Who would have thought that a screenplay written for academic purpose would see the light of day and get pitched to international investors? Miransha Naik from Benaulim has taken film making seriously. After his short film Ram travelled to 11 film festivals and won several awards, now his first feature film Juje has been selected from among five others at NFDC’s Film Bazaar for mentoring and finding promoters
Danuska Da Gama I NT BUZZ
Young director Miransha Naik from Margao is flying high. His short film Ram made it to the Cannes short film corner. Besides, it travelled oversees to the London Film Festival, Zanzibar International Film Festival and nine others. In all it won five awards with 11 selections at different international film festivals.
Yet again, the Benaulim-based director has every reason to feel proud and happy. His feature film ‘Juje’ produced by Vinit Chandrasekharan, of Thin Air Productions, has been selected by the NFDC Film Bazaar for ‘mentoring’.
“The film was written by Miransha Naik at Whistling Woods International and was arguably the best,” shares producer Vinit Chandrasekharan, who was Miransha’s batch mate. Besides mentoring, NFDC will also promote Juje to distributors and investors at the international level.
The film, entirely shot in Goa with all its cast being Goans, has been edited by yet another alumnus of Whistling Woods who is also a Goan. Siddesh Naik from Margao has been actively involved in film making in the state. He has worked on several other short films including Shalya, and has also edited the promo of the much talked about Konkani film Hanv Tum, Tum Hanv.
The feature film of one –hour-forty-three-minute duration joins five others films selected in the category of ‘Work in Progress Lab’ for the final cut under the guidance of internationally renowned mentors. The entire film team of Juje is mostly classmates from Whistling Woods. They are excited that their movie has made it to the Film Bazaar since they will now get experienced hands for the final editing of their movie along with the recognition and boost from the international film market.
“It is really exciting for us that my first feature film has been selected at this year’s Film Bazaar. It has given me the confidence I need, especially for newcomers in the industry like me,” says Miransha.
NFDC film bazaar has supported films recently which have got critical acclaim and have also won several awards including ‘Killa’, ‘Court’, ‘Titli’ and ‘Qissa’. The makers of the film believe strongly that if they can get anywhere close to the coverage and the recognition that films mentioned above got, they say: “We will be well on our way to taking Konkani cinema onto the international platform.”
“Oddly we are of the belief that the only way for Konkani cinema or projects like this to be financially and commercially viable is to have a strong international (universal) appeal. It is vital for films to do good business outside India so that we do not have to compromise on quality for the sake of money,” shares Miransha, who makes a point that the above strategy can be a win- win situation where quality cinema not only travels internationally, but also sustains itself. Moreover, in the domestic market too, the audience gets to enjoy such films.
While Juje might be a common name in Goa, in Miransha’s movie Juje is synonymous with a terrifying landlord in a small Goan village. He drives a stubborn teenager onto the path of self-discovery leading him to make a brave and difficult choice.
Neither Miransha nor the script shy away from telling a story that deals with such undertones. The last one year was spent in developing the film and raising funds. Juje was shot over forty days in South Goa. Siddesh says that the extensive shoot would have not been possible without the support of the local panchayats, schools and residents.
“The film is a mesmerising coming of age tale of a young boy. A story that was rooted not only geographically and culturally but also rooted innately in the way we deal with oppression; social sexual or violence,” shares Vinit.
Miransha informs that the films takes you back to a not too distant past, somewhere in 1999, a past that was simpler in terms of technology but a lot more complex in the way people lived in Goa. It deals with all the above mentioned undertones and adds a strong political angle that makes one feel like he/she lived for a year in that small village. The main character Santosh played by Hari Bhusal showcases aptly all that he witnesses while studying for his high school examination.
While there is nothing that can take away the happiness and excitement from Miransha, Siddesh and Vinit, the three inform NT BUZZ of the several obstacles that came their way. Though it was demoralising they had to go ahead with their plan. The passion was such that all crew members stayed together and strong until the last day of shoot.
The team had their shares of problems but there was no falling prey to misfortunes and adversities. Siddesh says: “A dear friend and actor who was to work with us on this project passed away. There were some more deaths and health issues with crew members or their family members, which made us emotionally weak. People suffered majorly of heat strokes and there were incidents of snake bites too, besides production problems.”