Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Berlin Spotlight: Congratulations Rajan Khosa and Children’s Film Society India

Indian filmmaker Rajan Khosa’s Gattu was awarded a Special Mention at the recently concluded 62nd Berlinale International Film Festival. This is Rajan Khosa’s second feature film (he made his debut with the well received Dance of the Wind). Gattu has been produced by the Children’s Film Society India.

At the award ceremony held last Saturday, the jury of the Generation Section said in their citation that they saw in Gattu the potential for life’s wonders in every child’s eye; and in particular, the boundless ingenuity of the young rascal was utterly compelling.

Rajan Khosa while accepting the award said, "To children I wish to say - believe in your dreams against all odds and your dreams will come true. And to adults I wish to say - make sure all across the world, no kid remains on the street but in trustful environment of the school."

An elated Rajan Khosa told Film India Worldwide, “It was great to be in Berlin. I represented the Children’s Film Society India at the European Film Market for five days. I had a torrent of interest for the film sales from all territories of the world. I have done verbal negotiations with UK, USA & Canada, Europe, South East Asia and Middle East. All this still needs to be worked upon and inked post Berlinale.”

Gattu: Berlin Film Review

3:26 PM PST 2/18/2012 by Deborah Young

The Bottom Line
A charmer for children that doesn’t whitewash Indian reality, about an illiterate street boy who sneaks into school to fly his kite.
Venue Berlin International Film Festival (Generation KPlus)
Director: Rajan Khosa
Cast: Mohammad Samad, Naresh Kumar

Director Rajan Khosa's drama centers on an illiterate boy who sneaks into school.

Hitting just the right note to interest young audiences without condescending, while adding a hopeful note to the aching problem of India’s street kids, the charming, very original Gattu describes how an illiterate boy obsessed with kite-flying sneaks into school to fly his kite from the roof. The cleverness and determination of the hero are amply rewarded in a well-constructed finale by director Rajan Khosa, making a happy return to feature films after his well-received 1997 debut, Dance of the Wind. The film won a special mention from the young people’s jury at Berlin.

The story is set in the town of Roorkee in the Himalayan foothills, where the naughty orphan Gattu (Mohammad Samad) works on odd jobs for his stern uncle Anees Bahi (Naresh Kumar). Keeping Gattu out of school and forcing him to work with angry threats, the uncle comes off as a tyrannical villain, though this judgment is revised by film’s end.

The enterprising little boy is not above lying and stealing to indulge in the town’s favorite sport of kite-flying. Samad’s incredibly serious eyes fix on the drama in the skies, where the mysterious black kite Kali has, for many years, cut the strings of all her rivals to remain the undefeated champion. No one knows who is flying her, but when Kali appears, the boys hurry to let out their string and launch a challenge. Their colorful CGI kites tremble and spin over the humble terraces of Roorkee.

Gattu is smart enough to realize his only chance to beat Kali is to fly his kite from the highest roof in town, which happens to be the school building. Swiping a blue uniform off a clothesline, he bluffs his way into class, even though he can’t read or write. When he is discovered to be an impostor by his friends Minky, Honey Singh and Manuj, he brilliantly claims to be an undercover detective sent to protect the school against a terrorist attack. Together the four of them set the stage for Gattu’s final duel with the black kite.

Produced by the Children’s Film Society of India, the film is admirable in the way it presents poverty, child labor and the ugly side of life within a basically joyous, upbeat story, making it educational without being shocking. The school song, for instance, fervently sung by the principal and children, celebrates India as a paradise, but the director feels no compunction about showing such locations as a junkyard, a garbage dump and a public toilet. Humor is well-used to balance the protag’s serious look as he sets out to fulfill his dreams.

Venue: Berlin Film Festival (Generation KPlus)
Production companies: Children’s Film Society India, Elephant Eye Productions
Cast: Mohammad Samad, Naresh Kumar
Director: Rajan Khosa
Screenwriters: Ankur Tiwari, K. D. Satyam, Rajan Khosa, Dilip Shukla
Executive producer: Rajan Khosa
Director of photography: Satya Rai Nagpaul
Production designer: Ranjit Singh
Costumes: Shyamalee Sharma
Editor: Antara Lahiri
Music: Sandesh Shandilya
Sales Agent: Children’s Film Society India
No rating, 82 minutes

Monday, February 20, 2012

Screening of Shemshook on Friday, February 24th at 6.30 pm in the NCPA’s Little Theatre


Film India Worldwide (FIW) is a quarterly edited by Uma da Cunha. It is also the title of the NCPA’s 2012 once a month screening programme.

FIW provides a mirror held up to a globalizing Indian cinema as the world goes global. It goes beyond the Indian Diaspora. It provides a platform for new talent and new stories but always works within a recognisable Indian idiom.

There are filmmakers who have left India to settle elsewhere but whose heart and art are India-centric. It also encompasses filmmakers from elsewhere who come to India’s locations and its reality expressing this through new eyes.

Many are first-time filmmakers. But content, points of view and technical proficiency make good what might otherwise have been lacking in the debut work.


We look forward to seeing you at the Film India Worldwide’s screening for the month of February 2012. The film selected is Shemshook, directed by Siddharth Anand Kumar. It will be screened on Friday, February 24th at 6.30 pm in the NCPA’s Little Theatre.

The director, Siddharth Anand Kumar, will be present for the screening and Q and A session, along with his scriptwriter, Sudip Sharma. The curator of FIW screenings, Uma da Cunha, will also attend.

The synopsis of the film as well as bio-data of the director and screenwriter is given below.


(The Pursuit of Truth)

Siddharth Anand Kumar

Country: India/Spain

Festivals: Cinequest 2010, 2010 Cannes Market, 2010 MAMI (Mumbai)

Semshook is a film about Tenzin (Tenzin Younden), a second generation Tibetan brought up in India. He is gripped by questions of his identity, and decides to journey to his homeland in order to discover himself. It is a journey that takes him across the spectacular landscape of the Himalayas, from Dharamshala through Ladakh and finally into Tibet. Mirroring much of the Buddha’s journey into enlightenment, the protagonist goes through a process of shedding his possessions. Ultimately his ego or his sense of self, finds the ‘truth’. The film deftly moves between travelogue, coming-of-age story, Buddhist philosophy, and the harsh political realities of the life of Tibetan refugees. The film is produced by Francisco Leria under his production house, Elephant Producciones S L. The film’s story/script is by Sudip Sharma and Rahul Singh and the cinematography is by Tribhuvan Babu Sadineni. Its music score, a blend of ethnic Tibetan and Western classical, is scored by Andrew Mackay.

Present for Screening and Q&A

Director Siddharth Anand Kumar and scriptwriter Sudip Sharma

Siddharth Anand Kumar, director

Siddharth Anand Kumar studied filmmaking at Hampshire College, US, completing a thesis film based on T S Elliot´s The Wasteland. Since 1998, he has worked as an editor, cinematographer, writer and director in India. His first job was as assistant director to Mira Nair for Kamasutra (1995). His first film, Let’s Enjoy released in 2004. He has since helmed various TV shows such as Left Right Left, Champ, Love Story for major Indian broadcasters. Semshook is his second feature film

Sudip Sharma, scriptwriter

Sudip Sharma is an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. He worked for a while in the corporate sector before realising his calling for screenwriting. He believes in balancing his writing work between commercial Bollywood films and parallel indie cinema. For his work in Semshook, he was nominated for Best Screenplay at the New York Indian Film Festival. His next release will be the Abhay Deol starrer Rock the shaadi, touted as India's first zombie comedy. Besides screenwriting, Sudip is associated with a Mumbai-based advertising agency in the capacity of a Brand Strategist.

Enquiries: uma.dacunha@gmail.com