Mumbai, India — Mumbai Mantra, the media and entertainment division of the Mahindra Group, in collaboration with Sundance Institute, has selected eight Indian Screenwriters and their feature film projects for the second annual Mumbai Mantra | Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab, which began Sunday, March 10 at a Club Mahindra Resort and ends Friday, March15.
This year’s Screenwriting Fellows, selected from submissions from around the world, are: Sarthak Dasgupta (The Music Teacher); Pratim D. Gupta (Ink); Nitin Kakkar (Black Freedom); Abhijit Mazumdar (Delirium); Terrie Samundra (Betamax); Renuka Shahane (Tribhanga); Kavanjit Singh (Television); and Neha Sinha (Forgiven).
At the Lab, Screenwriting Fellows will engage in an artistically demanding process that offers indispensable lessons in craft, a fresh perspective on their work and a platform to fully realize their material. Screenwriting Fellows will have the opportunity to work intensely on their feature film scripts in an environment that encourages innovation and creative risk-taking, with the support of a distinguished group of established Screenwriters and Directors serving as Creative Advisors.
Creative Advisors include: Bill Wheeler (The Reluctant Fundamentalist, The Hoax), Joshua Marston (Maria Full of Grace), Asif Kapadia (The Warrior, Senna), Habib Faisal (Do Dooni Chaar, Ishaqzaade – Born to Hate… Destined to Love), Sabrina Dhawan (Monsoon Wedding), Anjum Rajabali (Rajneeti, Aaraakshan), Marti Noxon (Mad Men, Glee), Carlos Cuaron (Y Tu Mamá También, Rudo Y Cursi), and Malia Scotch-Marmo (Hook, Once Around).
The Mumbai Mantra | Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab was announced and inaugurated On March 10 at independent cinema’s biggest annual event. The following were sighted: Anil Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore, Irrfan Khan, Rahul Bose, Tisca Chopra, Kunal Kapoor, Siddharath Basu, Meeta Vashishtha, Sanjay Suri, Onir, Swara Bhaskar, Sushma Reddy, Sridhar Raghavan, Tanuja Chandra, Sidharath Kak amongst others.
Rohit Khattar, Chairman, Mumbai Mantra, said, “We are at an exciting storytelling stage in the history of Independent Cinema in India. With the help of our exceptional collaborator, Sundance Institute, we are keen to recognize, nurture and hone talent in India and across the world. We welcome to the Lab the nine remarkably talented Screenwriters and Directors who are sparing their valuable time to guide the Screenwriting Fellows. We congratulate the eight Screenwriting Fellows selected for the second Mumbai Mantra | Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab and look forward to their next films with great anticipation. I thank the Advisory Committee members for so generously giving back to the Indian Film Industry by reading innumerable screenplays in order to arrive at this shortlist.”
Michelle Satter, Founding Director of the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program, and Paul Federbush, International Director, Feature Film Program, said, “Sundance Institute and Mumbai Mantra share a commitment to supporting the growth of independent artists in India, and we look forward with excitement to our second Screenwriters Lab together. We are grateful to the accomplished screenwriters who are bringing their expertise and generosity to the Lab as Creative Advisors and the very talented group of Indian screenwriters who have been selected for the Lab.”
Mumbai Mantra received over 500 applications for the Lab from Indian screenwriters across the globe. After intense debate and deliberation and consultation with the Sundance Institute, the final eight projects were decided.
The Selection Advisory Committee included Dev Benegal, Ira Bhaskar, Pubali Chaudhuri, Uma Da Cunha, Rashmi Doraiswamy, Habib Faisal, K. Hariharan, Deven Khote, Prakash Kovelamudi, Ram Madhvani, Neeru Nanda, Sriram Raghavan, Anjum Rajabali, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, Mahesh Samat, Meenakshi Shedde, and Anahita Uberoi.
The Lab is one facet of a creative and strategic collaboration between Sundance Institute and Mahindra Group that helps Indian filmmakers connect to ever-increasing global audiences. The inaugural Lab that was held last year was an overwhelming success. Last year’s Screenwriting Fellows and their projects included – Charudutt Acharya (Sonali Cable Centre), Shonali Bose & Nilesh Maniyar (Margarita, With a Straw), Vikas Chandra (Toothache), Rajnesh Domalpalli (Avani), Prashant Nair (Umrica), Anusha Rizvi & Mahmood Farooqui (Opium), Ajitpal Singh (Manjhi) and Kartik Singh (Public School).
At the 2013 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, U.S.A., Sundance Institute and Mahindra announced four recipients of the Sundance Institute | Mahindra Global Filmmaking Awards, which includes a cash award of $10,000 and attendance at the Sundance Film Festival for a specially curated five-day program of targeted creative and industry meetings, screenings and panels. The 2013 award winners are Sarthak Dasgupta / THE MUSIC TEACHER (India), Etienne Jonas Carpignano / A CHJANA (Italy/US), Vendela Vida & Eva Weber / LET THE NORTHERN LIGHTS ERASE YOUR NAME (UK/Germany) and Aly Muritiba / THE MAN WHO KILLED MY DEAD BELOVED (Brazil).
Now in its third year, the award has proved to be a vital platform for some of the most promising international filmmakers. In the past year, three former award winners wrapped production on their projects – Bogdan Mustata’s Wolf (Romania), Seng Tat Liew’s In What City Does It Live (Malaysia), and Tayla Lavie’s Zero Motivation (Israel) – with several others poised to begin production this year.
PROJECTS AND SCREENWRITERS SELECTED
The Music Teacher / India
The life of a small town music teacher takes a sharp turn when one of his ex-students, now estranged, a big celebrity in the far-away city today, is slated to visit the town after many years. The teacher, now lovelorn, prepares to meet her not knowing if she still bears the same feelings about him as she did those many years back.
Writer/director: Sarthak Dasgupta
With a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering, a Master’s degree in Business Management, and five years in the corporate world of Mumbai, Sarthak Dasgupta realized life needed a different definition than the one he was living. Sarthak left his cushy job and set out to become a filmmaker. His debut feature The Great Indian Butterfly has screened at various international film festivals.
Ink / India
A struggling journalist chances upon a scandalous story which has the potential to rock the world of showbiz.
Writer/director: Pratim D. Gupta
Pratim D. Gupta has been the resident film critic for The Telegraph newspaper in Kolkata, the largest selling English daily in east India, for eight years. His screenplay The Deaths of Ray was selected from India for the Binger Script Lab at the 2009 Locarno International Film Festival. Paanch Adhyay (Afterglow) was Pratim’s first feature film as writer-director. The 2012 romantic drama was selected as the Centrepiece Premiere at the South Asian International Film Festival in New York and was picked as the New Voice in Indian Cinema at the Mumbai International Film Festival. It also won the Best Film Award at Kalakar Awards, one of the oldest and most prestigious award ceremonies in India.
Black Freedom / India
Black Freedom is a collection of five short stories woven in one film. It is dedicated to the memory of Saadat Hasan Manto. It’s about his dream of a sub-continent where people will still live as people, irrespective of religion, caste or color, where hatred shall stand abolished, where religion shall only ennoble those who follow it, not divide them into warring tribes. Sixty-five years after independence, Manto’s dream remains a dream…
The 5 short stories of Manto that the film is inspired from are Toba Tek Singh, Khol Do, Tetwaal Ka Kutta, Sharifan and The Last Salute.
Writer-director: Nitin Kakkar
After gaining experience as an assistant director for various Hindi movies, Nitin Kakkar made his directorial debut with the award-winning short film, Black Freedom (2004). Since then, he has worked on a number of television projects including Prayaschit, Jersey No 10, and CID. Nitin’s debut feature film Filmistaan received a Special Jury Mention during its World Premiere at the Busan International Film Festival. Thefilm also won Nitin the Best Debut Director at the International Film Festival of Kerala and Jaipur film Festival
Delirium / India
A story about six people and their manic missions…six specs of dust crisscross paths, ready to raise a storm in the endless city of Mumbai.
Writer/director: Abhijit Mazumdar
Abhijit Mazumdar is a Direction graduate from Film & Television Institute of India, Pune. He has made a number of short films, documentaries and commercials. His films have received both national and international awards. His latest medium-length film Vanishing Point is an official selection in Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013, Glasgow Short Film Festival (Competition Section “Adrift”) 2013, International Film Festival of India (Indian Panorama) 2012, International Documentary & Short Film Festival, Kerala (Focus Section) 2012.
Betamax / India-US
With the release of the first home video camcorder, a teenage Sikh boy and a squatter Punk girl become unlikely friends and filmmaking collaborators as London sits on the brink of race riots and a youth uprising in the summer of 1976.
Writer/director: Terrie Samundra
Terrie Samundra grew up between a rural village in India, a small farming town in Missouri, and the California coast. She is the director of the award-winning short ﬁlms Kunjo and A Short Tale of Xuanand is co-writer of Pooja’s Honor, the ﬁrst screenplay in The Ballad of Pooja trilogy. She is a Princess Grace Award recipient, a National Geographic All Roads Seed Grant recipient, and is currently the Head Programmer at the 2013 Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles.
Tribhanga / India
The film Tribhanga is a story of three women, from the same family, of three different generations. The lives of these three women overlap each other’s like concentric circles… each determining the shape of the other… each contributing to the other’s life in a very deep manner… each becoming the other’s strength in key times in their life. Their lives are like ‘Tribhanga’, the Odissi dance pose that is so disjointed, yet so beautiful, magical and mesmerising.
Writer/director: Renuka Shahane
Renuka Shahane has been an actress in Indian theatre, television and film for the past 25 years. Her work in television includes Lifeline, Surabhi, Circus, Imtihaan, Sailaab, Close-up Antakshari, Kora Kaagaz and the celebrity dance competition Jhalak Dikhla Jaa. In her film work, she is best known for the Bollywood blockbuster Hum Aapke Hain Kaun? Her first feature as director was the critically acclaimed Rita for which she won Best director for a Marathi film at the 16th Nokia Star-Screen Awards 2010. She also received the Best Screenplay Award in Marathi Films competitive section of the 8th Pune International Film Festival.
Television / India
Television is a story about three men – Vijay, who is about to get married and start a new life; Ravi, who wants best for his 3-year old son and must decide between his principals and the ways of world; and Malik, who is now retired and wants to live a peaceful life.
Unforeseen circumstances have put these three men at crossroads. They must decide what path to choose.
Writer/director: Kavanjit Singh
Kavanjit Singh is a screenwriter and director from Pune, India. Kavan started his film career at Whistling Woods, graduating in Film Direction. A former Infosys Project Manager with an undergraduate degree in electronics engineering, Kavan is pursuing his passion for cinema.
His short film Jagjeet has won nine Best Short Film Awards across the world.
Forgiven / India
Amidst the socio political unrest of 1987 in Kerala, a rebellious daughter from an upper caste family and her impressionable young niece set into motion a series of events that lead to betrayal and a dramatic death. 16 years on, with the patriarch on his deathbed, the disintegrated family is forced to come together, re-visit their past and find forgiveness.
Writer-director: Neha Sinha
After studying Philosophy at Lady Shri Ram College and film at the National Institute of Design, Neha Sinha has worked as a documentary filmmaker and as art director at the advertising firm JWT. She has also been a creative assistant to adman Ram Madhvani on various commercials, including the Cannes Lions 2007-winning ‘Palace’ for Happydent White, and assisted Abhinay Deo on Aamir Khan Production’s acclaimed film Delhi Belly. Currently, she works with Siddharth Basu in Big Synergy where she develops content and fiction based TV shows. Forgiven is her first original screenplay.
Mumbai Mantra Media Ltd
Mumbai Mantra Media Ltd, the Media & Entertainment vertical of the Mahindra Group, is actively evaluating opportunities in content and infrastructure in the domestic as well as international media and entertainment space. Mumbai Mantra’s ‘Antaheen’, won 4 National Awards including Best Feature Film in 2009. It has also co-produced the film adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest‘ directed by Julie Taymor. Several other films are in development.
Mumbai Mantra has also made a commitment towards providing a platform for independent voices in Indian cinema to champion an emerging generation of exciting film makers. The first step in this direction is the forging of a partnership with the renowned Sundance Institute founded by Robert Redford, for the establishment of the Mumbai Mantra | Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab which is planned to be an annual event in India, and the Sundance Institute | Mahindra Global Filmmaking Award to be awarded to 4 international film makers annually at Park City.www.mumbaimantra.com
Mahindra & Mahindra
Mahindra embarked on its journey in 1945 by assembling the Willys Jeep in India and is now a US $14.4 billion Indian multinational. It employs over 1,44,000 people across the globe and enjoys a leadership position in utility vehicles, tractors and information technology, with a significant and growing presence in financial services, tourism, infrastructure development, trade logistics and, recently, the entertainment industry.
The Mahindra Group has a long standing commitment to the arts and humanities. The Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META) were created to encourage both emerging and established theatre and celebrated its Sixth Anniversary in 2011. The Group’s encouragement and support to world music will be at its fore at the second annual Mahindra Blues Festival in Mumbai in February 2012 – the largest festival of its kind in Asia, showcasing the best international Blues artists and providing a common platform for emerging Indian Blues bands.
To encourage and support the ‘young and the unknown’ and to give back to the communities it operates in, has been the core of the Mahindra Group’s involvement in art and culture. www.mahindra.com
Sundance Institute Feature Film Program
Since 1981, the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program (FFP) has supported more than 600 independent filmmakers whose distinctive, singular work has engaged audiences worldwide. The program’s approach to the discovery and development of independent artists has become a model for creative development programs internationally. Program staff fully embraces the unique vision of each filmmaker, encouraging a rigorous creative process with a focus on original and deeply personal storytelling. Each year, up to 30 emerging filmmakers from the U.S. and around the world participate in a year-round continuum of support which can include the Screenwriters and Directors Labs, Composers Lab, Creative Producing Fellowship and Lab, Creative Producing Summit, a Work-in-Progress Screening Initiative, a Screenplay Reading Series, the Feature Film Program Fund, offering direct financial support through named grants, awards, and artist fellowships, the Artist Services program, a new initiative providing strategic resources for crowd funding and digital distribution, and ongoing creative and strategic advice. In 2011, the FFP created the New Frontier Story Lab, supporting innovative artists developing projects across multiple platforms, emphasizing the convergence of storytelling and technology.
Over its 30-year history, the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program has supported an extensive list of award-winning and groundbreaking independent films. Notable films supported over the program’s history include Cary Fukunaga’s Sin Nombre, Josh Marston’s Maria Full of Grace, Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream, Walter Salles’ Central Station, and Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, amongst others. www.sundance.org/featurefilm
Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, Sundance Institute is a global, nonprofit cultural organization dedicated to nurturing artistic expression in film and theater, and to supporting intercultural dialogue between artists and audiences. The Institute promotes independent storytelling to unite, inform and inspire, regardless of geo-political, social, religious or cultural differences. Internationally recognized for its annual Sundance Film Festival and its artistic development programs for directors, screenwriters, producers, film composers, playwrights and theatre artists, Sundance Institute has nurtured such projects as Born into Brothels, Trouble the Water, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Amreeka, An Inconvenient Truth, Spring Awakening, Light in the Piazza and Angels in America. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.