FILMMAKING: Indo-Canadian filmmakers finding two-way traffic

SAFF panel discussion

Jamshed Mistry, Jeet Matharru, Chaitanya Chinchlikar and Makarand Brahme at the South Asian Film Festival panel discussion on Friday, Nov. 2, 2012 in Vancouver.


A super-hit Bollywood flick does not roll out with unknown filmmakers in the credit list, at least not easily. A sublime script with the support of some ‘A’ list stars may get you the fame you seek. This is the strongest message that new or foreign filmmakers get when they approach famous studios in India with their stories. So, how do you make inroads to Bollywood?

Chaitanya Chinchlikar, head of Whistling Woods International – one of the best five film schools in India, says the film industry is a tough nut to crack. Efforts are on to open doors for talent from around the country and the world. He encourages graduates from WWI and anyone interested to take one of two approaches – join one of the production houses or senior filmmakers as assistants or knock on doors of the 300 or so studios and production houses in India with their scripts and hope for at least one of the many they present to be accepted.

But Jeet Matharru, a filmmaker from India, has had some tough experiences when trying to get his scripts financed. “Which stars will you cast in the film? That’s what you’re asked even before you show you’re script,” he says.

Chinchlikar concedes that there are two worlds within the industry but says there are studios and production houses that value a good script.

Another good place to look for funding is the National Film Development Coporation says Makarand Brahme, another filmmaker from India. And if you are a Canadian filmmaker looking for projects in India, you can co-produce features with the NFDC, he adds.

But television has been the biggest booster for Bollywood. It is not only a supplementary distribution channel for films but also where the talent comes from many times. It is another option for actors, producers, writers and the entire talent pool to explore. In fact, television has given Bollywood big stars like Shah Rukh Khan, who first appeared in a soap called Fauji said Brahme.

Television has grown from only two channels in 1992 to 550 channels in India currently, said Chinchlikar. Mukta Arts, parent company of WWI, even has a tie up with Canadian ATN Network to air it’s films on ‘Digitial Video on Demand’ basis with charges varying from $4-$10 per-view depending on the rating of the film.

They all believe that with the many platforms available today, it is not very difficult to make films for niche audiences. And content is still the key to making a good film.

Making a commercial film still needs exposure not only to the Indian film industry but cross-border initiatives so that the goals are driven with an understanding of what works in the now global film industry. As an initiative to give budding filmmakers such exposure, WWI along with University of Calgary has a film project underway to be shot and produced in Alberta and India involving students from both the institutions.

Also, to make sure that legal framework of cross-border films are in order and disputes are resolved, regulatory reforms are underway in India such as setting up of an International Arbitration Centre in Goa and insurance policies for films involving foreign filmmakers, said Jamshed Mistry, an entertainment lawyer from India who is also a member of the Canadian Bar Association.

Matharru, Chinchlikar, Brahme, and Mistry are in Vancouver for the South Asian Film Festival being held in Vancouver, Abbotsford and Surrey.

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