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The Cannes connect

Pune director’s film makes it to Cannes

Omkar Modgi explores the evolution of a father-son relationship in Avyakta

April 03, 2017 09:51 pm | Updated May 23, 2017 11:50 am IST -

When 26-year-old Omkar Modgi jettisoned a conventional career four years ago, he discovered that the magic of cinema had an overwhelming grip on him and could be resisted no longer.

Today, Mr. Modgi has tasted success after his powerful and sensitive short film Avyakta (‘Unexpressed’) has been shortlisted for the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.

“The terse congratulatory mail from Cannes stating that my entry has been shortlisted left me more elated than any other time in my life,” said a jubilant Mr. Modgi, who quit a Chartered Accountancy (CA) course despite scoring well in the first two parts.

Avyakta , an 11-minute 42-second short, chronicles what happens when Aarti, the mother of a teenager, Aditya, passes away suddenly, leaving a void in his life and that of the boy’s father, Shrirang.

Father and son at once discover the awkwardness of their relationship, and realise that the woman in the house was a bridge between them.

“The idea occurred to me when I put myself in the boy’s shoes, and recalled particular moments from my life and the relationship with my father when my mother was absent for a length of time, however short or long,” Mr. Modgi said.

Fashioning the script

Writing the first draft of the script took 10 months. While the concept was sound, the script was replete with false turns, he recalled.

“It was here that noted Marathi filmmaker Umesh Kulkarni, whom I regard as my mentor, aided me immensely. The initial setting of the film was a village. However, Mr. Kulkarni pointed out the inadequacies of my research in a rural setting and advised me to relocate my idea to an urban milieu with which I was familiar,” he said.

An avid follower of world cinema, Mr. Modgi named Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, now riding high on the crest of his successes with films like A Separation and The Salesman , as someone who had made an indelible impression on him.

Prior to composing his short, Mr. Modgi gained experience working as assistant director with established Marathi filmmakers.

The film, to be screened at Cannes in May, was made on a budget of little more than ₹1 lakh and shot in Rajgurunagar on the outskirts of Pune city. It features noted theatre actor Aniruddha Khutwad in the role of the father and child actor Paarth Bhalerao (of Bhootnath Returns fame) as his son.

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