Saturday, June 22, 2024

Indian documentary ‘The Golden Thread’ awarded Golden Conch award for the Best Documentary Film of the Festival

The prestigious Golden Conch award for the Best Documentary Film of the Festival in International Category was awarded to the Indian film ‘The Golden Thread’ directed by Nistha Jain. The film, which follows the weft and warp of jute work in Kolkata, is both an homage and an observation of the last vestiges of the industrial revolution impacted by economic change.

Under the twinkling lights of Mumbai's iconic skyline, the 18th Mumbai International Film Festival for Documentary, Short Fiction, and Animation films concluded, illuminating the City of Dreams with the brilliance of cinematic artistry. The city that never sleeps reverberated with the echoes of storytelling and creativity, reaching its crescendo with a spectacular closing ceremony graced by Maharashtra Culture Minister Shri Sudhir Mungantiwar.

Celebrities, filmmakers, and luminaries from the film and entertainment world gathered to celebrate the festival's resounding success and the enchanting magic of non-feature cinema. Among them were Shekhar Suman, Shaji N. Karun, Subbiah Nallamuthu, Poonam Dhillon, Chaya Kadam, Ammie Barauh, Akshay Oberoi and Vishal Malhotra among others.

Delivering his keynote address, Shri Sudhir Mungantiwar, Culture Minister, Government of Maharashtra said that our filmmakers are the Kohinoors of our nation. "When we move forward, our heritage and every subject connected to our films will move forward.  The capacities of those sitting here are such that they can reach the depths of our souls through their art; depths even doctors may not reach," he added. He urged everyone to leave MIFF with a renewed perspective and a commitment to increasing their capacities in the years to come.

The Minister also congratulated the Government of India for its efforts in promoting talented filmmakers through this esteemed medium. Highlighting the transformative power of films, he stated, "Films are a mirror to the society and lead to social transformation. A single dialogue from this sector can transform a person’s life."

Shri Mungantiwar also underscored the multifaceted role of films, stating, "Films are not only a source of entertainment but also a power station that develops personalities. When personalities are developed, societies develop, and when societies develop, the nation develop." He concluded his speech with a call to action, encouraging everyone to come together through the medium of film to take the pride of our nation to every house and heart across the globe.

Sharing the International Competition Jury’s views about the competing films, Shri Bharat Bala, Chairman of the Jury said that they were inspired by the narratives of cultural values around the world which still place family at the centre of our lives and the resilience of humanity that encourage all to become better version of ourselves. “Soul of all the documentaries reflected the culture of humanity and culture that we live and breathe from across the world. We expect all of us to invest more in documentaries so that humanity can thrive”, he added.

Indian producer Apoorva Bakshi, the Chairperson of National Jury of MIFF said that jury was honoured to witness strong, profound, and poignant narratives emerging from different parts of India. “The highlight of viewing experience was how filmmakers across the board deconstructed the anatomy of patriarchy and portrayed male relationships through a tender lens which was seldom explored”, she added.

Golden Conch award for ‘The Golden Thread’
The prestigious Golden Conch award for the Best Documentary Film of the Festival in International Category was awarded to the Indian film The Golden Thread directed by Nistha Jain. The film, which follows the weft and warp of jute work in Kolkata, is both an homage and an observation of the last vestiges of the industrial revolution impacted by economic change. The jury noted that the film illustrates the relationship of man to machine while questioning the equation by which capitalism values man only in terms of his labor. The stunning imagery and sound weave a beautiful narrative that underscores the compelling nature of documentary filmmaking. The award includes a certificate and a cash prize of Rs. 10 lakhs. ‘The Golden Thread’ was also screened as the Closing film of the festival.

The Silver Conch award for the Best International Short Fiction Film was bestowed upon the Estonian film ‘Sour Milk’, directed by Vera Pirogova. The film eloquently portrays the intricate bond between mother and son, weaving a narrative, rich in expectation and disappointment. This award also includes a certificate and a cash prize of Rs. 5 lakhs.

The Polish film Zima, directed by Tomek Popakul and Kasumi Ozeki, received the Silver Conch award for the Best Animation Film in the International Competition section, accompanied by a certificate and a cash prize of Rs. 5 lakhs.

Lovely Jackson, directed by Matt Waldeck, received the Jury’s Special Mention in the International Competition category. The jury was inspired by the film's spirituality and the creative techniques used to tell its compelling story.

Technical Awards for Best Sound Design was awarded jointly to Niraj Gera and Abhijit Sarkar for their excellence in the films The Golden Thread and Dhara Ka Tem (Time for Milking). Best Editor award at the MIFF was awarded jointly to Vignesh Kumulai for Karparaa and Irene Dhar Mallik for From the Shadows. Award for Best Cinematography was bestowed jointly upon Babin Dulal and Suraj Thakur for Dhorpatan: No Winter Holidays and Entangled respectively.

The Pramod Pati Award for Most Innovative/Experimental Film was awarded to the Japanese film The Old Young Crow, directed by Liam Lopinto, for its inventive and magical storytelling of multiple dualities. The award includes a trophy and a cash prize of Rs. 1 lakh.

The Silver Conch award for Best Indian Documentary Film went to 6-A Akash Ganga, directed by Nirmal Chander Dandriyal. The film, which draws viewers into the reclusive world of legendary musician Annapurna Devi, includes a cash prize of Rs. 5 lakhs.

The Silver Conch Award for the Best Indian Short Fiction Film (up to 30 minutes) was awarded to Salt, directed by Barkha Prashant Naik. The film explores the tender inter-generational understanding of sexuality in a poignant and beautifully crafted father-son story. This award includes a cash prize of Rs. 3 lakhs.

Nirjara, directed by Gaurav Pati, won the Silver Conch award for the Best Indian Animation Film. The film, which tells the story of two brothers reuniting during grief-ridden rituals on the ghats of Ganga, includes a cash prize of Rs. 3 lakhs.

A Coconut Tree, directed by Joshy Benedict, received the Jury’s Special Mention in the National Competition section for addressing the urgent topics of migration and climate change.

The Dadasaheb Phalke Chitranagari Award for Best Debut Director at MIFF 2024 was awarded to Sreemoyee Singh for her film Towards Happy Alleys, which also won the FIPRESCI International Critic Jury award at MIFF. The awards include a trophy and a cash prize of Rs. 1 lakh.

The IDPA award for the Best Student Film at MIFF was awarded to Chanchisoa (Expectation), a Garo film directed by Elvachisa Ch Sangma and Dipankar Das. The award includes a trophy and a cash prize of Rs. 1 lakh.

The Best Short Film Award on India in Amrit Kaal was awarded to Life in Loom, directed by Edmond Ranson, which explores the socio-economic and climatic challenges faced by weaver communities in India. The award includes a trophy, certificate, and a cash prize of Rs. 1 lakh.

The evening left the audience spellbound with colorful, vibrant, and eclectic cultural performances that set the stage on fire. The technical committee of the festival and film personalities were felicitated at the function. Shri Prithul Kumar, Festival Director & Managing Director, NFDC, proposed the vote of thanks.

MIFF 2024 in a nutshell:
This edition of MIFF proudly showcased a diverse array of 314 films from 59 countries, presented in 61 languages. The festival featured an impressive lineup, including 8 world premieres, 5 international premieres, 18 Asia premieres, and 21 India premieres, highlighting the global appeal and unique storytelling prowess of filmmakers worldwide. A significant highlight of MIFF 2024 was the introduction of the Documentary Film Bazaar, a groundbreaking initiative that offered filmmakers an exceptional platform to engage with buyers, sponsors, and collaborators. This innovative event attracted nearly 200 projects from 10 countries, spanning 27 languages, fostering a vibrant exchange of ideas and opportunities.

Festival attendees were also treated to masterclasses by renowned filmmakers such as Alphonse Roy, Nemil Shah, Shaji N. Karun, Audrius Stonys, Santhosh Sivan, and Subbiah Nallamuthu, among others. These sessions provided invaluable insights into the art of filmmaking, enriching the knowledge and skills of aspiring and established filmmakers alike. Panel discussions at MIFF 2024 delved into contemporary and innovative topics related to documentary, short fiction, and animation filmmaking. Delegates explored new facets of filmmaking, promotion, and distribution, broadening their understanding of the industry's evolving landscape. Additionally, a workshop on Animation and VFX pipeline, led by a senior animator from Warner Brothers, captivated participants with its in-depth exploration of cutting-edge techniques.

The Open Forums, organized by the Indian Documentary Producers Association, sparked engaging and heated discussions on pertinent issues such as documentary funding, artificial intelligence, OTT platforms, and filmmaking in the era of social media. These forums provided a dynamic space for professionals to debate and share insights on the challenges and opportunities facing the industry today. MIFF 2024 has once again affirmed its status as a premier platform for global cinematic exchange, fostering creativity, collaboration, and the celebration of diverse storytelling traditions from around the world.

Sonakshi Sinha, Riteish Deshmukh-starrer 'Kakuda' to debut on ZEE5 in July

Written by Chirag Garg and Avinash Dwivedi, Kakuda is an upcoming Hindi-language horror comedy directed by Aditya Sarpotdar and produced by Ronnie Screwvala, under RSVP Movies... 

Horror comedy Kakuda, featuring Sonakshi Sinha, Riteish Deshmukh and Saqib Saleem, will premiere on ZEE5 on July 12, the platform announced on Friday. The movie is directed by Aditya Sarpotdar, whose horror comedy Munjya is currently running in theatres. The streamer shared the news of the film's release date in a post on social media platform X. “Purushon Ke Hit Mein Jaari- #Kakuda aa raha hai ‘12 July' ko, toh ghar pe rahein aur theek 7:15 baje, darwaza khula rakhna naa bhoolein. Kyunki #AbMardKhatreMeinHai, #Kakuda only on #ZEE5,” the company posted. Kakuda is set in the village of Ratodi in Uttar Pradesh's Mathura district.

Purushon Ke Hit Mein Jaari ⚠️- #Kakuda aa raha hai ‘12 July' ko, toh ghar pe rahein aur theek 7:15 baje, darwaza khula rakhna naa bhoolein. 👻 Kyunki #AbMardKhatreMeinHai, #Kakuda only on #ZEE5  #KakudaOnZEE5

“While Ratodi seems like any other village, it isn't because of the curse inflicted upon it for years. Every house in the district has two similar looking doors, one that is normal size and one which is smaller than the other. The film revolves around a peculiar ritual that demands the opening of the smaller door of each house every Tuesday at 7:15 PM sharp. Failure to comply with this rule invites the wrath of Kakuda, who punishes the man of the house. But who is Kakuda… Why does he punish the men in the village? How will the villagers get rid of the curse? Beware! Ab Mard Khatre Me Hai!” according to the official synopsis.

Gujarat HC allows release of 'Maharaj' says film does not target any sect

“Having viewed the film, this court found nothing objectionable that would hurt religious feelings of petitioners or a sect. The core message of the film revolves around social evil and the fight against it by social reformer Karasandas Mulji, who was also from a Vaishnavite community,” the judge said while reading out the order in the court.... 

The Gujarat High Court on Friday lifted its stay to the release of Maharaj, debut film of Bollywood star Aamir Khan's son Junaid, observing that it did not target the Vaishnav Pushtimarg sect as alleged by its members. Some members of the Pushtimarg sect had filed a petition against its release, claiming that the film hurt religious sentiments. The film has nothing objectionable or derogatory, the court said after watching it, and allowed its release on streaming platform Netflix.

The film is based on an 1862 libel case which was centred on a clash between a Vaishnavite religious leader and social reformer Karsandas Mulji. He, in an article published in a Gujarati weekly, had alleged that the godman had sexual relations with his female devotees, leading to the case for defamation which the social reformer won.

Justice Sangeeta Vishen of the Gujarat High Court, who had granted an interim stay to the film on June 13, a day before its scheduled release, watched the film on Thursday before passing the order. Allowing the film's release on Friday, Justice Vishen refused to stay her order as requested by the Pushtimarg sect's lawyer Mihir Joshi, and said that YRF and Netflix “are at liberty to release the movie”. The judge, in her order, noted that the film has already been certified by Central Board of Film Certification.

“Having viewed the film, this court found nothing objectionable that would hurt religious feelings of petitioners or a sect. The core message of the film revolves around social evil and the fight against it by social reformer Karasandas Mulji, who was also from a Vaishnavite community,” the judge said while reading out the order in the court. The film ends with a note praising the Vaishnav community, and the devotional verse Govind Stotram is also recited in the film, she noted. The book authored by Saurabh Shah on which the film is based was published way back in January 2013, Justice Vishen said, adding that it was based on a true story.

As to the petitioners' argument that the content of the film was “incendiary” and likely to incite hatred and violence against the Pushtimarg sect, the judge noted that when the book came out 11 years ago, no incident of violence was recorded.

“The apprehension that the movie is derogatory and runs down a religion is based on surmises. The freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Constitution cannot be curtailed,” said Justice Vishen. “Maharaj is based on events which led to the libel case, and it is not targeted to hurt sentiments of Pushtimarg sect. The film has been certified by CBFC and an expert body after considering the relevant aspects,” the court observed.

During the hearing, the petitioners' lawyer had argued that the British-era court which decided the 1862 case “castigated the Hindu religion” and made blasphemous comments against Lord Krishna as well as certain devotional songs and hymns.

The petitioners had approached the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, requesting it to take steps to stop the release, but there was no response, advocate Joshi said. He also argued that Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, which gives the right to freedom of speech and expression, is not a “license to insult” and the law does not protect publishers (such as OTT platforms) only because their creation is based on true events.

Appearing for Netflix, senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi argued that the petitioners' prayer to set aside the film's censorship certificate was misconceived, as such certification is not required for a release on OTT platform.

One of the petitioners, a “prominent businessman of Ahmedabad”, did not take any steps against the book on which the film is based or material available on the internet, Rohatgi said. The film is based on legal history which cannot be eradicated, he argued. The YRF counsel told the court that the part of the libel case ruling to which the petitioners objected was not included in the screenplay.

Friday, June 21, 2024

18th MIFF Explores the Magic of “Shaping Characters” and taking them Closer to the Viewer

Editing is about creating in the minds of the viewers a question mark or desire to know more: Master Editor Ollie Huddleston

“As an editor you need to be involved in the story, fall in love with the characters – whether with fiction or documentaries”, said Ollie Huddleston, an award-winning film editor with over 30 years of experience in television and cinema documentaries, in his master-class organized in the penultimate day of the 18th Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) in Mumbai. Today’s editing master-class titled ‘Shaping Characters’ by Ollie Huddleston focussed on a storyteller’s perspective for making a film.

The master editor chose to showcase his award-winning project ‘Dream catcher’ to explain his craft of shaping characters through editing. The documentary film which has bagged several international awards, takes us into a hidden world through the eyes of one of its survivors - Brenda Myers-Powell. A former teenage prostitute who worked in the streets of Chicago, Brenda defied the odds to become a powerful advocate for change in her community. With warmth and humour, Brenda gives hope to those who have none. Her story is their inspiration. Through the remarkable story of Brenda from Chicago, director Kim Longinotto explores the cycle of neglect, violence and exploitation which each year leaves thousands of girls and women feeling that prostitution is their only option to survive.

Ollie Huddleston stated, “When people tell you compelling stories like that of Brenda, editing becomes an emotional experience” Showing a number of scenes from the documentary, the master editor spoke about his work that brought Brenda’s character to life on the screen.  For him, storytelling in documentaries is all about showing what happens to people and how they live and survive. He stressed that the editor should view the film project from a storyteller's perspective. “You have to take the viewer inside the story”, he added. Editing has to be suitably done to take the viewers closer to the character.

He firmly feels that music and images should not disturb the story. Captions may also be used in documentaries to narrate the story. Editing can add layers to the character, he added. “Editing has no formula, it is a journey to bring out layers of a character”. He likes working on personal stories, he added.

While the Director, Kim Longinotto had spent two months in Chicago with the characters of the story, Ollie didn’t meet them. In this context, he said that film-making is a collaborative work and the   editor's work is to go through all the footage and make notes of the unedited material in a relaxed manner and then to feel his/her way through the film. You don't necessarily have to make an observational film to make a good documentary, he further stated.

Ollie Huddleston said that Brenda herself saw the film and liked it, which was the biggest reward of utmost satisfaction to him as an editor. Summing up his work in a sentence, he said, “Editing is about creating in the minds of the viewers a question mark or desire to know more”.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Sony Music Entertainment India and Maddock Films announce strategic partnership

This collaboration embodies Sony Music Entertainment’s vision of creating innovative avenues for artists to connect with audiences. And by combining Sony’s musical expertise with Maddock Films' cinematic vision, Sony Music Entertainment is confident in delivering impactful and unforgettable experiences

Sony Music Entertainment India and Maddock Films have announced a new and broad strategic collaboration in India’s entertainment industry. This partnership unites the two companies with the goal of producing music projects, encompassing film soundtracks and independent pop projects featuring A-list Indian talent.

Several high-profile projects anchor this alliance, including soundtracks for the upcoming Hindi film "Chhava" starring Vicky Kaushal and Rashmika Mandanna with music by A.R. Rahman, the drama "Diler" featuring Ibrahim Ali Khan, and "Ikkis" starring Agastya Nanda with music by Sachin-Jigar. In addition, the soundtracks for "Luka Chhupi 2," "Sector 36" starring Vikrant Massey, "Sarvagunn Sampan" featuring Vaani Kapoor, and "Rumi Ki Sharafat" starring Radhika Madan will be part of this collaboration.

Vinit Thakkar, Managing Director of Sony Music Entertainment India, said, "This collaboration embodies our vision of creating innovative avenues for our artists to connect with audiences. Film and music are powerful storytelling mediums, and by combining our musical expertise with Maddock Films' cinematic vision, we are confident in delivering impactful and unforgettable experiences."

Dinesh Vijan, Founder of Maddock Films, echoed the sentiment, adding, "Both Sony Music Entertainment India and Maddock Films have a proven track record of creating chart-topping hits, making this our most significant music collaboration to date. Over the next two years, we are committed to building the industry's most dynamic and successful music partnership."

This partnership will aim to deliver exceptional entertainment content through a strategic mix of new soundtrack acquisitions and creative independent pop singles.

Acting is like living life, it should always be natural: Fabrice Carrey

18th MIFF Unveils Stanislavski’s Secrets in Acting Workshop with Fabrice Carrey

The 18th Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) today featured a captivating workshop on acting, focusing on “The Approach of the Stanislavski System in the Acting School.” The workshop was conducted by Fabrice Carrey, the renowned artistic director of the Franco-Belarusian association Demain le Printemps TEATRO.

In a live and interactive session, Carrey delved deep into the life and artistic breakthroughs of the legendary Russian theatre personality Konstantin Stanislavski, exploring the foundations of his unique approach. Carrey emphasized the importance of naturalism in acting, stating, “Actors should always be alive. Acting is like living life.”

Highlighting Stanislavski’s preference for natural characters over traditional acting, Carrey elaborated on the scientific approach Stanislavski adopted in his method. “He always aimed to achieve authenticity and naturalism in his characters,” he opined.

Discussing the universal language of theatre and art, Carrey remarked, “Communication doesn’t only mean text. It’s the intention and emotion. An enthralling play always crosses the barriers of language and culture, connecting with the audience on a deeper level.”

Carrey underscored the necessity for actors to remain natural and empathetic to truly captivate their audience. He stressed that an actor must be prepared for any situation, noting, “A good actor needs to be very attentive to face any sort of difficult or challenging situation.”

To capture the audience’s attention, Carrey advised budding actors to embrace creativity and uniqueness in their performances. “You always need to do something unique, creative, and unusual to draw the attention of the audience,” he suggested.

The session offered valuable insights into the Stanislavski system and emphasized the significance of naturalism, empathy, and readiness in acting. MIFF continues to be a platform for fostering artistic excellence and inspiring the next generation of actors.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

BIG FM concludes its highly impactful campaign ‘Jal Andolan - Desh Ne Thaani Not to Waste Paani’

The campaign saw a huge support from celebrities like Manoj Bajpayee, Divya Dutta, Raghubir Yadav, Faisal Malik, Mini Mathur, Alka Yagnik and Anuradha Podwal, who came together to raise awareness on water conservation 

In response to the escalating global water crisis, BIG FM, one of India's leading radio networks, successfully concluded its purpose-led initiative Jal Andolan - Desh Ne Thaani Not to Waste Paani, aimed to raise awareness about responsible water usage. Responding to soaring temperatures aggravating water shortages across major Indian cities this summer, the campaign garnered significant support from celebrities, government authorities, activists, communities and NGOs.

Through this campaign, BIG FM also rolled out the Jal Daan initiative, encouraging individuals to curb their water usage. The collected water was then distributed across various locations in Delhi and NCR regions with the help of water tankers. In addition to on-air initiatives, the campaign featured on-ground activities such as cleaning nearby water bodies, conducting awareness programs at malls, holding discussions with experts in schools and colleges and organizing painting, slogan writing competitions across all BIG FM stations.

The highly impactful campaign drew the attention of the Jal Shakti Department, with Secretary Ms. Debashree Mukherjee IAS expressing her appreciation for the cause. Celebrities including Manoj Bajpayee, Divya Dutta, Raghuvir Yadav, Faisal Malik, Mini Mathur, Alka Yagnik and Anuradha Podwal supported the initiative by sharing how they are individually contributing to water conservation. Activists like Dr. Rajendra Singh (The River Man of India), Sunanda Tai, Peepal Baba from the Give Me Trees Trust and Padma Shri Ganesh K. Mani showed their solidarity with the cause through audio and video messages. Additionally, listeners also shared their Jal Warrior stories on air by reaching out directly to BIG FM RJs or through their social media handles, detailing how they are saving water in their daily lives.

Sunil Kumaran, COO of BIG FM, shared his views on the campaign, stating, "The need for water is perpetual for all. As demand rises and the population grows, conserving not only water but all natural resources has become crucial. Through ‘Jal Andolan,’ we aimed to further emphasize the importance of mindful water consumption and thereby the needs for its conservation. I would like to extend my gratitude towards all the dignitaries who supported this initiative; their influence is vital in fostering a healthier environment for those without access to fresh water.”

‘Jal Andolan’ concluded in Delhi with ‘Jal Daan,’ encouraging people to save water by using a bucket instead of taking a shower, not washing their car and reusing RO wastewater for household chores. Approximately 50,000 litres of water were distributed to water-scarce areas in Delhi by BIG FM RJs - RJ Khurafati Nitin, RJ Akriti and RJ Yogi — with the support of Delhi Police, various listeners and communities.

Trailblazing Women Filmmakers share struggles and triumphs at MIFF 2024

Srishti Lakhera, Farha Khatun, Prerana Barbarooah and Isabelle Simeoni unite to discuss ‘Exploring women’s narratives through documentary film making’

The 18th Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) brought together four acclaimed women filmmakers for an insightful session titled “Unveiling Her Story: Exploring Women’s Narratives through Documentary Filmmaking.” Moderated by Queen Hazarika, a prominent documentary narrator, the session featured National Film Award winners Srishti Lakhera, Farha Khatun, Prerana Barbarooah, and the accomplished author, producer, and director Isabelle Simeoni. The panelists discussed their craft, social issues, and the challenges and triumphs they have faced in the film industry.

Srishti Lakhera, hailing from Uttarakhand, emphasized that nothing is impossible for women, from breaking stones to writing poetry. Her debut documentary feature, Ek Tha Gaon, which won Best Film and Best Audiography at the 69th National Film Awards, captures life in her father’s Himalayan village. With only seven residents when she began filming, the documentary highlights the struggles of an 80-year-old woman and a 19-year-old girl facing the choice between a lonely village life and an alienating city existence. Lakhera pointed out that those left behind in abandoned villages are often women and Dalits, as the privilege to move to the city typically belongs to men. “Women wanted to earn their own money but they don't have the choice there”, said the film-maker. She noted the increasing dependency on digital platforms in rural areas and mentioned the inspiring emergence of young hip hop artists from humble backgrounds in remote villages who self-learn to write, record, and mix music.

Isabelle Simeoni spoke about the challenges of achieving gender equality and her focus on representing women in her storytelling. She highlighted the difficulties faced by women filmmakers, including the fear of their films not reaching audiences and the financial impacts. Simeoni, as advice to upcoming film-makers added, “Even on the set, you have to make the crew feel confident. We need to be professional and fight for subjects which we want to see on the screen”.

Prerana Barbarooah, an accomplished Director, Writer, Actor, and Model from the North-East, has created over 50 documentaries. Her first film, inspired by the matrilineal society of Meghalaya, contrasts with her patriarchal upbringing. In her documentary, she explored the unique societal roles within matrilineal tribes, capturing 36 hours of footage condensed into a 36-minute film. Barbarooah expressed her fascination with men living in their wives' houses, a norm in Meghalaya’s tribal society.

Farha Khatun, a filmmaker and editor, delves into themes of gender, patriarchy, and religious chauvinism in her documentaries. She highlighted the significant presence of women documentary filmmakers in India and praised the support provided by the erstwhile Films Division and the current NFDC. This governmental support, she noted, offers a vital push and confidence to documentary filmmakers, aiding them in starting and sustaining their careers.

Monday, June 17, 2024

MIFF-2024 panel explores AI's revolutionary impact on filmmaking

MIFF Discussion on ‘The magic of AI (Artificial Intelligence)’ highlights advantages & disadvantages of technology in Film Industry 

The Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) 2024 witnessed an enlightening panel discussion on the transformative impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the film industry. Titled ‘The Magic of AI’, the session focused on the scope, applications, and ethical considerations of AI technology in filmmaking. The panelists discussed both the advantages and potential drawbacks of AI, providing a comprehensive overview of its influence on the industry.

The panel comprised renowned figures from the film industry and AI experts, including Sankar Ramakrishnan, Senior Filmmaker and AI Expert from Trivandrum; Ujwal Nirgudkar, Chairman of Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers, India and Technical Advisor to the National Film Heritage Mission; Sanath P.C., Cofounder and Director at Firefly Creative Studio and Sanjay Jangid, Dean of Animation and Design at Chitkara University. The session was moderated by Dr. Nimish Kapoor, a Science communicator & science film curator with Vigyan Prasar, Department of Science & Technology, Govt. of India. 

Sankar Ramakrishnan highlighted the efficiency AI brings to filmmaking, stating that AI can manage numerous tasks on film sets with precision, minimizing the time required for each job. He pointed out that while AI reduces the need for human labor, it also risks making people overly reliant on technology. "AI can manage all kinds of work with just one click, but it also has the potential to make us lazy by doing our work for us," he noted.

Ujjwal Nirgunkar emphasized the rapid evolution of technology and the necessity for constant updates. He explained the difference between traditional AI, which relies on patterns in data to make predictions, and generative AI, which learns from existing data to create new, similar data. He highlighted the potential of AI to level the playing field for newcomers and small creators in the film industry. He added how AI can suggest necessary components for projects if storyboards are ready, but cautioned that it must be used ethically.

Sanath P.C. discussed the self-thinking capabilities of AI and its role in enhancing storytelling in films. He underscored the importance of responsible use, stating how any software or technology is controlled by human beings and can be modified as per our needs. He reminded the audience how it is our responsibility to use AI responsibly.

Sanjay Jangid compared the potential impact of AI to past technological revolutions such as electricity, the internet, and mobile phones. He stressed the importance of ethical usage, warning against using AI as a shortcut. "If you put garbage in, you will get garbage out. We should use AI carefully and for good causes only," he concluded.

The discussion underscored AI's potential to revolutionize the film industry while highlighting the need for ethical considerations and responsible use. The panelists' insights provided valuable perspectives on the future of filmmaking in the age of AI.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Mumbai International Film Festival Off to a Glittering Start

Wildlife filmmaker Subbiah Nallamuthu honoured with ‘Dr.V Shantaram Lifetime Achievement Award’. Opening film “Billy & Molly, an Otter Love Story” narrates the profound bond between human beings and nature..

Setting the stage for a week of cinematic excellence, the 18th edition of the Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF-2024) for Documentary, Short Fiction, and Animation films was inaugurated today by Dr. L. Murugan, Union Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting, Government of India. Also present on the occasion was Shri. Sudhir Mungantiwar, Culture Minister, Government of Maharashtra.

The vibrant and dazzling opening ceremony took place at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) in Mumbai. Organized biennially, by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and executed by, National Film Development Corporation (NFDC), this prestigious event promises an enriching experience for filmmakers, industry professionals, and cinema enthusiasts alike. This year MIFF is spreading its wings with simultaneous screenings and red-carpet events across five Indian cities.  The seven daylong festival will bring the magic of world-class parallel cinema closer to film enthusiasts across India.

Delivering his inaugural address, Dr. L. Murugan, Union Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting said that considering the growing potential of AVG sector in creating employment and generating growth, the government will soon create a Centre for Excellence in AVGC sector in Mumbai. The minister emphasized government’s efforts in controlling piracy in the country by bringing forth an amendment in Cinematograph act.

Underlining MIFF’s role in bringing together filmmakers from all over the world, Dr. L. Murugan said that documentary films play a vital role in showcasing the unique abilities, emotions and human bonds in a true and natural way. He also highlighted the efforts made by India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make our country a content hub of the world. “A single window system for film facilitation is introduced so that film producers can get easy access and permissions to shoot in India. Right from Himalayas, Western Ghats, Nilgiris, beaches and ancient temples, we have beautiful locations for shooting films in India. The Government is providing many incentives to foreign film producers and companies to encourage shooting in India”, he added. Dr. L. Murugan also congratulated Subbiah Nallamuthu, for winning V. Shantaram Lifetime Achievement Award this year.

V. Shantaram, Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed on Wildlife filmmaker Subbiah Nallamuthu
At the opening ceremony, renowned award-winning Wildlife filmmaker Shri Subbiah Nallamuthu, was conferred upon with the coveted V. Shantaram, Lifetime Achievement Award for this year. Dr. L. Murugan, Union Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting along with Shri Sudhir Mungantiwar, Culture Minister, Government of Maharashtra presented the award.  The prestigious Dr. V Shantaram Lifetime Achievement Award is presented in every edition of MIFF to a filmmaker for seminal contribution to documentary films and its movement in India. The award carries a cash prize of Rs 10 lakhs, trophy and a citation. This award is instituted in memory of legendary filmmaker V Shantaram, who was closely associated with Films Division as Honorary Chief Producer during the 1950s.  Shri Subbiah Nallamuthu dedicated the award to his parents and family who supported him throughout his film making journey.

On the occasion, Jury members for MIFF International Competition, National Competition and FIPRESCI - Keiko Bang, Barthélemy Fougea, Audrius Stonys, Bharat Bala, Manas Choudhary, Adele Seelmann-Eggebert, Dr Bobby Sarma Baruah, Apoorva Bakshi, Munjal Shroff, Anna Henckel-Donnersmarck and  Meghachandra Kongbam were felicitated.

The ceremony also paid tribute to masters of Indian parallel cinema and art with a homage film. Journey of Mumbai International Film Festival through the ages was also remembered with an audio-visual film treat. The trailer of ‘Azadi ki Amrit Kahaniyan’, a public service awareness film made by Netflix to tell the story of India’s social innovators, was also released at the function.

Earlier, festival screenings started rolling off with the India premiere of National Geographic's documentary, “Billy & Molly, an Otter Love Story” directed by Charlie Hamilton James. The film explored the boundless depths of love and the profound bond between human beings and nature.

The gala inauguration ceremony was also graced by the presence of celebrities like Madhur Bhandarkar, Richie Mehta, Anand L Rai, Divya Dutta, Randeep Hooda, Abhishek Bannerjee, Sonali Kulkarni, Divyendu, Sharad Kelkar, Taha Shah, Rahul Rawail, Suraj Thakur, Vinit Singh, Avinash Tiwary, Kailash Kher, Upasana, Pankaj Jha, Saurab Sachdeva and Adil Hussain.

The mesmerizing opening ceremony witnessed an artistic melange of cultural acts which included an act depicting the journey of Indian animation, a cultural performance from Sri-Lanka, a captivating 15-minute journey through the history of Indian animation, presented by Krazzy Kings Dance Crew, a powerful performance by V Company, India's first Dancing Icons and screening of the FTII student short Film “Sunflowers were the first ones to know”, which won the La Cinef Award at the 77th  Cannes Film Festival this year.

Shri Prithul Kumar, Festival Director, MIFF and Managing Director, NFDC concluded the ceremony with a vote of thanks.

Action for the sake of action is like an item number: Kabir Khan

“I have always believed that action for the sake of action never really works, then it’s an item number. Action works when the emotional drama and arc of the story moves forward with the action. The start of the action and the end of the action has to move and that in Chandu Champion is huge. It’s one of the most pivotal points in the plot,” says Kabir Khan.

When action is detached from sentiments, it only serves as a promotional tool in the movie, much like an item number, says filmmaker Kabir Khan, who has pulled off a pivotal eight-minute-long continuous war sequence in his latest Chandu Champion. The much-talked about shot highlights the ‘emotional drama’ of the story instead of showing action for the sake of it, said Khan, adding that they shot it at 9,000 feet above sea level in Kashmir’s Aru Valley.

After four days of rehearsal, the section was filmed in one day which featured fighter jets, bomb blasts, and intense combat scenes.

“I have always believed that action for the sake of action never really works, then it’s an item number. Action works when the emotional drama and arc of the story moves forward with the action. The start of the action and the end of the action has to move and that in this film (Chandu Champion) is huge. It’s one of the most pivotal points in the plot,” the filmmaker said in an interview.

Inspired by the life of India’s first Paralympic gold medalist Murlikant Petkar, Chandu Champion stars Kartik Aaryan in the title role as a man across ages and phases, including being an Indian Army soldier, a wrestler, a boxer, a 1965 war veteran and a swimmer. Khan, known for directing Ek Tha Tiger, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, 83 and Kabul Express earlier, said the underlying reason for shooting the eight-minute uncut sequence was to stay close to his protagonist and experience the events unfold through his eyes.

"We are so used to doing things in films that if it's not happening, take two or take three or take four, and we can keep achieving. Here, we had no take two. It was only one take and we had to get it correct because a lot of big structures were going to crumble and fall and you cannot set it up all over again.

"On top of that, we were shooting on location in Kashmir at a very high altitude. Carrying people and equipment up there and training them for several days before attempting the single take was quite a task," the 55-year-old added.

"Chandu Champion" is Khan's first directorial venture since "83", which released during the peak of the third wave of the pandemic on December 24, 2021. Fronted by Ranveer Singh, the film was based on the Indian men's cricket team's first World Cup win.

"Covid changed the planet and our lives. There was a moment in time where we were very unsure about how it was all going to pan out. Strangely, my film ('83') was on the cusp of that. Unfortunately, we released on the day the third wave sort of hit us in our face," the filmmaker recalled.

Much like the film industry and exhibition sector, Khan also took time to return to direction.

"Exhibition was hit badly, it took them months to come back to normal. They couldn't come back to full capacity for seven-eight months. A lot of projects had stalled, so there was a backlog of actors' dates, projects being greenlit. We are facing it even now. If you notice, there are not too many projects that are coming out from the industry. It was a tumultuous time but it was a tumultuous time for the whole planet so I should not be complaining," he added.

The Hyderabad-born filmmaker said he spent all the time during the pandemic-induced lockdowns "diving deep" into some stories, including "Chandu Champion".

"Everything has a silver lining and the fact that I got the time to dive deep into a story like 'Chandu Champion', plan it the way we could, prep it the way we could, so that when we finally made it, it looked a certain way... You need time to make it look a certain way. Here we are, (it's been) a long gap but (I have) come back with something I'm very proud of and (something) I know will be a strong part of my filmography for years to come," he said.

"Chandu Champion" is produced by Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment and Kabir Khan Films.

YRF's 'Maharaj' doesn't drop on Netflix after Gujarat HC stays release

VHP leader Sadhvi Prachi was one of the many X users who called for a ban on “Maharaj”. “Won't tolerate the disrespect of Sanatan Dharma (Sanatan Dharma ka apmaan sehen nahin karenge). Ban Maharaj Film. #BoycottNetflix,” Prachi wrote on the microblogging site.

YRF Entertainment's Maharaj did not premiere on Netflix on Friday as scheduled after the Gujarat High Court stayed its release following a petition by members of a Hindu sect who claimed the film would hurt their religious sentiments. The film, in which Aamir Khan's son Junaid Khan makes his debut, caught the attention of social media users on Wednesday with hashtags such as “Boycott Netflix” and “Ban Maharaj Film” trending on X. On Thursday, Aamir Khan was also trending on the social media platform.

Responding to a petition by members of Pushtimarg, a Vaishnava sect of Hinduism, the Gujarat High Court stayed the film's release on Thursday. A single-judge bench of Justice Sangeeta Vishen passed the order against the film and issued notices to the Centre, Netflix and Yash Raj Films. The court has posted the matter for further hearing on June 18.

According to a trade source in the industry, YRF and Netflix are challenging the stay order. “YRF and Netflix are challenging the stay order. The matter is in court. Maharaj is based on a real-life case. It is adapted from Saurabh Shah's book titled 'Maharaj'. The author has also come out to say that the film does not vilify the Vaishnav community or the religion. “It is about a social reformer who brought about a positive change in society. The makers are hopeful for a positive outcome on this,” the trade source said.

Directed by Siddharth P Malhotra and produced by Aditya Chopra under YRF Entertainment, the movie also stars Jaideep Ahlawat. And most unlike a mainstream film launching a star son, there were no trailers or teasers, barring a poster featuring Jaideep and Junaid.

The poster shows the two actors seen standing side by side with Jaideep's character sporting a 'tilak' on his forehead while Junaid's character, a journalist, is dressed in a waistcoat. Though Netflix and YRF haven't officially commented on the controversy surrounding the movie, they sent a joint press note to news outlets.

“We kindly request you to HOLD on publishing your reviews for the film 'Maharaj' online, in print or on any social media platforms, given the ongoing proceedings... Thank you for your support and patience. Sincerely, Team Netflix and YRF,” the note read.

According to a press release issued by Netflix last month, “Maharaj” is set in pre-independent India and is based on the Maharaj Libel Case of 1862, which was ignited by “allegations of misconduct by a prominent figure”. It follows Karsandas Mulji, a journalist and social reformer, who was a pioneering advocate for women's rights and social reform. “... the case garnered widespread attention and scrutiny, setting the stage for what many consider to be one of the most significant legal battles of all time,” the streamer said.

The petitioners claimed before the Gujarat High Court their religious sentiments would be “seriously hurt” if the movie is permitted to be released, and it is likely to affect public order and incite violence against followers of the sect. They pointed out that the British-era court, which had decided the libel case, “castigates the Hindu religion and makes seriously blasphemous comments against Lord Krishna as well as the devotional songs and hymns”.

The libel case was centered on a clash between a Vaishnavite religious leader and social reformer Mulji, who, in an article in a Gujarati weekly, alleged that the godman had sexual liaisons with his female devotees. The petitioners argued that the movie was sought to be released in a secretive manner without a trailer or promotional events to avoid any access to the storyline. VHP leader Sadhvi Prachi was one of the many X users who called for a ban on “Maharaj”.

“Won't tolerate the disrespect of Sanatan Dharma (Sanatan Dharma ka apmaan sehen nahin karenge). Ban Maharaj Film. #BoycottNetflix,” Prachi wrote on the microblogging site.

Until when “Hindu saints” will continue to be insulted in films, asked another X user.

Another alleged that Aamir was launching his son in a “Hindumisic movie creating a false image of Sadhus and the Vallabh Sampradaya, by quoting an incident during the British regime (sic)”.

One X user also spoke of double standards when it comes to movies on Hinduism and Islam.

“Since the film is 'Maharaj'... it's on your gods and goddesses and religion, you are calling for a boycott. When it's about the other community, there is an attempt to sell as much hate as possible through films,” the user said, referring to controversial movies such as “72 Hoorain” and “Hamare Barah”.

The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the June 14 release of Annu Kapoor's movie “Hamare Baarah” after taking note of allegations that the film is derogatory to the Islamic faith and married Muslim women. The film had undergone a title change (it was earlier called “Hum Do Humare Baraah”) in accordance with a directive by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

The boycott calls for “Maharaj” recalled the controversy around Aamir's film 2022 film “Laal Singh Chaddha”, which also faced boycott calls over the superstar's 2015 comments that he was alarmed by a number of incidents of growing intolerance in India.

Earlier this year, Nayanthara-starrer “Annapoorani” was pulled down from Netflix after some viewers said it hurt religious sentiments. The actor also issued an apology on social media.

“Maharaj” also stars Shalini Pandey with Sharvari in a special appearance. The film is part of the multi-year creative partnership between Netflix and Yash Raj Films' digital arm YRF Entertainment.

Friday, June 14, 2024

'Committed to extending financial help' I B secy on independent films Payal Kapadia’s movie

There will be eight world premieres, six international premieres, 17 Asia premieres and 15 India premieres during the film gala where special packages have also been curated. MIFF will also host awards, masterclasses and panel discussion with noted filmmakers.

Information and Broadcasting Secretary Sanjay Jaju on Friday said the government is committed to extending financial assistance to independent filmmakers, including Payal Kapadia, whose movie “All We Imagine as Light” won the Grand Prix award at the Cannes Film Festival.

At the press conference of the 18th edition of Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) here, Jaju was asked about Kapadia not receiving funds.

 “That’s not true. The film is a joint production and the process of reimbursement happens and it could happen in due course. There’s no shortage of commitment for films which are cleared by the Film Facilitation Office,” Jaju said in response to a question by PTI in a press conference.

Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, in an interview with PTI, recently said that India has not given the rebate promised to Kapadia’s film. Managing Director of NFDC and Joint Secretary (Broadcasting), Ministry of I&B, Prithul Kumar said India is supporting Kapadia’s movie. Kumar said among the Indian selection at Cannes this year, three were supported by the government.

“One is Payal Kapadia’s film, which is a co-production... I’ll be happy to announce that the interim approval for whatever incentive is planned was already given beforehand. There’s another film, which is Indo-UK production, so the Indian Government through the FFO (Film Facilitation Office) will be doing the incentive, and the third one is a FTII film. So, the government is not just doing selection and investing in films, but the right films.”

At the 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival, which was wrapped on May 25, the other winners include Anasuya Sengupta, who was awarded the best actress in the Un Certain Regard category for “The Shameless” and Chidananda S. Naik’s “Sunflowers Were the First Ones to Know” was crowned the best film at the La Cinef section.

Responding to another question about the performance of Indian films at Cannes Film Festival, Jaju said the credit should be given to the filmmakers and not to the government.

“We do not want any credit (for the films' success). There is a criticism against us that we sit here and take credit. But it is due to all those filmmakers, who do all this meaningful work. I understand the process is painful and amidst all that a small filmmaker makes effort, makes so much effort that eventually you create a product that gains worldwide acceptance. So, congratulations to them. The only thing we can say is, we were supporting them through whatever small measure we could. So, it’s their team members who deserve this congratulations.”

Jaju added that MIFF will pay tribute Indian films' accomplishments at the Cannes Film Festival.   

Chidananda S. Naik’s “Sunflowers Were the First Ones to Know” will be screened on the opening day of the festival tomorrow.

“Mumbai International Film Festival this year is kind of a tribute to the good work that they’ve done. That’s why in the opening ceremony, we’ve brought in the film that received an award last month,” he said.

The 2024 edition of MIFF will open with the screening of National Geographic's documentary “Billy & Molly: An Otter Love Story”. The film gala will be held at FD-NFDC Complex from June 15 to 21. Jaju said for the first time a film bazaar has been organised by MIFF to provide a platform to independent filmmakers to find funding opportunities for their projects.

“The Film Bazaar and Film Facilitation Office will be in full swing. People will get to know of the incentives. Sometimes not many people know of the incentives so it’s an opportunity to know that these incentives are available. These incentives are not for big filmmakers who have Rs 1,000 crore opening. This is meant for small independent filmmakers.            

“Some of the films which are good and need to be supported … At NFDC, we also have some funds available, we will make use of this opportunity to look at some of the products and see where we can pitch in ourselves, finance these films, so all of this is going to happen.”

Jaju added that the Government of India organises such festivals with the objective of promoting art and cinema.

“Cricket and cinema are two fields that occupy our mind space when it comes to entertainment. This particular event, for instance, apart from the documentaries and short films, it also holds a mirror in front of us and provides an opportunity to look at issues that are topical and issues that are socioeconomic. For us as policymakers, it allows us the opportunity to look at those issues and find solutions because this is real cinema, and not fictional that we are all used to,” he said.

MIFF, established in 1990, is held biennially and serves as a platform for both established and emerging filmmakers to showcase their craft, nurturing cinematic talent and fostering cultural exchange. This year a total of 118 films have been selected by the three selection committees, comprising eminent film experts for the international (25) and national (77) competition sections along with 16 films in MIFF PRISM. There will be eight world premieres, six international premieres, 17 Asia premieres and 15 India premieres during the film gala where special packages have also been curated. MIFF will also host awards, masterclasses and panel discussion with noted filmmakers.

Indie Favourites Anubha & Iqlipse drop their first single together, ‘Savera'

Experience the pure and simple joys of love through a captivating indie sound...

Khwab and Lamhey fame, Iqlipse Nova and Anubha Bajaj come together to release their first single together, Savera. This sweet romantic track perfectly captures the magic of everyday love, offering listeners a musical warmth that feels like a hot cup of chai on a rainy evening.

Introducing "Savera," a song symbolizing love in its purest, most innocent form, whether it’s towards friends, family, or partners. With its calming melody and heartfelt lyrics, "Savera" invites listeners to immerse themselves in the everyday wonders of love and cherish the simple joys of togetherness. Savera is a song that fits perfectly while watching the sunset, cooking, dancing, or making memories with your loved ones. Let the song take you on a journey through the sweetness and simplicity of relationships, where every moment is filled with magic. Experience the magic of genuine relationships with “Savera.”

The musical journey of “Savera” takes us through delicate guitar strums, and soft, inviting vocals that evoke feelings of warmth and nostalgia. The track artfully combines modern indie pop with classical Indian musical elements, creating a soundscape that is both timeless and contemporary.

Featuring Iqlipse Nova and Anubha Bajaj, the talented pair as vocalists, composers, as well as lyricists, the track was taken to new heights with Polar’s production.

Renowned for his viral song “Khwab” Iqlipse Nova expressed “Working with Anubha on 'Savera' has been an enriching experience. We aimed to create a song that reflects our shared musical style and vision, highlighting the common elements in our song. Conceptually, Savera is like an appreciation note for the people in our lives who are just one call away! For me, 'Savera' is more than just a song, it's a personal reflection of my beautiful experiences with my loved ones. I hope it resonates with everyone who listens.”

Anubha Bajaj, a rising star in the indie music scene, conveys her thoughts, “Savera” is a reflection of the warmth and simplicity that love brings into our lives. Collaborating with Iqlipse was incredibly inspiring, and together we wanted to craft a track that feels like a gentle embrace. We hope 'Savera' makes people feel connected to the beautiful, everyday experiences of love.”

Sharvari Wagh on working with Alia Bhatt in Spy Universe Film: 'It Is a Big Responsibility'

Sharvari Wagh is excited to work with Alia Bhatt in the YRF Spy Universe movie. The yet-to-be-titled film will see Alia Bhatt and Sharvari Wagh play super-agents in the action entertainer. The movie will go on floors later this year.

Actor Sharvari Wagh is ecstatic to feature alongside Alia Bhatt in Yash Raj Films’ (YRF) female spy universe movie, calling it a “big responsibility”. In March this year, YRF CEO Akshaye Widhani officially announced their maiden female-led spy film. The YRF spy universe began in 2012 with Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif-starrer Ek Tha Tiger, followed by blockbusters like Tiger Zinda Hai, War, Pathaan, Tiger 3, and Fighter. The yet-to-be-titled film will see Bhatt and Wagh play super-agents in the action entertainer. The movie will go on floors this year.

“It is an exciting time for women in the industry because roles are written for them. The fact that films like spy-universe which were headlined by big superstars, and for me to be sharing screen with Alia Bhatt, who is a huge star, is a big deal and big responsibility,” Wagh, who made her Bollywood debut with YRF’s 2021 film “Bunty Aur Babli 2”, told PTI in an interview. The actor, who looks up to Katrina Kaif, Deepika Padukone, and Bhatt as female action stars, believes it’s about time that women took the lead in action films and set an example for the next generation.

“The expectations are high but there’s always a first time. I’m fortunate to be part of a first-time thing (female led action film). I’m very proud to be part of such a film because I know a lot of young women and girls of every age group will watch a film like this. I’m sure we will be able to inspire them because if not now, then when?”

The two-film-old Wagh started undergoing extensive training for three-four months in action but little did she know that this was her audition test for the spy-film. “I didn’t know that I was auditioning for the film, I didn’t know that a female-led spy film was getting made. I had met Adi (Aditya Chopra) sir and he wanted me to train in action. This was more than a year ago. He wanted me to go to a particular class and asked to shoot my videos and action sequences. The first two months went in learning the basics. It is not as easy as Tiger Shroff makes it look like,” the actor recalled.

“I used to send my videos to sir, and he would say, ‘This is great, this is good’. Later, I found out that it was basically an audition to see whether I can get an action body language, whether I can pull off action the way they want me to. I did a lot of rig work; I was put on a harness. So, it was an extensive action audition,” Wagh said.

The actor is basking in the glory of her latest film, Munjya, which has earned Rs 32.47 crore at the box office. Released on June 7, the movie received mixed reviews. Wagh said the commercial success of “Munjya”, which also stars Abhay Verma, Mona Singh, Sathyaraj, Padmini Sardesai and Suhas Joshi, is a boost for newcomers like her.

“…I’m one film old, Abhay is new to the film, and the fact that people have given love, it will help in making films like this, believing in newer talent, and backing stories like this,” the actor, who made her acting debut with Kabir Khan’s war drama series The Forgotten Army – Azaadi Ke Liye, said.

The big challenge for a newcomer, Wagh said, is to find the “right” opportunity to showcase their talent. “The challenge is to get the film that you wanted to (do). When you’re new, it takes that much time to prove yourself to be able to land that one film or two films that you need. But I feel films also choose actors, and the right film always lands in your lap somehow,” she said.

Citing the example of her upcoming movie, Vedaa, the actor said she feels blessed to have got the opportunity to play a different character and thanked director Nikkhil Advani for it. The action-drama is headlined by John Abraham.

“I want to show different facets of myself…So, I’m actively choosing films that are different from each other,” Wagh, who started her journey in the movie industry as an assistant director to Sanjay Leela Bhansali in “Bajirao Mastani” and Luv Ranjan in “Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2”, and “Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety”, said.