Netflix acquires Chaitanya Tamhane’s Marathi film The Disciple

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MumbaiThe Disciple, a Marathi drama film written, directed and edited by Chaitanya Tamhane and executive produced by Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuarón, will soon be released exclusively on Netflix.

The film was awarded the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize (FIPRESCI, short for Federation Internationale de la Presse Cinematographique) and the Best Screenplay award at the 77th Venice International Film Festival. It was also screened at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival, where it was named a winner of the Amplify Voices Award. Earlier this week, the film was nominated at the Film Independent Spirit Awards under the Best International Feature category. The Disciple stars Aditya Modak, Arun Dravid, Sumitra Bhave, Deepika Bhide Bhagwat and Kiran Yadnyopavit in pivotal roles. 

The Disciple is the story of Sharad Nerulkar, who devoted his life to becoming an Indian classical music vocalist, diligently following the traditions and discipline of the old masters, his guru and his father. But as the years go by, Sharad starts to wonder whether it’s really possible to achieve the excellence he’s striving for. This is a journey of devotion, passion, and searching for the absolute in contemporary Mumbai.

Director Chaitanya Tamhane said: “The story of The Disciple came from my own search for excellence and direction. It’s about how many of us follow all the rules and yet, sometimes, find that something is missing. I was honoured to get the opportunity to work with a creative genius (and my mentor) like Alfonso Cuarón – who directed Roma and Gravity. And now, not only has Netflix acquired it to stream to a discerning global audience. I’m truly grateful and humbled that global industry stalwarts have found this film worthy. A great deal of research goes into making a film and my aim as a filmmaker has always been to tell my story authentically within a dramatic framework. One also needs to afford the audience intelligence and intuition to be able to invest in your story, no matter what the cultural context may be. I’m glad this approach worked out well for The Disciple.” 

Executive Producer Alfonso Cuarón said,“I believe Chaitanya is one of the most important new voices of contemporary cinema and I’m thrilled The Disciple will be able to be enjoyed by audiences all around the world.”

Pratiksha Rao, Director, Content Acquisition, Netflix India, said: “We want to be the home for India’s finest films and filmmakers. As we expand our film slate and tell more diverse stories from across the country, we are thrilled to be the home for Chaitanya Tamhane’s, The Disciple. The film is a beautiful story of aspiration, struggle and self-doubt, and celebrates the magic of visual storytelling in the backdrop of Indian classical music, that we can’t wait to share with the world.”    

Cast: Aditya Modak, Arun Dravid, Sumitra Bhave, Deepika Bhide Bhagwat and Kiran Yadnyopavit

Director-writer: Chaitanya Tamhane 

Executive Producer: Alfonso Cuarón

Producer: Vivek Gomber

Zoo Entertainment Pvt Ltd

Zoo Entertainment Pvt. Ltd., founded by Vivek Gomber, is an independent film production company dedicated to producing artistic endeavours in India. In 2014 the company produced their first film, ‘Court’ directed by Chaitanya Tamhane. The film premiered at the 71st Venice Film Festival, where it won the Lion of the Future award for Best Debut and the Orizzonti award for Best Film. ‘Court’ went on to win numerous awards around the world including the Indian National Award for Best Film in 2015 and was India’s entry to the 88th Academy Awards.

The Disciple is their second collaboration under Zoo Entertainment. The film was awarded the Sundance Institute Open Borders Fellowship presented by Netflix. The film had its World Premiere at the 77th Venice Film Festival in competition, where it was awarded Best Screenplay by the jury and the International Critics’ Prize by FIPRESCI. The film also won the Amplify Voices award at the Toronto International Film Festival 2020.