Two internationally renowned Indian films get country premiere at MAMI

NEW DELHI: Two Indian films that made their mark in foreign film festivals saw their Indian premiere at the ongoing 19th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival: The Song Of Scorpions by the renowned Anup Singh and Village Rockstars by director Rima Das.

While The Song Of Scorpions premiered at the Locarno International Film Festival 2017, Village Rockstars was the only Indian film to be selected for the competition category, Discovery, at theToronto International Film Festival 2017.

Singh, whose film Qissa – The Tale of a lonely Ghost has already won several awards globally, says his film The Song Of Scorpions was prompted by the tragic incident of the Nirbhaya gang rape in Delhi in 2012.

He also added that the character of Nooran was inspired by his observation of watching a certain section of women singers in rural Rajasthan. These are singers that sing compositions based on the birth of a child and other such rituals but are not allowed to perform in public.

Singh was responding to questions after the screening of The Song Of Scorpions starring Irrfan Khan, Golshifteh Farahani and Waheeda Rehman opened to a packed response at its Indian premiere at the 19th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival. The film has been selected in the Spotlight Category at the festival.

The film, which had its world premiere at the Locarno International Film Festival 2017, is a Swiss-French-Singaporean co-production and has been produced by Saskia Vischer and Shahaf Peled for Feather Light Films, Michel Merkt for KNM in association with Thierry Lenouvel for France’s Cine Sud Promotion and Singapore based Aurora Holdings and M Capital Ventures.

Village Rockstars is the story of Dhunu, a girl who grows up in poverty and learns to fend for herself. However, that does not prevent her from following her dream of forming a rock band and owning a guitar someday.

The premiere was attended by Rima Das and the kids who have acted in the film including Das’ niece Bhanita Das who plays Dhunu. Most of the cast members of the film are non actors including Bhanita and the other kids who hail from Rima Das’ native village in Assam.

This is the first premiere that the cast of the film has ever attended. It is also the first time that they had travelled out of their hometown. And it was a dream come true for them as they watched themselves on screen including Dhunu who also admitted that she wants to become an actress.

Also present at the premiere was Pan Nalin, director of the TIFF 2015 People’s Choice Award winner Angry Indian Goddesses.

Village Rockstars has also been nominated for Oxfam Best Film on Gender Equality Award 2017 at the 19th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival.The film was an official selection at Film Bazaar Recommends (at NFDC Film Bazaar 2016), 2017 Marche du Film (Cannes) Work-In-Progress, San Sebastian International Film Festival 2017 and 2oth International Children’s Film Festival. It is also the closing film at the 2017 Dharamshala International Film Festival.

The Song of Scorpions is Singh’s third feature film is a story of twisted love, revenge and the redemptive power of a song. Nooran (Golshifteh Farahani), carefree and defiantly independent, is a tribal woman learning the ancient art of healing from her grandmother, a revered scorpion-singer. When Aadam (Khan), a camel trader in the Rajasthan desert, hears her sing, he falls desperately in love. But, even before they can get to know each other better, Nooran is poisoned by a treachery that sets her on a perilous journey to avenge herself and find her song.

The Indian premiere was attended by Singh, producers Saskia Vicher and Shahaf Peled apart from the cast members of the film which included Shefali Bhushan, Sara Arjun and Kritika Pande. Besides this, actor Rasika Dugal who had starred in Singh’s Qissa – The Tale Of A Lonely Ghost had also attended the screening.

The film marks the second collaboration of Singh and Khan after the much acclaimed Qissa and also marks the comeback of legendary actress Waheeda Rehman. The Song of Scorpions was also an official selection at the 2017 BFI London Film Festival.

It is also the second feature film of Singh that has been chosen as an Official Selection at the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival. Qissa had won the award for the Second Best Film in the India Gold competition category in the 2013 edition of the festival.

The Indian premiere also coincided with the 70th year of the Swiss-Indian Treaty of Friendship and was attended by Martin J. Beinz, the Consul General of Switzerland in Mumbai.

Talking about the lead actors, the director mentioned how Golshifteh Farahani’s recounting of her experiences of her life in Iran and post her exile from Iran convinced him that she was the perfect choice for the character of Nooran. Similarly, Khan’s ability to depict the good and bad side of a person with the right balance gave Singh the confidence to cast Khan for the role of Aadam.

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