Nineteen years after Mira Nair’s ‘Monsoon Wedding’ won the Golden Lion at the 2001 Venice Film Festival, an Indian film – ‘Disciple’ by Chaitanya Tamhane of Court-fame – has been selected to the highly-prestigious film festival’s main competition.
The Marathi-language film, the second directorial venture by Tamhane and set in the world of Indian classical music, is produced by Vivek Gombar, who had also produced ‘Court’, which had won the Best Film – Orizzonti and Lion of the Future award in 2014. The film had also won the National Award for Best Feature Film in 2015, and was India’s entry to the Oscars in 2016.
The 127-minute film, starring classical singer Aditya Modak along with Arun Dravid, Sumitra Bhave and Kiran Yadnyopavit, will vie for the top honours including the Golden Lion, competing with films by modern masters such as Iran’s Majid Majidi, Japan’s Kyoshi Kurosawa, Russia’s Andrei Konchalovsky and Israel’s Amos Gitai.
In a rare achievement for Indian cinema, two more films from the country have been chosen for the festival – Ivan Iyr’s Hindi-Punjabi feature ‘Meel Patthar (Milestone)’ and Sushma Khadepaun’s ‘Anita’ in the feature and short categories respectively of the Orizzonti (Horizon) section.
“This is an important milestone for not just for us but also for the Indian independent cinema movement,” Tamhane said in a statement after Venice Film Festival announced the full line up for its 77th edition.
Incidentally, it will be the first major global film festival to be held physically since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and is scheduled to be held from September 2 to 12.
“‘The Disciple’ has been a true labour of love, and collectively we have poured every ounce of energy, effort, and love into it over the last four years. It has been a beautiful collaboration and I’m thankful to all of the film’s extremely dedicated actors and the entire crew. I am relieved and happy that it has found such a great start for its journey even in these tough times,” he said.
“This is a historic moment for the Indian film fraternity as it’s been a while since we had a film competing for the Golden Lion. I hope this puts a global spotlight on our Indian film fraternity and makes it easier for new voices in our country to get a chance to follow their paths and dreams,” said Gomber in a statement.
The film is the story of protagonist Sharad Nerulkar, who follows his dream of becoming a classical musician after his father introduces him to its rich heritage, but is forced to negotiate between the complex realities of life in contemporary Mumbai and his chosen path, leading him to find his true voice in music and in life.
Meanwhile, Iyr, whose debut film ‘Soni’ was also premiered at 2018 Venice Film Festival, said in a statement: “I am very happy about the selection and very grateful to Venice for inviting my second film as well. I congratulate my cast and crew, the most incredible and beautiful group of people I could ever imagine working with.”
The 98-minute-long ‘Meel Patthar’ according to its official synopsis, is about “workaholic veteran truck driver, Ghalib, who must determine an appropriate compensation for the kin of his late wife. As Ghalib grapples with this thought, an existential threat begins to overwhelm him when he is asked to train a young new driver.”