Two dynamic and widely experienced film production professionals, Ajay G. Rai and Alan McAlex, came together to form Jar Pictures - a versatile film production company that is steadily gaining a stronghold in the Indian film industry.
Between them, they have worked on independent films, Indian "new wave", and Bollywood's top grossers. Apart from offering production services to mainstream Indian films and international productions, Jar Pictures is also seriously involved with developing story ideas into successful films.
The company's recent foray into independent film production, has also led the producers to explore the international co-production markets, having represented several projects at premier world film markets.
What is distinctive about Jar Pictures is the synergy with which production is carried out for each film - bringing together the right crew and the appropriate approach, keeping in tandem with what the film requires. The diverse experience of both the producers at the helm of Jar Pictures makes this possible.
Ajay G. Rai started small. His thirst for cinema brought him to Mumbai. With his disarming smile, he gently nudged his way into the film industry, and grew swiftly from one film to the next based on sheer hard work. He soon came into his own as an independent line producer working on quality films in the mainstream film industry. Through his collaboration with Anurag Kashyap, Ajay was associated with some fairly groundbreaking films - Dev D., Gulaal, and the more recent, Gangs of Wasseypur, which created quite a buzz at the Cannes Film Festival.
Ajay set up Jar Entertainment in 2008, and started executing several film productions, primarily for UTV Motion Pictures. In the course of his affiliation with UTV, he was approached to head their Production department as Vice President. Through this collaboration came several successful mainstream films - No One Killed Jessica, Saath Khoon Maaf, and the National Award winning, Chillar Party amongst others.
In 2011, Ajay set up Jar Pictures in partnership with Alan McAlex. Under the aegis of the company, Ajay has come into his own as a producer, working in collaboration with filmmakers and writers to develop nascent story ideas into viable films.
Over the past decade, Alan McAlex has consistently been associated with top-notch independent films. He realized his passion for producing while he was assistant to some of the top Cinematographers in India. He plunged into production, and line produced some critically acclaimed independent films – Frozen (2007 TIFF), Harud (2010 TIFF), Peepli Live (2010 Sundance) and Patang (2011, Berlinale), to name a few.
An easy-going temperament, Alan also has a keen sense of people and has always brought together the right crew for each project. Low budgets and constraints thereof have never been a deterrent for Alan. His filmmaking adventures have taken him to extremely challenging environs; yet, he has consistently made the film happen.
His diverse experience with on-set production makes him a more hands-on producer even when he is an Executive Producer or Producer.
Over the years, Alan has moved towards creative collaborations with writers and directors developing stories and producing films along with his producer-partner, Ajay G. Rai. Jar Pictures is their initiative.
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Freshers are welcome to intern with us, provided you share our enthusiasm for making films. Tell us why we should hire you.
Jar Pictures provides production services - from scheduling & budgeting to a final print, the company has a full hands-on approach to production. Every project is handled in a unique manner, bringing together the appropriate crew and production approach. A guerrilla style independent film or a multi-starrer movie – all find a place in the Jar Pictures' roster.
Every film is executed with a commitment that sees the project through to its sure and successful completion. Having worked extensively with some of the industry’s leading professionals and vendors, Jar Pictures is able to work out reasonable alliances, putting together a crew that can work together at an optimum efficiency.
Jar Pictures boasts a filmography, which includes films by the individual producers, as well as by the company.
Jar Pictures comes into its own as a producer, executing projects from script to screen. Enthusiastic about alliances with dynamic creative professionals, the company's filmography is swiftly building up with films of varied genres. What's important is that the producers recognize something distinctive about the idea, that fires them to set it to screen.
As part of the forward-looking vision of the company, the producers are always collaborating with filmmakers, working on the initial stages of development, budgeting and funding. Jar Pictures is working towards a filmography that covers the spectrum of film genres – from independent, guerrilla style production to upscale mainstream movies.
Jar Pictures (previously credited as Jar Entertainment) has provided production services successfully for several mainstream Indian films, in collaboration with leading production houses and filmmakers.
Before Ajay G. Rai set up his company, he line produced and production managed several mainstream Indian films, each lending to his steady rise as a producer.
Alan McAlex’s rise as a production professional has been swift. His early films as an independent line producer allowed him hands-on experience in every aspect of production. Several of his films have travelled to international festivals and won critical acclaim.
Thirty Kilometers to the south of Delhi lies a modern day metropolis where the march of free market capitalist enterprise has resulted in sky rocketing property rates, massive malls, fancy cars, expensive labels and crazy business ventures. Unfortunately for the inhabitants of the land this modernism is only skin deep; Under it lies deep rooted prejudice and animosity that is justified by tradition to serve its narrow minded interests. In the resultant grind of traditional versus modern, individual versus the society, women are used as a symbol of honor and pride. And it is they who pay the price for it.
'Gurgaon' is a story set in the backdrop of such a decrepit society, holding on to the last vestiges of the old order; by the men, for the men, of the men. Many years ago Kehri Singh, an ordinary land owner was told by a wandering godman that if he adopted a girl child, she would bring him immense wealth and fortune. Kehri Singh brings home an infant girl and names her Preet. Twenty years later, he is the biggest real estate developer of Gurgaon. A smooth operator who sincerely believes Preet is his lucky charm.
Kehri Singh also has two sons. Nikki, 25 and Chintu, 20. Brought up in a joint family and sustained on the fruit of easy money Nikki has turned out to be a clannish youth drunk on a twisted sense of power. A direct contrast to Preet, who is educated, charming and has noble plans to build an Urban Park in Gurgaon.
When Nikki's aspiration to set up his own business is rejected by Kehri Singh as delusional, his diabolical nature kicks in. Enraged and overcome by the realization that Preet will always be the favoured one he does the unthinkable. He masterminds a plan to kidnap her.
In this hour of deep personal crisis Kehri Singh calls Bhupinder Singh Hooda, an old friend whom he can trust with his family honour. When Hooda puts his ear to the ground he hears nothing about the case. No known gangs are involved; there are no clues or eyewitnesses. Preet wasn't having an affair with anybody and there was no psycho lover involved. The girl just seems to have disappeared from the face of the earth.
The search for Preet leads Hooda into a world of chaos, deceit and murder. A world that he had successfully managed all these years, except now, his hidden desire to see it change has driven him into the heart of despair.
The story, seen through the eyes of Hooda is a dark portrayal of a man at the cusp of believing that the basis of the universe is love and harmony. However, he cannot escape the conclusion that a corrupt universe comes from poetic self-deception.
Shanker Raman is an award winning cinematographer associated with several documentaries, shorts, feature films and TV commercials. He majored in cinematography from the Film and TV Institute of India, Pune.
His second feature "Frozen" premiered at TIFF 2007 and won the Best Cinematography and the Best Cinematography Award at the prestigious Indian National Award and the Durban International Film Festival. His third feature "Patang"(The Kite) premiered at The Berlinale and The Tribeca International Film Festivals.
His fourth feature "Peepli Live" premiered at the Sundance Film Festival 2010 in the World Dramatic Competition. He co-wrote and co-produced Harud(Autumn), which premiered at TIFF 2010 and went on to win the Don Quixote Award at the Fribourg International Film Festival 2011. He recently collaborated as second unit DP on "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" with Mira Nair. His upcoming theatrical releases as cinematographer are "Patang"(The Kite) in June 2012 and "Harud"(Autumn) in July 2012.
"Gurgaon" is his first film as a director.
To accept the consequences of our choices and actions is what makes us fully human. If all moral codes are seen to be optional then we lose the very ability to be human.
All characters in the movie are governed by the laws of a faceless system. The system disallows engaging with a new found freedom in the face of modernity. They are unable to put aside the conditions of ones birth and the role of social class. Every choice they make is pivotal.
"Gurgaon" is a cautionary tale about social fragmentation that disintegrates first the community then the family and ultimately our sense of humanity. Reminding us that everything we do has consequences that cannot be avoided, no matter how hard we try to hide from them.
Ajay G. Rai
The premise of the film is a quaint and serene village, Chitkul, which is the last inhabited village near the Indo-Tibet border. Most of the villagers are relatively cut out from the rest of the civilization even though they are equally advanced in technology and communication. The socio-economic situation in Chitkul is that few of the men folk have migrated to the big cities for greener pasture. One such man is Harud.
The film begins with the introduction of the main protagonist; Kamala who is a young mother of a four year old girl, Mithai and also Harud's wife.
Kamala keeps herself busy running errands for the tourists at the Paradise Inn guesthouse and community work with the villagers.
Her humble livelihood is disturbed when there is no further news of Harud for months. The local villagers take stock of the situation and calls for a meeting. They reassure her that they will send their men to Shimla to meet with Rakesh who is responsible for recruiting their men for construction labour work in Delhi.
Kamala with the encouragement of her friends waits in positive anticipation for Harud's arrival. In one of her persistent calls to her husband's number, she hears a woman's voice from the other end. As an impulse she decides to leave to Shimla with the local tourists who are staying at the guesthouse. Her plan backfires when they leave without her. Dejected, she sets out alone with her little girl and their pet lamb in the wee hours when the village is asleep without realizing the perils, which lay ahead.
The cold wind wafts mercilessly through the difficult terrain. The film follows the journey of this mother-daughter and their lamb. Along this journey they have a chance encounter with Jampa, a free spirited smuggler from Tibet who makes his quick buck playing the gambling game of the Liar's dice.
Although distant at first Jampa slowly breaks the ice with Kamala through Mithai and accepts Kamala's offer to compensate him if he accompanies them to their destination.
A series of adventure begin in their journey heading towards Delhi. The socio- political situation in Himachal becomes a constant under current in their journey narrated satirically with humor. Through all this undertakings, a beautiful bond forms between Mithai and Jampa and a silent bond with Kamala.
As the story unfolds Jampa's intentions in accompanying them becomes a selfish motive. The game of Liar's dice becomes a metaphor in this journey.
Kamala is oblivious of his intentions; and somewhere becomes charmed by this stranger. The plot thickens when this journey explores the man-woman dynamics in the midst of her search for Harud. The epilogue of this film is revealed through Jampa and Kamala becomes his catalyst in the game.
Geetu Mohandas is an India based filmmaker. She started her cinematic career as a four year old, acting in five feature films as a child artist. Her academic education was from India, Malaysia and Canada. She continued acting and has till date featured as a lead actor in forty feature films in three South Indian languages.
Geethu along with her cinematographer husband Rajeev Ravi formed Unplugged in 2009 with a vision to use cinema as a means of creative expression and dialogue. Unplugged produced Geethu's first short fiction film called Kelkkunnundo?" or "Are you listening?" The film premiered at Rotterdam International film festival and subsequently won three International awards for the best International short film and the National award for the Best actor in India. Liar's Dice, which has received the Hubert Bals fund from Rotterdam, is her second venture.
As a writer and director of Liar's Dice, I have aimed at creating a story that would ring true to the common man in India. This film is a fiction however the incidents are factual stories, which has been reported in the newspapers in India. One frequently hears the argument that India still has a backward economy combining elements of different historic social forms, that feudalism is still powerful, that the country has not outgrown its erstwhile colonial framework, and that it is relapsing into the status of a dependency of the great imperialist powers. Personally this is not an argument but a fact. In this era of globalized economy in India, the rich are getting richer and the poor are sidelined in poverty. In our large country where poverty is prevalent the poor are remembered merely as statistics when a calamity or tragedy occurs and they are usually cast aside in the back pages of the dailies.
There are several mishaps with recruiting cheap labour force from the interior villages, which have come to light in the last decade. Several of these cases involve the absence of action taken against the companies while most cases are buried without any legal action-taking place or being let off due to their money power and political interventions. None of these victims are remembered except their own kin who live in far off villages in positive anticipation for their safe return. There is no value to these poor people and even after such repeated accidents; the poor immigrants still continue to shelter themselves on pavements and sidewalks. The government does not take proper measures for their safety. Not when they are alive nor end up dead on the streets.
There is no doubt as to who rules India today: it is the Indian bourgeoisie. But this cannot be more than a transitory stage, and already the nature of the class in power casts a pervasive influence over the political, intellectual, and social life of the country. The government of India will neither emancipate nor materially mend the social condition of the mass of the people, depending not only on the development of the productive powers, but of their appropriation by the people. But what they will not fail to do is to lay down the material premises for both. Has the government done more? Has it ever affected a progress without dragging individuals and people through blood and dirt, through misery and degradation? The cleverness of the privileged people far outstrips their honesty. These are the thoughts, which provoked me to write Liar's Dice. It is a simple narrative film, which depicts these grim realities in India and this is a story that must be told.
Vaasu is an independent, small budget film set in Mumbai/Pune. It is a 'coming of age' story of a young man named Mandar Ponkshe.The principle shooting is in Pune through October and November '12. The lead actors for the film are Gulshan Devaiah and Radhika Apte.
The story is told in a non-linear fashion travelling through various phases in Mandar's life . It deals with his exploits right from when he was a 12 year old boy until he discovers himself at the age of 34.
The film is told through three parallel running tracks relating to Mandar's life. The first track begins with Mandar, as a 12 yr old whose cousin brother, Kshitij introduces him into the world of sexual realization. The track moves along through various exploits of mandar and his friend Surya as they grow up in a middle class Maharashtrian milieu and follows Mandar as he moves to Pune to study engineering and his later life also where he continues to meander along aimlessly without any consideration for love/relationships while his other friends start settling down one by one. After a certain event in the story, 34 yr old Mandar agrees to get into an arranged marriage scenario. He meets 3 women who reject him outright as he tells them his past. On his cousin Dilip's advice, he agrees not to tell the next girl about his colourful past.
The second track of the film starts with 34yr old Mandar meeting the next girl- 33yr old Tripti. Mandar refrains from telling her anything about his past. He makes up a story so that she doesn't reject him like the others. Tripti is a liberated young woman who has had her share of relationships in her life. She has also entered the arrange marriage scenario reluctantly on her elder sister's advice and is skeptical of the entire process. She tells Mandar about her life honestly. This track of the film deals with the 5 month period where Mandar courts a reluctant Tripti as he falls in love with her. He reflects on his life over the duration of his courtship with Tripti (played by Radhika Apte). His love for Tripti brings him to the realization that his ways need mending.
The third track of the film is set in the present day where Mandar is coaxed by his mother and father to go to the international airport to pick up a relative whom he doesn't know. After he reaches the airport he realizes that she is also not aware that Mandar is supposed to receive her. He spends the entire night waiting for her but doesn't find her. Due to a major lack of judgment on his part, Mandar ends up in an embarrassing situation and is humiliated. This particular incident propels Mandar to confess about his past to Tripti as he doesn't want to start a new life which is based on a lie.
A graduate of Film & Television Institute of India (F.T.I.I. - Pune), Harsh partnered with a couple of classmates, Kirti Nakhwa & Amitabh Shukla, right out of film school and founded the production company Tailormade Films in 1999.
They bagged the important project of doing promos for ESPN - Star Sports for World Cup Cricket 1999. It has been a steady progression since then of having made more than 100 corporate & TV Commercials.
He won the RAPA Award for the Best Corporate Documentary – WARNA in 2001 and for the Best TV commercial for MAHARASHTRA TIMES in 2003-04, which he wrote, directed & produced.
In 2005 he wrote and produced, THE CHOSEN ONE, a 70 minute tele-film, for Star ONE. This film has met with wide critical and popular acclaim. It bagged 5 awards at the Indian Telly Awards, including Best Script & Best Film.
In 2007 he wrote, directed & produced a short film LOST AND FOUND, which won the NATIONAL AWARD in 2008. It was show cased at various international film festivals in the International Competition section (IFFI'08, MIFF'08, New York Int'l Film Fest etc). It won the Best Film (Critics & Popular) at YNW Sri Lanka. This film also swept the IDPA Awards 2008 bagging 5 awards including, Best Film, Best Director, Best Script & Best Cinematography.
YET TO COME
Bloom Pictures/Tailormade Films
Jar Pictures (in association with)
Kirti M Nakhwa
Ajay G. Rai (Associate Producer)
Alan McAlex (Associate Producer)
'Fireflies' is the story of two brothers- Shiv and Rana.
Shiv, a successful banker, lives in the superficial glitter of corporate Bombay.
The younger brother Rana, a law school dropout, gets by restoring vintage motorcycles at a friend's garage in the anonymous shadowy by-lanes of Bombay.
Though worldly achievements and illusions briefly illuminate the brothers' journeys, a tragedy that befell them fifteen years ago seems destined to repeat itself, just in newer incarnations.
Flames suddenly extinguish again, in an eerie heartbeat...
Voices and visions from the past and the magic realism of the years gone by, beckon the brothers to find the picture in the puzzle, scattered so long ago.
Fireflies are the recurring theme of the film – those luminous little creations that come out of the darkest of darkness, just to light up the imagination of the innocent.
They live their fullest, as long as the glow lasts. Even if it is a lifetime, being lived in a day.
About seven years ago, on a cold winter night in New York, I got mugged.
The last thoughts in my fuzzy brain that night, before I drifted into some sort of delirious sleep, were about trying to understand what had just happened.
How does a group of seven people randomly beat a total stranger? Where does so much angst come from? The next morning, I woke up feeling dead. I could barely move; it hurt to brush my teeth. I didn't know what to do So I wrote about 40 pages of turbulent ramblings.
I realized then that I knew many people who were broken and damaged: having lost epic battles to their own twisted projections, in hazy coliseums of love, pain, fear, disappointment and failure.
I had grown up in the jungles and tea gardens of Assam, amongst dogs, cows, horses, leopards, tigers and elephants. But it was only the fireflies that seemed completely unafraid of the night, illuminating their ever-altering journeys, here in a beat, and then somewhere else.
Over the next three months, I wrote 'Fireflies'. The story of two brothers faced with multiple dilemmas. 'Fireflies' talks about how the estranged siblings were left with no choice other than to face the issues they had repressed so many years ago. It's a hauntingly simple story about complex things.
It is about change, acceptance and courage.
Ironically, I had gone to New York to get some clarity and inspiration.
Or maybe it was to write 'Fireflies'.
Born in Assam, the son of a tea planter, Sabal Singh Sheikhawat , attended boarding school in Delhi. Not particularly interested in academics, his energies went into sketchbooks, on sports fields and on the stage.
After his school years, Sabal drifted further into the arts, completing a degree in English Literature degree from Delhi University, before finding his way to India's artistic capital—Bombay.
After a short stint with an advertising agency, he joined Shantanu Sheorey, at the time one of the most progressive and prolific photographers & television commercial directors in the country.
Four years later, in 1994 he began The Big Picture Company.
After producing and directing television commercials for more than 18 years, Sabal started his feature film production company Wild Geese Pictures in 2011.
Sabal directed his first feature film, 'Fireflies' (currently in post-production), in April 2012.
Shanta Rana (Executive Producer)
Ajay G. Rai (Associate Producer)
Alan McAlex (Associate Producer)
Wild Geese Pictures
Jar Pictures (in association with)
Charu and her friends share a rented apartment in a sky-rise in Mumbai. All in their mid-twenties, and each hailing from different parts of the country, they have come here to make this bustling metro their home.
One day a labourer comes to paint a soiled wall at her house. Irritated that her flat-mate did not inform her, she asks the man to hurry up. A few minutes later, she finds him unconscious on the floor.
Charu, panicked and desperate to do what's right, gets entwined in a series of incidents that take her through the city. Anywhere that might lead her to some identity of the man. Even a name.
Identity. What defines us? How do we connect to our environment with a greater sensitivity at a time when there's an ever-widening divide between us?
I was intrigued by an incident that a friend narrated to me. A labourer working at her house collapsed in the midst of his work. This man had no form of identification on him. She didn't know who to ask to aid in getting medical help for him.
It evoked many questions in me.
I started writing it and left one part of the story unwritten. I believed the process would reveal that to us.
We started shooting the film in real locations. The city spoke to us, through her myriad migrant peoples - people who had come here from various parts of the country in search of a better life.
The process of making this film revealed unknown urban spaces to me, spaces that are screaming to be heard. Behind our protagonist, Charu, our film crew traversed these spaces engaging in the search for the identity of a nameless man, who we were trying to place in the vast anonymity of the city.
Official Selection Busan International Film Festival, October 2012 (World Premiere)
Official Selection MAMI, October 2012
Official Selection Torino Film Festival, November 2012
Ajay G. Rai (Executive Producer)
Alan McAlex (Executive Producer)
Collective Phase One
Jar Pictures (in association with)
Omi Khurana, a troublesome man, returns from England to his hometown in Punjab, where he ran away from, more than a decade ago after stealing money from his doting grandfather, Darji. He owes money to a crazy hoodlum in London, who won't let him come back to the UK unless Omi gets him his money back. With his pleasant demeanor combined with lies, Omi is able to get back in to the house as a respectful man who made it big in the west.
But, everything has changed in his absence. Darji is senile and has forgotten the recipe of the famed dish, "Chicken Khurana," which he created half a century ago. Omi's old flame Harman, who is still in love with him, is getting married to his mysteriously distressed cousin, Jeet, for the family's sake. Omi's uncle Hemraj, who raised him as a father, is eternally angry with him. But his efforts to persuade his wife, Lata, against Omi find no success. Also, Lata's brother "Titoo" has started living in the house in Omi's absence. He is a mental asylum reject and keeps prying Omi.
A turn of events leads Omi in search for the mysterious recipe of the dish "Chicken Khurana" which can alleviate all of Omi's financial troubles. Will Omi find the recipe of the dish which titillated the taste buds and senses of the foodies? Will he ever find true love he so misinterpreted years ago? Will he be able to feel the same for the family that loves him unconditionally?
And finally, will he be able to find his own recipe for life and bring many a people out of their miseries? Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana is all about this with some pickle on the side.
Siddharth Roy Kapoor
Manish Hariprasad (Associate Producer)
Ajay G. Rai (Associate Producer)
UTV Spot Boy
Jar Pictures (in association with)
Release 2nd Nov 2012
Towards the end of colonial India, Sahid Khan loots the British trains, impersonating the legendary Sultana Daku. Now outcast, Shahid becomes a worker at Ramadhir Singh's colliery, only to spur a revenge battle that passes on to generations. At the turn of the decade, Shahid's son, the philandering Sardar Khan vows to get his father's honor back, becoming the most feared man of Wasseypur. Staying true to its real life influences, the film explores this revenge saga through the socio-political dynamic in erstwhile Bihar (North India), in the coal and scrap trade mafia of Wasseypur, through the imprudence of a place obsessed with mainstream 'Bollywood' cinema
When two boys with plastic guns, point their barrels at each other and mouth "do ya feel lucky, punk" and shoot at each other making "bangbang" sounds, its just another film crazy adolescent playing in their backyard. When they mouth the same lines with real guns and shoot at each other, the genesis of Gangs of Wasseypur was formed.
Though I was born in small town in northern India, I migrated to the city to make films, the city got to me and I went deeper in exploring it's effect on me through my films until I met Zeishan. Zeishan was from Wasseypur and a few things that he told me about his place dragged me back to my roots, my backyard, my growing up and my tryst with Bollywood and the politics of my region.
The few anecdotes that Zeishan shared with me of this place then went on to be retelling and an analysis of the history of the place explaining it's evolution as a burning inferno and it's fight for coal to the way battles were fought. From digging coal to killing someone over a innocuous brawl to vengeance being inherited. Part One of the film gets to the roots of the people and explains why they are the way they are.
Part 2 explains the Bollywood (Hindi Cinema) obsessed growing up of their inheritance of vengeance. It was a way of life, in the name of honor, love, friendship, loyalty or maybe just pure animal instinct. It was the Wasseypur of today.
The irony of it all was to be captured with a very spicy humor that the space inherently has. The innocence still lingering somewhere in the eyes of the misguided vengeful soul who knows no other way to live but kill, all these layers in the face of apparent violence made for a compelling epic on bumbling criminals to be made
YET TO COME....
Sachin K. Ladia
Ajay G. Rai (Associate Producer)
Viacom18 Motion Pictures
Jar Pictures (in association with)
Four journeys interwoven together:
Rotting dead rats and what goes on inside the butcher shop fascinates Manu, a little boy. But when he meets death for the first time, the mystery of losing his only friend his grandmother is colored by the guilt of his complicity in it.
Manu plays with pain, looking for an emotional release and in the magical confusion of childhood he finds closure in the act of killing a hen.
Working in Bombay's busiest hospital, death surrounds a young prodigious surgeon Mohan. It is only when he falls in love with a cancer patient that his world is really challenged. Mohan's feelings, in his complete abandon to love - override his professional ethics and he saves the woman he loves, the only way he can, by taking her life.
A successful middle age man, M.K., seemingly having it all decides there is nothing to live for. Before he can embrace death he gives himself a month to put his affairs in order for his wife and daughter. His daughter instinctively knows if she lets go of her father, she might lose him forever. In MK's desperate attempts to go through with his plan and in his daughter's resolve to hold on to her father. MK finds himself hurtling against circumstances that lead him to rediscover the desire to live again.
For a retired widower Dr. Saheb, life has become a series of obsessive routine enactments that keep his mind caged; an early morning swim, a shave at the barber shop, feeding his adopted stray dog, bridge at the club in the afternoon and more - to make every hour in his day justified and accounted for.
All this to keep away from what he fears the most- himself. For under this hyper controlled world lurks the urge to step in the way of a speeding bus, to find a quick way out.
Only when his bridge friends leave the city and the stray dog he loves, goes missing, does he against his better judgment, decide to join his friends on the trip. On this climactic journey to a mystical beach town he will make one final bid to make peace with himself.
Manu, MK, Mohan and Dr. Saheb are changing seasons in the same life, four stages in the life of the same man.
On this trip Dr.Saheb will address a lifelong struggle within his nature, to come back a changed man. A man who realizes that experiences of death exist and recur within our reality bringing meaning to the lives we lead.
I have chosen to rupture the linear narrative in the telling of the four stories of 'The Straight Circle'. Manu, Mohan, MK and Dr. Saheb unfold simultaneously in front of the viewer but are the story of a single character. The only way a man's life can be examined or understood is through the four stages in Hindu philosophy. To understand this man, Dr. Saheb's, almost mythic quest to find meaning would be best depicted this way.
To me it is of utmost importance that the viewer inhabit 'The Straight Circle's state of mind. The mood, the tone, the texture, the light, the spaces, the characters all resonate and are subservient to this state of mind.
The world view of the film is that mortality defines life itself. That death is not something to be feared but to be embraced; is a cosmic truth. I wanted to bring my own take to this.
My feeling is that no cosmic truth can be arrived at through the rigour of logic. Time is a construct of logic and hence time in the film is neutral. Temporal continuity has been removed in the film, to make for more compelling story telling.
I've always felt how a story is told should be married to what the story is about. That is both the challenge and the beauty of 'The Straight Circle'.
Heeraz Marfatia has a Master of Fine Arts in Cinema from San Francisco State University in 2003. In 2002, as a student, he had sound designed, written, produced and directed a 14min short film 'Birju' which received an Oscar Nomination in the student category and was also selected in more than fifty international film festivals, Sundance, Cannes & Tribeca, to name a few. The film won at ten international film festivals including Special Jury Award at the Berlin Int. Film Festival and Best Film at Telluride film festival.
He also worked in the capacity of Director's Assistant with Roland Joffe in 2003 and was later engaged as Creative Consultant on period film 'Singularity' in 2010-11.
For four years from 2005 to 2009, he worked with Shekhar Kapur in the capacity of Director's Creative Associate.
He now owns 'Writers Cut', a content creation company that creates, develops and markets scripts for a rapidly growing Indian entertainment industry. And currently works as Writer-Director in Hindi Cinema.
Shubhra Swarup, Heeraz Marfatia
Inspired by true life tales from across the world, 'Khuslata' is the story of a single person's will that
turns a barren land into a lush forest - a feat expressing the unimaginable power of the human spirit, offering itself to Nature.
Hariram's son and family are farmers. Rambabu (his son) is caught in the myre of debt and a fledgling crop, all caused by detrimental pesticides. Hoping to end their misery, he kills himself and his family - his wife and little daughter, Khuslata. Hariram is somehow spared.
Numbed by his loss, and faced by his son's debt, Hariram can only remember Khuslata's talk of trees and the wonder of a forest - and the plant she had brought home from school, part of an initiative to plant more trees. Inspired, and armed with a single plant, bit by bit, he starts planting a forest. He works tirelessly through the seasons for twenty years. He tends to saplings and plants, and makes it a florishing forest, homing birds and animals, drawing water bodies around what used to be barren land.
So, a once neglected land draws government attention, and officials start closing in. Undaunted in the face of their pompous beauracracy, he remains in his forest home, and continues his quiet work with the trees, living in his forest hut - the only place where he feels he belongs.
An octogenarian now, having lived a profoundly transformative life, Hariom finally passes away in his little hut. That day a light drizzle falls over the forest - just like Khushlata had said it would: "When there is a forest, it will rain - trees bring rain".
Hariom had lived an awe-inspiring life, single-mindedly expending his being for the greatest good of the ecology - the spirit of a Man dedicating himself to the glory of Nature.
An awe-inspiring tale about the spirit of a man, who has the courage to find hope in darkness, to build a forest on barren land - all inspired by his little grand-daughter, Khushlata.
Rajesh Shera hails from Jaipur, India. After graduating from the country's top film school in 2005,
Rajesh has earned a name for himself as a Director, Editor and Producer with an extensive portfolio
of documentaries and short films.
As the editor of the critically acclaimed "Ksya, Tra, Ghya" (his diploma film) Shera was awarded the Special Jury prize at the National Film Awards in 2004.
Shera's naturalistic sensibility as a filmmaker comes through in the powerful landscapes where he sets his films. His first feature, "Ocean of an Old Man" was set against the backdrop of the 2004 tsunami that ravaged the Indian coast. His more ambitious second film, "Echoes" is an international collaboration with UK and Netherlands. A supernatural tale, set on a tropical island, the film centres around a dead tree that plays a pivotal role in the film.
For Shera, nature plays a strong presence in his films, and the dynamic relationship of man and nature is something he has explored over and over.
His debut film, "Ocean of an Old Man" premiered at Busan in 2008, and went on to be screened at several international film festivals, picking up acclaimed awards like the Henja Audience Award for the Best Feature Film and the Best Modern Work at the Almaty International Film Festival. The film was theatrically released in India in , and was selected by the Global Film Initiative for theatrical release in the United States. "Echoes" is currently in post production.
"Khuslata" is Rajesh Shera's third adventure to tell a powerful story of Man & Nature, inspired by realities from around the world.
Whenever its available...