Priyanka Chopra’s production banner, Purple Pebble Pictures, has registered its presence in the 70th Cannes Film Festival with a slate of at least half a dozen films that are in the works. Represented in Cannes by the actress’ mother, Madhu Chopra, who helms the company as managing director, Purple Pebble Pictures unveiled the first look of the new Sikkimese film, Pahuna, written and directed by Paakhi A Tyrewala. It is scheduled to release in October.
“We’ve been enthused by the success of Ventilator to step out into the big wide world of global independent cinema,” Madhu said at an event hosted by the India Pavilion here to unveil the first look of Pahuna.
The film, which unfolds entirely in Sikkim and uses many local talents in the junior crew, is about three children who are separated from their parents while fleeing from the Maoist violence in Nepal.
“It was a logistical challenge shooting in Sikkim because the state does not have a film industry but the government went out of its way to support the project,” she said.
“The film is currently in post-production. It should be ready fore release before Dussehra. We will have the premiere in Sikkim.”
Explaining the rationale behind their banner’s regional- language forays, Madhu said, “Stories from the various Indian states are routinely turned into Hindi films. Bollywood benefits commercially in the bargain. Our core idea is to narrate these tales in the languages that they stem from.”
Among the other films that Priyanka’s production house currently has in the pipeline is Nalini, a Bengali-Marathi bilingual inspired by a little-known romantic chapter from Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s early life.
To be directed by Ujjwal Chatterjee and scripted by his wife Sagarika, the film will present a 17-year-old Rabindranath, who found his first love in Maharashtra when his father sent him to his elder brother Satyendranath to learn English.
“We are looking for a young actor to play the teenage Tagore, while we are close to casting Jisshu Sengupta in the role of the poet’s older avatar,” Madhu said in an interview.
Also up ahead is a film set in Goa, Little Joe, Kahaan Ho?, about a boy who tides over his loneliness by sitting by the sea and sketching. A German tourist spots his talent and a bond develops between the two.
The film, pitched as a tribute to the art of celebrated cartoonist Mario Miranda, is directed by first-timer Suvrata Nasnodkar, who has her roots in Goa. She cut her teeth as an assistant to Prakash Jha.
Purple Pebble Pictures also has a Bhojpuri film, Bam Bam Bol Raha Hain Kashi, and another Marathi production, Kai Re, Rascala, lined up for release over the next year. The sixth film that Madhu spoke about with special interest is the Bengali-language Brishtir Opekhaye (Waiting for Rain).
“It is based on a book by seasoned litterateur Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay. We have just brought the rights from the writer in Kolkata and cast Rahul Bose and Rituparna Sengupta in stellar roles,” she said.