Among the many filmmakers (21 in total) whose works have entered Film Bazaar 2021’s Co-Production Market, the name of Malayalam film director Anjali Menon stands apart. For one, she is already an experienced filmmaker with many hits in her career like Bangalore Days and Koode. The platform is one that presents independent filmmakers with the chance of pitching their projects virtually to a curated audience of Indian and international producers, distributors, festival programmers, financiers and sales agents at the Open Pitch Online. Menon has pitched her 90-minute film Rasa which is about Manju, a Nepali maid in a South Indian household who falls in love with Bharatnatyam.
We spoke to the filmmaker about why she chose to pitch Rasa at Film Bazaar with delegates who may not be familiar with her work. An edited email exchange between Anjali Menon days before the Film Bazaar.
You’re a successful filmmaker who has made superhit films like Bangalore Days and Koode, which were both critically acclaimed as well. Since NFDC’s Film Bazaar is a platform for unknown and independent filmmakers. Why did you take this route?
There is great liberty in being an unknown filmmaker. You can surprise yourself and others. At this film market the delegates coming in may not be familiar with my work and I think that’s great. It gives me an opportunity to start afresh—do something very different without having to meet any set expectations. But more importantly for RASA I am seeking the kind of artistic approach to filmmaking and content that requires like-minded collaborators. And I believe Film Bazaar can be a good place to connect with some of them.
What is Rasa about?
Rasa is a story about how basic human emotion and rhythm can connect even an uninitiated spectator deeply to a classical art form—in this case Bharatanatyam; and the story is set in the backdrop of class, community, culture and disparity.
What about this film made you take this route? Is there a difference between producers in Film Bazaar and producers outside when you pitch a story? If there is, how different is it?
The ecosystem for the 1000+ films made in our country every year is mainly geared towards commercial films. The constant focus is on the market and the audience. The Film Bazaar brings together people who are seeking to make artistic cinema and that is a rare opportunity here. My key priority is identifying good partners who identify with this kind of film.
Did you have other options for a platform like OTT apart from Film Bazaar?
OTTs do give a lot of opportunities for producing content but I am really on the lookout for individuals, particularly experienced producers and mentors who can nurture the artistic vision and take the subject to its real potential.
Would you recommend a Film Bazaar route to aspiring filmmakers?
If they are seeking to make artistic cinema, yes surely.
NP Prakash, the producer of your film Rasa is part of Little Films India. What can you tell us about this collaboration?
NP and I have a great working relationship from my first film onwards and it is born from deep respect for each other’s skill and process. That kind of faith can really empower the filmmaker.
In collaboration with NFDC Film Bazaar