Lab made it to international film festivals.“Chandigarh is an interesting city with design as its genesis. In terms of logistics too, it makes a lot of sense to hold something of this scale here. Not to mention the huge student population from across the region that comes here to study,” says Lath, revealing that they want CIFF to be an annual feature though this time they are testing waters.With films from India, Serbia, France, Bangladesh, and the US besides many in Indian languages including Marathi, Bengali, Punjabi, and Malayalam, she stresses that the audiences will be the main stakeholders. “Precisely why we are doing ‘People Choice awards’ – only they get to decide what works and what does not. Beena Paul, the Artistic Director, and VS Kundu, the former Head of the National Films Division of India as the Director of the Film Festival are great assets for CIFF.”Talking about the Children’s section where they will also be taught how to make films, and a host of workshops and masterclasses that will be organised during the event, Lath adds, “I have always believed that it is paramount for children to be exposed to the arts from a young age. The workshops and masterclasses line-up is very interesting, and we expect excellent participation. For instance, Emmy Award winner Chase Guttman will conduct a workshop on Drone photography and cinematography.”Talk to her about the current state of independent cinema in India, and Lath is optimistic. She is however not in favour of giving subsidies. ”New filmmakers need support. Filmmaking is not like other arts. A lot of careers are at stake, there is an obligation to make a return on investment. Precisely what, at CIFF, we will be doing a lot of workshops and looking at things from the point of view of producers. It is important to understand how people are responding to movies. Investment in the projects, sales, and the director and the writer are not the only people needed. Everyone needs to have a skill set. There is a gap in demand and supply in terms of skill sets. So. how as a producer does one analyse a script, we want to address these questions.”Even as numerous film festivals have started in smaller towns in the country, for example, cities in Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, UP, and Madhya Pradesh, Lath feels there is a need for more. “This development is healthy. Audiences get acquainted with the fact that there is another kind of cinema that exists too — beyond the mainstream. Even if the scale is small, more such festivals should come up. They precipitate conversations around independent films which is extremely important.”Lamenting the demise of the film club culture, she feels while there is a need to revive them, they must not restrict their conversations to analysing the films just on the thematic level but also look at production values.

A New Era of Film Culture

Chandigarh is set to host its first international film festival — Cinevesture International Film Festival (CIFF) from March 27 to 31. The opening film of the festival is Cannes Award-winning French film ‘The Taste of Things’ starring Juliette Binoche. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Anh Hung Tran, the historical romantic drama won the award for Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival in 2023.

The closing film is South Korea’s highest-grossing film of 2024 to date — the Horror-Mystery-Thriller ’Exhuma’ (Pamyo), which premiered at the 2024 Berlinale. Both the opening and closing films will have their India premieres at the festival and shall be open-air screenings in the Government Museum & Arts Gallery, Sector 10, the main venue of CIFF 2024.The festival will showcase 24 award-winning international features in the World Cinema section, 17 indie gems in the India Unveiled, 27 shorts in Brief Encounters, a curated section of children’s films and timeless classics. Programming highlights include internationally acclaimed films like 2024 Oscar contender Holocaust drama, ’The Zone of Interest’, Palme d’Or Winner and Academy Nominee Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Monster, 2023 Academy Award-winner, ’The Whale’ starring Brendan Fraser, a gripping documentary which won at Berlinale, ’Seven Winters in Tehran’, Singapore’s Oscar entry, ’Breaking Ice’, the Roshan Mathew starrer ’Paradise’, and the animation feature ’Sultana’s Dreams’ among others. Award-winning Indian features and docs such as Toronto International Film Festival winner Marathi film ‘Sthal’, Venice Film Festival film ‘Stolen’, Rima Das’ Assamese film ’Tora’s Husband’, Deepa Mehta’s TIFF film, ’I am Sirat’, auteur filmmaker Gurvinder Singh’s Punjabi feature ’Adh Chanani Raat’, Harjit Singh’s documentary on the late Punjabi painter and writer’ Imroz-A Walk Down The Memory Lane’, Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Malayalam film ’Malaikottai Vaaliban’, Sreemoyee Singh’s documentary, ’And, Towards Happy Alleys’, an ode to Iranian cinema and poetry featuring Jafar Panahi, Varun Grover’s short ’Kiss’ and the Riz Ahmed starrer short ’Dammi’. International features, ‘Roleless’, ’The Tenants’ will have India premieres at the festival and short films Dammi and Suddenly TV will have their Asia premiere.

A host of stars will be attending the festival including Richa Chadha, Ali Fazal, Roshan Mathew, Gulshan Devaiah, Varun Grover, Rasika Duggal, Rashmeet Kaur (singer), Hansal Mehta, Shekhar Kapur, Sudhir Mishra, and Tahira Kashyap Khurrana, among others. The opening and closing films will be open air screenings in the Government Museum & Arts Gallery, Sector 10, the main venue of CIFF 2024. Three more Open Air screenings are scheduled of the classics ’Jalsaghar’ (Satyajit’s Ray’s 1958 musical), Guru Dutt’s ’Kaagaz Ke Phool’ (1959) and ’The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone’ (2020), a recut of the original Godfather 3 by Francis Ford Coppola to mark the 30th anniversary of the film. The open air screen is 60 feet wide. An experiential cinema exhibition to celebrate the centenary of Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand is being set up in the Rose Garden Underpass in collaboration with National Film Archives (NFDC) and students of Chandigarh College of Architecture. A screening of Children’s films is open to all children from the ages of 10-17 years at 9 a.m. from March 27-31 at Cinepolis Jagat. This inaugural edition of the festival will also feature CIFF/market to facilitate the business and craft of filmmaking. More than 15 curated projects by creators with a strong presence in the Indian film industry are being presented at CIFF/market. CIFF will also feature workshops, master classes and panel discussions for the benefit of festival and industry delegates. The festival is being organised by Cinevesture Pvt. Ltd. Nina Lath is the Founder and CEO of the company. The festival is supported by the Government Museum & Art Gallery, Chandigarh, Department of Tourism Chandigarh, and Chandigarh Administration. VS Kundu IAS (Retd) and a former Head of the National Films Division of India has come aboard as the Director of the Film Festival and industry veteran Bina Paul as the Artistic Director of CIFF. The advisory board of CIFF has the presence of Bahubali star and leading film producer, Rana Daggubati, Jerome Paillard, who served as Head of the Cannes Film Market, Festival de Cannes from 1995 to 2022, Nicole Guillemet, former Co-Director of Sundance Film Festival, the celebrated Indian filmmaker Ajitpal Singh (Fire in the Mountains and Tabbar) and other experts in the field of film making.

The main venues of CIFF will be the Government Museum and Art Gallery (GMAG), Sector 10 and Cinepolis theatres in Sector 17 Chandigarh. Nina Lath, Founder and CEO of Cinevesture said: “Cinevesture International Film Festival is envisaged as a platform for the two key stakeholders, namely audiences and producers. Its various verticals have been designed keeping the same in mind. We trust that in time, CIFF will serve as a reliable festival offering high-quality content for audiences and enhanced business opportunities for the film industry.” CIFF Director, V. S. Kundu said: “CIFF is the first global-scale cinema event to ever happen in Chandigarh with the support of Chandigarh Tourism, the Department of Culture and Chandigarh Administration. It is a truly international film festival designed to match the best international film festivals.” “We endeavour to build a strong foundation for an annual event that the global film industry will look forward to, and which will foster effective business relationships between producers and distributors and the filmmakers of the region,” he said. Bina Paul, Artistic Director of CIFF said: “This year at the launch of the Cinevesture film festival, the focus of programming is to bring a potpourri of cinema to the people of Chandigarh. There will be something for everyone. Festival favourite International and Indian films for film buffs and for students, and the latest trends in Korean, Japanese and French cinema will be on show.

Children will get a chance to see films from many parts of the world, hearing stories they may otherwise not. Attending filmmakers, producers, and technicians will interact with audiences and share their experiences, thus enriching the viewing experience. A film festival opens up the world.” Naveen, Director, Government Museum & Arts Gallery Chandigarh said: “While the museum has been attracting diverse audiences and promoting cultural understanding through its exhibitions, its support for the Cinevesture International Film Festival marks a significant step forward in positioning itself in Chandigarh as a hub of cultural exchange and enrichment. This will not only lead to an increase in footfalls but also provide an opportunity to showcase the museum’s facilities as a venue for cultural events, potentially attracting future collaborations and partnerships.”

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‘SHE IS’ Highlights Women’s Everyday Struggles

She walks amongst harsh reality of life with her ambition on one hand and on the other her family, but she does a balance act. Whenever she is down, a line from the inspirational song written by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s Jodi Tor Dak Shune Keu Na Ashe Tome Ekla Chalo Re… reports Vinod Raghavan

SHE IS – Mother, Sister, Daughter, Wife and Friend portrayed by well known model-actor Piya Pawani in the short film directed by Anirban Ray as a mark of respect to all womenfolk on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

The 10-minute film portrays Piya in a pivotal role highlighting her daily chores, which she takes it up with ease inspite of ups and downs in her life.

Her family with her husband played by Kabeer Yousuf, son by Rehan and the mother-in-law by veteran actor Azra Aleem. Piya playing the role of a multi tasking lady, handles her office pressure with ease and a smile.

Inspite of her hard work, the trophy which she was awarded is snatched by her male colleague portrayed by Anirban Ray. She pleads to the world it’s her hard work for which she has been rewarded, but the shrewd colleague snatches and shamelessly claims as his achievement, the director highlighted the ongoing scenario in the job market how people manipulates.


It’s not only men, but women too are manipulator, is shown beautifully in the film. Piya helps an unknown lady played by Indu Baburaj, in her journey of achieving greater heights, and the same lady blocks her and pulls her down. Inspite of blocking her, a shocked Piya wishes good luck to the unknown soul and moves ahead.

In her journey balancing between work and home front, she faces lot of opposition which the director subtly used from the mythology – Ramayana, Mahabharata, Apple as eve from the Bible and Desert as Hagar, mother of Ismael from Islam religion.

Like in Ramayana, Sita had to spend in dense jungle and also had to face the Agni (fire) test. Director smartly explored beautiful locations from various parts of Oman and in Mahabarata the Pandavas and Kauravas plays  the dice game.

The jungle and the fire scenes are from the picturesque Hadash Village which is on a curvy mountain 1500 metre above sea level around 200 km from Muscat on the Barka-Nakhal road.

Piya boldly crossed the real fire which was shot thrice, as the director wanted to get more perfection and she did it with ease.

She was also stalked by a local Romeo, seeing a single women, he tried tried to bully her, but she displayed her women power skills too and crosses the hurdle and moves ahead.

After the day long travelling and shooting, the entire crew were tired. While returning back the director saw the beautiful Moon shining in the darkness , he asked the driver to stop and summoned Piya, for one more shot, the exhausted actress didn’t thought for a second and faced the camera nearly for an   hour.

In another shot at Yitti surrounded by beautiful mountains, was the tough scene as weather was bad, entire crew armed with warm jackets and covered their head with caps and scarfs, but Piya bravely faced the chilly wind and without any complain shot for hours.

Ekla Chalo

The famous Bangla song written by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore and sung by Usha Uthap song Ekla Chalo… Perfectly suits her and uplifts her energy to start afresh inspite of all hurdles she comes across in her journey from family to work place, her dedication was tremendous said Anirban who was happy to see the outcome of the film.

The film was gripped by its soulful narration by Kartik P a business analyst by profession in Oman and the photography by Anirban was assisted by Vishal Raghavan.

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Raastha : A movie leads from desert to beautiful locales of Oman

The film directed by Aneesh Anwar, talking to media Aneesh Anwar, shared his experience of shooting movie in Oman and was all praise for the Omani authorities and the locales for their whole-hearted support…reports Asian Lite News

When Art & Commerce goes hand-in-hand the final outcome is beneficial not only to its players but also the nation gains with more talent and exposure to the untapped natural beauty.

The newly formed ALU Entertainment a brainchild of Abdul Lateef Uppala, Managing Director, Badr Al Sama Group of Hospitals and Board member of the prestigious Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is all set to see its first film “Raastha” in Malayalam language to hit the big screens worldwide on January 5th. Nearly 40 crew members along with film and theatre personalities comprising mostly the expats from Oman and also Omanis have put their heart and soul in this 125 minutes film, which will be screened in over 80 theatres in Kerala state, Oman and other GCC countries and also in rest part of the world. 

The story written by two thick friends from Sur in the Batinah region – Shahul and Faiz, were pondering with a real story happened in 2011 in the deserts of Rub-Al-Khali, which is one of the biggest desert in the world. Rub-Al-Khali, is spread over 650,000 km, from Oman to its border nations – UAE, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.  The duo after much difficulty managed to interact with Abdul Latheef and the story narration   motivated him to make Raastha (a Way) as it is based on true facts as it showcases the true nature and culture of Oman. 

“As a Board member of OCCI, I feel it is my responsibility to contribute to the promotion of entertainment and tourism industry of Oman and this movie is first such step in this direction, revealed an energetic Abdul Latheef at a press meet and a gathering of dignitaries at the Oman Chamber of Commerce (OCCI).

The film directed by Aneesh Anwar, talking to media Aneesh Anwar, shared his experience of shooting movie in Oman and was all praise for the Omani authorities and the locales for their whole-hearted support. The beauty of Oman ranging from brown mountains, to blue, olive green seafront and the open blue sky has mesmerized the film director, who said, Oman is a dream land for any filmmaker and he will definitely share his experiences with his friends from the film fraternity, back home in India as Oman is not only a friendly nation, but a filmmaker’s dream land to showcase its beauty on screen.


 The film has actors –Sarjano Khalid, Anagha Narayanan, Aaradhya Ann, Sudheesh, Irshad Ali, T G Ravi and Aneesh Anwar, Lovel Edathil Balakrishnan, Prakash Vijayan, Sabitha Lijo and Ansar amongst others, the film is produced by Linu Sreenivasan. Chairman of Oman Chamber of Commerce & Industry, His Excellency Faisal Abdullah Al Rawas, expressed deep satisfaction and excitement upon knowing that the movie was completely shot in Oman and how it showcases the beauty of Oman. He wished all the best for the movie and assured the crowd that he will watch the movie in the theatre alongwith his family.

Humaid Al Amri, Chairman of Oman Film Society while sharing his experiences said the movie will give a boost to Oman entertainment industry and will inspire more movie makers to come to Oman and shoot movies here. Vishnu Narayanan handles the cinematography, while Avin Mohan Sithara has given the musical score.  Edited by Aftar Anwar, ‘Raastha’ boasts stellar performances complemented by the artistic direction of Venu Thopil. The film features outstanding songs sung by Vineeth Srinivasan, Alphonse Joseph, Suraj Santhosh, and Avin Mohan Sithara.

Blessed Oman: Home to Talented Actors

There are many experienced and budding Omanis and Indian artistes in Oman, who will be seen on big screen on January 5th    

Some of the known actors from Muscat who have been regularly in the art world, besides, doing their routine work, spares time for film and art. They keep chatting through Whats App group or personal interactions, some of them got chance due to their talent in this big budget Malayalam film are:

Lovel Edathil Balakrishnan, native of Thalasshery in northern Kerala Kannur, who has been in Muscat for more than two decades, is a well-known classical dancer and a noted actor, who is known as “Mahabali” carrying the traditional umbrella on the Onam day, is waiting for the D-Day to see self on the big screen through “Raasta”.

Sabitha Lio John

Sabitha Lio John, a resident of Muscat, plays the role of a housemaid Fato,a. working in a Omani house, is excited as its her first venture, as few days back she played a tribal women’s role of Muppethy and she feels proud when some of her close aides calls her as Muppethy. Her next venture is in a Anirban Ray’s short film which is likely to released next week. She plays the role of a illegal Bangladeshi migrant, who comes under the radar of security agencies at the border.

Prakash Vijayan, plays the role of a hotel manager Baiju, he is the last person to meet missing persons in the desert. He has a significant role in the 160 minutes movie, where he coordinates Ashraf played by (Lovel Edathil Balakrishnan) in searching the missing persons. He acted in many short films and also directed few plays and short film.

Lovel Edathil Balakrishnan

Ansar, who too performed police inspector in a Malayalam drama recently has a very important role in this film.

Ahmed Al Burtamani (Sami Sarang), tall and handsome Rescue Team commander leads the rescue team from the desert of Rub-Al-Khali, where the foursome including a young women lost their Raastha and the Royal Oman Police team presses chopper and fleets of police vans to rescue them.

Linu Sreenivasan

Sami Sarang, a prominent name in the film and theatre fraternity from Oman, originally belongs from Pakistan’s province Baluchistan. His tall personality with fair complex has done scores of modelling assignments and also acted in many short films. He also directed the first Baluchi Telefilm named “Sangat”

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POOVU: The Value of Life

As swift as a flower falling, life ebbs away! There have been many creative works that explored the mystery or magic of that moment when a person revisits one’s own life. “Poovu” (The Flower) directed by Anish Babu Abbas and Binoy George is the latest in this genre. Only that, it does it in a spiritually personalised manner … writes Anand Haridas

It is Margaret Atwood who said, “in the end, we’ll become stories”. That transformation from a reality to a story is the moment of realisation. A sort of stock taking for all that one have passed through in his or her entire life.

There have been many creative works that explored the mystery or magic of that moment when a person revisits one’s own life. “Poovu” (The Flower) directed by Anish Babu Abbas and Binoy George is the latest in this genre. Only that, it does it in a spiritually personalised manner.

In just about 80 minutes, this film in Malayalam, a South Indian language, is the moment its protagonist Jeevan goes through before he dies. But the film is not about his passing on. It has got more to the film.

Like Emily Dickinson says in her poem ‘After great pain, a formal feeling comes’, the realisation happens afterwards. She writes, “This is the Hour of Lead/Remembered, if outlived/As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow/First – chill – then Stupor – and then the letting go.” This film is as much about Jeevan, the protagonist, as about the four women in his life – his mother, wife, daughter and lover. This is a journey they take together.

“Jeevan is the commonest of the commoners. He approaches life, relations and like without any baggage of the modern social ethos. On the other hand, he does that through the natural instincts woven with love and respect. He is making a final attempt to hold his personal likes together at the moment before his death and the film is about what he realises at that moment. It is not a deliberate or planned move, but an instinctive one,” says Anish Babu Abbas, outlining the character, and the central plot.

But the film goes much deeper than this, right from the first frame listing the titles. There is a clear stand that the film takes. The names of the crew members are written with stress given to female names or surnames. The identity of Jeevan is moulded by those four women in his life. So, it is natural that the film starts giving an impression that it is tribute the contribution that women make in everyone’s life.

Simone de Beauvoir once said that the concept of ‘woman’ itself is a male construct. The meaning and definition of womanhood is provided by men. That’s why she said, “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman”. This film cannot be approached without understanding the nuances of this idea.

Even though the narration does not give much details into the professional career of the protagonist, which is immaterial in a way, it does give very clear impressions on how his character is formed at different stages by the women in his life. “The core element of this story is how Jeevan recreates with much curiosity how four strong women helped him different phases of life,” says Abbas.

The design of the film is deceptively simple. It has Jeevan driving a car, which resembles a coffin in its box shape, with other characters joining him on a long drive. Jeevan’s mother, wife and lover gets into this car and his daughter joins through a phone call. Together, they set out on a journey, from which, as Jeevan says, “no one can get off”. Interestingly, their car crosses an ambulance at different points, in which the daughter is bringing home the dead body of Jeevan.

What is remarkable here is the way in which the writer, Johnson V. Devassy, and directors bring in social criticism subtly through the life of Jeevan. He had to flee his land for falling in love with a Muslim girl and inviting the wrath of her family and community. Later, his mother insists that he attend the marriage of the girl so that he could let go his love and move on with life.

Interestingly, Jeevan’s character arc is linear as his choices are simple and direct, whereas the character arc of his wife, Sandhya, is much more complicated. She senses his lost love right from the beginning and is ready to accept it as part of his and their collective lives. That is why she is ready to accommodate when Naziya, the lover, joins their journey in fantasy or when she turns up at the house to get a last look at Jeevan’s dead body while it is being prepared for funeral.

The filmmakers bring in an interesting contrast at this point too. While mother insisted once that Jeevan should visit Naziya’s marriage, his daughter Yama welcomes Naziya when she comes home and says that her father had a final wish that Naziya should be allowed to plant a kiss on his dead body. Sandhya, the wife, is a bridge that connects these two generations and in a way, she epitomises the life that Jeevan had lived through. Unlike the mother, Yama brings in more compassion to the relationship that Jeevan has with Naziya. That, in a way, completes the what Sandhya has started towards defining Jeevan through his relationships.

It is also intriguing to note that while the film attempts to analyse the way a man’s life is completed through his relations with four key women in his life, there is no attempt on the part of the writer or filmmakers to study the dynamics of the female mind. The narrative chooses to stick to the male perspective all through.

The journey that symbolises Jeevan’s transition from life to death is also visualised in a special manner. The car carrying him and three women passes through totally unrelated and diverse landscapes. In one moment, they are by a seashore watching a golden sunset and in next they are going through a misted forest.

“That was a deliberate decision. The concept of making them travel through landscapes that are not connected in anyway, which cannot be identified or associated with and which breaks the continuum of space and time was there right when we started writing this film. The idea was to capture disorder associated with the thoughts that might occur at the moment of death. The disconnect in dialogues is also a deliberate attempt in this direction. We wanted to create an intellectually pulsating visual experience for the audience,” says Abbas.

The same can be said about the aerial shots used liberally all through the film. They not only capture and establish the geography, but bring out the complexities in the seemingly linear and simple life that Jeevan had led. It layers the narrative of relations without being obvious.

There are times when dialogues or the way they are rendered appear too dramatic. But the director says that that pace happened organically when the actors started behaving as characters and it was not tinkered with during the edit. It sets the tone of the film. 

The rich theatrical background, as an actor and as a trainer, of Manjulan who played the protagonist might have also added to this effect. “Dialogues were used as reflected memories of the characters and since they are fragmented, the initial attempt was to stick as much as possible to realistic rendering. We had prepared the actors thus during the workshop that was held ahead of the shoot. But as the actual shooting began, we realised that realistic rendering might not align with the narrative pattern, which is about a journey towards death. Many such factors added up to the design in which dialogues were rendered. It was a calculated risk, in a way,” says Abbas, and it worked, so to say. The audience will keep getting that alienated feel even while being a fellow traveller with Jeevan and his passengers.

The film is essentially about death. When engaged directly, there is only one death depicted in the film – that of Jeevan. The film ends with a track shot that explores the inert body of Jeevan being readied for funeral. But there are many other deaths happening in the film, metaphorically. There is a suggestion to that in the title sequence itself.

It has Sandhya extending her hand to collect a flower dropping off from a top branch of a tall tree. She is shown looking upwards with her hands extended and a flower drifts smoothly towards her. Only the flower and Sandhya are in sharp focus at this point, but the viewer can see many other flowers drifting past her during the sequence.

When Jeevan dies, all those associated with him die many deaths. Relations get realigned, new realisations happen. Not just his immediate family, but those like Naziya with whom he no longer has a direct contact get entangled in the complex pattern of life. At no other point in the film, there are direct reference to flower (which is the title of the film) and that is why the viewer is forced to go back to the title sequence after the film and play back the fall of the flower.

That is the point where the viewer realises that life will ebb away swiftly, after a very brief moment of pause, like a flower severing its connect with the tree of life and what remains is an uncharted drift downwards. That is the moment of spiritual awakening too.

(Anand Haridas is a media person with more than a decade’s experience reporting for The Hindu, one of India’s national dailies. He has reported extensively on films and arts. Since then, he has moved to creative writing and content curating. He is now into writing films. He is based out of Kochi, in South India)

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Oscar-Qualifying Animated Short Film AMERICAN SIKH

The film American Sikh follows the life of a Sikh man who proves that anyone can be a superhero – a positive film for anyone who feels they don’t fit in. A feature by columnist Riccha Grrover for Asian Lite International.

On Monday December 4th 2023, there was an online Q&A with the directors of AMERICAN SIKH Ryan Westra and Vishavjit Singh, as well as the films executive producers Academy Award® winner Guneet Monga Kapoor and Indian American chef and filmmaker Vikas Khanna.

Ryan Westra and Vishavjit Singh teamed up on AMERICAN SIKH to bring more diverse representation and experiences into today’s media and to challenge perceptions of what an American (and a superhero) can look like. 2023 Academy Award winner Guneet Monga Kapoor (Elephant Whisperer) and one of Vanity Fair’s top ten chef’s Vika Khanna serve as Executive Producers for this important film.  

Vishavjit Singh is publicly known for his Captain America persona — a Sikh man equipped with his turban and beard — fighting against bigotry, intolerance and perceptions of what an American should look like. But Singh, the only member of his family born in the U.S., didn’t always feel he could embrace his identity this way. 

The true and unlikely story of an American born, turban-wearing Sikh man, Vishavjit Singh, who after a lifetime of facing prejudice, self-doubt and violence, finally finds acceptance in a superhero costume.

Guneet Monga Kapoor is a trailblazing filmmaker, not only is she the first producer in India to win an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short for Elephant Whisperer, she is also one of the first producers from India to be invited into the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science. Guneet is the founder of Sikhya Entertainment, a Mumbai-based production house. She has produced close to 30 feature films including ground-breaking cinema such as LUNCHBOX, MONSOON SHOOTOUT and MASSAN. This incredible woman was also one of the Executive Producers behind PERIOD END OF SENTENCE, which won an Academy Award in 2019. 

Vikas Khanna is an internationally acclaimed Indian American chef, filmmaker, and author. He is a James Beard nominee and one of the first Indian chefs to be awarded a Michelin Star in the U.S. He has featured amongst the 10 most influential chefs in the world by

 Vanity Fair. Vikas is the author of 41 award winning books, and the creator of HOLY KITCHENS creating awareness of Sikhism through community kitchens. THE LAST COLOR marks Khanna’s debut as a film writer and director, which raised awareness of the disinheritance of widows, whilst BAREFOOT EMPRESS focussed on education for girls in India. 

AMERICAN SIKH was created in partnership with Singh as the director/producer and Los Angeles-based director Ryan Westra. It was animated by Studio Showoff, a Melbourne-based production house founded by Ivan Dixon and Sean Zwan that has produced work for Childish Gambino, HBO and Cartoon Network.

Director Ryan Westra has been fortunate to capture many powerful and important stories. He’s traveled rural Punjab capturing undocumented stories of a Sikh genocide, documented the struggle of indigenous peoples against oil companies in Montana, followed the HIV/AIDS outreach work of an NGO in Mozambique, edited an HBO feature documentary on reproductive rights, filmed the intensity of para-athletes pushing their limits, shot content for Headspace around a monastery in the Himalayas about mindfulness, shot a documentary about re-housing the most at-risk homeless in Los Angeles, and has had minor roles on Netflix and HBO series that deal with wrongful conviction and bringing cult leaders to justice. 

Director/Producer Vishavjit Singh is a New York City based illustrator, writer, performance artist, diversity speaker and creator of He got his spark for cartooning in the post 9/11 tragedy when Americans with turbaned and bearded countenance became targets of hate/bias crimes.  For the past few years Vishavjit has been traveling across the U.S. with his Sikh Captain America persona armed with a turban, beard and humor to tackle fear, anxiety, bigotry and intolerance. He uses storytelling as a tool to create a space for challenging conversations around identity, race, bias, vulnerability and how to be agents for change. Vishavjit hosts talks & keynotes in schools, universities, government agencies and companies including Google, Apple, NASA & Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. His message and work has been covered by a number of news outlets, including the New York Times, NPR, BBC, The Atlantic, Huffington Post, The Guardian and Time Magazine.

Not only was this incredible film featured on Good Morning America and CNN, in just over a month it won four top film awards including Best Short Animation at Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham, Alabama, Best Animation at San Diego International Film Festival,

 Grand Jury Award for Best Short Documentary at Tasveer Film Festival in Seattle and the Audience Choice Award at Tasveer Film Festival. AMERICAN SIKH also received a special mention at Chicago International Film Festival in Best Short Documentary and an Honorable Mention at Tallgrass Film Festival in Documentary Short Film.

AMERICAN SIKH has qualified to be considered for a 2024 Academy® Award. 

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Sam Bahadur: A Riveting Tale of India’s Military Legend Comes to UK Cinemas

The much-anticipated Bollywood film “Sam Bahadur” has made its grand debut worldwide in cinemas on Friday, 1 December. This cinematic masterpiece pays homage to Field Marshal Sam HFJ, Manekshaw, MC, a name synonymous with valour and strategic brilliance in Indian military history. A feature by columnist Riccha Grrover for Asian Lite International.

Starring in this monumental film is Vicky Kaushal, who vividly brings to life the title role of Sam Bahadur with his power-packed and unique performance. Alongside him are the very talented Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra, Neeraj Kabi, Edward Sonnenblick, and Zeeshan Ayyub, each contributing to the film’s rich tapestry of characters.
Directed by the acclaimed Meghna Gulzar, known for her impactful storytelling in films like “Raazi” and “Talvar,” and produced by the visionary Ronnie Screwvala, “Sam Bahadur” is more than just a biopic – it’s a tribute to a man whose life shaped the geopolitical contours of South Asia.

India’s first Field Marshal, Manekshaw, led an extraordinary life. His career spanned from the tumultuous times of World War II to his pivotal role as the Chief of Army Staff during the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War. This conflict not only altered the course of history but also led to the creation of Bangladesh.

Vicky Kaushal as Sam Manekshaw

“Sam Bahadur” delves deep into Manekshaw’s dynamic personality, showcasing his unyielding spirit and strategic genius. The film is crafted with a narrative that intertwines personal triumphs and professional milestones, bringing to light the essence of a no-nonsense army commander affectionately known as “Sam Bahadur” by those he led.

The screenplay, penned by Bhavani Iyer, Shantanu Srivastava, and Meghna Gulzar, take the audience on a journey through the life of a legendary leader, a man of principle and valour. The musical score of “Sam Bahadur” is crafted by the renowned trio Shankar Ehsan Loy, with soul-stirring lyrics by the legendary Gulzar, adding depth and emotion to this epic narrative.

“Sam Bahadur” isn’t just a film; it’s a slice of history, a story of leadership, and a tribute to a man who became a legend.

“Sam Bahadur” has released nationwide in cinemas through Bakrania Media on Friday, 1 December.

ALSO READ: Karan Johar Reflects on Cinema’s Evolution at IFFI Opening Ceremony

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‘FRIENDS’ Broken After Perry’s Loss

The cast members of ‘Friends’ and Perry’s co-stars are devastated by the actor’s death….reports Asian Lite News

With thousands of tributes pouring in for Matthew Perry, following his death at home, one of the most simple but moving has come from the team behind ‘Friends’, the sitcom that defined an era and made a star of Perry and his “castmates.”

The cast members of ‘Friends’ and Perry’s co-stars are devastated by the actor’s death.

A source told Page Six, “The cast is reeling from the loss of their brother, because that’s what Matty was — their brother. It’s just devastating.”

“The official ‘Friends’ account posted a simple picture of Perry on its Instagram account, alongside the words: ‘We are devastated to learn of Matthew Perry’s passing. He was a true gift to us all. Our heart goes out to his family, loved ones, and all of his fans’”, reports Deadline.

The actor was found dead in the hot tub at his Los Angeles home with media reporting that first responders were called to “a water emergency” in late afternoon.

As per Deadline, Perry had reportedly been playing a game of pickleball before relaxing in his hot tub. He had posted an idyllic-looking picture of himself in the same spot – headphones on, view of the Hollywood hills – just a few days before.

Tributes have come from all over the world to the actor, who played Chandler Bing in ten seasons of the iconic sitcom ‘Friends’.

Alongside David Schwimmer, Matt Le Blanc, Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox and Lisa Kudrow, Perry became a household name, but his memoir released last year revealed the personal burdens he carried during the filming of the series.

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Dominic Megam Sangma’s ‘Rapture’ Tells a Unique Tale

Considering political and religious fear is the dominant emotion in the film, and it is not tough to draw a parallel with the going-on in the Northeast, the director while refusing to comment on the political side of things, stresses that through this film he wanted people to take a ‘pause’ and look at everything rationally and with a clear mind…reports Asian Lite News

As a little boy, studying in a school in mist-kissed Meghalaya, he wrote behind his chair in the classroom — ‘director’.

That is how it started.

Filmmaker Dominic Megam Sangma’s Garo language film ‘Rapture’, which won the Cultural Diversity Award at the 16th Asia Pacific Screen Awards and premiered at the prestigious Locarno Film Festival is all set to be screened at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angele 2023 (IFFLA).

The movie, which takes audiences on a journey into the heart of Meghalaya’s Garo Hills, exploring the intricate interplay between gullibility and tolerance within a rural village is part of a trilogy based on his memories in his village. ‘Rapture’ is the second after ‘Ma. Ama’ made five years ago.

“While Ma. Ama was based on my family, the second one deals with the memories of the people and the village. There is a bit of fiction too. Growing up in the village, some fears have stayed on… In the Northeast, several instances have happened owing to misunderstandings due to the language barriers — fear of strangers, child kidnappers etc. And let us not forget, the Church would preach things like there would be darkness for 40 days and 40 nights, etc. As a child, you may not completely understand many things going on but they did precipitate a certain trauma — and I need to deal with them through my craft,” he tells.

Sangma’s grandfather was an oral storyteller. Garo does not have a script and uses English. He recalls that his initiation started quite early. “You can say I have a background in storytelling. Not to mention, I also wanted to write a book when I was young. Frankly, I got to know about film schools very late in life,” says this pass-out from Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (Kolkata).

Please that his film is set for a screening at IFFLA, he adds: “This is something really big as there are not many Garo filmmakers. It is an honour for the whole community to get the film here.”

Considering political and religious fear is the dominant emotion in the film, and it is not tough to draw a parallel with the going-on in the Northeast, the director while refusing to comment on the political side of things, stresses that through this film he wanted people to take a ‘pause’ and look at everything rationally and with a clear mind. 

“It is paramount to take an unbiased overview and not let fear control us. In ‘Rapture’, everybody exists — the ones who take that pause, and those who let fear rule them. There are multiple questions that I wish to raise — who creates fear and what are we afraid of? It is important to understand that nothing is absolute.

“Who creates this fear? What are we afraid of? I want to create doubt in their belief system that nothing is absolute – one of the factors that divide us nowadays is our belief system, it can be anything, religion, ideologies, political inclination etc,” Sangma adds.

Interestingly, ‘Rapture’ is an Indo-Chinese joint production. The film’s producer Xu Jianshang says: “His works have immense depth. We may have cultural differences but it is a pleasure working together.”

For someone who once wanted to move to Mumbai and make commercially viable cinema, staying back in his village has been the “wisest thing” to have happened to him. “When I started watching the ‘other’ cinema, there was a complete metamorphosis when it came to looking at life through my craft. I find so many important stories in my village and take the community along,” Sangma asserts.

While funding continues to be a major problem for independent filmmakers, Sangma stresses that it is important in one’s story. “You cannot lose courage in your story and change the script every time you send it to someone.”

Lamenting that OTT platforms are no longer the kind of interest they showed earlier in independent cinema, the director adds: “Believe me, some senior executives of leading OTT platforms have asked me about a major festival — ‘Is that a big festival’? Now if they do not even know about important festivals, how do you sell them a film?”


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‘A Ranjith Cinema’ First Look Poster Out, Stars Join the Hype

Manju Warrier, the acclaimed Lady Superstar, had the privilege of unveiling the poster showcasing the female stars of the film, further enhancing the excitement surrounding this project….reports Asian Lite News

The anticipation for Nishant Sattu’s upcoming film, “A Ranjith Cinema,” is building as the first look posters have been unveiled. The excitement was shared not only by the film’s star cast but also by prominent figures in the Malayalam film industry.

Prithviraj Sukumaran took to his social media to release the first look poster, triggering a wave of excitement among fans and industry insiders. Lijo Jose Pellissery, Kunchacko Boban, Tovino Thomas, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Biju Menon, Unni Mukundan, Antony Varghese Pepe, and other leading stars joined in the promotion.

Lady Superstar Manju Warrier did the honours of revealing the poster featuring the female stars of the film, adding to the buzz surrounding this project.

“A Ranjith Cinema” boasts a talented ensemble cast, with Asif Ali, Saiju Kurup, Anson Paul, Namitha Pramod, Hannah Regi Kosi, and Jewel Mary in lead roles. The film promises to be a romantic family thriller set against a compelling family backdrop.

In addition to the stellar main cast, the film also features an array of renowned actors, including Harishree Asokan, Aju Varghese, Kalabhavan Nawaz, Ranji Panicker (of ‘Ustad Hotel’ fame), Kottayam Ramesh, Jayakrishnan, Mukundan, Krishna, Krishnan Balakrishnan, Santhosh George Kulangara, Jassi Gift Jordy Erathupetta, Sabita Anand, Shobha Mohanan, and many others in crucial roles.

Produced by Nishad Peachey and Babu Joseph under the banner Luminous Film Factory, the film is executive produced by Namit R and One Two Three Frames. Sunoj Velayudhan and Kunjunni S Kumar are handling cinematography duties, while Rafeeq Ahmed and Ajeesh Dasan have composed the lyrics, set to music by Mithun Ashokan.

The film’s crew includes Javed Chemb as Production Controller, Akhil Raj Chirail and Koyas as Art Directors, Rony Vellathuval as Makeup Artist, Vipindas as Costume Designer, and Nidad and Shalu Peyad as Stills Photographers. Collins Leophile is responsible for Advertising Art, and A S Dinesh and Rogin K Roy are managing Public Relations.

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‘I am Sirat’ Explores Transgender Struggles

Deepa said when she was in Delhi in November Sirat came to meet her. “She said why don’t you make a film on what I am going through. It took me just a few days and I said: Let’s make the film.” …reports Asian Lite News

Deepa Mehta’s documentary ‘I am Sirat’, which unravels the inner life of a Delhi-based transgender woman, has created a big buzz after its premiere at the ongoing Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) here.

Shot on smartphones, ‘I am Sirat’ explores the troubling and complex duality of her life.

Sirat has to suppress her inner urge to live like a woman so that her mother, and a married sister and extended relatives are not scandalized. 

As she was not willing to abandon her widowed mother as she was her only support, Sirat continues to live with her as her boy and rents a room to live out her real self as a trans woman.   

When her lip-synched Punjabi songs and dance reels posted on Instagram get her a big following, she was forced to remove them by her relatives. 

For this conflicted trans woman, the high point of her life arrives when she was granted her TG certificate by a government department, celebrating it by visiting India Gate with a friend and posing for pictures. 

In a post-screening discussion, Deepa Mehta said she and Sirat produced the documentary collaboratively.

Deepa said when she was in Delhi in November Sirat came to meet her. “She said why don’t you make a film on what I am going through. It took me just a few days and I said: Let’s make the film.”

The Toronto-based filmmaker added, “I told Sirat: It is your film. You’re the narrator. It has to be seen through your lens. You film yourself, you make the beginning, the middle and the end and I will film you filming yourself.”

“I have known Sirat for four years now as we previously worked together on a film called Laila. Sirat is somebody who is fearless and yet is having a difficult time … having a dual existence. She is caught between her duty to her mother and (desire for) self-determination.This is what she is doing to this day. I have learnt so much from her.”

For her part, Sirat – who now calls Deepa Mehta her mother – hoped that the documentary will help people and her mother accept her as a proud transgender woman.

ALSO READ-Xiaomi India to upskill transgender community