Chaitanya Tamhane’s ‘The Disciple’ wins best screenplay; ‘Nomadland’ bags Golden Lion at Venice fest

Up next for “The Disciple” is a stop at Toronto International Film Festival, where it will be screened in the Special Presentations category

Chaitanya Tamhane’s ‘The Disciple’ wins best screenplay; ‘Nomadland’ bags Golden Lion at Venice fest

A still from 'The Disciple'.

New Delhi, September 13

Director Chatainya Tamhane won the best screenplay award for his Marathi-language feature “The Disciple” at the Venice Film Festival that saw Chinese-American filmmaker Chloe Zhao bagging the top prize of the coveted Golden Lion for her drama “Nomadland”.

The winners of the main competition were announced by the festival jury during the closing ceremony, held on Saturday and live-streamed globally.

Headed by two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, the jury also included directors Joanna Hogg, Christian Petzold and Veronika Franz, novelist Nicola Lagioia and actors Ludivine Sagnier and Matt Dillon.

Tamhane, the wunderkind filmmaker of Indian cinema, became the first director from the country to compete in the main category of a European film festival after Mira Nair. Her film “Monsoon Wedding” won the Golden Lion at the festival in 2001.

“The Disciple” looks at the world of classical musicians on the fringes of success. It follows Sharad Nerulkar (Aditya Modak), an Indian classical vocalist trying to achieve purity in his work as he has been raised on the stories of his father and guru about the masters of the past.

The film had its premiere at the Biennale last week and received glowing reviews from the critics.

“Writing ‘The Disciple’ was by far the most challenging and painful endeavour I have ever undertaken. This honour means a lot to me and it will encourage me to keep pushing my own boundaries even further. I want to dedicate this award to all the musicians, researchers, authors, and historians who helped open the doors to the incredible world of Indian classical music for me,” Tamhane said in a statement.

Producer Vivek Gomber hailed the movie’s win at Venice as an “incredible feat”.

“I am really grateful to the jury and very proud of Chaitanya. It’s the hardest and the loneliest job, but the final script was also what convinced me to back the film,” he added.

Oscar-winning filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron serves as an executive producer on the movie.

“The Disciple” is the second feature film of 33-year-old Tamhane after his much-acclaimed 2014 movie “Court”, which was also selected in the Orizzonti (Horizons) category at Venice. Tamhane had won the Orizzonti Award and the Luigi De Laurentiis for the movie.

Back home, greetings from Tamhane’s industry colleagues started pouring in on social media with many calling the film’s win a proud moment for India.

A host of film personalities, including actors Richa Chadha, Ali Fazal and filmmakers Sujoy Ghosh and Anurag Kashyap, congratulated the filmmaker.

Taking to Twitter, Chadha said she is extremely happy for the film’s win.

“A moment of pride for India! Thank you Chaitanya Tamhane, Gomber and all of you! Heart is happy,” she wrote.

Fazal tweeted: “I am just so so so happy today! India celebrate! #TheDisciple @la_Biennale! It's a big win for filmakers in India. Thank you Chaitanya Tamhane for leading us yet again into the New Age. Vivek Gomber - you dear, are a force.”

Tillotma Shome said the entire team of “The Disciple” deserved a salute for their fantastic achievement. “The Disciple by Chaitanya Tamhane and produced by Vivek Gomber wins the Best Screenplay at @la_Biennale!! What a feat!! What a team!! Chaitanya, Gomber, Pooja, Micah, Naren, Tanaji, Rakesh ji and to the whole cast and crew a big salute,” she said.

Both Ghosh and Kashyap shared the news and applauded the director for the win.

“What fantastic news! Congratulations to Chaitanya Tamhane and my favourite Vivek Gomber,” Alankrita Shrivastava tweeted.

Sai Tamhankar said with the Venice win, Tamhane has put Marathi cinema on the global map. “Thank you for making India proud, making Marathi cinema proud, giving us hope and a reason to celebrate,” she said.

Tamhane’s win at the 2020 closing ceremony comes just a day after “The Disciple” received the prestigious FIPRESCI award, given by international film critics.

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar also congratulated the director for the achievement.

“Congratulations #ChaitanyaTamhane for winning the ‘International Critics Award’ at the @venicefilmfest for the film ‘The Disciple’ that portrays three decades of an Indian classical music practitioners' journey rooted in Guru-Shishya parampara,” he tweeted.

The top honour of the festival, the Golden Lion, went to Zhao for her soulful adventure drama feature “Nomadland”, starring Frances McDormand.

In the movie, the Oscar winner plays a modern-day Nomad, Fern, who sets off on the road to explore a life outside of conventional society after the 2008 economic collapse.

The film, which was Zhao’s follow-up to her 2017 critical hit “The Rider”, went into the festival as one of the main contenders for the top prize.

The win makes Zhao the first female filmmaker to take the top prize at the festival since Sofia Coppola triumphed with “Somewhere” in 2010.

She is also the first woman of colour to lift the coveted trophy following Nair’s win for “Monsoon Wedding” in 2001.

Mexican director Michel Franco's thriller “New Order” and historic drama “Wife of a Spy” by Japan’s Kiyoshi Kurosawa won Silver Lions for Grand Jury Prize and best director, respectively.

The best actress trophy went to British star Vanessa Kirby for her compelling turn as a grieving mother in Hungarian filmmaker Kornel Mundruczo's “Pieces of a Woman”.

Italian star Pierfrancesco Favino took best actor for Claudio Noce’s true-life terrorist thriller “Padrenostro”.

“Dear Comrades”, a black-and-white recreation of a 1962 Soviet massacre of striking factory workers, directed by Russian filmmaker Andrei Konchalovsky, took the Special Jury prize.

Up next for “The Disciple” is a stop at Toronto International Film Festival, where it will be screened in the Special Presentations category. PTI

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