Chaitanya Tamhane, the director of the universally acclaimed multilingual drama Court (2015), has been selected by acclaimed Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón as his protégé under the Rolex Mentor & Protégé Arts Initiative for 2016–17, as per an IndieWire report.
29-year-old Tamhane's debut feature won upwards of 30 international awards, including two big trophies at the 71st Venice International Film Festival in September 2014, aside from being selected as India's official entry to the Oscars earlier this year. Meanwhile, Cuarón, who achieved worldwide fame with the Mexican road movie Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001), the visually stunning film adaptation of Harry Potter and The Prisoner Of Azkaban (2004), and the dystopian sci-fi drama Children Of Men (2006), won two Oscars in 2014 for his work on the sci-fi stunner Gravity (2013).
Tamhane was one of 18 filmmakers selected for this annual philanthropic programme, which can only be applied for upon invitation. A month ago, after submitting a written application and clearing a telephonic interview, he travelled to London to meet Cuarón in person for a lunch meeting — the final stage of the selection process. "It was a really, really great meeting," he says, in a phone conversation with HuffPost India. "His knowledge about India really blew my mind. Apparently, he'd travelled a lot around Maharashtra in the '90s, and he knew quite a bit about personalities like Sant Tukaram [17th century poet-saint]."
Adding that it felt more like a conversation between two filmmakers rather than an interview, he said, "He's very humble and chilled out."
Over the course of a year, the Mumbai-based filmmaker will meet Cuarón several times to bounce off ideas and imbibe his understanding of the medium. This includes attending the shoot of the Oscar-winner's upcoming film. "We make very different kinds of films, but what I like about him is his ability to balance his own sensibilities within a commercial framework," he says. "Gravity I was especially blown away by; it was like watching magic on the big screen. My hope is this dialogue will help me understand more about how he looks at the medium and help me grow as a filmmaker."
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