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Theatrical release is a waste, Netflix saved Chauthi Koot, says director Gurvinder Singh

Acclaimed film-maker Gurvinder Singh says he spent Rs 30 lakh on award-winning movie’s release, but no one came to watch it, especially in Punjab and Chandigarh

punjab Updated: Nov 11, 2017 10:25 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Chauthi Koot,Gurvinder Singh director,Cannes film festival
Film-maker Gurvinder Singh is in Chandigarh for the screening of two films, ‘Chauthi Koot’ and ‘Infiltrator’.(Keshav Singh/HT)

Director Gurvinder Singh cannot think of a theatrical release anymore, especially after his 2015 film ‘Chauthi Koot (The Fourth Direction)’ tanked in Punjab.

The award-winning film premiered at the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes Film Festival in 2015. Set in the background of the Khalistan movement in Punjab during the 1980s, the film is based on two short stories, ‘Chauthi Koot’ and ‘Hun Main Theek-Thaak Haan’, by Sahitya Akademi Award winning writer Waryam Singh Sandhu.

Gurvinder said, “We spent Rs 30 lakh on our film’s release, but everything was whitewashed because we did not get an audience. We put the movie on Netflix that turned out to be a saviour. The question of a theatrical release next time does not even arise as people do not watch the movie within a confined time period. They watch it as per their convenience.”

An alumnus of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, the acclaimed film-maker is in the city to screen his two Punjab-based movies, ‘Chauthi Koot’ and ‘Infiltrator’, at University School of Open Learning (USOL), PU, on Saturday at 4pm.

Addressing the media, Gurvinder said the release of ‘Chauthi Koot’ in Punjab and even Chandigarh received minimal response and remained in theatres for six days only.

“Punjab has a split audience. Villagers wouldn’t go out and watch a movie with a theatrical outfit. If I have an audience of 1 lakh, only 5,000 will turn up for the movie,” he added.

The 115-minute film depicts the humane side of the militant unrest, exploring fear, mistrust and paranoia in Punjab, at a time when communal tension was rising steadily. At such a time, the protagonist Joginder escorts a Hindu family. Humanity wins, but that can change anytime depending on the situation.

The film has travelled to various international festivals, including Munich, Rotterdam, Rio De Janeiro, Haifa, Ghent, Fukuoka; and won the Grand Prix at Belgrade Auteur Film Festival, the ‘Silver Screen’ award for Best Asian Feature at Singapore International Film Festival and the ‘Golden Gateway’ for Best Indian Film at Mumbai Film Festival. It also received National Award for ‘Best Punjabi Film’ in 2016.

Gurvinder is currently working on a movie in Punjab and will soon announce its name. He is also working on a docu-drama on eminent painter Amrita Sher-Gil. His first Punjabi feature film in 2011, ‘Anhe Ghore Da Daan (Alms for the Blind Horse)’ is the recipient of three National Awards.

First Published: Nov 11, 2017 10:22 IST