Berlin Film Festival

“Sairat”, flagship of new Indian talents


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February 15, 2016

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Meryl Streep – photo credit: Brigitte Lacombe

The 2016 edition of the Berlin Film Festival, February 11-21, is an opportunity for Indian films such as “Sairat” (Wild) by Nagraj Manjule, to get a world exposure in a festival unique by its attendance and conviviality. The adjacent film market is another venue to screen the Indian way and new talents.
The Berlin Film Festival, the famous Berlinale in Germany, is with Cannes and Venice, one of the leading world film fests. It celebrates mainstream cinema and extravaganza but also allows hundreds of thousands of viewers to discover new international talents and author films. This year, it boasts a prestigious official selection, with stars such as George Clooney in “Hail, Caesar!”, from the Coen Brothers, and a shiny jury, led by the Lady of American cinema, actress Meryl Streep.
The Berlinale is also an opportunity for young Indian talents to be in the spotlight, especially in the “Generation” selection that screens new breeds from all around the world. In this avant-garde section, there are 55 films from all continents and among them the Indian feature “Sairat” (Wild), by director Nagraj Manjule. It is produced by two solid Indian cinema players: Zee Studios and Aatpat Production.

“Sairat”, a Marathi movie, tells the passionate love story in Maharashtra (South) between a lower cast young village man, Parshya, and Archie, the daughter of a local politician. The couple is trying to live a free life, confronted with social taboos and differences. They endure the violence of conventions, as the rumour of their affair is spreading in the village. Their temptation to escape is growing…

The cast includes young talents such as Rinku Rajguru, who plays Archie, and Akash Thosar (Parshya) or Tanaji Galgunde and Arbaz Sheikh.

Sairat’s director, Nagraj Manjule, 37, knows well the hardship of social barriers and the fight to get an education when one comes from an underprivileged family in a rural part of India. He was born and brought up in the very small town of Karmala, in Solapur district, in Maharashtra (South). His debut short film “Pistulya” (2009) was, as he put it, a reflection of his own “felt experience”, and won a First National Award in India. Then, his first feature film “Fandry” (2013), also awarded, was dealing with cast discriminations.

Nagraj Manjule is deeply rooted in his local culture. He has a master in Marathi literature from Pune University and is regarded as one of the leading Marathi contemporary poets, with his awarded collection of poetry ‘Unhachya Kataviruddha’.

The film market angle

In Berlin, viewers had also the chance to watch the Malayalam film “Ottaal” (The Trap). Directed by Jayaraj Rayashekhan Nair, its screenplay is an adaptation of the short story “Vanka”, written by Russian master Anton Chekhov. Transposed in the Indian context of Kerala (South), it tells the story of a young boy who reveres his grand-father and fights to escape his condition of a child factory worker, hence the title.

Another place to discover Indian films is the European Film Market, also part of the Berlinale. In this film trade fair, one of the most important in the world, around 400 companies and 8,000 film professionals gather to develop business opportunities, notably international sales and distribution. The 13th Berlinale Co-Production Market (Februrary 14-16) is also the opportunity for a selection of 36 new feature film projects from 29 different countries to establish international financing and co-production partnerships. Among them is the Indian film “Echo”, directed by Arati Kadav and produced by Sikhya Entertainment, which coproduced many films with Anurag Kashyap Films. New Indian breeds, new creativity and new business opportunities in Berlin, who could welcome more of India’s cinematic richness and diversity though.



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