Udayavni Special

Chaitanya Tamhane’s ‘The Disciple’ debuts at Venice Film Festival


PTI, Sep 6, 2020, 9:52 AM IST

Mumbai: Filmmaker Chaitanya Tamhane has charmed the critics with his second feature film “The Disciple”, which had its world premiere at the 2020 Venice Film Festival.

The Marathi-language film is the first Indian movie in 20 years to be chosen for the main competition of a European film festival (Cannes, Venice, Berlin) after Mira Nair’s “Monsoon Wedding” in Venice in 2001.

The movie, which looks at the world of classical musicians on the fringes of success, was screened at the festival on Friday and has been getting glowing reviews from the international critics.

“The Disciple” is Tamhane’s follow-up to his debut feature “Court” which was screened in the Orizzonti (Horizons) category at Venice in 2016.

Tamhane, the film’s lead star Aditya Modak, production designer Pooja Talreja and producer Vivek Gomber attended the premier.

Four-time Oscar-winning filmmaker Alfonso Cuoron is serving as executive producer on the movie.

The story is about Sharad Nerulkar (Modak), an Indian classical vocalist trying to achieve purity in his work as he has been raised on the stories of his father and guru about the masters of the past.

American publication Indiewire praised the film, calling it a “dreamy, transcendent character study”.

“Tamhane does such a fine job of bringing individual encounters to vivid life that it’s unfortunate when the movie breaks that spell through flashbacks. At the same time, the movie excels at tracking the way Sharad keeps reevaluating his experiences, questioning his convictions about his talent even if he can’t find the words to explain it,” the review read.

Variety, in its review, said that Tamhane’s follow-up movie to “Court” is “more ambitious in scope and also more personal”.

“As he did with ‘Court’ Tamhane patiently constructs his characters out of small details, relying on his audience to pick up on small changes and muted shifts of tone that signal the passage of time and Sharad’s interior journey.”

In an interview with PTI last month, Tamhane had said that to have his film screened at the prestigious festival felt like a dream to him.

“It is about musicians who are on the fringes and are a part of the subculture in Bombay… This world has evolved over so many centuries in India and has such a rich history with all its contradictions, complexities, and challenges. It was a real joy to explore it.

“It was just a joyful process of immersing myself in it, watching documentaries, and meeting people. I would travel to many different cities to meet musicians without any agenda. I started attending concerts. The film evolved organically after I completed my research but till then I was like a kid in the candy story,” the director had said.

Tamhane was also all praise for Cuaron and said that it was “surreal” that he agreed to executive produce the movie.

The 77th Venice Film Festival, which will run till September 12, is the first major international film event to take place physically since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

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