I’ve been to media school and always thoroughly enjoyed filmmaking lectures. The hows and whys and dreams and dramas worked to evoke myriad ideas each day. When I had to go back to school – in a sense – to attend the Oberoi Film Festival 2017 at Oberoi International School, I had mixed feelings. I was nostalgic, acutely age-conscious and a bit envious. Envious at the media and tools that school kids have today to express themselves in film formats.
The Oberoi Film Festival 2017, a competitive platform, saw young filmmakers from institutes like Jamnabai Narsee, Hill Spring, Podar and Oberoi International School showcase their creativity and talent. The theme for film entries this year was ‘Life is tough, so are we’.
Of the six short films screened – young Partho Gupte’s poignant Jasmine Stung was unforgettable. One recalls this terrific young talent as Stanley from Stanley Ka Dabba and of course for his lineage. His filmmaker father Amol Gupte and film editor mother Deepa Bhatia are iconic in their own ways.
Partho’s short film, shot on location at one of Bandra’s busiest traffic signals, portrays a day in the life of a jasmine gajra-selling boy and his little sister. Scrawny, shirtless but determined, the boy is peddling his fragrant wares to those who wouldn’t care a whiff. The need to protect his sister, himself and see the light of the next day keeps him zealous. Life, Partho shows clearly, is tough. But to what degree can we match it? A crisp Jasmine Stung leaves you with some answers and many more questions.
Not surprisingly, Jasmine Stung won awards for Best Film, Best Story, Best Director and Best Actor. The young actor, Vikram Singh, was selected by the director from amongst the kids at Project Dhai Akshar. This Versova-based non-profit organisation working to provide a learning environment for Mumbai’s severely disadvantaged children and their families.
Proud parents, Amol Gupte and Deepa Bhatia were only too happy to hold on to Partho’s clutch of trophies.
The maturity, skill, sharp-eye and sensitivity of the young filmmakers was unmistakable across all films – Rice, Out of the Box, Spotlight, Becoming 18 and Lifelines v/s Liabilities.
Spotlight, directed by Vivaan Kabir, the youngest participant, deserves a mention for documenting the tough work of spot boys on Bollywood film sets. Shot on location and narrated lucidly, the film received a Special Jury Award.
Twelfth graders Devi Dang and Aravind Raju of Oberoi International School planned, organised and hosted this event with great panache and finesse.
The jury at OFF 2017 included JD Majethia, noted actor-director-producer and founder of Hats Off Production of the popular serial Sarabhai v/s Sarabhai, Anjana Sood (writer/short film maker), Meghna Puri, President (Whistling Woods) and Porus Khareghat, Head, Films Department (Ogilvy & Mather Advertising).
Commenting on the film screenings, JD Majethia said ‘Congratulations to all the participants. A very well-organised film festival, loved the theme. Keep the pictures of this fest in the photo library as they will be needed in the future as debut projects of these future directors’.
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