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Mumbai Mantra I Sundance
Institute Screenwriters Lab 2014

National Award

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Mumbai, India — Mumbai Mantra, the media and entertainment division of the Mahindra Group, in collaboration with Sundance Institute, selected eight Indian Screenwriters and their feature film projects for the third annual Mumbai Mantra | Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab, which was held from March 16-21, 2014 at the Club Mahindra Resort in Tungi.

This year’s Screenwriting Fellows, selected from submissions from India and the Indian diaspora around the world, were: Navneet Behal (Experiments with Truth); Ashvin Kumar (Noor); Bornila Chatterjee (Nuclear Hearts); Gaurav Madan (Shaktipur Crude); Deepanjali B Sarkar (Svadharma); Dylan Mohan Gray (The Last Day of Winter); Sanjay Talreja (The River Murder); and Neeraj Ghaywan and Varun Grover (Ud Jayega / Fly Away Solo).

At the Lab, Screenwriting Fellows engaged in an artistically rigorous process that offered indispensable lessons in craft, a fresh perspective on their work and a platform to fully realize their material. Screenwriting Fellows had the opportunity to work intensely on their feature film scripts in an environment that encourages innovation and creative risk-taking, with the support of a distinguished group of established Screenwriters and Directors serving as Creative Advisors.

Creative Advisors included: Naomi Foner (Running on Empty, The Bee Season), Michael Handelman (The Ex, Night At The Museum), Dante Harper (The Delicate Art of the Rifle), James V Hart (Contact, August Rush, Dracula, Tuck Everlasting), Malia Scotch Marmo (Hook, Madeline), Anjum Rajabali (The Legend of Bhagat Singh, Raajneeti), Elena Soarez (City of Men, House of Sand), Rose Troche (Go Fish, The Safety of Objects) and Sooni Taraporevala (Salaam Bombay!, Mississippi Masala, The Namesake).

The third Mumbai Mantra | Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab was announced and inaugurated during a star studded brunch at JW Marriott, Mumbai. The ones seen included hosts Anand Mahindra & Rohit Khattar along with Raj Kumar Hirani, Boman Irani, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Shyam Benegal, Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar, Anupam Kher, Ila Arun, Richa Chadha, Prahlad Kakkar, Siddhartha Basu, Swara Bhaskar, Onir, Sudhir Mishra, Mohit Marwah, Tanuja Chandra, Sidharath Kak, Guneet Monga, Sunil Darshan, Sunita Rao, Monica Dogra, Tisca Chopra, Ketan Mehta, Ritesh Batra, John Mathhew Mathan, Atul Kasbekar, Ayaz Menon, Prasoon Pandey, Firoz A Khan amongst others. 

Rohit Khattar, Chairman, Mumbai Mantra, said, “These are exciting storytelling times for Independent Cinema in India. With the help of Sundance Institute, we are keen to recognize, nurture and hone talent in India and across the world. We welcome to the lab the 9 remarkably talented ‘Creative Advisors.’

We congratulate the Screenwriting Fellows selected for the third Mumbai Mantra | Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab and look forward to their next films with great anticipation. We thank the Advisory Committee members for so generously giving back to the Indian Film Industry by reading innumerable screenplays in order to arrive at this shortlist.”

Michelle Satter, Founding Director of the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program, and Paul Federbush, International Director, Feature Film Program, said, Sundance Institute and Mumbai Mantra share a commitment to supporting the growth of independent artists in India, and we look forward with excitement to our third Screenwriters Lab together. We are grateful to the accomplished screenwriters who are bringing their expertise and generosity to the Lab as Creative Advisors and the very talented group of Indian screenwriters who have been selected for the Lab.”

Mumbai Mantra received over 500 applications for the Lab from Indian screenwriters across the globe. After a rigorous deliberation and consultation with Sundance Institute, the final eight projects were chosen. The Selection Advisory Committee included Advaita Kala, Anjum Rajabali, Deven Khote, K. Hariharan, Kanika Luthra, Mahesh Samat, Meenakshi Shedde, Neeru Nanda, Prakash Kovelamudi, Ram Madhvani, Ravina Kohli, Uma Da Cunha and Vikramaditya Motwane.

The Lab is one facet of a creative and strategic collaboration between Sundance Institute and Mahindra Group that helps Indian filmmakers connect to ever-increasing global audiences.

At the 2014 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, U.S.A., Sundance Institute and Mahindra announced four recipients of the Sundance Institute | Mahindra Global Filmmaking Award, each of which included a cash award of $10,000 and attendance at the Sundance Film Festival for a specially curated five-day program of targeted creative and industry meetings, screenings and panels. The 2014 award winners were: Tobias Lindholm, A WAR (Denmark); Hong Khaou, MONSOON (Vietnam-UK); Ashlee Page, ARCHIVE (Australia); and Neeraj Ghaywan, FLY AWAY SOLO (India).

The Nomination Committee members for the Indian Awardee included Anjum Rajabali, Boman Irani, Ira Bhaskar, K. Hariharan, Raju Hirani, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and Sharmila Tagore.

Now in its fourth year, the award has proved to be a vital platform for some of the most promising international filmmakers. In the past year, six former award winners wrapped production on their projects, including Ariel Kleiman’s PARTISAN (Australia), Shonali Bose’s MARGARITA. WITH A STRAW (India), Aly Muritiba’s THE MAN WHO KILLED MY BELOVED DEAD (Brazil), Bogdan Mustata’s Wolf (Romania), Seng Tat Liew’s In What City Does It Live (Malaysia), and TaylaLavie’s Zero Motivation (Israel) – with three others poised to begin production this year.




LOGLINE: Following three children over the course of eighteen years, Experiments With Truth explores a recent history of state-sponsored violence.

Writer/director: Navneet Behal

While pursuing his Masters in Film at the New York Institute of Technology, Navneet Behal started work in New York as a camera operator. Upon his return to India, Navneet worked as Associate Director on a Hindi feature film, produced by Wild Elephant Motion Pictures. He is currently directing his first feature film, produced by M.A.S Universal Fin & Intra, due for release in 2015.


LOGLINE: A six year-old girl sets out to find her missing father and stumbles upon mass graves, implicating the Indian army and putting herself in danger.

Writer/director: Ashvin Kumar

Ashvin Kumar is the youngest Indian filmmaker to be nominated for an Academy Award, for Little Terrorist, which played at 130 film festivals, winning 25 awards, including Honourable Mention at BAFTA/LA and a nomination by the European Film Academy. In 2012, his documentary Inshallah Football was awarded the National Award, India’s highest honor for cinema. Its sequel Inshallah, Kashmir won the National Award for best investigative film in 2013. His other work includes Dazed in Doon and The Forest.


LOGLINE: A Bengali lounge singer who becomes involved with two French expats living in Calcutta, India.

Writer/director: Bornila Chatterjee

Bornila Chatterjee graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Film and TV in 2008. Her debut feature film, Let’s Be Out, The Sun Is Shining, premiered at the 2012 New York Indian Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award and received a Best Actress nomination for lead Lipica Shah. Bornila was previously Managing Director of Stone Street Studios, a screen acting school and advanced conservatory in the Department of Drama at Tisch. Bornila is a curator and essayist for Vyer Films, a Brooklyn-based film streaming service, and a writer for Overdose Art Pvt. Ltd, a progressive art platform and production company in Calcutta, India.


LOGLINE: When oil is discovered, a small village at Indo-China border suddenly becomes the most important place in the country and changes the lives of its people forever.

Writer/director: Gaurav Madan

Gaurav Madan grew up in a small town in Haryana. He received his Masters in Communications from University of Pune. He has won several awards for his commercial work, and owns an advertising production company based in Mumbai. His first screenplay was 3 nights 4 days, which was completed in 2009.


LOGLINE: The true story of an army officer who is betrayed by his government and sentenced to eight years of solitary confinement.

Writer/director: Deepanjali B Sarkar

Deepanjali B Sarkar is a digital media content specialist with experience ranging from internet and telecom content to corporate communications. She has worked with ITC, Indiatimes.com and Mobifusion. An alumnus of Presidency College Kolkata and Jadavpur University, she blogs regularly at http://filmandbookclub.blogspot.com/.


LOGLINE: Condemned by a thuggish political regime as the son of a traitor, a 15-year-old boy faces a torturous set of choices as he reluctantly leaves childhood behind.

Writer/director: Dylan Mohan Gray

Dylan Mohan Gray is an award-winning producer, writer and director. His documentary Fire in the Blood was presented at the2013 Sundance Film Festival and set a record for the longest theatrical run by a non-fiction feature film in Indian history. Fire in the Blood has won major awards in Washington, Hamburg and Vancouver and also received the award for Best Debut Film at the 2014 Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF). Trained as a historian, Dylan founded the production company Sparkwater India in 2005 and has worked in various capacities on feature films, including collaborations with directors Fatih Akin, Peter Greenaway, Paul Greengrass, Deepa Mehta and Mira Nair.


LOGLINE: A small town cop investigates whether a body found floating on the river is one of four missing local men.

Writer/director: Sanjay Talreja

Sanjay Talreja is an award-winning writer, director and editor of narrative features and documentaries, whose work has appeared on television and at film festivals. He most recently wrote and directed the feature film Surkhaab, which won Best Director, Foreign Language Feature at the 2013 London International Film Festival. Sanjay also teaches at various colleges and universities in Canada, the US and India. He has a MFA in Film.


LOGLINE: Four lives intersect along the Ganges river, each yearning to escape the constrictions of a small town.

Writers-director: Neeraj Ghaywan / Varun Grover (co-writer)

Neeraj Ghaywan worked with Anurag Kashyap on the veteran director’s two-part opus Gangs of Wasseypur and as second unit director on Ugly. His short films as writer-director include Shor and The Epiphany. Shor won the grand jury prize at three International film festivals.

Varun Grover grew up in Dehradun and Lucknow. He has written stand-up comedy for various TV shows and currently performs stand-up comedy at the biggest venues in India, writes fiction and graphic series for children in Chakmak (published from Bhopal, by Eklavya), and has written lyrics for Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur (2012), Vasan Bala’s Peddlers (2012), Rajat Kapoor’s Aankhon Dekhi (2013), and Fahad Mustafa/Deepti Kakkar’s Katiyabaaz (2013).


Mumbai Mantra Media Ltd

Mumbai Mantra Media Ltd, the Media & Entertainment vertical of the Mahindra Group, is actively evaluating opportunities in content and infrastructure in the domestic as well as international media and entertainment space. Mumbai Mantra's 'Antaheen', won 4 National Awards including Best Feature Film in 2009. Mumbai Mantra has also co-produced the film adaptation of Shakespeare's 'The Tempest' directed by Julie Taymor. Several other films are in development.

Mumbai Mantra has also made a commitment towards providing a platform for independent voices in Indian cinema to champion an emerging generation of exciting film makers. The first step in this direction is the forging of a partnership with the renowned Sundance Institute founded by Robert Redford, for the establishment of the Mumbai Mantra | Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab which is planned to be an annual event in India, and the Sundance Institute | Mahindra Global Filmmaking Award to be awarded to 4 international film makers annually at Park City. 12 Filmmakers have already been awarded and 16 Screenwriting fellows have been through the last 2 years’ Labs.

For more information visit www.mumbaimantra.com.


About Mahindra

The Mahindra Group focuses on enabling people to rise through solutions that power mobility, drive rural prosperity, enhance urban lifestyles and increase business efficiency.

A USD 16.5 billion multinational group based in Mumbai, India, Mahindra employs more than 180,000 people in over 100 countries. Mahindra operates in the key industries that drive economic growth, enjoying a leadership position in tractors, utility vehicles, information technology and vacation ownership. In addition, Mahindra enjoys a strong presence in the agribusiness, aerospace, components, consulting services, defence, energy, financial services, industrial equipment, logistics, real estate, retail, steel, commercial vehicles, two wheeler industries and Media and Entertainment industry.

Its media and entertainment company, Mumbai Mantra Media Ltd., presented the Indian National Award-winning Best Feature Film, ‘Antaheen’ and co-produced ‘The Tempest’ directed by Julie Taymor. Currently, it is evaluating various opportunities in the media and entertainment space in India as well as internationally.

The Mahindra Group has a long standing commitment to the arts and humanities. The Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards (META) were created to encourage both emerging and established theatre and the event celebrated its eighth anniversary in 2013. The Group’s encouragement and support to world music was at its fore at the fourth annual Mahindra Blues Festival in Mumbai in February 2014 – the largest festival of its kind in Asia - showcasing the best international Blues artists and providing a common platform for emerging Indian Blues bands.

In 2012, Mahindra featured on the Forbes Global 2000 list, a listing of the biggest and most powerful listed companies in the world. In 2013, the Mahindra Group received the Financial Times ‘Boldness in Business’ Award in the ‘Emerging Markets’ category. For more information visit us at www.mahindra.com


The Sundance Institute Feature Film Program

Since 1981, the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program (FFP) has supported more than 800 independent filmmakers whose distinctive, singular work has engaged audiences worldwide. The program’s approach to the discovery and development of independent artists has become a model for creative development programs internationally. Program staff fully embrace the unique vision of each filmmaker, encouraging a rigorous creative process with a focus on original and deeply personal storytelling. Each year, up to 30 emerging artists from the U.S. and around the world participate in a year-round continuum of support which can include the Screenwriters and Directors Labs, Creative Producing Fellowship and Lab, Music and Sound Design Lab, Creative Producing Summit, ongoing creative and strategic advice, significant production and postproduction resources, a Rough-Cut Screening Initiative, a Screenplay Reading Series, and direct financial support through project-specific grants and artist fellowships. In many cases, the Institute has helped the Program’s fellows attach producers and talent, secure financing, and assemble other significant resources to move their projects toward production and presentation. In addition, the FFP is providing strategic resources to completed Lab films in distribution and marketing across all platforms to support and expand their connection to audiences worldwide.

Over its 30-year history, the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program has supported an extensive list of award-winning and ground-breaking independent films which include Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station, Haifaa Al Mansour’s Wadjda, Andrew Dosunmu’s Mother of George, David Lowery’s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts Of The Southern Wild, Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox, Craig Zobel’s Compliance, Sally El Hosaini’s My Brother the Devil, Ira Sachs’ Keep the Lights On, Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene, Dee Rees’ Pariah, Maryam Keshavarz’s Circumstance, Eric Mendelsohn's 3 Backyards, Shirin Neshat's Women Without Men, Cherien Dabis' Amreeka, Cary Fukunaga's Sin Nombre, Alex Rivera's Sleep Dealer, Fernando Eimbcke's Lake Tahoe, Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden’s Half Nelson, Andrea Arnold's Red Road, Miranda July’s Me and You and Everyone We Know, Hany Abu-Assad’s Paradise Now, Debra Granik’s Down to the Bone, Ira Sachs’ Forty Shades of Blue, Josh Marston’s Maria Full of Grace, Lisa Cholodenko’s Laurel Canyon, Peter Sollett’s Raising Victor Vargas, John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream, Kimberly Peirce’s Boys Don't Cry, Tony Bui’s Three Seasons, Walter Salles’ Central Station, Chris Eyre and Sherman Alexie’s Smoke Signals, Allison Anders' Mi Vida Loca, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Hard Eight, Tamara Jenkins’ Slums of Beverly Hills, and Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. www.sundance.org/featurefilm

Sundance Institute

Sundance Institute is a global non-profit organization founded by Robert Redford in 1981. Through its artistic development programs for directors, screenwriters, producers, composers and playwrights, the Institute seeks to discover and support independent film and theatre artists from the United States and around the world, and to introduce audiences to their new work. The Institute promotes independent storytelling to inform, inspire, and unite diverse populations around the globe. Internationally recognized for its annual Sundance Film Festival, Sundance Institute has nurtured such projects as Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Sin Nombre, An Inconvenient Truth, Spring Awakening, Born into Brothels, Trouble the Water, Light in the Piazza and Angels in America. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.