In a way, the National Film Development Corporation of India, which was established in 1975 to promote parallel cinema in a country that was hung on melodrama, has been able to fulfil this role through the Film Bazaar -- which completed a decade this year. Now on and running along with the International Film Festival of India here, the Bazaar has in an important way made movies like The Lunchbox, Qissa, Shanghai, Titli and Thithi, emerge and shine.
If legendary men of cinema like Marco Mueller (who unfortunately resigned from the directorship of the Macau International Film Festival even before its first edition got going in December) and movie critic Derek Malcolm mentored scripts (”Sometimes we have to suggest complete change of scripts,” Malcolm once said) to cut sensation out of them and replace it with sense, the Bazaar has also been instrumental in helping producers find money.
Ritesh Batra -- whose The Lunchbox made waves the world over with two great performances by Irrfan Khan and Nawazuddin Siddique -- told this writer once that his baby could not have been conceived without the help of the Bazaar. His project got into Rotterdam’s CineMart largely because of the way it was developed in the scriptwriters’ lab at the Bazaar. Since his days with Khan and Siddique, Batra has gone on to do even more spectacular things like helming The Sense of Ending (starring Jim Broadbent Charlotte Rampling and Our Souls at Night for Netflix that reunites Robert Redford and Jane Fond after so many decades). No mean achievement!
And apart from attracting international talent (and happily not stars), the Bazaar this year has 18 projects from India, Bangladesh, China, Nepal, Canada, Sweden and The Netherlands that are seeking finance.
Not just this, the Bazaar has also organised over 40 movies as part of its industry screenings. Some of them are Nila (in Tamil and Hindi by Selvamani, about a cabbie’s efforts to rekindle his lost love), Nimmo (by Rahul Shanklya, about an eight-year-old boy’s calf love), Tendulkar’s ageless courtroom controversy by Ritesh Menon, Khamosh, Adalat Jaari Hai (with excellent performances by Nandita Das and Saurab Shukla), Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani (from Jijo Antony, who explores how a man turns into a rapist), Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai (Soumitra Ranade, a take from the Naseeruddin Shah’s classic) and Trap (by Madhusudhan Reddy on the police battle with the notorious outlaw, Veerappan).
Sadly, the brain behind the Bazaar, Nina Lath Gupta, is not around this time, an illness having confined her to bed. But then, as they say, there is always the next time for her.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is covering the Film Bazaar.)