This year’s Co-Production Lab at the Film Bazaar, organised by the National Film Development Corporation of India in Panaji from November 20 to 24 has 18 entries. These include movie scripts from several languages like Tamil, Malayalam, Bengali, Manipuri and Sanskrit. The one in Sanskrit, Punyakoti, by Ravi Shankar, will be an animated work. So too will be Kabuliwala by Soumitra Ranade -- whose Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai, a live action feature, is set to release soon. This is the second year in running that the Bazaar will have scripts on animation. Last year, there was just one.
Outside India, there are feature scripts from Canada, Nepal and Bangladesh.
As Urmi Juvekar, head of the Co-Production Market, told this writer on Wednesday morning from Mumbai, “The producers and directors of the selected projects will pitch their work to a curated audience of financiers and sales agents to try and find additional funds.”
“We usually chose a script that is in an advanced stage and has a producer attached to it with at least 20 per cent funding,” Juvekar said.
The Market also “makes it a point to look beyond Bollywood and tries to give representation to films in languages other than Hindi. Tamil, Malayalam, Bengali and Manipuri among others will be seen at the Bazaar this year”.
“Also we have made it a point to given importance to children’s cinema. Punyakoti and Kabuliwala both are,” Juvekar added.
Apart from children’s fare, one of the projects at the Bazaar will be Geetu Mohandas’s Insha’Allah in largely Malayalam with a smattering of Hindi. Speaking to this writer from Kochi, Mohandas (whose role in Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Naalu Pennungal/Four Women was highly lauded and whose directorial effort, Liar’s Dice, was India’s official submission for the 2014 Foreign Language Oscar), said that her latest story, Insha’Allah, “traces the journey of a little boy who leaves his home in Lakshadweep in search of his older brother. The boy lands in Mumbai, and the plot talks about loss of innocence and so on. In short, it is a tale of two brothers”.
Rajdeep Paul’s and Sarmishtha Maiti’s Bengali work, The Biryani Seller, is all about a shattered dream, a dream dreamt by Asim to be an artist. Paul told this writer on Wednesday morning from Kolkata that “Asim, a roadside Biryani seller from the city whose childhood dream of being an artist got buried in his struggle to sustain his family, now has a singular aim to make his younger brother Ajay an artist. But his world is turned upside down when Rebecca, a European moviemaker, starts making a documentary film on him, about how the grand Mughal cuisine, biryani, became a popular street food and a means of livelihood for the unemployed youth in the wake of globalisation. She eventually discovers that it is not Ajay but Asim who has real talent. The discovery of his own potential unfurls Asim’s creative urges. He starts painting prolifically while falling madly in love with Rebecca the first one to value his talent. But as he starts living his dream for himself, his familiar world comes crashing down”.
From Tamil Nadu, we have The Sunshine by Leena Manimekalai, a poet and moviemaker who has made films like My Mirror is the Door, Goddesses, Sengadal (The Dead Sea) and White Van. Stories about eco-feminism, Dalit women, plight of refugees and fishermen in the Palk Strait have been some of her core plots.
Bangladesh’s Abu Shahed Emon’s will be at the Bazaar with his second feature, Apodartho (A Foolish Man). His first movie, Jalal’s Story, was his country’s 2015 nominee for the Oscar.
Canadian helmer Eisha Marjara ( whose provocative docudrama Desperately Seeking Helen received the Critic’s Choice Award at the Locarno Film Festival and the Jury Prize at the Munich in 2000) will be at Panaji with Calorie.
Aboozar Amini’s Persian work, The Cineaste, will also be in the Bazaar. He was recently celebrated for his 2016 Where is Kurdistan -- about an illegal immigrant who remembers his homeland after hearing a melody in Afghanistan.
The full list of Co-Production Projects:
Apodartho (A Foolish Man) (Bangladesh)
Director: Abu Shahed Emon
Director: Devashish Makhija
Calorie (Canada, India)
Director: Eisha Marjara
Director: Ankit Kothari
Director: Pratim Gupta
Language: Bengali, Hindi
Director: Geetu Mohandas
Language: Malayalam, Hindi
Jhyalincha (Season of Dragonflies) (Nepal)
Director: Abinash Bikram Shah
Joseph Ki Macha (Joseph’s Son) (India)
Director: Haobam Paban Kumar
Kabuliwala (Man From Kabul) (India) (Animation)
Director: Soumitra Ranade
Nonajoler Kabbo (The Salt In Our Waters) (Bangladesh)
Director: Rezwan Shahriar Sumit
Punyakoti (India) (Animation)
Director: Ravi Shankar
Ram Ji Ka Ghoda (The Dragonfly) (India)
Director: Bishnu Dev Halder
The Biryani Seller (India)
Directors: Rajdeep Paul & Sarmishtha Maiti
The Cineaste (China, Netherlands)
Director: Aboozar Amini
The Sunshine (India)
Director: Leena Manimekalai
The Umesh Chronicles (India, Sweden)
Director: Pooja Kaul
Language: English, Hindi
Tribhanga (Three Curve Bent) (India)
Director: Renuka Shahane
Language: English, Marathi
Wapsi (The Return) (India)
Director: Asad Hussain
(Gautaman Bhaskaran has been covering the Film Bazaar, running along with the International Film Festival of India, for several years.)