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KHUSHI FILMS PRESENTS A FILM BY PRASHANT BHARGAVA www.patang.tv

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Press Kit for Patang.A film by Prashant Bhargava.Premiered at the 2011 Berlin Film Festival and will have its North American Premiere in the World Narrative Competition at the Tribeca Film Festival.

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Page 1: Patang Press Kit

KHUSHI FILMS PRESENTS A FILM BY PRASHANT BHARGAVA

www.patang.tv

Page 2: Patang Press Kit

100 minutes, 35mm, 1:1.85, 2011, USA/India

In the old city of Ahmedabad, amid India's largest kite festival, a family duels, spins and soars like the countless kites in the skies above.

SHORT SYNOPSISWhen a Delhi businessman returns to his childhood home in Ahmedabad for India's largest kite festival, an entire family has to confront its own fractured past and fragile dreams. With naturalistic performances from actors and non-actors alike, bold, lyrical editing and vibrant cinematography, PATANG delights the senses and nourishes the spirit.

SYNOPSISA poetic journey to the old city of Ahmedabad, PATANG weaves together the stories of six people transformed by the energy of India's largest kite festival. Every year a million kites fill the skies above Ahmedabad-dueling, soaring, tumbling and flying high. When a success-ful Delhi businessman takes his daughter on a surprise trip back to his childhood home for the festival, an entire family has to confront its own fractured past and fragile dreams.

Music and fireworks, food and laughter, a kaleidoscope of color and light, the magic of the kite flying high - a traditional recipe of healing and renewal.

With naturalistic performances from actors and non-actors alike, bold, lyrical editing, vibrant cinematography and a kinetic score, Patang delights the senses and nourishes the spirit.

KHUSHI FILMSJaideep Punjabi (Producer)[email protected]: +1 917 209 1563

Prashant Bhargava (Director)[email protected]

www.patang.tv

World Sales: MEDIA LUNA NEW FILMSIda [email protected]: +49 170 9667900Tel: +49 221 51091891

www.medialuna.biz

WORLD PREMIERE

2011 BERLIN FILM FESTIVAL

NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE

2011 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVALWORLD NARRATIVE COMPETITION

TRIBECA PRESS SCREENINGFriday, April 22, 13:30, CCC 9Wednesday, April 27, 12:00, CCC 7

TRIBECA PUBLIC SCREENINGSThursday, April 21, 20:30, CCC 4Sunday, April 24, 21:00 CCC 7Monday, April 25, 19:00, CCC 5Friday, April 29, 22:30, CCC 9

Clearview Cinemas Chelsea (CCC)260 West 23rd Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues)

1

KHUSHI FILMS PRESENTS A FILM BY PRASHANT BHARGAVA

Page 3: Patang Press Kit

ABOUT AHMEDABAD’S KITE FESTIVALIn India, kite flying is more than a pastime or sport. It is a fiercely competitive national obsession.

On January 14th, the city of Ahmedabad is possessed by the spirit of Uttarayan, the largest kite festival in India. According to the Hindu calendar, it is the day fondly known as the day the wind direction changes.

Four million kites are stacked and sold. At sunrise, rich and poor, Hindu and Muslim, young and old, flood their rooftops battling to cut their neighbor's kite. Amidst the sighs of defeat and the screams of victory all eyes are fixed on the vibrant spectacle above.

Once the sun sets the trees are littered with a million fallen kites. Serious kite fliers begin their final competi-tion launching lanterns (tukkals) attached to their kite strings. With fireworks flooding the skies this marks the end of the festival.

Kites are over one thousand years old in India. The poet Manzan used the word ‘patang’, the more common word for kite, in his poem of 1542 A.D.

PATANG & THE NEW WAVE OF INDIAN CINEMAA new movement has emerged in Indian cinema in recent years, led by filmmakers determined to tell fiercely independent stories that provide honest reflections of contemporary Indian life. PATANG, the only Indian film to premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival's Forum program, stands as a shining example, pushing the boundaries of the movement with its naturalistic performances, novel cinematic language and message of celebration and healing. This fresh, unvarnished take on India, as seen in other such movies as Dhobi Gaat, Peepli Live, Vihir, Udaan and Love Sex Aur Dhokha, has been embraced by audiences and critics around the world.

KHUSHI FILMSJaideep Punjabi (Producer)[email protected]: +1 917 209 1563

Prashant Bhargava (Director)[email protected]

www.patang.tv

World Sales: MEDIA LUNA NEW FILMSIda [email protected]: +49 170 9667900Tel: +49 221 51091891

www.medialuna.biz

2

“A family saga set against the colorful spectacle of the Uttarayan, India’s largest kite festival, The Kite is a kaleidoscopic whirlwind of energy, romance, and turmoil.”

-TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL

“You have yet to see what we really are. Our love and the true spirit of Ahmedabad.”

-BOBBYExcerpt of dialogue from PATANG

Page 4: Patang Press Kit

ABOUT THE DIRECTORSix years in the making, PATANG is Prashant Bhargava's first feature film. His short film SANGAM premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, garnering several awards and distinctions. The film was distributed by Film Movement and Mubi and broadcast on Arte/ZDF, The Sundance Channel and PBS. Prashant started out in the arts as a graffiti artist in his hometown of Chicago. He went on to study computer science at Cornell Univer-sity and theatrical directing at The Actors Studio MFA program at the New School. For the past fifteen years, he has directed and designed commercials, music videos, title sequences and promos.

DIRECTOR’S STATEMENTThe seeds for the movie Patang were based on the memories of my uncles dueling kites. In India kite flying transcends boundaries. Rich or poor, Hindu or Muslim, young or old - together they look towards the sky with wonder, thoughts and doubts forgotten. Kite flying is meditation in its simplest form.

In 2005, I visited Ahmedabad to experience their annual kite festival, the largest in India. When I first witnessed the entire city on their rooftops, staring up at the sky, their kites dueling ferociously, dancing without inhibition, I knew I had to make this film in Ahmedabad.

Inspired by the spiritual energy of the festival, I returned the next three years, slowly immersing myself in the ways of the old city. I became acquainted with its unwritten codes of conduct, its rhythms and secrets. I would sit on a street corner for hours at a stretch and just observe. Over time, I connected with shopkeepers and street kids, gangsters and grandmothers. This process formed the foundation for my characters, story and my approach to shooting the film.

I found myself discovering stories within Ahmedabad’s old city that intrigued me. Fractured relationships, property disputes, the meaning of home and the spirit of celebration were recurring themes that surfaced.

Patang's joyful message and its cinematic magic developed organically. My desire was for the sense of poetry and aesthetics to be less of an imposed perspective and more of a view that emerged from the pride of the people and place.

Six years in the making, Patang has been a journey which has inspired and brought together many. The key theme of resilience of family is reflected by the bonds between all of us who gave our hearts to make the film.

DIRECTOR’S FILMOGRAPHY

3

“Bhargava knows when to stop and catch the right, fleeting expressions and gestures. There’s a gentleness in this snapshot of a family and all its baggage that

seems almost effortless.”

-HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

SANGAM, 2004Official Sundance Selection, Mention Du Jury at Clermond-Ferrand, Best Narrative Short at San Diego Asian Film FestivalDistributed on DVD by Film Movement. Available online at MUBI.Broadcast by The Sundance Channel, Arte/ZDF and PBS.Duration: 24 minsGenre: Drama

BACKWATERS, 2005Duration: 5 minsGenre: Experimental

AMMAJI, 2006Duration: 24 minsGenre: Documentary

Page 5: Patang Press Kit

100 minutes, 35mm, 1:1.85, 2011, USA/India

In the old city of Ahmedabad, amid India's largest kite festival, a family duels, spins and soars like the countless kites in the skies above.

SHORT SYNOPSISWhen a Delhi businessman returns to his childhood home in Ahmedabad for India's largest kite festival, an entire family has to confront its own fractured past and fragile dreams. With naturalistic performances from actors and non-actors alike, bold, lyrical editing and vibrant cinematography, PATANG delights the senses and nourishes the spirit.

SYNOPSISA poetic journey to the old city of Ahmedabad, PATANG weaves together the stories of six people transformed by the energy of India's largest kite festival. Every year a million kites fill the skies above Ahmedabad-dueling, soaring, tumbling and flying high. When a success-ful Delhi businessman takes his daughter on a surprise trip back to his childhood home for the festival, an entire family has to confront its own fractured past and fragile dreams.

Music and fireworks, food and laughter, a kaleidoscope of color and light, the magic of the kite flying high - a traditional recipe of healing and renewal.

With naturalistic performances from actors and non-actors alike, bold, lyrical editing, vibrant cinematography and a kinetic score, Patang delights the senses and nourishes the spirit.

KHUSHI FILMSJaideep Punjabi (Producer)[email protected]: +1 917 209 1563

Prashant Bhargava (Director)[email protected]

www.patang.tv

World Sales: MEDIA LUNA NEW FILMSIda [email protected]: +49 170 9667900Tel: +49 221 51091891

www.medialuna.biz

WORLD PREMIERE

2011 BERLIN FILM FESTIVAL

NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE

2011 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVALWORLD NARRATIVE COMPETITION

TRIBECA PRESS SCREENINGFriday, April 22, 13:30, CCC 9Wednesday, April 27, 12:00, CCC 7

TRIBECA PUBLIC SCREENINGSThursday, April 21, 20:30, CCC 4Sunday, April 24, 21:00 CCC 7Monday, April 25, 19:00, CCC 5Friday, April 29, 22:30, CCC 9

Clearview Cinemas Chelsea (CCC)260 West 23rd Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues)

4

Prashant Bhargava has "done a fine job of interweaving India's largest kite festival and a well-integrated cast of thesps and non-pros who make viewers care about the

‘little happinesses’ the characters cling to."

-VARIETY

PRODUCTION NOTESThe seeds for the movie Patang were planted in 2005, when director Prashant Bhargava traveled to Ahmed-abad to experience the city's annual kite festival. "When I first witnessed the entire city on their rooftops, staring up at the sky, their kites dueling ferociously, dancing without inhibition, I had to make this film."

Inspired by the spiritual energy of the festival, he returned the next three years, documenting his experiences with over a hundred hours of video footage. Slowly immersing himself in the ways of the old city, he became acquainted with its unwritten codes of conduct, its rhythms and secrets. Prashant would sit on a street corner for hours at a stretch and just observe. Over time, he connected with shopkeepers and street kids, gangsters and grandmothers. This process formed the foundation for developing the characters and story. As he began to write the script, Prashant realized that capturing the spirit of the festival and the city-its beauty and flow, joy and strength, healing and transcendence-would require multiple narratives. And so Patang found its shape as three interwoven stories centering on a family that reunites for the kite festival.

Shot on location with a cast of both non-actors and professionals, Patang draws from the neo-realist tradition. Preserving the naturalism of the environment guided every decision during filming, from shooting style to crew size to the process with the actors. The owner of the camera store, who ended up playing Bobby's father, continued to conduct business during the two days of shooting at his shop. Having become a familiar presence in the old city proved indispensable in other ways as well. Prashant recalls, "We had a rapport and support from the politicians, police officers, gambling bookies, the shopkeepers and the grandmothers from my years of research."

To encourage that naturalism and immediacy for the family scenes, Prashant inspired both his cast and crew to just live together–eat, talk, laugh, fight. Rooftop sequences were created with a group of friends, non-actors who had been flying kites together for thirty years. Renowned actor Seema Biswas co-hosted these celebrations in character, actively helping to prepare meals. Prashant had the cast improvise, shooting them in long takes. With the cameras rolling, he would whisper their objectives to them, to bring out the dramatic elements of the scene. Shanker Raman, director of photography, and Prashant shot simultaneously with two small HD cameras. Both would approach shooting as actors themselves, quiety dancing between the actor’s perfor-mances.

Patang's joyful message and its cinematic magic developed organically from the deep roots in the life of the old city that Prashant had so carefully cultivated: "The sense of poetry and aesthetics became less of an imposed perspective and more of a view that emerged from the pride of the people and place."

Page 6: Patang Press Kit

ABOUT AHMEDABAD’S KITE FESTIVALIn India, kite flying is more than a pastime or sport. It is a fiercely competitive national obsession.

On January 14th, the city of Ahmedabad is possessed by the spirit of Uttarayan, the largest kite festival in India. According to the Hindu calendar, it is the day fondly known as the day the wind direction changes.

Four million kites are stacked and sold. At sunrise, rich and poor, Hindu and Muslim, young and old, flood their rooftops battling to cut their neighbor's kite. Amidst the sighs of defeat and the screams of victory all eyes are fixed on the vibrant spectacle above.

Once the sun sets the trees are littered with a million fallen kites. Serious kite fliers begin their final competi-tion launching lanterns (tukkals) attached to their kite strings. With fireworks flooding the skies this marks the end of the festival.

Kites are over one thousand years old in India. The poet Manzan used the word ‘patang’, the more common word for kite, in his poem of 1542 A.D.

PATANG & THE NEW WAVE OF INDIAN CINEMAA new movement has emerged in Indian cinema in recent years, led by filmmakers determined to tell fiercely independent stories that provide honest reflections of contemporary Indian life. PATANG, the only Indian film to premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival's Forum program, stands as a shining example, pushing the boundaries of the movement with its naturalistic performances, novel cinematic language and message of celebration and healing. This fresh, unvarnished take on India, as seen in other such movies as Dhobi Gaat, Peepli Live, Vihir, Udaan and Love Sex Aur Dhokha, has been embraced by audiences and critics around the world.

KHUSHI FILMSJaideep Punjabi (Producer)[email protected]: +1 917 209 1563

Prashant Bhargava (Director)[email protected]

www.patang.tv

World Sales: MEDIA LUNA NEW FILMSIda [email protected]: +49 170 9667900Tel: +49 221 51091891

www.medialuna.biz

INTERVIEW WITH THE DIRECTORHow did you cast and work with the kids in the film?

During my visits to Ahmedabad over the years to research the movie, I had befriended several kids—played with them, flew kites with them, got to know their families. Each year, I was certain I had found our lead child actor. But when I returned the next year, they had grown and changed.

A few months prior to the shoot, our casting department selected sixty children. Eventually, we conducted a workshop with twelve children. We played theater games to build trust, discipline and freedom in front of the camera. Many of the children had seen adversity in their past, yet their smiles and laughter were pure. We chose Hamid as our lead child actor, because he was so effortless in front of the camera; he had an uncanny wisdom and persistence in his expression.

During the shoot, we never shared the script with the kids. I would just give them physical tasks. For instance, I would direct Hamid to catch ten cut kites as they fell from the skies above. He’d run through traffic, revel as he caught one, fight with rickshaw drivers as he darted in front of them.

The kids never acted; they were always themselves. Their work shines in the film and sets the bar for the performances by the established actors. Working with the kids was amongst the most exhilarating and reward-ing experiences of my life. I learned so much from them as a human being and director.

Discuss your approach to shooting PATANG and the film’s cinematography.

During the three years of research, we accumulated over 100 hours of research footage. We would sit for hours with a camera in hand on a corner, in a shop, in a home or on a rooftop. Beautiful stories would unfold as we silently observed. We slowly let go of our preconceptions. By the third year, we were orchestrating locals to naturally enact scenes of the film. The visual language originated from this immersion and observation.

I was fortunate to collaborate with Shanker Raman (Harud, Peepli Live), our director of photography. He took a leap of faith, embracing the uncertainty inherent in the process. He has a peaceful aura about him on the shoot more akin to a documentary cinematographer. I communicated with him as I would with an actor, providing emotional objectives rather than framing.

We did whatever we could to help the actors to forget about the presence of the cameras. We shot in natural light for the daytime scenes, during early morning or late afternoon. For interior and nighttime scenes, Shanker designed lighting setups that allowed the actors to move freely.

Both Shanker and I were shooting with small HD cameras, so we could do long takes upward of forty minutes. Many times we found ourselves pushing one another out of the way. As time progressed we developed our own rhythm with the actors. Shanker focused on the overall coverage of the drama, and I would capture small moments and experiment freely. We had an unspoken sense of when the magic would occur.

Discuss your process working with composer Mario Grigorov of the Oscar-nominated film Precious to create the film’s score.

Mario Grigorov (Precious, Taxi to the Dark Side) was a blessing, a joy to work with; his palate is incredibly diverse. My vision was to create a theme-driven score that tied together the fate of all the characters. We began in a novel way. We sat together for a week and composed the entire score together on the piano. We developed a theme and melodies that highlighted the journey of the kite and the troubled past of the family. Mario led musicians in improvisations based on these melodies—little of the piano remained in the final score. Mario's work brought depth and clarity to the narrative.

We then collaborated with legendary vocalist Shubha Mudgal for the final two pieces of the score. After we discussed the emotional journey of each scene with her, she sang atop Mario’s melodies remotely from India. Her voice is delightful and soulful, guiding the destinies of the characters.

5

Excerpt of dialogue from PATANG

“Mother, will you dance in your bikini around the swimming pool?”

-CHAKKU

Page 7: Patang Press Kit

ABOUT THE DIRECTORSix years in the making, PATANG is Prashant Bhargava's first feature film. His short film SANGAM premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, garnering several awards and distinctions. The film was distributed by Film Movement and Mubi and broadcast on Arte/ZDF, The Sundance Channel and PBS. Prashant started out in the arts as a graffiti artist in his hometown of Chicago. He went on to study computer science at Cornell Univer-sity and theatrical directing at The Actors Studio MFA program at the New School. For the past fifteen years, he has directed and designed commercials, music videos, title sequences and promos.

DIRECTOR’S STATEMENTThe seeds for the movie Patang were based on the memories of my uncles dueling kites. In India kite flying transcends boundaries. Rich or poor, Hindu or Muslim, young or old - together they look towards the sky with wonder, thoughts and doubts forgotten. Kite flying is meditation in its simplest form.

In 2005, I visited Ahmedabad to experience their annual kite festival, the largest in India. When I first witnessed the entire city on their rooftops, staring up at the sky, their kites dueling ferociously, dancing without inhibition, I knew I had to make this film in Ahmedabad.

Inspired by the spiritual energy of the festival, I returned the next three years, slowly immersing myself in the ways of the old city. I became acquainted with its unwritten codes of conduct, its rhythms and secrets. I would sit on a street corner for hours at a stretch and just observe. Over time, I connected with shopkeepers and street kids, gangsters and grandmothers. This process formed the foundation for my characters, story and my approach to shooting the film.

I found myself discovering stories within Ahmedabad’s old city that intrigued me. Fractured relationships, property disputes, the meaning of home and the spirit of celebration were recurring themes that surfaced.

Patang's joyful message and its cinematic magic developed organically. My desire was for the sense of poetry and aesthetics to be less of an imposed perspective and more of a view that emerged from the pride of the people and place.

Six years in the making, Patang has been a journey which has inspired and brought together many. The key theme of resilience of family is reflected by the bonds between all of us who gave our hearts to make the film.

DIRECTOR’S FILMOGRAPHY

Discuss the process behind editing PATANG.

Scenes were not rehearsed; they were improvised largely with non-actors and shot hand-held in long takes, without the conventional over-the-shoulder or master shots. As a result, the edit was a two-year process of distilling and constructing a scripted narrative from 200 hours of documentary-like footage. Just watching the footage took over a month. We would have more than a hundred minutes of footage for each minute of screen time. It was a joy in retrospect but very difficult being in a room by myself.

I began by constructing those scenes with major plot points and then proceeded to the transitional scenes. I would make small discoveries, pulling a shot from here, splicing it with a magic moment there, and then returning to the overall structure. Eventually the edit captured the narrative of the original script.

During the last two months of the process, I worked with the talented editor Joe Klotz (Precious, Rabbit Hole, Junebug) to cut down the two-and-a-half-hour rough cut. We’d go back and forth, revising the larger structure, pacing scenes, preserving the environment and the voice of the film.

The editing was challenging, but it was the part of the process where I grew most as a director.

Which filmmakers have inspired you?

My inspirations... the poetry and depth of the work of Satyajit Ray, Terrence Malick and Lynne Ramsay. The visual flair of Wong Kar-Wai. The naturalistic dramas of Mike Leigh and the Dardenne brothers. I love the work of Jia Zhangke. I could go on forever.

What was the response of the community in which you filmed PATANG when they saw the finished film?

Returning to Ahmedabad to share the film with our cast and crew and the community was a magical experience. I felt honored and humbled when people from Ahmedabad embraced the film as their own story.

Audience members remarked how the film gave their lives and city an identity and a voice and captured the living heritage of their home.

The passion we sought to communicate with the film filled the air as we screened it and then celebrated the kite festival together. So many lives have been affected during the journey of making this film. I hold the memories and the friendships very dear. Sheer family and love.

What are the challenges of making the kind of cinema you would like to make?

We broke every possible rule in making this film. We created a subtle, understated family drama. We shot in a foreign language for the international market. We shot using hand-held cameras with no storyboards, doing improvised takes with largely non-actors.

The crew had to take a leap of faith. We chose to work within the community and preserve the simple and natural beauty found within Ahmedabad's old city. So often during the process, we were told that what we were trying to do was crazy. And it was. Yet somehow we managed to persevere and make it happen.

6

Page 8: Patang Press Kit

PRODUCTION NOTESThe seeds for the movie Patang were planted in 2005, when director Prashant Bhargava traveled to Ahmed-abad to experience the city's annual kite festival. "When I first witnessed the entire city on their rooftops, staring up at the sky, their kites dueling ferociously, dancing without inhibition, I had to make this film."

Inspired by the spiritual energy of the festival, he returned the next three years, documenting his experiences with over a hundred hours of video footage. Slowly immersing himself in the ways of the old city, he became acquainted with its unwritten codes of conduct, its rhythms and secrets. Prashant would sit on a street corner for hours at a stretch and just observe. Over time, he connected with shopkeepers and street kids, gangsters and grandmothers. This process formed the foundation for developing the characters and story. As he began to write the script, Prashant realized that capturing the spirit of the festival and the city-its beauty and flow, joy and strength, healing and transcendence-would require multiple narratives. And so Patang found its shape as three interwoven stories centering on a family that reunites for the kite festival.

Shot on location with a cast of both non-actors and professionals, Patang draws from the neo-realist tradition. Preserving the naturalism of the environment guided every decision during filming, from shooting style to crew size to the process with the actors. The owner of the camera store, who ended up playing Bobby's father, continued to conduct business during the two days of shooting at his shop. Having become a familiar presence in the old city proved indispensable in other ways as well. Prashant recalls, "We had a rapport and support from the politicians, police officers, gambling bookies, the shopkeepers and the grandmothers from my years of research."

To encourage that naturalism and immediacy for the family scenes, Prashant inspired both his cast and crew to just live together–eat, talk, laugh, fight. Rooftop sequences were created with a group of friends, non-actors who had been flying kites together for thirty years. Renowned actor Seema Biswas co-hosted these celebrations in character, actively helping to prepare meals. Prashant had the cast improvise, shooting them in long takes. With the cameras rolling, he would whisper their objectives to them, to bring out the dramatic elements of the scene. Shanker Raman, director of photography, and Prashant shot simultaneously with two small HD cameras. Both would approach shooting as actors themselves, quiety dancing between the actor’s perfor-mances.

Patang's joyful message and its cinematic magic developed organically from the deep roots in the life of the old city that Prashant had so carefully cultivated: "The sense of poetry and aesthetics became less of an imposed perspective and more of a view that emerged from the pride of the people and place."

MORE WITH THE DIRECTORfrom ‘Prashant Bhargava’s Patang at Berlin’ by Meenakshi SheddeTHE ECONOMIC TIMES

What does it feel like to have Patang at the Berlin Film Festival?

When Patang was selected by the Berlinale, it was a moment of joy. I felt honoured to be included amongst other films of great calibre. It is a heartening endorsement of an Indian film, which focuses on the brightness of the every day.

Sangam was at Sundance in 2004. Why did Patang take six years to make?

I sought to make a film about family, the power of celebration and Ahmedabad. I had to observe, feel and live the story. Research and writing took three years. I discovered the story by collecting 100 hours of research footage - interviewing residents of the old city or members of my family, sitting in kite shops for hours, experi-encing the kite festival. I felt the cut of the manja on my own hands.

It is a delicate and time-consuming process, especially for someone like myself who grew up on the south side of Chicago. Securing financial support to do the film our way took time. We sought funding from private individuals who believed in my prior work and the message of the film. The trade-off of working indepen-dently versus working with a production studio is a trade-off of time and limited resources versus answering to many. We chose to take the long route.

Tell us about your earliest and most powerful experiences of India and what stayed with you.

My father was a consultant for the health care industry , my mother founded Apna Ghar, a battered women's shelter in America. We would visit India every year or two. For the first 18 years of my life, the India I knew was through the eyes and experiences of my relatives.

I recall the richness and love of my grandmother's cooking, boat rides in Allahabad to Sangam, riding on a horse with my cousin at his wedding, my grandfather's all-night card playing parties, and the joy in my uncles' eyes as they flew kites.

7

“Prashant Bhargava’s feature debut ‘The Kite’ follows in the tradition of auteur cinema. It’s an intriguing and small story about a complicated family that takes

place over two days.”

-HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Page 9: Patang Press Kit

ABOUT AHMEDABAD’S KITE FESTIVALIn India, kite flying is more than a pastime or sport. It is a fiercely competitive national obsession.

On January 14th, the city of Ahmedabad is possessed by the spirit of Uttarayan, the largest kite festival in India. According to the Hindu calendar, it is the day fondly known as the day the wind direction changes.

Four million kites are stacked and sold. At sunrise, rich and poor, Hindu and Muslim, young and old, flood their rooftops battling to cut their neighbor's kite. Amidst the sighs of defeat and the screams of victory all eyes are fixed on the vibrant spectacle above.

Once the sun sets the trees are littered with a million fallen kites. Serious kite fliers begin their final competi-tion launching lanterns (tukkals) attached to their kite strings. With fireworks flooding the skies this marks the end of the festival.

Kites are over one thousand years old in India. The poet Manzan used the word ‘patang’, the more common word for kite, in his poem of 1542 A.D.

PATANG & THE NEW WAVE OF INDIAN CINEMAA new movement has emerged in Indian cinema in recent years, led by filmmakers determined to tell fiercely independent stories that provide honest reflections of contemporary Indian life. PATANG, the only Indian film to premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival's Forum program, stands as a shining example, pushing the boundaries of the movement with its naturalistic performances, novel cinematic language and message of celebration and healing. This fresh, unvarnished take on India, as seen in other such movies as Dhobi Gaat, Peepli Live, Vihir, Udaan and Love Sex Aur Dhokha, has been embraced by audiences and critics around the world.

INTERVIEW WITH THE DIRECTORHow did you cast and work with the kids in the film?

During my visits to Ahmedabad over the years to research the movie, I had befriended several kids—played with them, flew kites with them, got to know their families. Each year, I was certain I had found our lead child actor. But when I returned the next year, they had grown and changed.

A few months prior to the shoot, our casting department selected sixty children. Eventually, we conducted a workshop with twelve children. We played theater games to build trust, discipline and freedom in front of the camera. Many of the children had seen adversity in their past, yet their smiles and laughter were pure. We chose Hamid as our lead child actor, because he was so effortless in front of the camera; he had an uncanny wisdom and persistence in his expression.

During the shoot, we never shared the script with the kids. I would just give them physical tasks. For instance, I would direct Hamid to catch ten cut kites as they fell from the skies above. He’d run through traffic, revel as he caught one, fight with rickshaw drivers as he darted in front of them.

The kids never acted; they were always themselves. Their work shines in the film and sets the bar for the performances by the established actors. Working with the kids was amongst the most exhilarating and reward-ing experiences of my life. I learned so much from them as a human being and director.

Discuss your approach to shooting PATANG and the film’s cinematography.

During the three years of research, we accumulated over 100 hours of research footage. We would sit for hours with a camera in hand on a corner, in a shop, in a home or on a rooftop. Beautiful stories would unfold as we silently observed. We slowly let go of our preconceptions. By the third year, we were orchestrating locals to naturally enact scenes of the film. The visual language originated from this immersion and observation.

I was fortunate to collaborate with Shanker Raman (Harud, Peepli Live), our director of photography. He took a leap of faith, embracing the uncertainty inherent in the process. He has a peaceful aura about him on the shoot more akin to a documentary cinematographer. I communicated with him as I would with an actor, providing emotional objectives rather than framing.

We did whatever we could to help the actors to forget about the presence of the cameras. We shot in natural light for the daytime scenes, during early morning or late afternoon. For interior and nighttime scenes, Shanker designed lighting setups that allowed the actors to move freely.

Both Shanker and I were shooting with small HD cameras, so we could do long takes upward of forty minutes. Many times we found ourselves pushing one another out of the way. As time progressed we developed our own rhythm with the actors. Shanker focused on the overall coverage of the drama, and I would capture small moments and experiment freely. We had an unspoken sense of when the magic would occur.

Discuss your process working with composer Mario Grigorov of the Oscar-nominated film Precious to create the film’s score.

Mario Grigorov (Precious, Taxi to the Dark Side) was a blessing, a joy to work with; his palate is incredibly diverse. My vision was to create a theme-driven score that tied together the fate of all the characters. We began in a novel way. We sat together for a week and composed the entire score together on the piano. We developed a theme and melodies that highlighted the journey of the kite and the troubled past of the family. Mario led musicians in improvisations based on these melodies—little of the piano remained in the final score. Mario's work brought depth and clarity to the narrative.

We then collaborated with legendary vocalist Shubha Mudgal for the final two pieces of the score. After we discussed the emotional journey of each scene with her, she sang atop Mario’s melodies remotely from India. Her voice is delightful and soulful, guiding the destinies of the characters.

Both Sangam and Patang seem linked through a yearning for India's spirituality, an appreciation of the small joys of life. What were your motivations for making both films?

The two works are certainly linked. Sangam is about yearning. The genesis was a real life encounter I had with a Bihari immigrant on a New York subway at 3 in the morning. We both reveled and found solace in our memories of food, film and my mother's hometown of Allahabad.

And yet, when he revealed his need for connection, I could not bear the responsibility. The episode lingered with me. The metaphor of Sangam crept in over time - two souls, like the two rivers - the Yamuna and the Ganga, meet.

Patang focuses on the impact of immediate joy. Kite flying is meditation in its purest form.

Though your film is set in contemporary Ahmedabad, why does it make no reference to the horrific communal riots of 2002?

The perception of progressives outside of Ahmedabad is that the riots solely define the identity of Ahmedabad. It is a disturbing legacy, which everyone is aware of. However, life goes on. People laugh, go to work and fall in love.

Not all stories in New York need to be focused on the events of 9/11, stories in Egypt on the political uprising, or stories in Mumbai on the Taj bombing. "If you think we hold on to our past with sadness, you are wrong. We hold on to our happiness, little-little happiness." This line from the film is representative of the spirit of Ahmedabad.

Your film emphasizes ambience over a clear-cut resolution. Would Indian distributors find this challenging?

Over two days of celebration, healing occurs, but neat, grand resolutions do not happen. Distributors need to see Patang as an opportunity – it defies the current expectations of Indian cinema – choreographed dance sequences, gritty underworld dramas, slumdogs and millionaires.

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“PATANG is a visually stunning film... Bhargava handles the subject in a quiet gentle way, but shows the tension with his hand held camera and quick edit cuts.

Biswas is fantastic as the central figure in the film and truly standsout as the moral compass of the story.”

-INDIA ABROAD

“If he listened to me, progress could have happened here.Rather, I had to leave to make that progress.”

-JAYESHExcerpt of dialogue from PATANG

Page 10: Patang Press Kit

Prashant Bhargava has “a sure hand with his actors, immeasurably enhanced by Biswas' motherly presence whose underlying bittersweetness is salved by

a palpable warmth of heart.”

-VARIETY

Hamid Shaikh as Hamid

Seema Biswas as Sudha(Bandit Queen, Water)

Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Chakku(Peepli Live, Dev D, Firaaq)

Sugandha Garg as Priya(Tere Bin Laden, My Name is Khan)

Mukund Shukla as Jayesh

Aakash Maherya as Bobby

CAST

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Discuss the process behind editing PATANG.

Scenes were not rehearsed; they were improvised largely with non-actors and shot hand-held in long takes, without the conventional over-the-shoulder or master shots. As a result, the edit was a two-year process of distilling and constructing a scripted narrative from 200 hours of documentary-like footage. Just watching the footage took over a month. We would have more than a hundred minutes of footage for each minute of screen time. It was a joy in retrospect but very difficult being in a room by myself.

I began by constructing those scenes with major plot points and then proceeded to the transitional scenes. I would make small discoveries, pulling a shot from here, splicing it with a magic moment there, and then returning to the overall structure. Eventually the edit captured the narrative of the original script.

During the last two months of the process, I worked with the talented editor Joe Klotz (Precious, Rabbit Hole, Junebug) to cut down the two-and-a-half-hour rough cut. We’d go back and forth, revising the larger structure, pacing scenes, preserving the environment and the voice of the film.

The editing was challenging, but it was the part of the process where I grew most as a director.

Which filmmakers have inspired you?

My inspirations... the poetry and depth of the work of Satyajit Ray, Terrence Malick and Lynne Ramsay. The visual flair of Wong Kar-Wai. The naturalistic dramas of Mike Leigh and the Dardenne brothers. I love the work of Jia Zhangke. I could go on forever.

What was the response of the community in which you filmed PATANG when they saw the finished film?

Returning to Ahmedabad to share the film with our cast and crew and the community was a magical experience. I felt honored and humbled when people from Ahmedabad embraced the film as their own story.

Audience members remarked how the film gave their lives and city an identity and a voice and captured the living heritage of their home.

The passion we sought to communicate with the film filled the air as we screened it and then celebrated the kite festival together. So many lives have been affected during the journey of making this film. I hold the memories and the friendships very dear. Sheer family and love.

What are the challenges of making the kind of cinema you would like to make?

We broke every possible rule in making this film. We created a subtle, understated family drama. We shot in a foreign language for the international market. We shot using hand-held cameras with no storyboards, doing improvised takes with largely non-actors.

The crew had to take a leap of faith. We chose to work within the community and preserve the simple and natural beauty found within Ahmedabad's old city. So often during the process, we were told that what we were trying to do was crazy. And it was. Yet somehow we managed to persevere and make it happen.

Page 11: Patang Press Kit

CREWWritten, Directed and Edited byPrashant Bhargava

Produced byJaideep Punjabi

Executive ProducersVijay BhargavaJaideep Punjabi

Cinematography byShanker Raman(Harud, Peepli Live, Frozen)

Original Music byMario Grigorov(Precious, Taxi to the Dark Side)

Sound Supervision and Re-recording Mixing byTom Efinger(Sugar, Inside Job, Chop Shop)

Sound Design byAbigail Savage(Sugar, Half Nelson, Man Push Cart)

Consulting EditorJoe Klotz(Junebug, Precious, Rabbit Hole)

Consulting WriterJames Townsend(Wonderland)

Costume Design bySujata Sharma(Monsoon Wedding, Gandhi My Father)

Production Design byMeera Lakhia(Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost, Bhavni Bhavi)

Sound Recording byVinod Subramanian(Rock On, The Darjeeling Ltd.)

Casting byAnjali Punjabi(Little Zizou, Monsoon Wedding)

Original Tracks byShubha MudgalMaga BoBen Horn (Djuma Soundsystem)Copyflex (Djuma Soundsystem)Pankaj AwasthiPaponShilpa Rao

Line ProducerAlan McAlex(Harud, Peepli Live, Ocean of An Old Man)

ColoristBlase Theodore

“If you think we hold on to our past with sadness, you are wrong.We hold on to our happiness. Little, little happiness.”

-SUDHA

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PRODUCTION NOTESThe seeds for the movie Patang were planted in 2005, when director Prashant Bhargava traveled to Ahmed-abad to experience the city's annual kite festival. "When I first witnessed the entire city on their rooftops, staring up at the sky, their kites dueling ferociously, dancing without inhibition, I had to make this film."

Inspired by the spiritual energy of the festival, he returned the next three years, documenting his experiences with over a hundred hours of video footage. Slowly immersing himself in the ways of the old city, he became acquainted with its unwritten codes of conduct, its rhythms and secrets. Prashant would sit on a street corner for hours at a stretch and just observe. Over time, he connected with shopkeepers and street kids, gangsters and grandmothers. This process formed the foundation for developing the characters and story. As he began to write the script, Prashant realized that capturing the spirit of the festival and the city-its beauty and flow, joy and strength, healing and transcendence-would require multiple narratives. And so Patang found its shape as three interwoven stories centering on a family that reunites for the kite festival.

Shot on location with a cast of both non-actors and professionals, Patang draws from the neo-realist tradition. Preserving the naturalism of the environment guided every decision during filming, from shooting style to crew size to the process with the actors. The owner of the camera store, who ended up playing Bobby's father, continued to conduct business during the two days of shooting at his shop. Having become a familiar presence in the old city proved indispensable in other ways as well. Prashant recalls, "We had a rapport and support from the politicians, police officers, gambling bookies, the shopkeepers and the grandmothers from my years of research."

To encourage that naturalism and immediacy for the family scenes, Prashant inspired both his cast and crew to just live together–eat, talk, laugh, fight. Rooftop sequences were created with a group of friends, non-actors who had been flying kites together for thirty years. Renowned actor Seema Biswas co-hosted these celebrations in character, actively helping to prepare meals. Prashant had the cast improvise, shooting them in long takes. With the cameras rolling, he would whisper their objectives to them, to bring out the dramatic elements of the scene. Shanker Raman, director of photography, and Prashant shot simultaneously with two small HD cameras. Both would approach shooting as actors themselves, quiety dancing between the actor’s perfor-mances.

Patang's joyful message and its cinematic magic developed organically from the deep roots in the life of the old city that Prashant had so carefully cultivated: "The sense of poetry and aesthetics became less of an imposed perspective and more of a view that emerged from the pride of the people and place."

MORE WITH THE DIRECTORfrom ‘Prashant Bhargava’s Patang at Berlin’ by Meenakshi SheddeTHE ECONOMIC TIMES

What does it feel like to have Patang at the Berlin Film Festival?

When Patang was selected by the Berlinale, it was a moment of joy. I felt honoured to be included amongst other films of great calibre. It is a heartening endorsement of an Indian film, which focuses on the brightness of the every day.

Sangam was at Sundance in 2004. Why did Patang take six years to make?

I sought to make a film about family, the power of celebration and Ahmedabad. I had to observe, feel and live the story. Research and writing took three years. I discovered the story by collecting 100 hours of research footage - interviewing residents of the old city or members of my family, sitting in kite shops for hours, experi-encing the kite festival. I felt the cut of the manja on my own hands.

It is a delicate and time-consuming process, especially for someone like myself who grew up on the south side of Chicago. Securing financial support to do the film our way took time. We sought funding from private individuals who believed in my prior work and the message of the film. The trade-off of working indepen-dently versus working with a production studio is a trade-off of time and limited resources versus answering to many. We chose to take the long route.

Tell us about your earliest and most powerful experiences of India and what stayed with you.

My father was a consultant for the health care industry , my mother founded Apna Ghar, a battered women's shelter in America. We would visit India every year or two. For the first 18 years of my life, the India I knew was through the eyes and experiences of my relatives.

I recall the richness and love of my grandmother's cooking, boat rides in Allahabad to Sangam, riding on a horse with my cousin at his wedding, my grandfather's all-night card playing parties, and the joy in my uncles' eyes as they flew kites.

Excerpt of dialogue from PATANG