January 31, 2023

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‘Ghat’ arrives at Berlinale in 2023 after being rejected in 2021

3 min read

After pulling it from Berlinale 2021 at the last minute, Chhatrapal Nineveh’s debut feature “Ghath” (“Ambush”) will finally be screened at the 2023 festival.

The Marathi-language film, a slow-burn thriller set on the fringes of India’s jungles occupied by Maoist insurgents and revolving around the tense interplay between guerrillas, civilians and the police, will have its world premiere at Berlinale’s Panorama Strand.

The project, then co-produced by billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Jio Studios and independent producer Manish Mundra’s Drishim Films, was selected for the Work-in-Progress Lab at Film Bazaar India 2020 where it won the Lab Award.

“Ghat” was selected as one of the Panorama titles in 2021, but was then pulled. In a social media post, which has since been deleted, Ninawe wrote:

“On February 4, 2021, Jio Studios sent a legal restraining order to Berlinale, effectively asking them to exclude the film from selection. We sent frantic emails. No explanation was given. Vishyam Films even offered to buy the film outright. Jio Studios instead sent a legal notice barring them from applying to any other film festival. A curator in Berlin told me he had never seen anything like it in his 28-year career.”

“Jio Studios has not even applied for Censor Board for Film Certification (CBFC) certification. So after 25 months of originally funding the film work, some corporate executives decided to ban the film themselves, just as it was invited to the Berlinale and won the NFDC’s WIP Lab Award. It’s almost #Kafkaesque. I am sure ‘Ghaath’ will clear the CBFC certification easily. Because the film is a personal story rather than an ideological film. The film 1) Does not have anti-India message 2) Definitely not a pro-Maoist film 3) Does not promote hatred 4) Does not abuse or target any caste, tribe and community. 5) Does not disturb communal harmony.”

“After this failure, I have been waiting for a solution for almost 15 months now. Tried to communicate with them through various means. It was the darkest part of my life. My dreams were shattered and I couldn’t afford therapy. When ‘Ghat’ should have been celebrated by the Indian and Marathi film industry, it was killed in front of our eyes. How can I stay sane when my child is being killed? What happened with ‘Ghat’ is a clear discrimination. And decided to fight against it. I demand Jio Studios to release ‘Ghat’.

The only comment given by Jio Studios at the time was: “Jio Studios is committed to responsible storytelling and is working with over 50 filmmakers on 120+ multilingual stories. It is our endeavor to provide the best possible support to our partners and filmmakers to achieve the maximum critical and commercial success each story deserves. We have an ongoing legal dispute with producer Drishim Films over a multi-film deal due to which we will refrain from making any specific media clarifications. However, we want to make it clear that we have no conflict with any director. We deny all baseless allegations against us.”

diversity Jio was reached for further comment on the matter but did not return till press time.

Shiladitya Bora’s Platoon One Films has acquired part of Jio’s “Ghat” rights, diversity understand

“Ghat” is now produced by Platoon One’s Bora and Drishim Mundra, Milapsingh Jadeja and Yukta Gupta and stars Milind Shinde and Jitendra Joshi, as well as Suruchi Adarkar, Dhananjay Mandaokar and Janardhan Kadam.

Ninawe said diversity: “It’s been a long, arduous and adventurous journey, but I’m honored to finally be premiering our film at the Berlinale, home to so many artists who have inspired us along the way. ‘Ghat’ is a film about trust, betrayal and ambush. It’s a thriller set in the jungle. Goes deep and goes deeper into the psyche of its characters. I am grateful to Platoon One Films and Drishim Films for believing in our film, and I hope it finds its audience in Berlin, India and beyond.”

Mundra and Bora previously collaborated on “Newton”, which had its world premiere at the Berlinale in 2017 and later became India’s official entry to the Oscars. Both Ninawe and Bora are alumni of the Berlinale Talents Program. ‘Ghat’ cinematographer Udit Khurana has been selected for this event.

“Ghat”

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