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Thursday, 17 August 2017 00:00

 

Today, 17.08.2017: Review about “Love and Shukla" in the frame the article about Indian cinema in "New Faces"

 

 

August 15, 2017 - India - 70!

 

Indian Cinema: Reflection of an Era

 

 

 

Fragment

 

Politeness, delicacy and tact

 

One day in May I received a link to watch the working version of a film “Love and Shukla”, the production of which was over already. A person from Bollywood sent me a totally non-Bollywood film. I watched the movie in one go. The film is about the deficit of personal space in a densely populated city of Mumbai.  A just married couple does not have a possibility to have some privacy even for an hour.

 

The leading character is a motor-taxi driver Shukla, his mother prefers to call him Manu. The family of Manu belongs to the highest caste of Brahmans of the Indian social segregation. As it is known, the Brahmans – is quite an honorable part of the Indian society, which is associated with the highest spiritual state. Although, as the director of the film had noticed, Brahmans have lost their bygone power, they nevertheless, continue to live with the feeling of their own dignity and supremacy in relation to the representatives of other castes.

 

The family consisting of a mother, a father, a sister, Manu himself and his wife Lakshmi, lives in a tiny room, which simultaneously serves as a sitting room, a kitchen, a bedroom and there is a straight passage out to the yard. Two-storey constructions of huts circle the small yard.

 

The thirty two years old Shukla never intercommunicated with women closely. He only admired celluloid variations of starlets on the four inch display of his mobile phone. And here, when the mother sets up a marriage for her son with a wonderful young girl Lakshmi, which the hero didn’t know before the wedding, Shukla and his wife are left one-on-one with the common social problem, which 55% of married couples in Mumbai face. One of the reasons: the lack of experience in relations with the opposite gender, though Shukla is 32. Lakshmi is only 18.

 

Love and Shukla

 

The newlyweds live side by side with the parents in such overcrowding, that they do not have a possibility to simply talk to each other.  There are two old suitcases set up by the father on the floor, in order to separate them from the sleeping parents and a sister, a cell phone and a city with millions of eyes.

 

By the advice of a friend, Shukla gets a room in a hotel for two hours just to talk to Lakshmi, to court her. He offers her presents. The girl is amazed that her husband somehow found out that she likes to draw and that he bought her pencils and paper. Virtually, the date is ended before it started: an employee of the hotel informed the police about a secret meeting of some young people, who supposedly hardly know each other.

 

The leading male role is played by a wonderful Bollywood actor Saharsh Kumar Shukla. In recent years he played several supporting roles in many renowned films, and his status in Bollywood is elevating all the time. All of the other actors have appeared on the screen for their first time.

 

The director Jatla Siddhartha graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), in Pune city, which is in three hours drive from Mumbai, the former Bombay, where Bollywood is located. Jatla is 32 years old. He is a professional cameraman; he had an opportunity to learn filming on 35 mm film in Pune. Now he films on digital. He works in Bollywood and, as I have understood, had filmed his full-length feature debut “Love and Shukla” as a screenwriter, a director, a cameraman, an editor and a producer with the money he saved.

 

Jatla Siddhartha

 

I have met Jatla at the Third Eye Film Festival in Mumbai in December, 2011. During his studies in Pune, as a cameraman he had filmed student works of Sharofat Arabova, my friend from Dushanbe, who studied at the Faculty of Film Direction in Pune. Their film “In Between” became a winner of the international competition at the IFF “Kyrgyzstan – is a Country of Short Films” in 2013.

 

As to Mumbai, for me up until now it is still the most overcrowded city in the world (18 million inhabitants!)  But before watching “Love and Shukla” I haven’t even thought about what kind of social, psychological and other problems people of this biggest mega polis of India encounter every second.

 

From the other side, Jatla Siddhartha had lifted the veil of the delicate part of the Indian private life, which is the relationship of young married couples, who as a result of strict upbringing are loyal to the conservative traditions of their community even in the rapid twenty first century, such as: respectful attitude to their parents, to each other, to fellow men in general.

 

In addition to the fact that Shukla is already 32 years old and he never was close with a woman, the most surprising thing for me was his reverent attitude to his spouse, whom he invited to their first date to the hotel. He is not thinking about putting her to bed, on the contrary, he is trying to find threads to communication, for she had not uttered a word in the paternal house. He wants to know how she feels about him, what kind of image she formed about him. The girl is stressed, and then the man is agitated.

 

It will take many more days before the spouses become friends, when they will realize that they are interesting to each other; Shukla finds out with joy that Lakshmi is rather an outgoing person. The film is just about how people, whom the fate united into a family, are trying to learn the art of being together. I believe that politeness, delicacy and tact in their relationship will remain forever.

 

An unexpected viewing of one nonstandard film may fundamentally change the code of perception of stereotype cinema of such a cinematographic super state as India; seemingly, once and for all imprinted in consciousness.

 

Gulbara Tolomushova

Translated: Nourghiz Chekilova

Bishkek_Kyrgyzstan

 

Love and Shukla

 

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