All About “akuri…and a pinch of hope”

akuri…and a pinch of hope is a short film that’s been released online a few weeks ago, here’s the director Jamshed Roointon talking about the making of the film and more.

The Inspiration and How it all Started

A major inspiration is today’s competitive and fast-paced metropolitan life. Have you realised, we are all running, always in a rush to achieve something but at the end of the day we feel heavily underachieved and dissatisfied. So, what are we always running for? Today, so many people, young and old alike, go into depression. Every second day, you hear horrible stories of people committing suicide or getting into addictions, because things are not going right for them at that moment in their life. It is really sad because when one person ends up taking this decision, that decision ends up setting off a chain reaction, affecting the family, spouses, children, parents, siblings, friends and so many more people whose lives would be directly or indirectly influenced by or dependent that one person. Maybe, if we can just take the foot off the pedal every once in a while, sit back and instead of ruing what we don’t have, put more efforts into thinking how we could make our lives better, we would be a happier bunch.

Hence, I thought of making a film and spread this message digitally to millions. Without trying to sound all philosophical and preachy, I’d like to say, life doesn’t always deal the right cards for us but every negative we face, always has a positive hidden somewhere and it is upto us to find that positive, that inspiration. And although we mostly find it within us, we cannot discount the people whom we meet in our lives to give us that inspiration.

A while back, on a Radio station, I heard a listener share this beautiful, short encounter he had with a stranger on a train. I was absolutely touched by the man’s experience and had this smile on me the whole day. It got me thinking; we actually have no idea what experiences life can throw at us. Sometimes, it doesn’t make sense, the short periods of time some people come in our lives, or the outcomes from what they say or do. Some short, unplanned encounters may end up entirely altering your path in life. I thought of exploring what could happen if two people, completely unknown to each other and poles apart in their characteristics, met. This forms the crux/plot of akuri…and a pinch of hope.

The reason to make a short film on this thought is because the thought itself is so strong that I wanted to stay true to the crux of the message and drive home the point without delving into extra frills and taking too much time of the viewer. Making a short gave me a lot of liberty creatively, as well challenged me as a filmmaker to convey the message in the shortest time possible.

The influence of Zoroastrianism in the short film-why and how

More than Zoroastrianism – the religion, it is the Zoroastrians’ approach to life which I have tried to show in the film. Most people, specially in Mumbai, may have come across a Parsi at least once in their lives and there is a high probability that they may have been affected in a positive way by him/her. Parsis, as a people, are happy-go-lucky, positive, progressive, gregarious, lovable and most importantly very helpful. And they strongly believe in the social, economic and humanitarian development of the environment they reside in. Hence, you can see that despite being a minority in the truest sense, their contribution has been noteworthy. Zoroastrian morality can be summed up with the following, ‘Humata, Hukhta, Hvarshta,’ which translate into, Good Thoughts…Good Words…Good Deeds!!

A second point. It’s more to do with my misgiving about the portrayal of ‘the quintessential Parsi’ in films over the decades. Apart from a handful of films, we have always been shown this stereotypical, quirky and slapstick Parsi. who somehow does not dress in anything other than a sudreh and pyjama along with his red cap, or a loud aunty with a glass breaking voice, which would put the opera singers to shame in an equally loud gara sari and neither the man nor the woman can speak a single sentence without being irritatingly lyrical. (smiles) There is more to a Parsi than just that and ‘Eh Dikra’ or ‘Eh Bawa,’folks. We are normal, just like you and the people around you. (laughing).

On choosing actors/technicians/locations etc-process involved, difficulties if any etc.

This being a short film and with a very stringent budget involved, I was quite conscious that whoever associates with the film should do so because they have connected with the essence of the message that I intended to put across to the world.  I think I have been really fortunate in getting my team together. Each and every team member has only bettered my vision by more than excelling in their respective departments and contributed equally to bringing akuri… to such a sweet fruition. Really, I cannot thank them enough.

I did get the absolute right fit for all my characters which has in turn helped make the characters more real and the film more relatable. Ever since Akuri was conceptualised, DG, Darshan Gokani, was my Cyrus. And all efforts by my team, including DG himself, to at least meet a few Parsi Actors and see if someone fits, fell on deaf ears. The witty humour, the masti and the talkativeness and the need for Cyrus to say something big in a matter of fact way. I just knew it had to be DG. And boy has he done justice. If I didn’t tell you his real name, you wouldn’t realize he is Non-Parsi. 🙂

On the other hand, for Sadiq I had to wait for quite some time. I needed deep, intense eyes, which expressed a hundred emotions without uttering a word, a complete contrast to Cyrus’ character. I met Sushant for a narration after watching an Indie film in which he had acted and my EP/Film Editor, Shankh Rajyadhyaksha had edited. Just seeing Sushant’s reactions and expressions during the narration. I jumped with joy after coming out of the narration. I had found my Sadiq. And the wait was worth it. For the Irani Cafe owner, I needed an actual Parsi/Irani actor, for whom the nuances and the little actions which are peculiar to Parsis/Iranis came naturally, especially the gaalis, which of course sound too sweet to be offensive. I met Firdaus uncle on the set of my friend’s film shoot and I instantly connected with him. I could totally visualise the cafe owner in him. And he was so elated when he came to know we would be shooting at Military Cafe. It has been his and my favourite Irani cafe. He once said in jest that life has come a full circle for him, from being a regular customer to becoming the owner. The importance of that character in the film can only be felt and not explained. And Firdaus uncle has absolutely nailed the character.

Interesting incidents while making the film?

We wanted Shaan to lend his voice for Hope Ki Rope which finds its way in the opening and closing credits of the film. I didn’t know him personally and was trying really hard to get in touch with him. While talking about the film, I came across Mr Riyaz Amlani who’s been in the Bollywood/music industry since long. We met Shaan through him and the rest as they say is history 🙂

Response received so far and way forward.

The film has received a heart-warming response everywhere. It has been the Official Selection at The Delhi International Film Festival, The Kolkata International Film Festival and the Banjara International Film Festival. It also received a thunderous ovation at the NFDC Film Bazaar Industry Screenings and an additional special screening was done on demand for a select few dignitaries.

Post release digitally, there has been an overwhelming response from the viewers. I feel glad and very fortunate at being able to connect with them and successfully put across the message I wanted to through the film. The main aim is to make the film and its message reach out and touch as many souls as possible globally. Having said that, akuri…and a pinch of hope has received Official Special Screening Invites from a couple of prestigious International Film Festivals overseas, which is great news as it presents an opportunity to spread the message on a Global Platform with a tremendous following.

You can watch the movie here:

Continue reading “All About “akuri…and a pinch of hope””

Releasing an Independently Made Film: My Experience with “The Path of Zarathustra”

At the very outset I’d like to begin this write-up by admitting that I am no expert on movie marketing or film distribution, far from it in fact. However these are indeed subjects close to my heart and I am happy that I’m in a position to continuously learn and improve in the same. While I’m partly a media professional as I write for MAM and elsewhere on cinema, I am very transparent in admitting that I’ve always wanted to work in films directly as well. Over the last few years ever since I quit the comfort of a secure corporate career, I’ve tried various routes to break in via both the conventional and unconventional routes. While the prospect of working with a good studio/production house always excited me, considering that the brand in question and the projects associated thereby would help me improve my learning, I realized that it is not easy to break in to that space.Continue reading “Releasing an Independently Made Film: My Experience with “The Path of Zarathustra””

The Path of Zarathustra Movie Review

Cast: Oorvazi Irani, Tom Alter, Rushad Rana, Shishir Sharma, Darius Shroff, Firdausi Jussawalla, Vivek Tandon
Director: Oorvazi Irani.

“The film reminds me of Alice In Wonderland,” I remember the director’s remark about her film in a candid chat, soon after the end title starts rolling. Now I truly understand why Oorvazi Irani relates her debut feature film to the classic fantasy. While Alice In Wonderland is a tale of a girl who falls through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world and encounters quirky characters. The Path Of Zarathustra narrates the story of a young Parsi woman — Oorvazi (played by Oorvazi Irani) , who embarks upon a spiritual quest after inheriting a mysterious book from her dying grandfather (Tom Alter) and encounters famed spiritual figures of Zoroastrians—Kardir (Vivek Tandon), Zurvan (Shishir Sharma), Mani (Firdausi Jussawalla), and Mazdak (Darius Shroff).Continue reading “The Path of Zarathustra Movie Review”

The Path Of Zarathustra Movie Review: Well-intentioned, But Not Very Well Made

Oorvazi Irani’s The Path Of Zarathustra gets a release this Friday, thanks to the undying efforts of the team and great support by PVR Director’s Rare to back another indie film. The film focuses on the dwindling state of the Parsi community in India, definitely a rare issue touched and raised by its makers. Produced by SBI Impresario, a company owned by Oorvazi’s father, the film has minimal budgets and thus, no real buzz in the market out there. Yet, it has managed to secure around 4 odd screens in Mumbai and is also releasing in other important cities (Delhi,Pune, Ahmedabad, Bangalore). The Path Of Zarathustra is a well-intentioned film no doubt, focusing on a community that the Industry has only used for caricatures, but despite being sensitive to our times, it ends up being a little misfired in its own right.  Continue reading “The Path Of Zarathustra Movie Review: Well-intentioned, But Not Very Well Made”

It is not autobiographical yet there is a lot of me in there: Oorvazi Irani on her debut feature film The Path of Zarathustra

“I identify myself as an artist first and foremost; film maker, actor, educationalist, all of these are facets to the same identity” says Oorvazi in her calm composed and assured manner setting the tone for what turns out to be a deeply reflective journey into her mind and method of art.Continue reading “It is not autobiographical yet there is a lot of me in there: Oorvazi Irani on her debut feature film The Path of Zarathustra”

The Journey of ‘The Path of the Zarathustra’: Oorvazi Irani’s Quest for Authentic Parsi Locations

Zoroastrians (popularly recognized as either Parsis or Iranis) have always been that enigmatic, close-knit community that all of India wants to know more about. An affable community with dwindling population, but a very distinct identity and a host of great achievers in all walks of life, could have ideally been a great fodder for cinematic narrative of Indian films. But, most mainstream films, with a few notable exceptions like Little Zizou, Ferrari Ki Sawari, Being Cyrus and Pestonjee, have stuck to stereotypical and somewhat superficial portrayal of the Parsis.Continue reading “The Journey of ‘The Path of the Zarathustra’: Oorvazi Irani’s Quest for Authentic Parsi Locations”

‘The Path of Zarathustra’ to be released by PVR Director’s Rare in September

‘The Path of Zarathustra’ is all set to release under the PVR Director’s Rare banner on 4th September. Directed by Oorvazi Irani and produced by Sorab Irani, the movie touches upon the theme of Parsi community and their ancient faith-Zoroastrianism, founded by the First Prophet, Zarathustra. This English language movie will see a release in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi/NCR, Bangalore and Surat.
Continue reading “‘The Path of Zarathustra’ to be released by PVR Director’s Rare in September”

The Path of Zarathustra: Trailer

The Path of Zarathustra PosterOorvazi Irani who incidentally also happens to be one of our esteemed authors has now made the transition to directing a feature film with The Path of Zarathustra. The film is in the realm of magic realism and it will be a 79 minute feature in English. As Oorvazi herself says “As a Parsi Zoroastrian film maker, faced with the prospect of extinction, in this narrative film I turn to my roots to ask some questions, seek some answers. As an auteur I also extend my contribution in playing the role of the protagonist in the film. Parsis being the followers of the First Prophet – Zarathustra, the film through a fictional personal quest explores the Parsi Identity through the prism of Zoroastrian history and philosophy. The film is specific yet universal, addressing the theme of God and Religion.”

The film is produced by Sorab Irani, has music by Vasuda Sharma and is written by Farrukh Dhondy. While Sudhadeep Dey is the DOP and Tushar Ghogale is the editor. The film features Oorvazi herself as the protagonist and the rest of the star cast includes Tom Alter, Rushad Rana, Shishir Sharma, Darius Shroff, Firdausi Jussawala, Vivek Tandon etc.

Continue reading “The Path of Zarathustra: Trailer”