Marathi film Sthal, (A Match) has won the prestigious NETPAC award at the 48th Toronto International Film Festival, where it had its world premiere. This award is presented annually by the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema, to the best film from Asia that premieres at TIFF. It is also the only Indian film to be selected in the Discovery Programme, which showcases the first and second features of emerging filmmakers from around the world.
Sthal explores the tradition of arranged marriages in rural India, where the relentless pursuit of a girl’s marriage overshadows the very sustenance of life. It is narrated from the perspective of a young girl, Savita, highlighting patriarchy, colourism and social evil deeply rooted in society.
The film is director Jayant Digambar Somalkar's debut Marathi feature film, and was shot entirely in his native village of Dongargaon, in the Chandrapur District of Maharashtra. Sthal features an ensemble cast of first-time actors from the village. Nandini Chikte plays the protagonist Savita, along with Taranath Khiratkar, Sangita Sonekar, Suyog Dhawas, Sandip Somalkar, Sandip Parkhi, Swati Ulmale, Gauri Badki and Mansi Pawar.
Expressing his excitement at winning the NETPAC award Somalkar said, “The official selection of Sthal at the prestigious 48th Toronto International Film Festival was a great honour for us! And now this Award is an added feather. I and my entire team are thrilled and honoured to receive the 2023 NETPAC Award for Sthal at TIFF. This is for our love, belief and passion for good cinema! I dedicate this award to all the brave women who challenge their adverse circumstances.”
Sthal is produced by Dhun, a production company co-founded by Karan Grover, Shefali Bhushan, Somalkar and Riga Malhotra.