Friday, November 7, 2008

68 Pages leaves Goa emotionally moved

68 Pages leaves Goa emotionally moved

Click on above pic to view the album

Film 68 Pages was screened in Goa to a very emotional response.

The film was screened on Oct 17, 2008 by Goa's local film group Film Beam in association with Goa State AIDS Control Society alongwith other organizations. The screening was held at the Maquinez Palace which is also the presitigious venue for IFFI.

More than 200 people attended the screening and what was wonderful was that they were from different walks of life - some were film enthusiasts, some from women's organizations, few counselors, a bunch from the queer community Humsaath.

The audience were emotionally moved by the film and expressed their appreciation tearfully. The distinguished panelists who spoke after the viewing not only spoke emotionally about the film but also promised support to take the film and its issues forward and reach it to a wider audience.

Monday, October 6, 2008

68 Pages @ Tasveer film festival

Screening of film '68 Pages' at -
Tasveer : Independent South Asian Film Festival, Seattle, USA
Saturday September 27th, 2008 2:30 PM

Anil Vora's interview with the director Sridhar Rangayan

Anil: It seems to me this is the first such artistic collaboration between a community NGO and a filmmaker in India, is it? [Which is very different than the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation giving money to have the AIDS Jaago films made]. Can you talk more about this collaboration and the potential that it will set an example for future collaborations between NGOs of all stripes and film as a medium to impact people’s lives.

Sridhar: Making 68 Pages has been an enlightening process, not only for me as a filmmaker but also for the cast & crew. Simply because Humsafar, the organization that produced the film has been working with the LGBTQ community at the grassroots level and they brought in their real life experiences from case histories. Every character is an amalgamation of three of more case studies, so that they become representatives of the sub-segment we are talking about. Real stories touch an emotional chord naturally.

My creative job as a writer and director was to present it in an interesting and entertaining way. I used the Bollywood format with song, dance and high melodrama because the grassroots audience I’m targeting are already comfortable with the format. I had only to subvert the genre to my own end - by introducing marginalized characters and placing them as protagonists to convey subliminal messages.

Bollywood usually stretches the credibility of the characters. Here, I had no fear of it because the characters were real. This is also the reaction we’ve received at most of the screenings - that the film is real, honest and emotionally engaging.

Anil: I’m amazed to read about the difficulties you are facing in getting this film distributed widely in India.

Sridhar: There are two reasons for this.

For one, the digital exhibition boom in India, it is a complete myth. There are just about perhaps 10 digital screens in Bombay in which they again show digital versions of the same Bollywood blockbuster. Ditto with digital distribution channels like UFO, etc., which has small screens in most cities and small towns, but they still want the popcorn flicks with big star cast. The real digital films have actually no distribution possibility apart from putting it up online.

There is also a very vicious chicken and egg syndrome at play here. The satellite channels don’t pick up films that have not screened in theaters and the DVD distributors again look for films that have a star cast. So where does alternative cinema head towards – the dustbin!

The second point being of the subject matter. We were told by a distributor: ‘You have no normal characters in the film’ (which means a heterosexual romance)! My producer, Vivek, turned around and said, “As far as I’m concerned, all our characters are normal.”

Anil: I thought I also read that the film was finally releasing at a multiplex in Delhi. Is that true?

Sridhar: Since mainstream distribution seemed out of question, we looked for other options to reach the film across. We initiated a 12 city tour ‘Sang Mere’ festival (with a grant from HIVOS) to take the film across India.

We wanted to kick off the touring festival in Bombay at a mainstream venue and were in talks with several multiplexes. One of them said, ‘Who are the celebrities you are bringing?’. I told them I wanted to screen a film not hold a celebrity circus. Another multiplex who talked about corporate social responsibility didn’t even get back after they visited our website and realized it is a film on homosexuality. And the multiplex in Delhi said their social responsibility is already full up with other issues. I then realized homosexuality and AIDS is much more of a taboo with the corporate world and the educated, compared to the grassroots which is more accepting.

Anyway, going back to your earlier question, collaborating with an organization like Humsafar brings along wonderful benefits – they are connected directly to the audiences. The touring festival has been a great success in the six cities we have screened till date, because Humsafar, in association with a local NGO or government body, brought in the audiences – which included people working with the issue, stakeholders, the community itself and also the general public. The discussions after the screenings have been extremely enriching.

So there is always a way, you see, and I ‘hope’ not to lose hope!

Anil: What has been your distribution experience so far in the US with this film?

Sridhar: We certainly were not looking for theatrical release in US because it is not made for a western audience. We are targeting niche festivals and universities. The DVDs will be soon available on Amazon, which would be of great interest not only to people working with the development sector but also South Asians who want to know about the ground realities in India.

I have packaged four more short films on queer themes, made by other Indian directors, along with 68 Pages in an attempt to provide a platform and encourage short films on the subjects. Otherwise these films never get to be seen anywhere.

Anil: My personal favorites were Payal and Umrao’s stories followed by the gay couple. I thought you were particularly effective in unraveling those stories.

Sridhar: Women (even men in women clothes) always bring out the emotions very well… and perhaps that’s why I’m partial towards them. Every director has a lady muse, so what if mine are drag queens!


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

68 Pages DVDs released on Amazon

68 Pages DVDs released on Amazon:

You can buy DVDs of 68 pages alongwith Bonus Features that includes 4 other queer short films on Amazon. Safe & secure transaction. Free shipping. Click here :

In India, DVDs can be purchased in over 10 cities - Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Mandya, Rajkot, Surat, Pune and Nagpur. Please check for more details.

68 Pages storms small town in Karnataka

Film 68 Pages screened at 5 venues in Bangalore & Mandya (Karnataka) last fortnight, organized in association with Sangama, Good As You, Alternative Law Forum, Pedestrian Pictures, Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society, PES College and Rotary Club Mandya, attracting more than 1500 people that included government officials, health agencies, lawyers, film buffs, LGBT people, students and even housewives. It also aroused a lot of interest in the local press even in a small city like Mandya where for the first time the conservative local newspapers headlined issues like HIV, AIDS and homosexuality.

Reaching even to small cities like Mandya, where it screened last week to a packed hall of over 600 people, it not only drew appreciation but also a long discussion about the issues in the film. Speaking at the screening Shri Manjunath Prasad, Project Director, Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society (KSAPS), urged people to be aware and advocate on these issues. He said it is very important that people in even small towns understand that HIV is not an epidemic restricted to cities and they too should take care.

“I was overwhelmed by the screening in my home town”, says Sridhar Rangayan, the director of the film who was born in Mandya. “In such a conservative town, it was encouraging to see so many people in the audience willing to listen and discuss. Especially when the film screened at the local PES college, the girl students were even bold enough to ask about homosexuality and gender issues. I think it is necessary to awaken and question dogmatic beliefs and value systems”, says Rangayan.

The screening in Bangalore was hosted by Pedestrian Pictures, Good as You and Alternative Law Forum alongwith the film ‘Love in the times of AIDS’ by Deepa Dhanraj in a double bill of queer films that intended to create awareness about homosexuals and the AIDS epidemic.

Rangayan said he hoped that the film raises social conscience about people living with HIV and removing stigma and discrimination. “I hope that this will become a movement to mainstream and integrate sexual minorities”, says Rangayan.

Slideshow: 68 Pages storms Karnataka

Monday, August 18, 2008

18 screenings, 15 cities, 2 months!

It has been a packed two months of screenings for the film - in Germany, USA and India. And more screenings scheduled -

Calendar of Screenings:

June 28 – Paribesh Bhavan, Kolkata (organized by SAATHII and Kolkata Rishta)

July 10 – India International Center, New Delhi (organized by Magic Lantern
July 11 - Kriti Film Club, New Delhi, India (organized by Kriti Film Club)
July 11 - MGM premium theater, Chennai (in partnership with SIAAP)
July 18 - Bollywood & Beyond Festival, Stuttgart, Germany
July 25 - IMA Hall, Nagpur (in partnership with Saarthi Trust)
July 29 – National Film Archives, Pune (in partnership with Samapathik Trust)
August 6 - Rajkot Engineering Association,Rajkot (in partnership with Lakshya Trust)
August 8 – Mehta Hall, Baroda, India (in partnership with Lakshya Trust )
August 10 – Nigah Queer Fest, New Delhi, India
August 15 - Chicago Illinois University, USA
August 16 – Washington DC, USA

Coming up are 5 more screenings in Bangalore, Mandya and New York:

August 19 – Alliance Franchise, Bangalore, India (organized by Sangama)
August 19 – Two Boots Pioneer Theater, New York (organized by Alwan for the Arts
and 3rd I NY)
August 23 - Kalabhavan, Mandya, India (organized by Rotary Club & IMA)
August 28 – Good as You office, Bangalore (organized by ALF and Good As You)
August 30 – IAT, Bangalore (organized by Pedestrian Pictures)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Time Out Mumbai

Time Out Mumbai

June 27-July10, 2008

From male Rekha imitators to gay executives, director Sridhar Rangayan has depicted a range of homosexual exeperiences in his films. 68 Pages is his third movie after Gulabi Aaina, about drag queens, and Yours Emotionally!, about a gay affair British tourist and an Indian male. Rangayan’s new feature, 68 Pages, is about the lives of five HIV-positive individuals as told by counselor (Mouli Ganguly). The stories are of corporate employee Nishit (Zafar Karachiwala), prostitute Payal (Jayati Bhatia), transsexual bar dancer Umrao (Uday Sonawane), gay researcher Kiran (Joy Sengupta) and municipal sweeper Nathu (Abhay Kulkarni). The storytelling style is as basic as the aesthetics, but some episodes are moving, especially those of Umrao and Payal. 68 Pages is scheduled to be screened on June 26 at a city multiplex. A DVD release is also planned.

Queer crash

Telegraph (westside view), Kolkata July1, 2008
Interconnected stories of sexual minorities, born in a city that doesn’t have time to connect

The usual romances of Bollywood were turned on their head at a screening in Calcutta on Saturday — thanks in part to British funding. A new film, backed by the British Department for International Development (DFID), uses all the usual tropes of the Bollywood blockbuster: song, dance and close-up-spangled drama. But this time it is not a boy-meets-girl scenario. Here the lovers are transsexuals, bar dancers, prostitutes and a gay couple — and their tragedies are based on the real-life stories of those facing HIV in Mumbai.

68 Pages is directed by Sridhar Rangayan — who, I should declare, directed me in another gay film with British funding, Yours Emotionally!. But while Yours Emotionally! was in English and aimed primarily at an international film festival audience, 68 Pages is in Hindi and sloshing with plenty of Bolly thrills and spills. Sridhar has a different audience in mind.

“It is for a mainstream grassroots audience,” Sridhar tells me on the phone, after the Saturday screening. “We felt that we wanted to help change their way of looking at sexual minorities. DFID UK had a programme running in India which was doing advocacy work on HIV AIDS — and they wanted to do a film on the situation here.”

Looking at its assemblage of unusual characters — who are based on the stories of real-life friends of the Mumbai sexual health organisation, The Humsafar Trust — the film charts lives riddled with trauma, happiness and hope. It examines people who, stuck with HIV, are marginalised.

“This is a Bombay that we didn’t know of,” says Sridhar. “It’s the one we never stopped to think about it. It’s about interconnected stories of people in a city who don’t have time to connect.” He talks about the Oscar-winning movie Crash — the one which pipped Brokeback Mountain to take Best Film in tinsel town last year — even calling his film a “queer Crash”. His reasoning: it deals with HIV and sexuality where Crash dealt with race, through the lens of a city. “It is a Mumbai version of LA — we do not connect with the people around us,” Sridhar explains.

Did Calcutta connect? Speaking after the screening, perhaps unsurprisingly, Sridhar’s answer was yes. People had been crying and gasped through the film, he said. “Though the film is treated in a very melodramatic format, the characters are real. It could be about somebody right in the area you are living — a transsexual person that you never tried to understand.” The screening was part of Calcutta’s Rainbow Pride week, which culminated in a parade on Sunday.
While some gay rights activists may be cursing Britain for having ever brought the infamous section 377 to India, Shah Rukh Khan had nothing but praise for London this week. Visiting the British capital for social engagements, he found time to tell London reporter Anil Sinanan: “I say it as a joke to everyone that when the English left India, we were not going to let them go! It [London] is the greatest city in the world. It feels like an extension of middle-class Mumbai.” Home from home then? Maybe it’s the red buses that do it.

Jack Lamport(A writer and part-time actor based in London)

Capital witnesses Pride walk, but 68 Pages of anguish gets no hearing

by Paromita-Chakrabarti

Posted online: Friday , July 04, 2008 at 11:54:39

New Delhi, July 3

Director Sridhar Rangayan’s award-winning movie on HIV-affected gays finds no hall for screening

On June 29, as Delhi’s saw its first Rainbow Pride March, Sridhar Rangayan was busy trying to organise shows for his latest film, 68 Pages.

Like his previous two films, 68 Pages deals with issues close to Rangayan’s heart — lives of MSMs (men who have sex with men) who have been infected with HIV.

“But for all the hullabaloo about increased awareness about gays, educated urban heterosexuals are still scared to show empathy. There is no aggressive homophobia, but no support either,” shrugs the 45-year-old human rights activist.
Rangayan has reasons to believe so.

His film, which won the Silver Remi at the Houston World Fest earlier this year, is yet to be released in India as no mainstream distributor has come forward to screen it.

“When I made the film, I tried my best to stick to the narrative mode, so the audience could connect with it even if the subject was unfamiliar. But when I met the distributors, I realised it did not matter. They all refused to screen it on ground that a film on homosexuality which talks about AIDS, is not going to bring them any audience,” he says.

In Delhi alone, Rangayan had got in touch with all major multiplex owners, but the experience, he says, has left him rather sceptical.

“The PVR authorities did not respond for the longest time. Finally, when I sent them a rather curt mail, they replied that it did not quite fit even their corporate social responsibility profile.”
68 Pages deals with the lives of five HIV positive individuals — a trans-sexual bar dancer, a gay couple, a sex worker and a drug user — each grappling to come to terms with their own lives.
The story is a narrative from the personal diary of a counsellor who worked with them.
But instead of a bleak, oblique narrative, Rangayan has focussed on the idea of hope and redemption.

He drew his inspiration from the first woman counsellor who worked at his NGO, Humsafar Trust, in Mumbai, one of India’s first organisations to work with sexual minorities. Humsafar Trust is also the co-producer of the film.

The IIT Mumbai alumnus, who has worked with directors like Kalpana Lajmi, Sai Paranjape among others, is now distributing the film via the NGO route.

Humsafar Trust and their associates have come forward to hold a 12-city promotion tour, which includes Mumbai, Baroda, Nagpur, Indore, Chennai, Kolkata and Bangalore.

“We are going to show at auditoriums and hold discussion sessions afterwards, so there is a dialogue. That’s the only way to clear misconceptions,” he says.

In Delhi, Rangayan has found support in Gargi Sen’s Magic Lantern Foundation, an NGO which distributes non-commercial films.

A screening will be held on July 10 at the India International Centre. Naz Foundation, an NGO as well as Kriti, a city-based film club, too are organising screening. Rangayan is also planning to bring out DVDs of the movie.

All these, the director, says, are a small step towards their ultimate goal.

“It’s not just Article 377 which needs amendment. There’s still a long way to go before people’s mindset about alternative sexuality changes,” he says.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

68 Pages wins Award !!

68 Pages won the Silver Remi Award at Worldfest 2008, Houston, USA.
This is a fabulous encouragement to motivate us to reach the film further.

The film would be distributed soon and DVDs will be available in a couple of months.

Website - 68 Pages

We have a new WEBSITE.
Check out Trailers, Song, Audience Reactions and a lot more!

Go on, browse around and let us hear your feedback.
Cheers and stay tuned.