FESTIVAL HIGHS

Berlinale Forum selects Amit Masurkar’s ‘Newton’ and Haobam Paban Kumar’s ‘Lady of the Lake’

Touted the most daring section of the Berlinale, Forum straddles the line between art and cinema with a programme that gives documentaries and feature films equal consideration. This year, in its 47th edition, Berlinale Forum is showing 43 films in its main programme, 29 of which as world premieres and 10 as international premieres. Two of India’s most anticipated films are featured in this section.

Newton, Amit Masurkar’s second feature film

Synopsis –  India, the world’s largest democracy, is heading towards another general election at an estimated cost of $5 billion and 9 million polling booths with over 800 million voters. A newly recruited government clerk, the righteous young Newton (born Nutan Kumar), is sent to the remote forested heartlands of Chhattisgarh in Central India, an isolated area, rich in iron ore. It is also infested with communist guerrilla rebels who have opposed the State for decades. The local indigenous tribal folk are left with no choice but to take sides in this violent war. Conducting free and fair elections in a minefield like this is no child’s play, as Newton learns during this one eventful day. Bent on conducting his first election by the book, those he deals with — the bureaucrats, the top cops, the security force and the media — have agendas of their own. The result is a clash between Newton’s uncompromising views and the pessimistic apathy of everybody else. While they try to lure him however they can,Newton staunchly fights for what he believes in. And as a jungle proverb goes, “The more things change, the worse they will get”; and so it happens. The silver lining is his chance encounter with a more practical and wiser tribal girl.

 

 

Mumbai-based writer/director Amit V Masurkar (left) quit engineering midway to work on film sets. He was a staff writer for The Great Indian Comedy Show on TV and co-writer with filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt for the screenplay of “Murder 3” (2013). He has directed music videos and TV commercials. His 2014 directorial debut, “Sulemani Keeda”, was an indie sleeper hit. “Newton” is his second feature film.

 

 

Lady of the Lake, Haobam Paban Kumar’s debut feature

Synopsis – One of the most travelled festival films of 2016; Lady of the Lake (Loktak Lairembee) is the story of Tomba, one of the victims of a displacement drive that took place after the government, in the name of protecting the serenity of the ecosystem, burnt down hundreds of the crumbly huts inhabited by thousands of fishermen. He lives haunted by a seamless fear of further intervention of authorities that would make him homeless forever. One fine morning, Tomba accidentally finds a gun hidden within the biomass. He marvels with the gun as his power of self-protection. He transforms himself to an assertive man who is looking for an appropriate offence. One day an old lady who mysteriously wanders in the lake, knocks at his door in the middle of the night. Fearful Tomba, anticipating the lady as the spirit of all evils, chases her and commits an unintended crime.

 

Haobam Paban Kumar (right), based in Manipur and one of India’s leading documentary filmmakers, has a 3-Year Post Graduate Diploma in Direction and Screenplay writing from Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, Kolkata. Haobam came to limelight with the film ‘AFSPA 1958’ winning the International Jury and FIPRESCI award at the 9th Mumbai International Film Festival 2006. The film also won the ‘Swarna Kamal’ for the Best Documentary at the 56th National Film Awards 2008. Some of his other notable films are ‘Ngaihak Lambida’, ‘A Cry In The Dark’, ‘The First Leap’, ‘MR INDIA’, ‘Ruptured Spring’, ‘Nupishabi’ etc. Haobam has five National Film Awards and five Indian Panorama Selections to his credit. His latest film ‘Phum Shang’ is one of the successful Indian films in recent years sweeping almost all the major awards in the country including the prestigious Golden Conch for the Best Documentary at the 14th Mumbai International Film Festival 2016. The film ‘Loktak Lairembee’ (Lady of the lake) is his debut fiction feature film.

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