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A new kind of cinema

Encounters of the filmy kind

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A Hinglish movie brings 'mumblecore' film to India - a new kind of cinema that uses low-fi filming techniques and amateur actors. For a 72-minute-long film that got made on a shoestring - Rs 40, 000 and no more - The Untitled Kartik Krishnan Project has inordinate amounts of details and information floating online. This is in part due to the fact that the run up to Srinivas Sunderrajan's first film involved several plot twists and details;a significant number of which have found their way into the film.

It started with Sunderrajan's chance encounter with Quentin Tarantino in 2007. This was followed by another encounter. Sunderrajan explains, "Kartik Krishnan read an article about my meeting with Tarantino. He asked if we could meet. Basically he wanted to shake hands with the guy who had met Tarantino but he also wanted to make a film. And he wanted me to make it. I didn't end up making that film. In 2009, it struck me that I wanted to make a film using this backstory for its narrative. "

In less than three months we've had two films employing the meta-narrative, a film about filmmaking, device to tell their stories. The other is Ashim Ahluwalia's Miss Lovely. Screened in May at The International Cannes Film Festival, Miss Lovely looks at India's C-grade film industry.

"People started calling it a meta-film. Some said it reminded them of Charlie Kaufman's films like Adaptation. I was aware of Adaptation and other such but I hadn't though of the film as meta or anything else for that matter. For me it was my first film and I wanted it to somehow get to the cinemas. Of course, I'm not averse to any of these readings. In fact, they make it simpler for me to write the synopsis, " laughs Sunderrajan.

Speaking of synopsis and labels, this bilingual (Hindi-English ), black-and-white film has also been identified as India's first mumblecore film. While the metafilm has been around forever, or at least since the 1960s, mumblecore was first identified in the US in 2002 and is characterised by low-fi aesthetics, largely mundane plots and non-professional actors.

According to the Mumbai-based filmmaker, "The film was being screened at the South Asian Film Festival, New York City, when the festival director identified it as India's first mumblecore film. I hadn't known anything about mumblecore but following his comment I looked up the genre and realised that it made sense to identify the film as such. "

Since most of actors in The Untitled Kartik Krishnan Project had day jobs, the film was primarily shot on weekends and other holidays over nearly a year. Following its completion in 2010, the film has been doing the festival circuit but after a very long wait it is finally releasing in theatres. Sunderrajan was 25 years old when he started work on the film, he is a grand 28 now. It's being released as part of PVR Director's Rare. Initiated earlier this year, the project puts out alternative programming by way of providing theatrical release to homegrown indie cinema.

Adds Sunderrajan, "When you're starting off in film you constantly hear people say things like, 'Everyone can make a film. Getting it out there is the tough bit. ' Soon you realise that this is bang on. Making a film might not be the easiest thing in the world but new possibilities like crowd funding etc make it possible. Releasing a film is a whole different game. I prefer not speaking about this much because I don't want the viewer's sympathy on this account. I prefer to think of The Untitled Kartik Krishnan Project as just another film out there and hope that people will go watch it. "

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