FILM FIESTA M10
Shala is set in
1975 India during
declared by then
prime minister Indira Gandhi. Four
friends in an Indian school, gather to
deliberate their everyday life. Little do
they know, that by the end of the aca-
demic year, their lives will take unex-
‘Shala is every person’s story. It is for
every person who has been to school,
and loved and lost his love,’ notes
Veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal,
who is expected to attend the festival,
will be represented through his trilogy
Mammo, Sardari Begum and
Zubeida. Film buffs will also get a
chance to see Dev Anand’s Hum
Dono, in color on the big screen.
“We started this year’s process in
early January,” says Aseem Chhabra,
who curated the festival last year.
“Nearly 250 films — narratives, docu-
mentaries and shorts were reviewed
by our four-member committee which
included Aroon Shivdasani, executive
director, IAAC, Satish Kolluri, profes-
sor, Pace University and documentary
filmmaker Parvez Sharma.”
“Our opening night film Chittagong
Documentaries that dare to
cross the line
Inshallah Football documents the life of Basharat Baba,
the son of a former militant, who belongs to a new
generation of Kashmiris. He has grown up under the
shadow of a silent war. Yet, within it, football is his
son of a former militant, who belongs
to a new generation of Kashmiris. He
has grown up under the shadow of a
silent war. Yet, within it, football is his
During his trips to Kashmir, Kumar says, he
was ‘more confused than enlightened as to the
subject matter of my feature film. I knew I
wanted it to be a simple story — drawing inspi-
ration from the films of Iran — yet one that
reflected the deep complexities of Kashmir.’
A chance encounter with Marcos, who had
spent the last three years in Srinagar coaching
more than a thousand Kashmiri boys, gave
him the idea for a story.
The next day, Kumar met the boys at ISAT
and shot footage with them, ‘more as a punt
rather than a serious bid, I suggested that we
make a movie (a documentary) about Marcos
and his work.’
But Kumar later wondered why not a film on
the boys. ‘I thought it would be interesting to
see how these conservative Muslim boys would adapt to
their new environment in Spain (where they would go for
more training and play with other teams),’ he says. ‘More
importantly, I wished to tell the story of Kashmir through
the lives of these boys, their families, their aspirations and
expectations. To use football as the balm that heals or a
prism through which this may be exposed.’
Kumar says he then decided to focus on one young boy
and his family.
Inshallah, more festivals will welcome the film and be
open to more healing discussions. ;
For more on the New York Indian Film Festival turn to M12
How easy or difficult was it to release a film in 1987?
It was difficult to make a film, but I think it was very
easy to release the film. Unlike today, we didn’t have to
release the film in 400 screens. I don’t remember how
many prints we released. Also, we didn’t have the fear of
video piracy nor was filmmaking a game of weekend busi-
How did the industry react to you after the release of Mr
After the film became a success, a lot of people told me
to make another film with the children, as I would make
a lot of money. The moment someone told me I would
make a lot of money, I realized it was a fundamental rea-
son not to make a film, as it is the beginning of making a
I was offered almost every film in town (Laughs).
People don’t realize how much effort went in making Mr
India. We spent hours on the sets just to hide a wire that
held a Coca Cola bottle in mid air. There were hours spent
on thinking about the minutest of the details. We didn’t
even have a green screen (against which you shoot a sub-
ject when you want to put your background during post
production). In fact, we did one shot on it and it turned
out really bad.
How did you evolve as a filmmaker and storyteller after
I never allowed myself to evolve into making a film of a
particular genre. My films have always been different in
content. I made Masoom, which was followed by Mr
India, which I followed up with Bandit Queen. After that
I made Elizabeth and Four Feathers and so on. I have
always tried something new.
Time and again you have said that Mr India was ahead
of its time…
I actually say it as a criticism because I think audiences
weren’t completely ready for a film like Mr India. One of
the reasons why the film has lasted till today is the simple
fact that it was 10 years before its time. If the same film
made in the exact manner were released today it would
become a huge blockbuster.
In these 25 years, do you think Mr India has had an
impact on the way films are made in India, especially in
I don’t think so. If Mr India had impacted Indian cine-
ma, we would have many more films of that kind and
maybe Mr India wouldn’t have sustained its popularity.
Mr India is so popular because it is still one of its kind.
Our film was adventurous. We were unafraid when we
were making Mr India. I think 99 percent of the films
which have been made or are being made are not very
adventurous. People are still afraid of taking risks.
What is happening with Mr India-2?
I don’t know. I have heard that there are intentions to
make Mr India-2. Boney and I have chatted about it a lot
of times. I have no idea who is going to direct the film. I
have also heard that Salman Khan has been roped in to
play a pivotal role, but I don’t know anything.
Would you like to direct the sequel?
It all depends on what I am doing at that time. If I am
not doing anything, I might think of taking it up.
Although my feeling is that there should be a new direc-
tor because I might tend to repeat myself. A new director
might be able to add some freshness to it. ;