Was told it's the worst year to finish a film, says The Disciple director Chaitanya Tamhane
After The Disciple does India proud by bagging two awards at Venice Film Festival, man of the historic moment Chaitanya Tamhane on taking Marathi film global despite lockdown
Miles away from Italy where the action was, or the UK where mentor and the film's executive producer Alfonso Cuarón lives, a wave of cheer erupted in the Tamhane household in Andheri. And with it, a wave of pride washed over Indian filmmakers and cinephiles as news broke on Saturday night that Chaitanya Tamhane's The Disciple had bagged the Best Screenplay award at the 77th Venice Film Festival, two decades after Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding had walked away with the Golden Lion. Only a day earlier, The Disciple had won the FIPRESCI Award.
"To win two awards at Venice where you are competing with stalwarts is overwhelming. We did not make the film to win awards, but it feels special to get recognition from such accomplished jury members. It's a big moment for Indian cinema," says the two-film-old director who is quickly becoming a force on the international circuit. His directorial debut, Court (2014), had bagged the Best Film in the Orizzonti section and the Lion of the Future award at the prestigious film gala in 2014.
A still from The Disciple
The Marathi movie narrates the story of a vocalist, played by Aditya Modak, who has to balance life in Mumbai with his chosen vocation. Tamhane says he was uncertain about its prospects when several film festivals were cancelled in the wake of the pandemic. "It was weird to have finished the movie and be sitting on it. I was told it's probably the worst year for a filmmaker to finish a film, since the World War II. Fortunately, the Venice Film Festival took place in all its glory even though there were a lot of protocols to be followed. We were there to present the film and see it on the big screen."
It must not be easy to find your feet in a country that has only now begun to look beyond Bollywood. Despite the odds, Tamhane has emerged as one of the most unique voices in Indian cinema. "I don't like to make distinctions. For me, The Disciple is not a regional film, it is an Indian film," says the unassuming filmmaker, who is now eager to show his labour of love to the Indian audience. "There is so much uncertainty whether cinemas will reopen soon. We are also in talks with OTT platforms for the digital [premiere] of the film."
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