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Sincere films sure to find audience

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Friday, June 23, 2006
New Delhi (UNI): A cinematic work borne out of one's philosophical musings would hardly seem the ideal palate for the average cine buff in India today. As France-based Indian filmmaker Pan Nalin gets ready for the much-delayed release in India of his film Samsara, a universal love story which deals with an individual's exploration of desire, destiny and spirituality, this week, one wonders whether a film with such an 'abstract theme', no stars and no songs stood a chance in India amid a plethora of multi-starrer films thriving on candyfloss stuff and 'masala' elements. Pan Nalin, however, feels that no matter what the theme of a film, it will find its audience if made with sincerity. ''I think if a film is made with the heart, it will certainly leave the audience satisfies regardless of whether it features any big stars or not'' he said at the premiere of Samsara at Delhi PVR Plaza last night.

Starring actors Shawn Ku and Christy Chung in the lead roles, Samsara, the first feature film to be entirely shot at an altitude of 15000 ft in Ladakh, releases in India tomorrow, after a successful run in several countries of the world. It has garnered over Rs 100 crore in the last three years besides winning accolades from across the world and breaking into the top ten in several European countries. According to Pan Nalin, the film was not released in India all this time because no distributor in India was willing to release it because of its lack of stars and the absence of songs. Another deterrent was the fact that the film is in the local Ladakhi, the local language of the people of the hilly area. The release in India came through after Sony Pictures expressed an interest in releasing the film in India.

''I had almost given up hope of getting the film released in India. However, Sony Pictures felt that a film like 'Samsara' with as universal theme, was as relevant today as it was three years ago. I am thankful to Sony Pictures for taking the step of releasing the film in India despite the fact that it has no stars or songs'' the filmmaker said. At the same time he also feels that the current scenario in India was favourable for the release of a film like Samsara. ''I think people in India today are ready for the kind of universal cinema that 'Samsara' symblises. With the coming up of multiplexes all over the country there is a new kind of audience coming to the theatres which is patronizing and appreciating films like 'Samsara' which deal with universal themes'' he said. ''In fact, during the various preview shows of the film held in various parts of the country I have seen people being moved by the film and express appreciation for it'' he said. Also present at the film's premiere were members of the film's crew including its production manager Dilip Shankar, production designer Amardeep Bahl and Location manager Deepika Gandhi.

Set in the majestic landscape of Ladakh, Samsara recounts the story of the Buddhist monk Tashi (Shawn Ku) who, finding himself experiencing a profound sexual awakening, questions the spiritual values of his monastic existence and decides to opt out of the monastry for the secular world. However, Tashi realizes to his surprise that life in Samsara (world) is far more complex than he ever imagined. Marriage, fatherhood, materialism, anger, lust, adultery - Tashi goes through the entire cycle, leaving him confused and struggling to cope with the complexities of this world. The question that looms largely throughout the film is ''what is more important- to satisfy one thousand desires or conquering just one?

Talking about the film, Nalin said Samsara was part autobiography and partly borne out of his experiences with various people he met over the years. ''Samsara is a film that will entertain and at the same time inspire you. It leaves one asking several questions on life. I'm sure anyone who watches the film will come out satisfied and inspired,''the filmmaker said. In this context, he stated that in the nearly 60 countries where the film had been released in the past three years, no distributor had asked for the return of his money. ''The film's Rs 27 crore cost was recovered within the first six months of its release'' he says.

He said in order to ensure a wide acceptability for the film in India, where languages like Hindi and Tamil were spoken by a majority of people, Sony pictures were making arrangements to dub the film in these languages. The film has also won a host of awards at several international film festivals, bagging the Best Actor award at the film festival at los Angeles, Best Picture Award at the film festival in Galway Ireland and Durban in South Africa, the Nestro Almendros award for Best cinematography in Italy and Special Jury prize at Santa Barbara in the US.

After Samsara, Nalin is working on a film called Valley of flowers, starring Naseeruddin Shah, Milind Soman and a French actress. The story of Valley of flowers traverses two centuries, beginning in the early 19th century and ending in the new millennium. The film will be released in India on July 15 and will be premiered in New Delhi, the filmmaker said.

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