New Delhi: Bemoaning the evaporating spirit of India’s secular, socialist and democratic Constitution, filmmaker Anand Patwardhan while returning his national award has warned that the country was at a crossroads and on the verge of becoming a fascist state.
“Today this spirit is evaporating. Our nation is at a crossroads. On one side is the secular path that our freedom fighters laid out for us and on the other, the path towards majoritarian fascism that the present regime seems bent upon. I am not saying we are already a fascist state. I am saying that the early warning signs are unmistakable,” Patwardhan wrote in an article published in Scroll.in.
The filmmaker opined that it was the duty of all thinking citizens to speak out before it was too late and that filmmakers were thinking citizens who could not look away.
When the government attempted to foist unqualified saffron administrators on the FTII, students there went on strike. The strike has lasted an unprecedented four months. In this period, people from all walks of life began to wake up to the unmistakable reality that the India they knew was on a dangerous new path, he wrote.
I am not saying we are already a fascist state. I am saying that the early warning signs are unmistakable.
The killing of rationalists, the hounding of whistleblowers like Teesta Setalvad and Sanjiv Bhatt, the denial of justice to victims of religious pogroms and caste based massacres, the emboldening of the religio-lunatic fringe and the impunity of those who kill or advocate killing in the name of religion is accompanied by the wholesale rewriting of history, the denial of scientific enquiry and the consequent production of a generation of dumbed down consumers for whom having an enemy to hate replaces their thirst for knowledge.
“So it is with a heavy heart I am returning my very first National award for Bombay Our City.”
He recalled back in 1985 even as he won this award the homes of people he had filmed were demolished. Patwardhan did not go to receive the award. Instead, Vimal Dinkar Hedau, whose home in Bandra had been demolished, went to Delhi to receive this award and distributed leaflets about the cause of the homeless. The prize money went to the slum dwellers movement.
“Today I am returning the medal. What do we want from this government? Not much. Just its resignation. Will that happen anytime soon? Not likely. What do we want from the people of India? Not much. Just eternal vigilance.”
Dharamsala, November 7, 2016: The fifth edition of the Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) came to an end on Sunday with the screening of National Award-winning filmmaker Vetrimaaran’s Tamil drama “Visaranai”, which has been named as India’s official entry for Oscars 2017 in the Foreign Language Film category.
Produced by popular actor Dhanush under his banner Wunderbar Films, “Visaranai” features Dinesh, Samuthirakani, Ajay Ghosh and Kishore in the lead.
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Based on the novel “Lock Up” by auto-rickshaw driver-turned-writer M. Chandrakumar, the film is about organised crime within the police force. It also throws the spotlight on police brutality.
The film witnessed a packed house in the Tibetan Children’s Village here. It struck the right chords with the audience, which included independent filmmakers, critics, local audience, tourists and movie aficionados.
The end of the film was marked by a loud applause and a standing ovation by the audience.
The four-day festival began with the screening of filmmaker Raam Reddy’s award-winning Kannada film “Thithi” on November 3 and screened 43 films in total from 21 countries including the US, Britain, Thailand, Hong Kong, South Korea, Germany and Bhutan among others.
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Taking place in the scenic locales of McLeod Ganj in Himachal Pradesh, DIFF 2016 — organised by filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam — showcased a collection of films that were diverse in theme, style and genre.
These included “Didi Contractor: Marrying the Earth to the Building” — a documentary by Swiss director Steffi Giaracuni, and Vietnamese director Nguyen Trinh Thi’s “Vietnam The Movie”, which had their world premieres at the festival.
Few of the other films that were screened included Singaporean director Boo Junfeng’s “Apprentice”, Iranian director Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami’s “Sonita” British documentary filmmaker Sean McAllister’s “A Syrian Love Story” and US filmmaker Mickey Lemle’s “The Last Dalai Lama?”.
From the Indian turf, DIFF 2016 featured National Award-winning actor Girish Kulkarni’s Marathi road drama “Highway”, director Bauddhayan Mukherji’s “The Violin Player”, Rajeev Ravi’s Malayalam action thriller “Kammatipaadam”, former CBFC CEO Pankaja Thakur’s short film “The Guide”, Gurvinder Singh’s short film “Infiltrator”, Chaitanya Tamhane’s “Six Strands” and ace filmmaker Anurag Kashyap’s short film “That Day After Every Day” among others.
“We’ve had amazing audiences who are really interested in independent cinema. It’s really heart-warming to see that,” Sarin said.
Apart from these highly appreciated films, the festival also included few panel discussions and special chat sessions with veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah and veteran screenwriter and filmmaker Saeed Mirza.
Filmmakers and movie buffs are now in anticipation of an assemblage of diverse independent cinema in the next edition of the movie gala. (IANS)
NewsGram presents an exclusive tête-à-tête with the cast and crew of this year’s National Award winning Maithili film, Mithila Makhaan. In the fifth part of the series, Shillpi A Singh caught up with the film’s female lead Anuritta K Jha. In a freewheeling chat, the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed three films old model-turned-actor tells us about the literary background of her famous family, the highs as an actor of Hindi and regional language cinema, and gives a sneak peek into her forthcoming movies and much more.
“I am seeking. I am striving. I am in it with all my heart!” is how actor Anuritta K Jha would like to be introduced to all and sundry.
Born in a family of litterateurs, Anuritta spent her early years in Katihar, Bihar and moved to Pilani in Rajasthan for schooling, and from there she landed in New Delhi to study fashion. And all through her growing up years, she was fascinated with the glitz and glamour that came along as a perk for a model. “I always wanted to be a model,” she said, with a childish grin.
Gifted with a beautiful visage, chiselled body and towering height, she became a sought-after name in the fashion world. Soon, she was all over, you name it, and she’s been there, done that! A popular face in Delhi’s modelling circuit in the mid-Naughties, she made a grand entry in the City of Dreams by winning Channel V’s Get Gorgeous contest in 2006.
Winning the beauty pageant gave her a perfect launchpad in Mumbai’s modelling world. “It gave me an opportunity to explore, learn and grow in this industry.” From being a fashion student to a fashion model, it had been a smooth transition for her, and she soon set eyes on the big screen. “It was an expected move, barely a matter of when and not why for me,” she said. Her ardent suitor, success followed here as well.
Dad’s the Word
If Anuritta’s granddad Upendra Nath Jha ‘Vyas’, Sahitya Akademi Award winner and first Chief Engineer of Bihar, has left behind an enviable literary legacy with his remarkable contribution to Maithili literature, her parents — Dr Shailendra K Jha and Dr Bhanu Jha — have done that as acclaimed economists. That’s quite a legacy. Her paternal uncles are academicians and litterateurs par excellence. “As a kid, my grandfather used to make all the children assemble in the courtyard and recite Shlokas in Sanskrit. It seemed such a futile exercise way back then, but now I realise that he intended all of us to stay closer to our roots and take pride in our culture and language,” said Anuritta about her fondest childhood memories.
She is currently reading Du Patra, her grand father’s Sahitya Akademi Award-winning novel in Maithili. Her favourite though is father’s Economic Heritage of Mithila that stood her in good stead for her role of a girl from the Mithilanchal region in Mithila Makhaan. Coming from a close-knit family, she is extremely close to her father and elder brother Anshuman. “They are my best friends and will dole out a sincere and honest advice without being judgemental.” She owes her success to her family for being so progressive and supportive. “I am who I am because of my family,” she said with a lot of pride. Indeed, she ought to be proud; in small measures, she has contributed to Maithili films on its 50th anniversary, much like her famous family has done to the Maithili language.
“You cannot walk a straight line without a fixed point to follow,” she said on foraying into films, adding, “I consistently love to challenge myself.”
After winning the Get Gorgeous contest, she joined Atul Kasbekar’s modelling agency, Matrix. Reminiscing those days, she said, “It was a stepping stone of sorts.” As a model, she had been the face of umpteen products, but it was a television commercial for a face wash that made Anuritta give a second thought to acting as a career in 2010. She courted this passion by pursuing some acting courses and attending theatre workshops with Neeraj Kabi, her guru. It was a beautiful dalliance that reaped rich rewards when she made her dream debut with maverick filmmaker Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur 1 and 2. Being from Bihar worked to her advantage. Though she had a measly role in the gang war drama, she managed to steal the show with her docile act as Shama Parveen, a character who adds to the rivalry between two families, and takes the plot forward. “I had auditioned for the role, and Anurag Kashyap liked my performance, and before I could realise, I was in the cult film as Shama Parveen. Initially, it seemed like a dream, and I had to pinch myself to make sure that it was indeed true.”
Filmmaker, actor and writer Zeishan Quadri, who had penned the gangster saga of rage, rivalry, and retribution, said, “In Anuritta’s case, beauty isn’t only skin-deep. She’s strong because she knows her weakness, she’s beautiful because she’s aware of her flaws and she is wise enough to learn from her mistakes. She’s constantly evolving, and the best is yet to come.” But a perfectionist to the core, this Virgo loves to give her best to the role that she essays on the screen. She doesn’t shy away from calling herself a keen student, always eager and anxious to learn the nuances of acting. “I attend acting workshops now and then. I love to indulge myself by doing meaningful theatre. It helps me learn the art better. I find it educative, informative, and motivating.”
Fresh from the success of Gangs of Wasseypur 1 and 2, she landed the lead role in Mithila Makhaan, her most-talked about outing so far. In the Maithili film, she essayed the role of Maithili, a fine arts graduate who lives true to her name by returning to her village and running an NGO for the promotion of Mithila paintings and in the process happens to provide a decent livelihood to thousands of rural women. She shows her strength and attitude when she tells the male protagonist, Kranti, who is based in Toronto that “It takes a lot of courage to leave behind a life of luxury in foreign shores and settle in the village”. As a parting gift, she gifted him a beautiful painting depicting the plight of those affected by the Kosi deluge that forces the lead actor to take a call and return to his motherland for “if he doesn’t, then who will work to make it a better place for others”. It is a film that highlights the best of the region and gave Anuritta an opportunity to connect with her mother tongue, and appreciate the beauty of the beautiful language.
Made on a modest budget, Mithila Makhaan shows her in a deglam avatar. She is dressed in ordinary cotton salwar-kameez and sans any make-up. Her role will surely redefine the very meaning of that oft-used word. Buoyed by its success, she said, “I am keeping my options open for regional language cinema. The role has to be emphatic, and the story has to meaningful.”
A Perfect Note
Her next, Jugni, was written and directed by Shefali Bhushan, and released in January 2016. The movie was based in Punjab, and Anuritta essayed the role of Preeto, a Sikh girl who lives in a village and is madly in love with Mastana. It is an out and out musical film, and though Preeto has no sense of music, it becomes synonymous with Mastana and her unconditional love for him. The entry of another character leaves her shattered. “The film explored myriad emotions through music and connected it soulfully with beautiful songs. It is a story of how letting go of someone in love is more fulfilling than clinging on to it. My role as Preeto was quite taxing emotionally, and I had to learn Punjabi. It was a great learning experience, and I am happy to be part of it.” The film is all set for an international premiere at the prestigious London Indian Film Festival (LIFF) to be held in July.
She has just finished three other interesting short films that are ready for release. An exciting project that she’s kicked about is Amit Mishr’s Moonlight Cafe, a mockumentary following the misadventures of the unlovely Abhimanyu Gujjar from Mumbai to Dharamkot in Himachal Pradesh. It boasts of an international cast and crew. Apart from these, two other films are expected to go on the floors later this year.
For a layman, Anuritta comes across as a beautiful Mithila painting, sans shading, full of bright and vivacious colours, depicting the best from the region and reflecting her connect with the land. And just like the paintings where a double line is drawn for outlines, representing the favourable and unfavourable circumstances, and the gap is filled with either cross or tiny straight lines, she is here to fill the gap between the two extremes with her realistic cinematic portrayals. The reason, she said, “It is because I know what I am doing, love what I am doing and believe in what I am doing.”
(In the next part of the series, we will introduce the film’s music director. Stay tuned!)
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