Mumbai Mantra, the media and entertainment division of the Mahindra Group, in collaboration with Sundance Institute, has selected eight Indian Screenwriters and their feature film projects for the third annual Mumbai Mantra | Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab, to be held from March 16-21 at the Club Mahindra Resort in Tungi.
- This year’s Screenwriting Fellows, selected from submissions from India and the Indian diaspora around the world, are: Navneet Behal (Experiments with Truth); Ashvin Kumar (Noor); Bornila Chatterjee (Nuclear Hearts); Gaurav Madan (Shaktipur Crude); Deepanjali B Sarkar (Svadharma); Dylan Mohan Gray (The Last Day of Winter); Sanjay Talreja (The River Murder); and Neeraj Ghaywan and Varun Grover (Ud Jayega / Fly Away Solo).
- Creative Advisors include: Naomi Foner (Running on Empty, The Bee Season), Michael Handelman (The Ex, Night At The Museum), Dante Harper (The Delicate Art of the Rifle), James V Hart (Contact, August Rush, Dracula, Tuck Everlasting), Malia Scotch Marmo (Hook, Madeline), Anjum Rajabali (The Legend of Bhagat Singh, Raajneeti), Elena Soarez (City of Men, House of Sand), Rose Troche (Go Fish, The Safety of Objects) and Sooni Taraporevala (Salaam Bombay!, Mississippi Masala, The Namesake).
- Mumbai Mantra received over 500 applications for the Lab from Indian screenwriters across the globe. After a rigorous deliberation and consultation with Sundance Institute, the final eight projects were chosen.
- The Selection Advisory Committee included Advaita Kala, Anjum Rajabali, Deven Khote, K. Hariharan, Kanika Luthra, Mahesh Samat, Meenakshi Shedde, Neeru Nanda, Prakash Kovelamudi, Ram Madhvani, Ravina Kohli, Uma Da Cunha and Vikramaditya Motwane.
PROJECTS AND SCREENWRITERS SELECTED
EXPERIMENTS WITH TRUTH
LOGLINE: Following three children over the course of eighteen years, Experiments With Truth explores a recent history of state-sponsored violence.
Writer/director: Navneet Behal
While pursuing his Masters in Film at the New York Institute of Technology, Navneet Behal started work in New York as a camera operator. Upon his return to India, Navneet worked as Associate Director on a Hindi feature film, produced by Wild Elephant Motion Pictures. He is currently directing his first feature film, produced by M.A.S Universal Fin & Intra, due for release in 2015.
LOGLINE: A six year-old girl sets out to find her missing father and stumbles upon mass graves, implicating the Indian army and putting herself in danger.
Writer/director: Ashvin Kumar
Ashvin Kumar is the youngest Indian filmmaker to be nominated for an Academy Award, for Little Terrorist, which played at 130 film festivals, winning 25 awards, including Honourable Mention at BAFTA/LA and a nomination by the European Film Academy. In 2012, his documentary Inshallah Football was awarded the National Award, India’s highest honor for cinema. Its sequel Inshallah, Kashmir won the National Award for best investigative film in 2013. His other work includes Dazed in Doon and The Forest.
LOGLINE: A Bengali lounge singer who becomes involved with two French expats living in Calcutta, India.
Writer/director: Bornila Chatterjee
Bornila Chatterjee graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Film and TV in 2008. Her debut feature film, Let’s Be Out, The Sun Is Shining, premiered at the 2012 New York Indian Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award and received a Best Actress nomination for lead Lipica Shah. Bornila was previously Managing Director of Stone Street Studios, a screen acting school and advanced conservatory in the Department of Drama at Tisch. Bornila is a curator and essayist for Vyer Films, a Brooklyn-based film streaming service, and a writer for Overdose Art Pvt. Ltd, a progressive art platform and production company in Calcutta, India.
LOGLINE: When oil is discovered, a small village at Indo-China border suddenly becomes the most important place in the country and changes the lives of its people forever.
Writer/director: Gaurav Madan
Gaurav Madan grew up in a small town in Haryana. He received his Masters in Communications from University of Pune. He has won several awards for his commercial work, and owns an advertising production company based in Mumbai. His first screenplay was 3 nights 4 days, which was completed in 2009.
LOGLINE: The true story of an army officer who is betrayed by his government and sentenced to eight years of solitary confinement.
Writer/director: Deepanjali B Sarkar
Deepanjali B Sarkar is a digital media content specialist with experience ranging from internet and telecom content to corporate communications. She has worked with ITC, Indiatimes.com and Mobifusion. An alumnus of Presidency College Kolkata and Jadavpur University, she blogs regularly at http://filmandbookclub.blogspot.com/.
THE LAST DAY OF WINTER
LOGLINE: Condemned by a thuggish political regime as the son of a traitor, a 15-year-old boy faces a torturous set of choices as he reluctantly leaves childhood behind.
Writer/director: Dylan Mohan Gray
Dylan Mohan Gray is an award-winning producer, writer and director. His documentary Fire in the Blood was presented at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and set a record for the longest theatrical run by a non-fiction feature film in Indian history. Fire in the Blood has won major awards in Washington, Hamburg and Vancouver and also received the award for Best Debut Film at the 2014 Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF). Trained as a historian, Dylan founded the production company Sparkwater India in 2005 and has worked in various capacities on feature films, including collaborations with directors Fatih Akin, Peter Greenaway, Paul Greengrass, Deepa Mehta and Mira Nair.
THE RIVER MURDER
LOGLINE: A small town cop investigates whether a body found floating on the river is one of four missing local men.
Writer/director: Sanjay Talreja
Sanjay Talreja is an award-winning writer, director and editor of narrative features and documentaries, whose work has appeared on television and at film festivals. He most recently wrote and directed the feature film Surkhaab, which won Best Director, Foreign Language Feature at the 2013 London International Film Festival. Sanjay also teaches at various colleges and universities in Canada, the US and India. He has a MFA in Film.
UD JAYEGA (FLY AWAY SOLO)
LOGLINE: Four lives intersect along the Ganges river, each yearning to escape the constrictions of a small town.
Writers-director: Neeraj Ghaywan / Varun Grover (co-writer)
Neeraj Ghaywan worked with Anurag Kashyap on the veteran director’s two-part opus Gangs of Wasseypur and as second unit director on Ugly. His short films as writer-director include Shor and The Epiphany. Shor won the grand jury prize at three International film festivals.
Varun Grover grew up in Dehradun and Lucknow. He has written stand-up comedy for various TV shows and currently performs stand-up comedy at the biggest venues in India, writes fiction and graphic series for children in Chakmak (published from Bhopal, by Eklavya), and has written lyrics for Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur (2012), Vasan Bala’s Peddlers (2012), Rajat Kapoor’s Aankhon Dekhi (2013), and Fahad Mustafa/Deepti Kakkar’s Katiyabaaz (2013).