‘NFDC Film Bazaar Goes to Cannes’

By Pickle  June 22, 2020

A quintet of independent Indian films, all feature debuts, will be pitching for global breakthroughs in Marche du Film’s ‘Goes to Cannes’ section
Saibal Chatterjee

Five films-in-post, all debut features, constitute the ‘NFDC Film Bazaar Goes to Cannes’ selection for the Marche du Film, which will this year be a wholly digital platform.

The Indian quintet will join 15 other films – five apiece from Hong Kong- Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF), Poland’s New Horizons International Film Festival and the Thessaloniki Film Festival – in vying for the attention of sales agents, distributors and festival curators at the premier event scheduled from June 22 to 26.

Two of these titles – Ajitpal Singh’s Hindi-language Fire in the Mountains and Natesh Hegde’s Kannada film Pedro – were NFDC Film Bazaar 2019 Work-in-Progress (WIP) Lab winners.

Prasun Chatterjee’s Bengali film Dostojee (Two Friends) was part of Film Bazaar Recommends last year, while Ashish Pant’s Uljhan (The Knot) and Irfana Majumdar’s Shankar’s Fairies, two Hindi films set in Lucknow, were in the WIP Lab lineup.


Dostojee, an independent Bengali film, has taken seven years out of the life of young writer-director Prasun Chatterjee. All the effort and time have borne fruit: the film is now on the Cannes bandwagon.

It is set in the early 1990s in a rural Bengal outpost, as far away as one could have got from the reverberations of the Babri Masjid demolition and the subsequent Mumbai serial blasts.

Through the prism of an “innocent friendship” between two village boys, Palash and Safikul, Dostojee examines how two cataclysmic events that took place three months apart impacted the two boys and their village.

Chatterjee, who has designed the film’s sound without banking on music, wrote the script in 2013. “I have been travelling in the area for the last 12 years. I even lived there for two-anda-half years to understand the struggles of the exceedingly poor people there,” he says.

Besides a few theatre actors, the cast of Dostojee has 150-plus villagers, all non-actors. The two main roles are played by boys from the border village, Ashik Sheikh and Arif Sheikh. One is the son of a migrant worker; the other’s father works as an earth-digger for a local brick kiln. To help them ease themselves into the unfamiliar job of acting, Chatterjee would sit down with the two schoolboys every day and assist them with their homework.

Ashik and Arif weren’t the only ones who learnt on the job during the Dostojee shoot. Director of photography Tuhin Biswas did, too. Biswas is an award-winning photographer (and primary school teacher in Ranaghat, Nadia district) who was hired to click working stills. He took over as the cinematographer. His work is earning accolades on the evidence of the trailer alone.

“We shot the film in different seasons. A rain-making machine cannot produce showers to replicate natural rain,” says Chatterjee. “Also, in the period that Dostojee is set, there was no electricity in this village (which is located in the last subdivision on this side of the India-Bangladesh border between Murshidabad and Rajshahi). Everything had to be filmed in light from natural sources and from candles and lanterns.”

Chatterjee says he will be pitching Dostojeeto both festival heads and sales agents.


The Hindi-language Fire in the Mountains, directed by Ajitpal Singh, is set in an Uttarakhand village where tradition still hinders the path of modernity.

A woman saves money with the intention of making life easier for her disabled son. Her husband, on the other hand, has his eyes set on her savings. He has a shamanic ritual in mind as a means to curing the child.

Fire in the Mountains is produced by Ajay Rai of JAR Pictures, who came on board after seeing Singh’s 2018 short film Rammat Gammat. Veteran French cinematographer Dominique Colin (who has worked with Gaspar Noe and Cedric Klapisch)is the film’s director of photography

A personal tragedy triggered Singh’s first narrative feature. The filmmaker lost a cousin because her husband believed she was possessed and therefore refused to take her to a hospital. “I was angry and dealing with the shock when the idea struck me,” says the writer-director. “My cousin was a progressive woman married to a conservative, old school guy.”

It is a similar clash between tradition and modernity that Fire in the Mountains explores. “In Uttarakhand, I found out about shamanic practices like ‘jaagar’ in which gods and spirits are summoned to cure ailments. It was the perfect setting for this kind of film.” Debutante Vinamrata Rai (she has been in short films before) plays the female lead opposite the NSD trained Chandan Bisht. Fire in the Mountains also has Sonal Jha in a secondary role.

About the Film Bazaar Goes to Cannes programme, Singh says: “If the pandemic hadn’t happened, I would have had a clear picture, but now I am going along and trying to figure out what is really happening in the market.”

The Marche du Film participation, he hopes, will help him know what the industry’s strategy is going to be in the current situation. “I just want to know where we stand and how we should plan ahead,” says Singh.


Pedro is directed by Natesh Hegde, a filmmaker based out of a small village near Dharwad in Karnataka. The project won the WIP Lab’s DI Support Award at the 2019 NFDC Film Bazaar.

The film is about a middle-aged electrician (played by Hegde’s father) living with his mother and his brother’s family in a remote village. The man commits an act that upsets the villagers and elicits an unexpected reaction from them.

“My father is an electrician. The film is based on some incidents in his life,” says Hegde. “There is a great deal of fiction in the film although the characters are real. They are from my village, and some are even relatives. In Pedro, I want to navigate between documentary and fiction.”

Hegde hopes, first and foremost, to tap the Goes to Cannes section to land a good festival premiere. “I will, of course, also be looking for distributors,” he adds. Hegde, a self-taught filmmaker, regards the late G. Aravindan as his principal creative lodestar. “I have been aspiring to be a filmmaker for 6-7 years now,” he says. “The director who inspires me the most is Aravindan. “In his films, the line between the real and the imagined is blurred.”

Hegde cites Aravindan’s Thampu, a film about circus performers shot in documentary style, as a case in point. “It is hard to fathom how he managed to shoot the close-ups of those people. His films were disarmingly simple but they had important things to say,” says the young filmmaker.


Set in early 1960s Lucknow, Shankar’s Fairies is based on “the childhood memories” of director Irfana Majumdar’s historian-mother. The film is about a nine-year-old child of a senior police officer and her bonding with a family retainer, Shankar.

Majumdaris a Varanasi-based theatre director, teacher and solo performer.“ In terms of aesthetics, visuals and the film’s spatial feel, I’ve relied on the instincts that my theatre training has given me,” she says.

The cast of the film has a mix of trained performers and non-actors, with whom she did a lot of work for several months before the shoot. “The main actor lived in the house and worked as a servant in preparation for the role,” says Majumdar.

The short synopsis of Shankar’s Fairies on the Marche du Film site reads: “A little girl belonging to a privileged family and a village man who is the family servant share a relationship based on imagination and stories. Underlying their innocent bonds are divided worlds: city and village, master and servant, adult and child.”

In Shankar’s Fairies, Majumdar has used her mother’s recollections to craft a non-linear, fictionalized film in which most of the incidents in the film take place in houses similar to the Lucknow Cantonment bungalows that officers of the Uttar Police Force lived in. “The setting is very real,” she says.

Her expectations from the Marche du Film? “This is our first feature film and we’ve made it completely independently. We are looking for anyone who might partner with us to help us get the film seen and get it out to the world,” Majumdar says.


The second Lucknow film in the NFDC Film Bazaar selection, Ashish Pant’s Uljhan (The Knot) homes in on a middle-class couple whose car is involved in an accident one night. The conflicting reactions of the two to the incident drives a wedge between them and turns the spotlight on their values and beliefs.

Produced by Kartikeya Singh (Anhey Gorhey Da Daan, ChauthiKoot, Soni), Uljhan is Pant’s first feature. He is a writing and directing alumnus from Columbia University who worked in theatre, assisting a lot of directors. He now teaches film in New York.

The Knot (Hindi, Urdu, Awadhi) has its genesis in a real-life car mishap that happened when Pant was seven years old. He says: “Within a few minutes the car was surrounded by people banging on the windows. They assumed that we had made a mistake. I was terrified. That image stayed with me.”

“Lucknow,” Pant says, “has always been portrayed on the screen in the historical context. But my film is totally contemporary.”The central character in Uljhan is a small businessman. Says Pant: “It is very much about the class structure but the difference is that we have restricted the perspective to the middle-class couple.”

“The third character,” he explains, “comes from outside this class, but any judgement that the audience will make will emerge from the perspective of the middle class. My intention is to get the viewer to think what they would have done had they been in a similar situation.”

Vikas Kumar (Hamid), Saloni Batra (Soni) and Nehpal Gautam play the three main roles in Uljhan. “The film is pretty much complete, so we are looking for festival slots,” says Pant. “But we will also explore sales and distribution opportunities.”

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Christopher Nolan Films Tenet in Mumbai

Heard About Enjoy Enjaami. Here it is

Dada Saheb Award Gets Rajinikanth

MIPTV Director Lucy Smith Gives Sneak Peak of Digital MIPTV

What Buyers Expect From Digital MIPTV

China Eyes Animation Content at MIPTV

Sikkim is India’s Most Film Friendly State

National Film Awards: Sushant Singh’s Chichchore, Dhanush, Manoj Bajpayee, Kangana Among Winners

UNESCO, USO India, Toonz tie up for World Water Day Animation Creation

Virtual Pre-Cannes Screenings For Buyers Before July Physical Market

Accreditations Are Open For Cannes 2021

Stage set for Cannes from July 6. Spike Lee, Cannes Jury Head

Matchmaking Biz Accelerator At Digital MIPTV 2021

MIPTV 2021 Trend: Increasing Demand for Distribution & Co-Production

MIPTV honours A+E Networks president Paul Buccieri

Thanu For Making Producers’ Mission Possible

Mehrunisa Aims more Destinations

Delhi Photographer Sohrab Hura’s Film The Coast in Berlinale’s Forum Expanded

Berlinale Talents 2021: Nine Talents from India

Tamil Film Pebbles by Vinothraj Wins Tiger Award at Rotterdam

Re-Imagined European Film Market 2021

EFM Global Market Screenings in Tokyo, Melbourne, Sao Paulo, Mexico

Berlinale Co-Prod Market: 35 Films from 25 Countries

Books at Berlinale 2021: 10 Books will be Pitched for Screen Adaptation

Highlights: Berlinale Series Market & Conference

Uday Shankar forms New Tech and Media Venture with James Murdoch

With Film Visa, Global Producers Can Now Shoot in India

CII Seeks Industry Status for M&E in Union Budget

51st IFFI Will Capture New Narratives in Cinema

15 Films Compete for Golden Peacock at #IFFI51

Top IFFI Picks: Another Round, Mehrunisa, Wife of A Spy

Hybrid IFFI From January 16

CII BIG PICTURE SUMMIT 2012: Growth Triggers From Ronnie

What Media Guru Amit Khanna Said in CII BIG PICTURE SUMMIT 2012

LATAM Market Ventana Sur from November 30

Blue Efficience Roped in For Ventana Sur

Films to watch @ Ventana Sur

India Rolls out Red Carpet to Foreign Filmmakers

Ramesh Sharma’s New Documentary Film on Gandhi at AFM

The Warrior Queen of Jhansi at AFM

www.cinemarket.io – Buy, Sell & Engage

Embracing Cinema Through Screens of all Sizes

Nomadland wins People’s Choice at Toronto

MIPCOM 2020 Goes Entirely Online

South Korea will be MIPCOM 2020 country of honor

India, the Window of Opportunity

Get Ready for Hybrid IFFI

Film Making Centres of India

Get Your Film Take Wings at Virtual Film Bazaar

Make at least Ten co-productions in a year

Filmmakers Should Make use of India-Canada Treaty

TIFF: The Show and Business Goes on

Navigating Toronto Film Festival and Industry

Make in India, Show the World

Be Part of the Pickle India Focused Toronto Edition

ads2OTT set to Launch in Oct 2020

MovieSaints to release Memories of a Forgotten War

Truth Is Dead

Submissions Open For Berlinale Co-Production Market

Gender Equality-Berlinale Eliminates Silver Bear for Best Actor and Best Actress

All3Media, A+E Networks, BBC Studios, ZDF Join MIPCOM 2020 Global UPFRONTS Lineup

NürnbergMesse’s Content India Show from October 29-31

Berlinale 2021 Will be a Physical Festival; EFM in Hybrid Format

Best of 2020: A Dazzling Dozen

Striking the Right Chord

Ishaan Khatter looking ‘beyond clouds’ with promising upcoming projects

IFFI 2020 Adopts Hybrid Online-Physical Edition

India Unbound

20 Films That Make us Believe Freedom is Priceless

Krishna Janmashtami Special

National Education Policy: Game Changer

18 Must-See Films at Venice 2020

Ayushmann Turns Athlete

Indian Trio in Venice

Blockchain: The Future is Now

Not right time to open cinema halls: Ravi Kottarakara

Meet, ERICA. AI Actor in a SCI-FI Film

Vidya Balan Set to Shine as Shakuntala Devi

Straight Answers From Alexander Shulgin

Content is king for Saregama’s Yoodlee

Nuggets From Animation Thought Leaders

NYIFF Takes Virtual Route

From The Heart Of Disney

New Model of Filmmaking in India

My Journey: How I Did It

Animation in the Age of Art & Tech

Making Filming in India More Easy

Gaurav Banerjee: Star Unveiled

FDI cap of 26% for News Aggregators Under Consideration

The Changemaker

COVID-19 has Accelerated Digital Shift Towards Across Sectors

No Business as Usual for Film Industry

What’s Wrong With our News Media Today ?

The Fire Inside Regina

Gaming Industry Braves Covid

Disney +Hotstar Leads the Disruption

Taapsee’s takes on OTT, Nepotism & Covid

Oscar Invites QUBE’s Senthil Kumar to be its Member at Large

What’s New Search Engine Neeva Can Do That Google Cannot?

The New Oscar Award Date April 25, 2021

India to Offer Incentive Package for Film Shoots and Co-Production

‘NFDC Film Bazaar Goes to Cannes’

Strings of Genius

A Ray That Still Lights The Way

Best of the Cannes Official Selection 2020 Films

Most Awaited Films of India

56 Films: Cannes Reveals 2020 Lineup

The Making of Cannes 2020 Film Selection Process

Cannes Virtual Film Market Extends Earlybird Registration to June 12

Annecy Jury Members

Take a Look at Annecy Competition Lineup

Getting Back to Business, Reveals Media Consumption Pattern

Cannes 2020 to Announce Festival Selection Lineup on June 3

20 Work in Progress Tiltles Unveiled for Goes to Cannes

Annecy VR Works Selections for Digital MIFA Market

Film Bazaar’s Work in Progress Films from India Goes to Cannes Virtual Market

Navigating Virtual Cannes Film Market 2020

Meet the Streamers: HBO Max & Quibi Keynotes at Cannes Virtual Film Market

Dedicated Cannes XR Virtual Edition from June 24-26

Screen Moms; Best Movies to Stream on Mother’s Day

Vijay Deverakonda: The Lovable ‘Rowdy’

Sai Pallavi: Natural Beauty is a Natural Actor Too

Cannes Virtual Film Market Registration Opens May 13

COVID-19: Nuggets from Netflix’s Ted Sarandos on Filming and Safety Protocols

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan is New Sensation in Netflix Original Series Never Have I Ever

The Best Movies of 2001-2019 Not Streaming in OTT Platforms

Best Movies of the New Millennium Streaming Now

Best Movies of the New Millennium Streaming Now

Best Movies of the New Millennium Streaming Now

Best Movies of the New Millennium Streaming Now

Best Movies of the New Millennium Streaming Now

Annecy Unveils Virtual Film Festival and Market in June

Roskino to Host Russian Virtual Digital Content Market from June 8

27 Rishi Kapoor Films to Stream at Home Now

Virtual Nab Show Express will Take Place May 13-14, 2020

51 International Film Festival of India, Goa ( 20 -28 November, 2020)

Films to Watch in 2020

A Call From Uttarakhand For Filmmakers Of The World

FFO Rolls Out Red Carpet For Foreign Filmmakers

INDIA@BERLINALE-Indian Cinema’s Voices Emerging

51st IFFI TO Mark Satyajit Ray’s Centenary Celebrations

Infusing Life With Dubbing AT VR Films & Studios

Sailing well in Animation Waters

Berlinale 2020: India’s Laila Aur Satt Geet Selected for ‘Encounters’ Section

Prateek Vats’ Eeb Allay Ooo! in Berlinale Panaroma

Berlinale Shorts: Ekta Mittal’s ‘Gumnaam Din’ to showcase of pain of separation

Berlinale Talents: Seven Indians Make It to the List

My Salinger Year is the Opening Film at 70th Berlinale



Berlinale Forum Celebrates Golden Jubilee in 2020

Berlinale 2020 Poster Unveiled

British Actor Jeremy Irons Will Be the Jury President of Berlinale 2020

Amit Khanna: The Renaissance Man

Fantastic Friend




10 Achievements of Amit Khanna

Reflections on Amit Khanna

Valuable Moments

India Enchants John Bailey

The Big Bachchan of Bollywood


IFFI 50 & Fantastic-Lifetime Achievement Award to Isabelle Huppert




Transforming Hollywood from pixels to voxels

Government of India committed to Safeguard IP content: Commerce Secretary

Must do Things at AFM

Why India Attracts Foreign Filmmakers

Pickle at MIPCOM 2019


Super Audio: Licensed to Thrill

Jungle Book Season 3 Ready

Issuance of VPL in India

Editor’s Note: 44th Toronto International Film Festival Pickle Sept 2019 Edition


Seven Indian Indie Filmmakers To Watch

Indian Cinema Of Today: A Culturally Responsive Artifact

Indie Resurgence

Indian Films At Toronto a Sparkling Quartet

IFFI Matters @ 50

Four Indian Films at the Toronto International Film Festival 2019

India Pavilion at Toronto International Film Market 2019

Made in Afghan Film ‘Hava, Maryam, Ayesha’ To Compete at Venice Festival

Keerthy Suresh: The Mahanati of Mahanati. Best Actress, National Film Award

Uttarakhand Bags National Award for Most Film Friendly State

66th National Film Awards Winners for 2018

Watan Adds Colour to Indian Independence Day

dream hampton and Brie Miranda Bryant to Feature in MIPCOM’S Women in Global Entertainment Lunch 2019

Making a Song and Dance of it

NFDC Invites Applications for Production of Films in Indian Languages; Deadline September 8, 2019

IFFI Calls for Entry for Indian Panorama in 50th Edition

Ease of Filming in India

Come, Film In Inida

Why TikTok wants to invest $1 billion in India?

Priyanka Chopra’s The Sky is Pink Set to Premiere in 2019 Toronto Internaitonal Film Festival’s Gala Section

Gitanjali Rao’s Animation Feature Bombay Rose to open Critics’ Week at Venice International Film Festival

76th Venice International Film Festival to Open With Hirokazu Kore-eda’s ‘The Truth’

Indian Cinema’s Soft Power Misses the Mark in Nirmala Sitharaman’s Maiden Budget Speech

Shahid’s Kabir Singh Becomes Top-Grossing Film of 2019

Finance Minister Proposes FDI Norm Relaxation in Media

Media & Entrtainment as Champion Sector Figures in the Economic Survey 2018-19

Indian Cinema’s Steady Rise on Global Stage

Glimpses of the future

IFFI Marching Towards 50th Edition

Cannes or Netflix? Is Netflix an acceptable remediation for Cannes’ decades-long little regard for Indian Cinema?

Play Small & Live Long Did Wonders for Me

Chandrakant Singh is Looking for a Coproduction Partner at Berlinale

Shooting Locales in India -Andhra Pradesh

SACOM Mediaworks

Driver of Growth

Digital, OTT to Make it Big in India