Here's some good news for filmmakers competing at the 17th Mumbai Film Festival this year (being referred to as the 'Jio MAMI'): the winning Indian film competing in the India Gold category will get a major boost in terms of promotion, distribution, and release — courtesy production house Drishyam films.
Until last year, the winning film in India Gold — a section in which Indian films of various languages compete — would be awarded a cash prize (Rs 25 lakh) and a Golden Gateway of India trophy. This year, according to an emailed press release and confirmations from sources at Drishyam Films, the winner will also get an average print and advertising (P&A) investment of Rs 50 lakh from the production house; in addition, they will also extend support in terms of securing Indian theatrical distribution, international sales as well as festival management.
Founded by maverick indie producer Manish Mundra, who has been described as "Indian indie cinema's saviour" by many, Drishyam Films is the production house behind acclaimed films such as Rajat Kapoor's Aankhon Dekhi (2014) and Neeraj Ghaywan's Masaan. While the latter won two awards at this year's Cannes International Film Festival, two upcoming films, Nagesh Kukunoor's Dhanak and Prashant Nair's Umrika, have also picked up prestigious prizes at Berlin and Sundance respectively.
"We feel very strongly about the gap in distribution because of which deserving films are unable to reach the audiences," Mundra wrote in an email. "In order to build a culture of meaningful cinema, we felt it was necessary that we focus on supporting the distribution aspect and help a film complete its journey."
According to Drishyam Films' CEO Shiladitya Bora, the company has already begun this initiative by investing Rs 70 lakh into a P&A budget for last year's India Gold winner, Bikas Ranjan Mishra's Chauranga. The film, which stars Sanjay Suri and Tannishtha Chatterjee, had remained unreleased since.
Now, with the production house's help, Chauranga will most probably find a theatrical release in early January, confirmed Onir, the film's producer.