India, land of beautiful locales and great talents, has reopened its doors for filming in India for global producers and studios. Film Facilitation Office (FFO), set up by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting in the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC), is currently accepting online applications for foreign producers to shoot in India
There are few countries that can compete with India’s geographical and cultural diversity when it comes to filming in India. From the lofty snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas to the sand dunes of Rajasthan’s Thar Desert in North India and the sandy beaches of Goa in the south, one can easily replicate the backdrops of Mandarin China in Kolkata’s downtown, Afghanistan in the rugged mountains of Ladakh, Jamaica in feisty Goa, and Arabian nights in Jodhpur.
India is the world’s largest film producer, producing approximately 2,000 films per year. Its sheer size and the number of films released each year have caused the world to take notice of Indian cinema. It is now well established that a compelling story with universal themes has the ability to transcend borders. Indian films are made in a variety of locations throughout the country, and each of these filmmaking cities serves as a cinematic hub for one major language.
Mumbai, India’s film capital, is home to the Hindi film industry. Marathi-language films are also produced in the city, which is inextricably linked to Indian cinema history (along with neighbouring Pune). Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, Guwahati, Patna, and Delhi NCR are other major Indian film production cities.
The Indian AVGC story is reaching a crescendo as international studios expand their presence in India, making it a hub for virtual production, post-production, visual effects, and graphics, and as storytellers weave intricate narratives with universal appeal.
India also has world-class production and post-production facilities, as well as skilled labour, and when these benefits are combined with a transparent and responsive government-backed system for obtaining various shooting permits, it has the potential to greatly enhance the beauty of filming in India.
As the world’s largest filmmaking country emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, it intends to focus on making it easier for international filmmakers to explore this beautiful country while also utilising low-cost and highly skilled film production professionals to add global appeal to their stories.
As a result of some serious efforts put in by FFO, as many as 138 international projects (Feature Films, TV/Web shows and series) from across 33 countries have been accorded permissions to film in India. Out of these, 13 projects were granted official coproduction status by the Ministry of I&B.
Now that the Government of India has opened business visas for overseas companies to travel into the country, global film producers and studios with Film Visa are exploring options to come and film in India. The aviation restrictions have been lifted for foregin business travellers and companies into India.
Already, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has announced guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for film shooting and media production in the country. Various State governments have also issued SOPs for film shooting in their respective States detailing dos and don’ts aligning with prevailing local Covid conditions.
Film Visa, a special category for foreign filmmakers, producers and crew members to shoot in India was introduced in 2017 on the initiation by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.
Dilip Singh Rathore, India’s most successful Line Producer for leading Hollywood Studios and European filmmakers, confirmed to Pickle that global producers are “expediting the process” to film in India in the new scenario of opening business to overseas companies.
Rathore’s On the Road Productions was the line producer for Christopher Nolan’s ‘Tenet’ (Produced by Warner Bros’) for filming portions of the movie in Mumbai.
“We are constantly getting calls over the last two days on filming in India,” says Rathore. “Interest in film in India is top in the radar of global producers. I am very optimistic that foreign film projects which were stalled in the beginning of the year will soon get activated.”
Italian filmmaker and producer Sergio Scapagnini is soon set to shoot in India for the new India-Italy co-produced film directed by Goutham Ghose. UK-based Collin Burrows of Film Treats Production is looking to film in India for forthcoming projects. Late last year, Paramount Pictures had announced producing web series ‘The Bear’ for Apple TV to be shot in Madhya Pradesh. The Hollywood project was based on a bestseller novel by Gregory David Roberts ‘Shantaram’.
Business visits among global production houses are also likely to pick up in the coming days as India offers cost effective solutions for animation, VFX and gaming verticals of the Media and Entertainment industry. Major Indian production companies have strengthened their remote servicing capabilities in animation, VFX and digital intermediaries for collaboration.
Film Facilitation Office (FFO), set up by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting in the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC), is currently accepting online applications for foreign producers to shoot in India.
FFO which was set up with a view to promote and facilitate film shootings by foreign filmmakers in India has also been extended to Indian filmmakers as well.
In the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, Indian film locales have captured the attention of global producers and viewers. Mira Nair’s TV series ‘A Suitable Boy’, a six-episode, 349-minute long series, adapted from Vikram Seth’s classic novel, was extensively shot in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, India. It is currently streamed on Netflix across the world and BBC One (in UK and Ireland). Netlflix’s action thriller ‘Extraction’ starring Chris Hemsworth was filmed in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. Netflix has revealed that ‘Extraction’ tops the list in its 10 most-watched original movies of all time, as of today.
Another leading line producer stated that in recent times Film Visas have streamlined foreign film shooting in India. “Quick visa clearances for the foreign crew is one of the reasons why more foreign filmmakers are coming to shoot in India. For shooting in India, foreign filmmakers have to get clearance from the I&B Ministry. The Ministry officials coordinate with the Indian embassies abroad, and help in getting visa clearances faster. “Over 118 international films have been shot in the last four years and the FFO has been offering all support to filmmakers to shoot in India.
I welcome changes. But I am a very old school person where I enjoy watching films in theater with the community, says actress Taapsee Pannu, while talking about OTT and cinema halls at CII Delhi eConclave ‘Building Delhi for a New World’
The film fraternity is together in this (Covid-19) crisis. There are a lot of workers who depend on weekly wages and all of us have decided to take care of them till the time the economy gets back to normal. I believe that when things return to normal, people will flock the theatres again. You can’t replicate the theatre experience with streaming websites, says Taapsee Pannu.
While speaking on nepotism in the film industry, the actress, who is popular pan-India thanks to movies in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu, mentions that favouritism, being integral to human nature, will not go out of the industry and we cannot totally get rid of it.
“I also have that urge of going back to work because I’ve never had Monday blues. We don’t have weekend or weekday in our profession. I am finally looking to going to work knowing probably that I will be the last one going to work,” she says, at CII Delhi eConclave ‘Building Delhi for a New World’.
On Covid, the actress says, “We never believed that such a crisis will happen. I guess none of us have prepared for it. We are lucky enough that many of us still survive. But there are so many who have literally hand to mouth existence in terms of not just the labour workers, but people who earn per shoot or per day basis and, and those people I don’t think can survive beyond a few weeks. The industry did come together to raise funds and then help these people out in a lot of ways. Also migrant workers walking back home are painful insights of Covid.”
Talking about OTT and big cinema, Taapse says, “I welcome changes. But I am a very old school person where I enjoy watching films in theater with the community. Rarely do we see people just going alone to watch a film. The experience of going in a big dark hall and focusing all your energy on a huge screen can’t be replicated anywhere else. II was not an ardent OTT viewer before lockdown happened because an average film also will look good to me in a theatre. I enjoy watching films in theatre and really miss that. I have a firm belief that when things get back to the old normal, not the new normal, I think everybody is going to rush to theater to have that experience with all safety norms. OTT platform is good as a temporary fix.”
The Film Facilitation Office set up by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in NFDC is going all out to ensure that foreign filmmakers don’t face any hassle while shooting their movies in the country. Christopher Nolan recently shot his film Tenet in Mumbai in a smooth manner and his team is all praise for the Indian officials for their support
Gone are the days when shooting in India was a herculean task for foreign filmmakers. Things have changed for good with the formation of Film Facilitation Office (FFO), which is rendering all support to directors and producers from abroad to make their movies in India.
A classic example is Tenet, the Warner Bros produced Christopher Nolan film which was shot recently with ease in Mumbai, called as the business capital of India and home to Bollywood (Hindi cinema), thanks to facilitation provided by FFO. Over 160 foreign crew members, 600 Indian crew members and 2000 extras were part of the film helmed by Nolan.
This is New India and people are ready to help anytime, feel foreign filmmakers who have lately shot their movies in the sub-continent, land of colourful amalgamations of different cultures, multiple locations and beautiful backdrops.
And, the support by FFO is immense, which is rolling out red carpet to foreign filmmakers to make their vision a reality in India, with all ease.
Nolan’s shoot in Mumbai was rather extensive and ambitious. But, the filmmaker and his team didn’t feel the difficulty at all, despite shooting the movie in busy areas. In fact, the director wrapped up his shoot in well under a week.
Interestingly, Nolan had earlier shot his Batman: The Dark Knight Rises in Jodhpur, Rajasthan.
Tenet stars John David-Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Clemence Poesy, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Dimple Kapadia with Kenneth Branagh and Michael Caine. Tipped to be an action thriller, it is slated to hit theatres next year, on July 17, 2020.
Says Dileep Singh Rathore, the India producer of Tenet: “I recently completed a six-day schedule of Tenet in India, and it was only possible because we got the permissions in time. As someone who has faced a lot of trouble in getting permissions in the past, now, it feels like a red carpet has been rolled out for foreign projects in India. I have four other international projects in the pipeline to shoot in India.”
According to Rathore, “We were super excited by the coordination and facilitation provided by Film Facilitation Office set-up by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and the state of Maharashtra. It’s best of the facilitation one could get for a film shoot. We are extremely thankful to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India and the co-ordinators at FFO and B A Gagrani, Principal Secretary at the Chief Minister’s Office, Government of Maharashtra. They were instrumental in getting all the permission clearances. This time for the first time, I saw that every department was accountable and FFO office was extremely supportive and they did wonders. I have to specifically point out FFO’s intervention in getting permission from Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) which provides permission for aerial shootings in the country. We could use helicopter for the Tenet film shoot.”
If figures are anything to go by, at least half-a-dozen foreign projects are currently being made in India. “Quick visa clearances for the foreign crew is one of the reasons why more foreign filmmakers are coming to shoot in India. For shooting in India, foreign filmmakers have to get clearance from the I&B Ministry. The ministry officials coordinate with the Indian embassies abroad, and help in getting visa clearances faster,.” says a leading line producer.
It is to be noted that the Information & Broadcasting Ministry, in 2017, consulted the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of External Affairs, and introduced a special visa category for foreign filmmakers. Also, as foreign filmmakers often want to capture aerial scenes, a separate department has been introduced to cater to these requests. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) provides permission for aerial shootings in the country.
Earlier, getting the permission to shoot in India used to take five-six months. But now, it has come down to three-four weeks.
The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India, set up the FFO in the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) with a view to promote and facilitate film shootings by foreign filmmakers in India. The services rendered by the FFO have now been extended to Indian filmmakers as well.
It acts as a single-window facilitation and clearance mechanism that eases filming in India, as well as endeavouring to create a film-friendly ecosystem and promoting the country as a filming destination. The institution of the ‘Most Film Friendly State’ Award, which was won by the State of Gujarat in 2015, the State of Uttar Pradesh in 2016 and the State of Madhya Pradesh in 2017, is a unique initiative in this direction.
In the recently announced 66th National Film Awards, Uttarakhand bagged the honour for ‘Best Film Friendly State’ for ‘furthering the growth of the film industry in the State including creating an environment for ease of filming in the State, encouraging skill/talent development, incentivizing the re-opening of closed cinema halls, formation of film development fund, continuing with the earlier incentive plan for filming, formation of Utttarakhand Film Development Council among other pro active initiatives’.
FFO acts as a facilitation point for the foreign producers and production companies along with their Indian Producer/Line Producer in assisting them to get requisite permissions, disseminate information on shooting locations and the facilities available with the Indian film Industry for production/post production and works closely with State Governments in assisting them to set up similar facilities.
Foreign filmmakers desirous of shooting their Feature Films, Reality TV shows and commercial TV series in India, can apply online at the FFO website. And, the rest will be taken care of in a professional and friendly manner.
Veteran Indian film Producer Dileep Singh Rathore, who heads On The Road India, talks about how things have changed for better for foreign filmmakers who are willing to shoot their movies in India. Rathore shares his experience on the facilitation provided by Ministry of Information & Broadcasting’s Film Facilitation Office for Christopher Nolan’s film Tenet’s shoot in India
Tell us about On The Road India productions…
We are a 28-year-old company. I started very young when I was in my teens. We began our work, when there were no production service companies in India. I have worked with Shashi Kapoor and was with him in Russia for shooting. Then began, On The Road India and we have been working since then for many big projects. We have worked on projects for major studios like Warner Bros. Pictures and Walt Disney. We are production experts in the Indian and South Asian region with over decades of handling international feature projects, award winning documentaries, commercials and high-end still projects. In all these years, we have done over 35 major international projects. Our latest was Christopher Nolan’s Tenet (Warner Bros). We were the Indian producers for the project. We did the film shoot in Mumbai. We were super excited by the coordination and facilitation provided by Film Facilitation Office set-up by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and the state of Maharashtra.
Share your experience of Christopher Nolan’s film shoot in Mumbai…
It’s best of the facilitation one could get for a film shoot. We are extremely thankful to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India and the co-ordinators at FFO and B A Gagrani, Principal Secretary at the Chief Minister’s Office, Government of Maharashtra. They were instrumental in getting all the permission clearances. This time for the first time, I saw that every department was accountable and FFO office was extremely supportive and they did wonders. I have to specifically point out FFO’s intervention in getting permission from Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) which provides permission for aerial shootings in the country. We could use helicopter for the Tenet film shoot. We still have some issues related to Customs — because for this kind of film, we bring large quantity of equipment. I feel, if this could be streamlined, that would be wonderful. We paid all our fees to BMC and other agencies. They gave all local permissions, allowed us to park our vehicles, and set base camps. There was perfect synergy between the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and the State Government of Maharashtra. We have to make sure, we help every filmmaker who come to India to shoot.
Do you see visible changes happening for film shoots in India?
Things are changing for sure. I can say with my 25 years of experience in this industry that it was difficult to get permissions. There were times Government used to behave that they do favours to local or international filmmakers who are bringing the films to shoot. With FFO, I can see visible changes in coordination. This is the first time, Government is taking the initiative that the filmmaker who is coming from abroad has to face no hassles. He gets his permission on time and he is assisted with the government machinery. The is a good example of ease of filming and doing business in India. Also, there is a realisation of money coming into the country. jobs getting created and helping tourism. A foreign film shoot creates job at every level from the film industry to affiliated industries (which support the film industry like hotels, transport, catering).
Will Nolan come back for another shoot?
Nolan was extremely happy and satisfied with the Mumbai film shoot. He had great time. Also, he loves India. There were no major hiccups and he had a fantastic time. He really enjoyed his filming, showcased India in a beautiful way. He loved Mumbai city and the food. This was his second film shoot. I was the India producer for his first film shoot Batman: The Dark Knight Rises. We had issues during that time. This time, it is different. He will definitely come back again. Because of his love for India.
Do you think more foreign films’ shoots will come to India…
With this great experience, Nolan would talk about it. Definitely, Warner Bros would want to come to India for another project. If filmmakers like Nolan or Peter Wier shoot in India, they bring lot of revenue. There is also a feel good factor to the country. There is a goodwill. That’s very important. And if people at level like Nolan or Warner Brothers talk about, global studios and filmmakers and will listen to that.
FFO had come to Los Angeles and we set up meetings with Warner Bros. They got convinced to come to India. Having done everything well, in a timely manner, it will boost the confidence to bring another project to India. I can clearly see new projects coming to India.
What is India’s biggest attraction to foreign filmmakers?
India is vibrant, beautiful and looks different from rest of the world. Why do people come to India all the way. They want to come to India for the elements they find in India. International filmmakers come for archaeological places like forts and palaces, Indian forests, Indian trains, vibrancy in Indian cities. If ease of permission gets better, India will find mentions in more scripts developed in the world. Even a small film brings couple of million dollars. Foreign film shooting and production services have to be recognised as an industry. This will send a great message, internationally. And lot more films will come to shoot for sure.
The Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star offers the best of world cinema to the people of Mumbai and the best of Indian cinema to the world. The Mumbai Film Festival will take place from 17 to 24 October 2019. Nivin Pauly starrer Moothon directed by actor-turned-director Geethu Mohandas has been chosen to be screened as the opening film at this year’s edition of MAMI festival.
2019 marks the 21st year of the festival and the mission statement stated by the MAMI Board of Trustees in 1997 continues to be a reflection of the initiative- “We feel it is the need of the hour to disseminate and inculcate good cinema among Indian audiences. The only way to achieve this is to celebrate cinema by hosting an international film festival in Mumbai which is the birthplace of Indian Cinema) and its film and entertainment capital. MAMI (Mumbai Academy of Moving Image) is committed to start Mumbai’s first independent international film festival organized by practicing film makers.”
MAMI organizes the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star, an annual international film festival, which engages film lovers from all walks of life across the city and country and aims to foster a climate of good cinema.
It showcases the latest cutting-edge, independent cinema – art house fare alongside genre movies from Bollywood and Hollywood and cult international movies. It offers the best of world cinema to the people of Mumbai and the best of Indian cinema to the world.
The festival is run by the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image popularly known as MAMI. Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival With Star is a space where Aamir Khan, Quentin Tarantino, Zhang Yimou and Rajinikanth would all feel equally at home. According to the organizers, this is a space where we revel in the sheer pleasure of cinema, the joy it gives us and how much it enhances our lives. The goal is to nurture and ignite a passion for movies. We want Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival With Star to be shorthand for excellence in cinema.”
MAMI Mumbai Film Festival boasts of various sections and multiple awards. Earlier this year, the board of trustees of Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) expanded the role of Creative Director Smriti Kiran and appointed her Artistic Director of the Academy.
Kiran, a journalist, creative producer and author with over two decades of experience in the television and film industry, has worked with some of the most prestigious companies (NDTV, Star India, Vinod Chopra Films, Cherry Tree Productions) and created flagship properties that have endured (Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai, Night Out, Picture This, The Front Row, Film Companion). For the last 4 years, she has been the Creative Director of MAMI.
She is widely known as an indefatigable tour de force under whose tutelage, the festival was rejuvenated and transformed into a cutting-edge, holistic Academy that bridges many gaps in the Indian film landscape with its robust Year Round Programme and industry imprint.
This is probably the first time a Malayalam film is opening at the MAMI. The film will be screened at the 21st opening ceremony of the festival, which will commence on October 17.
Nivin Pauly is said to be playing a doctor in this flick. Besides Nivin Pauly, it stars Unni Mukundan in an important role as well. The film has three Bollywood actors – Shashank Arora, Shobitha Dhulipala and Harish Khanna – in important roles. It also has Sujith Shankar, Soubin Shahir and Alencier Ley in the star cast.
To be released in Malayalam and Hindi, noted filmmaker Anurag Kashyap is penning the script for the Hindi version. The National Award-winning cinematographer and Geetu Mohandas’ husband Rajeev Ravi is cranking the camera for Moothon.
Handling the editing department of Moothon is Ajithkumar while Govind Vasantha is in charge of the music. The movie is bankrolled jointly by Bollywood filmmaker Anand L Rai’s production house Colour Yellow Productions and Jar Pictures. Eros International will be presenting the movie. With so much entertainment, excitement and enlightenment in store, all roads lead to MAMI festival.
Home to Hindi cinema, popularly known as Bollywood, Maharashtra is a director’s delight, as his/her search for locations ends right here. It boasts of a huge variety of options, seeking to be dissected with a camera
Incentives offered by Maharashtra
Marathi films enjoy concession/rebate in Film/TV shooting charges at various government owned sites/locations. i.e. Dadasaheb Phalke Chitranagari Goregaon (East), Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, Department of Archaeology and Museum of Maharashtra, BEST, Maharashtra Maritime Board, etc.
Every year State government declares State Film awards, wherein the 1st best movie gets a prize money of Rs. 4 lakh.
Financial assistance to Marathi film producers as incentive to produce quality Marathi Films:
(i) Marathi Films graded A category- Rs. 50 lakhs
(ii) Marathi Films graded B category- Rs. 40 lakhs
A single window facilitation cell as an agency to facilitate all film shooting approvals in an integrated manner from a single location.
Creation of the Film Tourism Promotion Council under the aegis of Maharashtra Tourism.
A ready to shoot, pollution free infrastructure in the form of Dadasaheb Phalke Chitranagri Film city, Mumbai.
Development of Film City as an integrated film studio complex situated at Goregaon, Mumbai.
Online portal for information on locations.
Organize familiarization tours for major production houses in India and across the globe for key tourist destinations in Maharashtra.
Marketing support for shooting locations in global film festival.
Organisation of film events and festivals like Mumbai Academy of the Moving Image (MAMI) Mumbai Film Festival, Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF), the Maharashtra Short Film Festival and Pune International Film Festival, etc.
With India emerging one-stop destination for media and entertainment services, film cities in India are contributing to the sector by attracting filmmakers from across the world
Mumbai Film City
The Film City’s greatest advantage is its location and the vast area of more than 520 acres it covers in the suburbs of Mumbai. With over 40 picturesque locales, some of the facilities here include 44 enchanting outdoor locations, 16 cosy air-conditioned studios with over 100,000 sq. ft. of space and 85 air-conditioned makeup rooms attached to locations. Permanent locations include a helipad, an artificial lake, a temple and a court.
Maharashtra Film, Stage and Cultural Development Corporation (MFSCDC) envisions to transform the current facility into an international standard integrated film-making destination
For more information: email@example.com
Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad
It is the world’s largest integrated film city and India’s only thematic holiday destination with magic of cinema. Set up in 1996 and certified by the Guinness World Records as the world’s largest film studio complex that spreads across 1,666 acres, Ramoji Film City near Hyderabad is an ultimate destination for a filmmaker where he can walk in with a script and walk out with a film.
The city offers as many as 40 studio floors of varying sizes and over 500 locations. It can cater to 20 international films simultaneously. Nearly 40 Indian films can be produced simultaneously in the complex manned by a workforce of 6,000 personnel adept in international-standard pre-production, production and post-production work.
For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Noida Film City
Established in 1988 to boost the film industry in Uttar Pradesh, the Noida Film City in the National Capital Region of Delhi is a thriving centre for filmmaking. Located in Sector 16-A with good connectivity through road and Metro, the film city offers approximately 75 acres of outdoor and 25 acres of indoor shooting space. With a turnover of over Rs 28 crore per annum, the complex spread out in 21 plots in the heart of Noida, was envisioned by Sandeep Marwah.
Asian Academy of Film and Television, Asian School of Media Studies, International Film and Television Club, International Film and Television Research Centre, International Public Broadcasting Forum, International Women’s Film Forum and International Children’s Film Forum are some of the most popular organizations at the Noida Film City.
Eleven indie voices that could shape the broad contours of India’s alternative cinema in the years ahead – By Saibal Chatterjee
Hypnotic Surrealism – Aditya Vikram Sengupta
A filmmaker who brings an impressively individualistic style and vision to the medium, Kolkata-born Aditya Vikram Sengupta won instant admirers with his 2014 debut Asha Jaoar Majhe (Labour of Love), which bagged a prize at the Venice Film Festival. The virtually dialogue-less film used images, sound and music to craft a lyrical love story set in the unsettled times brought on by the economic recession of 2009. With his next essay, Jonaki, which premiered in the International Film Festival of Rotterdam, Sengupta, who is a graphic designer by training, has gone even further down the path of pure form of cinema, employing heightened reality and complex dreamscapes to probe love, loss, death, grief and social decay. The result is a film of stunning images and beautiful moments that blend hypnotic surrealism and visual poetry.
Meta-Fiction –Kabir Singh Chowdhry
A multidisciplinary artist who was the creative producer of Mukti Bhawan, Kabir Singh Chowdhry has earned his spurs as an independent director with the remarkable documentary-fiction hybrid Mehsampur. The film takes a part established genre norms in telling the story of a filmmaker researching for a biopic on the iconic folk singer Amar Singh Chamkila, the Elvis of Punjab, who was gunned down in the late 1980s along with his wife and two other band members. The firebrand performer – he revelled in challenging cultural, social and religious shibboleths – was only 27. The film is every bit as rebellious as the man whose life it probes. It calls into question the ethics of filmmaking and the state of affairs in a once prosperous state that appears to have sunk into the doldrums of late. The highly inventive overlapping of meta-fiction and documentary elements yields a challenging, provocative, playful movie experience.
Touching Lives –Ivan Ayr
Chandigarh-born Ivan Ayr spent several years of his childhood in Delhi and still has extended family in India’s capital city, which has earned notoriety in recent years for the risks that women face here on a daily basis. He channels his concern into Soni, which premiered this year in Venice after snagging the best work-in-progress award at the NFDC Film Bazaar in 2017. It’s a naturalistic portrait of a Delhi policewoman and her superintendent, who grapple with gender expectations and deeply entrenched patriarchy as they go about their work in a city where cases of sexual assault are alarmingly frequent. Soni won the best film award at the recent Pingyao International Film Festival – part of the prize money will go into funding the director’s next project.
House-Full –Chezhiyan Ra
The Chennai-based cinematographer pressed his decade-long experience behind the camera into service in the making of his directorial debut, To Let, which has won multiple awards. It is a deeply personal film about a young movie industry professional and his family looking for a house in Chennai during the information technology boom in the first decade of the millennium. The film is marked by a storytelling style that eschews the conventions of Tamil cinema and uses a soundscape that springs from the milieu the story is set in. Chezhiyan is in the midst of his next production, which is in the Co-Production Market of the 2018 NFDC Film Bazaar.
For women, by Woman –Dar Gai
Kiev-born Daria Gaikalova, who adopted the abbreviated professional name in order to disguise both her gender identity and her nationality, has helmed two remarkable Indian independent films, Teen Aur Aadha and Namdev Bhau – In Search of Silence, in quick succession. The first title has travelled around the globe and picked up many awards. The latter has just begun its journey but is already making waves. As much at home in India as she is in her native Ukraine, Dar Gai is set to start filming a new Hindi feature soon.This time around, it will be a feminist film cast in the Bollywood mould and set in the heart of Uttar Pradesh. And that isn’t the only Indian story she has in the pipeline – hers is a career that is poised to go great guns.
Reality Strikes –Dominic Sangma
Born and raised in a remote village in Ri Bhoi district of Meghalaya, Dominic Sangma learnt the ropes of filmmaking at the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute in Kolkata. His first feature film, Ma’Ama (Moan), was the only Indian film to make it to the International Competition section of the recent MAMI Mumbai Film Festival. Steering clear of overtly dramatic methods, he turns his camera’s gaze upon his own family, his father to be precise. In a village on the Meghalaya-Assam border, a remarried octogenarian has, every single day of the last 30 years of his life,dreamt of reuniting with his deceased first wife, the filmmaker’s mother. Ma’Ama is an intense probe into mourning and the process of coming to terms with bereavement.
Rite Lane – Jaicheng Jai Dohutia
Independent Guwahati-based filmmaker Jaicheng Jai Dohutia has provided evidence of his skills in his very first film, Haanduk – The Hidden Corner, made in the Moran language. It fetched him a National Award as well as a Grand Jury Prize of the 2016 Mumbai Film Festival. His next project features in the 2018 Film Bazaar C0-Production Market. Filmed on real locations and with non-actors, Haanduk, inspired by a true story, delves into the effect of militancy on ordinary lives. It tells the story of a mother, who performs the last rites of her bullet-ridden son, a member of an extremist outfit, only to be told that the body is probably someone else’s.
Mind of a Man – Sange Dorjee Thongdok
Sange Dorjee Thongdok’s first film, Crossing Bridges (2013), about a man who returns to his village in Arunachal Pradesh after losing his job, was the first even made in the language of the Sherdukpen tribe to which the director belongs. Thongdok, also the first film school alumnus from his community of a film school, shot the film in his own village, Jigaon in West Kameng district. It probes the mind of a man who returns home and gradually begins to reconnect with his people and culture, a process that forces him to have a relook at his life and career choices. The filmmaker’s second feature River Song premiered in the International Indian Film Festival in Stuttgart this year. He is now working on his third film.
Married to Movies – Vijay Jayapal
A self-taught filmmaker who quit his corporate job to be closer to cinema, Chennai-based Vijay Jayapal has learnt the art and craft of the medium from voraciously watching world cinema and the works of Indian greats like Satyajit Ray and Adoor Gopalakrishnan. He started off with short films and corporate videos. In 2016, he made his first feature, Revelations, a low-key drama about marriage, infidelity and loneliness set in Kolkata. The film stood out for its sustained restraint, a trait that owed no debt to commercial Tamil cinema. Jayapal is currently filming a paranormal thriller set in Kerala and the hills of northern India. His work represents a revolt against the insularity of much of the cinema in his home state, an exercise that can only be strengthened by his third film – an Indo-Korean co-production titled The Yellow Jade.
From Bengal with Love –Arjunn Dutta
Independent Kolkata filmmaker Arjunn Dutta’s Abyakto (The Unsaid), a mother-son drama, is competing this year for IFFI’s Centenary Award for the Best Debut Film. Although he is a self-avowed Rituparno Ghosh votary, the film has touches of Satyajit Ray’s Charulata thanks in no mean measure to a marvelous central performance from lead actress Arpita Chatterjee. Dutta, who honed his skills with award-winning short films before making Abyakto, is a Bengali director worth watching especially against the backdrop of the disappointing dearth of truly world class cinema from the eastern India state, which not all that long ago was in the forefront of providing Indian cinema its global thrust. How far Dutta on the map of outward looking Bengali cinema will depend on which creative lodestar he tilts more towards – Ray or Ghosh.
Speaking with Scenes –Arun Karthick
Coimbatore-based Arun Karthick is going places with his proposed second film, Nasir, which has won a grant under the co-production scheme of the Netherlands Film Fund and Hubert Bals Fund. Thanks to the development, the film, based on a short story by eminent Tamil writer Dileep Kumar, already has a Dutch co-producer, Rinkel Film, on board. The film, to be shot entirely on the streets and alleys of the director’s home town, is about an amiable salesman whose life is disrupted by communal riots. Karthick’s first film, Sivapuranam (The Strange Case of Shiva), was a single-character drama about a fashion designer completely immersed in his own world. A film without dialogues and songs, it demonstrated the director’s ability to deliver cinematic experimentation couched in a truly global sensibility.
A rider: The above list is by no means exhaustive. There are numerous other Indian filmmakers working in the alternative cinema space that we will be keeping our eyes on. Among them are award-winning production designer Vandana Kataria, who has completed her first feature film Noblemen and is prepping for her second; Megha Ramaswamy, a maker of acclaimed shorts whose first feature project is in the Film Bazaar Co-Production Market; and Jatla Siddhartha (Love and Shukla), a cinematography grad from FTII who is now developing In the Belly of a Tiger, a look at rural lives subsisting on the edge of the India’s development story.
Maharashtra has unlimited scenic destinations which has a perfect set up for film shootings says Dr. Jagdish Patil, Managing Director, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation
What is the magic of Mumbai to attract global film producers? Mumbai is the financial as well as the entertainment capital of India. Mumbai Film Industry, popularly known as ‘Bollywood’, is one of the largest industries in the world in terms of numbers of films produced. Around 200 to 250 plus movies including feature films, ad films, television serials and documentaries are produced every year. Mumbai being the birth place of Indian cinema boasts maximum number of film studios. Some of them are legendary having excellent indoor and outdoor facilities for shooting. Greater accessibility of the city, great talent, nice sights to see and the vibrant culture makes it an ultimate juncture for the global film producers.
What is your focus at Cannes Film Festival and Market this year? There are numerous unknown and unexplored virgin scenic locations that Maharashtra has to offer. Unexplored location Lonar is distinguished by the fact that it is the world’s third largest crater formed nearly 50,000 years ago, when a 2 million- ton meteorite impacted the earth to create a depression 1.83 kilometre in diameter and 150 metres deep. A short walk from the crater is the Daitya Sudan temple with its panels, friezes and angled bracket figures. Koyna Nagar remains a hidden jewel in the Sahyadri’s crown. It is synonymous with the Koyna river and Koyna dam which is the largest hydroelectric project in Maharashtra. Tapola is often referred to as Mini Kashmir because of the panoramic views which it provides. Tarkarli is a paradise of tiny islands and hamlets, imposing Casuarinas trees,and rich blue skies. Like this, there are many more beautiful places.
Can you give a glimpse of attractions in Maharashtra beyond Mumbai? What are the major shooting location attractions in the state? Maharashtra has unlimited scenic destinations which has a perfect set up for shootings. Every location has unique features which can attract filmmakers. While Panchgani, Wai, Mahabaleshwar, Matheran, Khandala, Malshej Ghat, Toranmal and Chikhaldhara come under hill stations category, ancient Caves like Ajanta, Ellora, Karla, Bhajas, Elephanta, Bibi Ka Makbara, and Western Monuments of South Mumbai are some of the ancient areas where filmmakers can shoot their movies. And there are places earmarked as wildlife areas and scenic destinations. Last but not the least, there are beautiful beaches like Tarkarli, Ganapatipule.
When will the single window clearance become operational? There is no single point contact as yet in the state of Maharashtra for getting shooting locales clearances. However the Government is in process of setting up single window clearance system for film shooting in Maharashtra which should be operational soon. Film City situated in Mumbai could help film producers to get the required permissions.
Do you have any sops on offer to foreign film crews? Do they get concession in staying in hotels? Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has numerous resorts at picturesque locations where concessions will certainly be given for foreign film crews. Destinations can be accessed from http://www.mahrashtratourism.gov.in . MTDC has also encouraged Bed & Breakfast and home stays at the tourist destinations as well as the interior parts of the states where accommodation at concessional rate can be availed. MTDC will also initiate dialogue with Hotel Association for granting concessions and incentives.
Do you have a panel of line producers on board? MTDC will consider for the panel of line producers while setting up single window clearance. We are sending this requirement to Film city for further consideration. Mumbai houses some of the best post production facilities in the country. Also it has abundance of talent and technicians.
Does this add to the state’s locale attraction? Process of film making itself creates lot of curiosity among common individuals. MTDC is in a process to launch ‘Bollywood Tours’ where one can see shooting on locations.
What are the things they should expect from your end and what are the things they should not expect? MTDC will function as a facilitation unit thereby making it easier for the global film producers to launch their projects in Maharashtra.