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    Ruchika Oberoi on her award winning debut feature and her fascination with black comedy

    Ruchika Oberoi is busy making the rounds of international film festivals with her debut film, Island City. “Our next destination is the Mumbai Film Festival that takes place from October 29 to November 5. We also plan to screen it at the Stockholm Film Festival in November,” says the 42-year-old. Produced by the National Film Development Foundation, it bagged the Fedora Prize, for Best Young Director at the Venice Film Festival, last month. The indie film, which had its world premiere on September 7, was also recently screened at the Warsaw Film Festival in Poland.

    For Pathak only
    The film boasts of an impressive cast with Vinay Pathak, Tannistha Chatterjee and Amruta Subhash in leading roles. Oberoi reveals that she wrote the film keeping Pathak in mind. “When I approached Vinay for the first time, I did not have any producer to back me up,” says the filmmaker who graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, in 1998. “He promised to be a part of the film when I found a producer and also recommended Tannishtha,” says  Oberoi, whose foray into film making was as an associate director in Chutkan Ki Mahabharat, a national award winning children’s film that released in 2004.

    The funny side
    Island City was inspired by incidents that she had seen in her own life. It features themes such as alienation, isolation, control and individualistic freedom, portrayed through three stories based in Mumbai. “The city forms a major connect between the stories and the characters in the film. It has an overpowering presence in the third story, which is originally by my husband, and, with its hustle and bustle, contributes greatly towards creating its atmosphere,” says the filmmaker, who grew up in Jharkhand. A factor that makes the film enjoyable is that it portrays serious themes in a comic way, especially in the first two stories. It is, essentially, a black comedy that uniquely depicts life in a modern society. “I like films with dark humour a lot. I have always connected with stories that have a certain amount of blackness in them. In fact, I chose the three stories, because they were a bit twisted,” says Oberoi who is a fan of Finnish director, Aki Kaurismaki.

    Back home
    Oberoi hopes to have a theatrical release for Island City in India but says that nothing definite has been planned. “We are approaching producers in the country for the theatrical release but first we want to create a buzz through the festival circuit,” she concludes.

    —Arka Sengupta

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