The Miss Lovely director on experimental cinema and his latest short.
One of the faces of India’s changing cinematic landscape, Miss Lovely director Ashim Ahluwalia’s next film, Events in a Cloud Chamber, is set to be showcased at the 73rd Venice Film Festival (August 31 to September 10). The 20-minuter is inspired by, and is an attempt to bring back to the screen, Padma Bhushan recipient Akbar Padamsee’s film by the same name, which was lost in the 1970s after only a few screenings.
Down memory lane
The short is not only an attempt to recreate the artist’s experimental six-minute film— featuring a single image of a dreamlike terrain—but it also delves into the process of remembering it by the 89-year-old Padamsee. The Mumbai-based director believes had the movie survived, “(it) could have been the start of an entirely different kind of cinema in India”. He shares that Padamsee, whose painting, Reclining Nude, was sold for $1,426,500 at Sotheby’s in New York in 2011, and is hailed as one of the pioneers of modernist painting in India along with the likes of SH Raza and MF Hussain, was able to recreate the painting after not having lifted a brush for years.
Making the cut
Talking about experimental filmmaking in India, Ahluwalia admits it is meager, with only directors such as Natasha Mendonca and Ashish Avikunthak challenging the idea of what a typical Indian film should be. On short films, he feels the internet has brought about a huge change in the production and distribution scenario. “Now you can find a smaller, more refined audience,” says the award-winning director, who is currently working on a biopic on don-turned-politician Arun Gawli, titled Daddy.
— Simar Bhasin