Ukrainian filmmaker Dar Gai, whose “Namdev Bhau in Search of Silence” has its world premiere in Busan’s A Window on Asian Cinema strand, has had a fascinating passage to India. The philosophy major spent 10 years acting, directing and organizing festivals in Ukraine. While she was familiar with Western culture, the east was yet to be conquered. So she fired off resumes to schools in China, Japan and India. Soon an invitation letter arrived from the prestigious Scindia School for boys, in Gwalior, central India, to teach theatre and German.
“India became a major source of inspiration for my scripts,” said Gai. “I remember the time when I was coming up with at least three feature film ideas every day. I felt a strong sense of connection with the Indian culture. I felt at home.
But who knows really, maybe I would have been shooting a Japanese film right now had my letter not reached Gwalior.”
Gai made her directorial debut with 2018’s Mumbai-set “Three and a Half,” the story of one house in three different eras. Gai and Dheer Momaya produced for Jugaad Motion Pictures, alongside Indian auteur Anurag Kashyap (“Gangs of Wasseypur”). The film won awards at Cyprus and Santa Cruz, Argentina.
“Namdev Bhau” originated during an enforced break in the “Three and a Half” schedule. “We were complaining to each about Mumbai being such a noisy city that sometimes you can’t even hear your own thoughts,” said Gai. “And suddenly the idea was born.” The film is the journey of a chauffeur in his 60s and a 12-year-old boy in search of a fabled Silent Valley.
“During the pre-production we believed that we could pull off the shoot with a seven member crew, non-actors and it was truly one of the best learning experiences of my life,” said Momaya, whose background is making commercials and music videos. “A big chunk of it was self-funded from the advertising work, in the beginning, and then later we got some private investors to back our vision.”
Jugaad has several projects in development. Up for shoot next is Hindi-language film “Chote Kapde.” Ready to go into pre-production are “60 Meters” and “3 Days.” Telugu-language film “Eh Hero” is also in the works, as is an Indo-Italian project “Nuns.”
After Busan, “Namdev Bhau” will have its European premiere at the British Film Institute London Film Festival and its India premiere at the Mumbai Film Festival.