Category Archives: Non-Hollywood Films

Amar Maa (My Mother)-Short Film

Amar Maa (2010)-Bengali Short Film goes to Cannes Film Fest

Amar Maa (My Mother)-Short FilmMarch 25, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): Amar Maa
(My Mother) is a 2010 short film directed by US based Bengali filmmaker Samir Banerjee with Rachana Shah, Don Castro, Pallavi Desai, Uttara Desai, Avik Sur in the cast. The film has made its way to different film festivals around the globe like Yes India Film Festival, New Zealand, Stepping Stone Film Festival, Bangalore, India, Bombay Elektrik Showcase, Mumbai, India and will be premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May, 2011. The film is expecting an online release this year at Amazon or

Amar Maa  is the story of a Bengali woman Moumita Sen who after living with her mother in Kolkata for 27 years has come to New York to pursue her doctorate. She falls in love, gets engaged and is to be married to an American guy Mark. But Moumita is yet to break this news to her mother. She struggles to find an opportune moment, the right words to talk about her mother about this. She gets sick with thoughts. And when her mother finally learns about Mark, she disowns the daughter. However, Mark sees another side to the woman he loves.

Rachna Shah –Moumita
Don Castro – Mark
Pallavi Desai – The Mother
Uttara Desai – Moumita Jr.
Avik Sur – The Postman

Samir Banerjee – Director & Producer
Jennifer Joelle Kachler – Producer
Katsumi Funahashi – Cinematographer
Sujoy Banerjee – Assistant Director
Aakash Desai – 2nd Assistant Director
Katsumi Funahashi – Editor
Samir & Sujoy Banerjee – Assistant Editors
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni – Story
Sherry Huang – Script Supervisor
David Sheppard – Sound Mixer
David Mesiha – Score

Exact Runtime: 00 hr: 22 min: 23 sec
Date of Completion: September 2010
Date of Release: 19th October 2010
Country of Production: USA
Country of Filming: USA
Production Budget: 6000 USD
Fund Source: Personal
Language: English / Bengali

About the director
Samir Banerjee has been writing since the age of thirteen, he started to showcase his talent at the age of sixteen by writing and directing two plays. “An American In Mumbai” & “Hijack”. Both were received very well by the audience, having most of them rolling in the aisles with laughter. After he came to Boston to continue his studies he discovered the American independent scene and how a small “handycam” could go a long way. He started with a few music video’s and some cricket video’s. In 2000 he decided to produce the short film “Junoon” directed by his younger brother Sujoy and his friend Siddharth. After circulating the video amongst friends and friends of friends he found a lot of people interested in working on small projects. He started SB Talkies Productions and went on to shoot another short film titled “Sophie” which took a whole year to complete but was worth it. Sophie was nominated at the New Jersey Film Festival and received a lot of accolades.
Samir then decided to pursue this seriously and went to the New York Film Academy to obtain a filmmaking diploma and mingle with like minded industry folks. He directed “The Waiting”, “Gift Of Sight”, made two documentaries, one about New York Taxi drivers and the other on a spiritual leader in Badlapur, India. The latter was aired on India’s national network “Doordarshan”. After that Samir decided to focus on his career and concentrate on establishing himself in the corporate world.

In May 2010 a delayed flight at Nashville Airport led Samir to start his latest venture, Amar Maa (My Mother), a Bengali short film adapted from a short story called “The Word Love” in the collection of short stories “Arranged Marriage” by renowned author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. He practically wrote the screenplay on the flight from Nashville to Newark and after that there was no looking back. He is currently busy promoting the film and taking them to various festivals; he then plans to take on a full feature in his home town Kolkata.

About the cinematographer
Katsumi was born and raised in Japan. He moved to the US in 1996 and graduated from Hofstra University with a BA in Film Studies and Production. He has directed, written and edited several short films, including “Smile” and “Lost”. He recorded each of the live performances from the theater run of “Weekly Review” and transformed the raw footage into a slick-looking faux news musical. He is currently working as a cinematographer and editor at Pacific Street Films.

About lead actress
Rachna Shah is a talented Bollywood actress who has acted in a list of films. She can be seen in Ketan Mehta’s “Rang Rasiya” opposite Randeep Hooda. She is no stranger to the Cannes Film Festival as her film “The Last Monk” was showcased there in 2006. She has also done a variety of Indian regional cinema with both Bengali and Tamil movies to her name. In 2009 she played a very important character in the HBO production “My Bollywood Hero”.

About lead actor
Don Castro is a Philippine-born actor based in New York City. Film credits include: Lucia’s Automaton (Pusan International Film Festival/Seoul, Korea), Bohemibot (Festival de Cannes/Short Film Corner), In Space (Tribeca Film Festival), and M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening. TV: Law & Order -Criminal Intent. Don has recently completed work on the 2012 feature film, Man on a Ledge, starring Sam Worthington.

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Amar Maa-Bengali Short Film

Ong Bak 3 (2011)-Movie Review

March 24, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): Ong Bak 3 is a 2011 movie directed by Tony Jaa and Panna Rittikrai with Tony Jaa, Primorata Dejudom, Nirut Sirichanya and others in the cast. Read the film review at Calcutta Tube.

Ong Bak 3′ – Self-indulgent Tony Jaa loses way’

Director: Tony Jaa and Panna Rittikrai;

Actors: Tony Jaa, Primorata Dejudom, Nirut Sirichanya;

Rating: *

Martial arts in cinema have been a domain of the Asians. Since the days of the first master Bruce Lee, there have been many like Jackie Chan and Jet Li, among others, who have taken martial arts in cinema to a different level.


A new successor to this legacy comes from Thailand and his name is Tony Jaa. Fans of martial arts worldwide have already been mesmerised by his pyrokinetics. But with this latest venture he proves he may have lost way in his quest for world cinematic martial arts domination.


Like most of Bruce Lee’s or Jackie Chan’s film, Tony Jaa’s film rarely has a story to boast of. Even for that the story and direction of ‘Ong Bak 3′, both by Tony Jaa, is a new low and the martial arts disappoint too.


After heir to the throne Prince Tiem is almost beaten to death by an evil king who has usurped his kingdom, he is brought back to life thanks to the blessings of the Buddha and he must now fight his adversaries to restore peace in the nation.


Audiences aware of Tony Jaa and his full contact, and Bruce Lee’s martial arts have seen proof that even in the days of special effects, pure physical action and a highly energetic lead will never run out of date.


However, as he has grown from strength to strength, Tony Jaa seems to forget his strength which is his physical abilities.


In ‘Ong Bak 3′, his reliance on wires and special effects to enhance special effects spoil the action. He is trying to outdo Chinese and Hollywood martial arts film, and that will prove to be his undoing.


For there is something beautiful about raw physical energy, to be able to see the body go beyond its stated potential, to see the mind follow the body instead of the other way round.


Former martial arts masters in films knew that. And so did Tony Jaa. Obvious from his film ‘The Protector’ (2005) where a full five-minute long shot follows him moving from one floor to another, jumping, punching, kicking his adversaries. His stamina in that one scene, as in many others in his films, is sheer poetry.


However, in ‘Ong Bak 3′, he forgets that and though the cinematography is commendable, the film’s action, choreographed by Tony Jaa himself, is corrupted by special effects, loud, garish sound and the absolute unbelievability of the stunts compared to the believability of the same in previous films, even in the previous Ong Bak films.


Even extreme action junkies will balk with anger at ‘Ong Bak 3′ and find it hard to digest either the film or its action.


Tony Jaa is obviously aiming for Hollywood glory, but he would do well to remember what will take him there — not such bad special effects-laden action sequences, but raw, physical action. We all know he can do it.

Biutiful-Spanish Movie Review, Rating

Feb 17, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): Biutiful is a Spanish movie directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu with Javier Bardem, Maricel Alvarez in the cast. Read the film review at Calcutta Tube.

Biutiful – is eternally beautiful;

Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu;

Cast: Javier Bardem, Maricel Alvarez:

Language: Spanish;

Rating: ****

[ReviewAZON asin="B004IDBHS4" display="inlinepost"]Akira Kurosawa did it first in 1952 with ‘Ikiru’ and now it’s the turn of auteur Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu to try his hand at the search for redemption triggered by the certainty of death with a major difference between both. If you know Inarritu’s style, you’d know that this would be a dark, harsh take. It is — and the addition of supernatural elements only heighten the broodiness, the surreality and the ‘beauty’ of this chaotic story.

Uxbal has the natural ability to converse with the dead which he uses to make a little extra money. Like exploiting the dead, he exploits the living by getting work – legal and illegal – to illegal African and Chinese immigrants in Spain. The only thing he loves, while trying to make sense of his distorted existence and twisted relationships with those around, are his two children.

His life, however, gets out of his narrow focus when he discovers that he has cancer. Unwilling to die with grace and fearing for his children, he tries to tie the loose ends of his life, expand his worldview, while at the same time seeking redemption for his life. The results are disastrous.

Sadly there’s no light at the end of the tunnel of his life, and it is a void lit up only by the darkness of his desperation, unfulfilled desires and failures.

The metaphor of the film is of a man alive, who can see the dead, but cannot see how dead he is himself, till he faces his own mortality head on and like a drowning man beats his hands in desperation.

Yet, Inarritu seems to suggest that the search for redemption in the distorted existence of our lives is indeed the most beautiful thing in the world. Like Jesus who said: ‘Let he who has not sinned, cast the first stone’, Inarritu refuses to cast a moral stone at any of his characters or their twisted existence. He merely shines a shaky, compassionate camera at each – struggling with their pains of the past, fear of the future and the occasional search for forgiveness in the present and, through it, hope.

One of the most striking elements of the film, as with Inarritu’s every film, is its casting. It is immaculate with the lead Javier Bardem literally leading the way. Maricel alvarez as the mentally unstable but good-intentioned wife and mother is equally stunning.

This is a film whose atmosphere is created not by its physical setting, but by its shaky hand-held camera movements and by the intensity of its actors. To accentuate the hostile mood, are the strings of Inarritu regular, Gustavo Santaolalla, who discards his usual gentility and gives a dark, broody sound for the film, seemingly jarring, but one that breaks new grounds in background score with its harsh tone and brutality, in perfect sync with the film.

‘Biutiful’ is a dark film, which seemingly offers no hope. That can indeed be the perception at one level. Yet, on another level one can see it as one of the most beautiful and hope-infested films ever, where not the end result but the present intention of the film, and life, counts.

It seems to suggest that even if one’s path to forgiveness and one’s own crawl back to death, and hence life, may be lit up with darkness and failure, it is not just worth it, but is eternally beautiful.

French production house says India has a strong market for international films

Mumbai, Oct 28 (Calcutta Tube) A leading French production house, Studio Canal, sees India as a potential hub for international films and believes it is essential to create awareness about Indian films abroad.

‘It’s actually a very nice discovery. I decided to travel to India because the Mumbai film festival (MAMI International Film Festival) invited us,’ Rodolphe Buet, executive vice president, international distribution and new business of Studio Canal, told IANS.

‘I thought it’s a great idea to combine both film festival and film market to allow people to meet each other and create some business link,’ said Rodolphe, who is here for the the first time.

He is highly optimistic about the relationship developing between India and European production companies and hopes Indian companies would soon start investing in Hollywood productions.

‘I think Europe, France and India are very strong film markets and have film lovers. Companies like Reliance have invested a lot. I think their international production will create substantial revenue in the future.

‘So, considering the level of relationship we are developing, in the coming weeks some huge Indian companies will invest in European or Hollywood productions that we are investing in,’ said Rodolphe.

‘The other reason of my trip was trying to understand the growth of this market and meet the executives involved with the movie and television industry as we are considering, from the European point of view, that India would be one of the major and leading markets in the coming year,’ he added.

MAMI is an initiative of Reliance Big Entertainment that is also investing in Hollywood projects.

Studio Canal, based in France, is a production and distribution company that owns one of the third-largest film libraries in the world. Started in 1988, it is now a $600-million company.

‘At this stage buying or selling doesn’t mean a lot. At this moment, we are trying to make people understand our library, our production and to make a relation. The market of Indian movies in rural Europe is limited, except in the UK because in the UK there is a huge Indian community. So the main target is to identify the movies that will match the liking of the European audience. We made an agreement with Reliance to distribute some of their movies,’ Rodolphe said.

He maintains he tried to understand the production of Indian films before striking any deal with Indian production houses.

‘I met several. I tried to understand the production level – what kind of film will make sense for a European audience.

‘I think what we really need to achieve first is some kind of awareness about Indian films and create some success to make the exhibitor and the press understand India has a very big film industry that produces good movies. They have to discover this thing. We will try to go step by step to secure some success,’ said the 47-year-old.

Asked if he could zero in on any potential deal, he said: ‘I met global networks and they are going to open a section for international movies. They are a potential deal for us.’

Some offerings from Studio Canal include ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’, ‘Basic Instinct’, ‘Cliffhanger’, Under Siege’ and ‘Free Willy’.

Talking about the company, he said: ‘We started Studio Canal 22 years ago in France and now we operate in the UK and Germany as well. Over the years, we have got a very strong library dealing with major production companies. It’s a $600 million company and producing all over the world,’ said Rodolphe.

‘Our company is investing not only in Europe but also in Hollywood projects. We invested in the remake of ‘Cliff Hanger’ and other thrillers and comedies. Studio Canal is involved with local and international productions and because of our production level we can find potential partners in huge markets such as India,’ he added.

(Dibyojyoti Baksi can be contacted at