Tibet to Palestine, Indian producer straddles two worlds in TIFF

Toronto: New York and Mumbai-based Indian producer Shrihari Sathe has a pair of films "The Sweet Requiem", set in India's Tibetan community, and "Screwdriver", about a Palestinian man released after more than a decade in an Israeli jail in the official programme of the 43rd Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

Sathe, director of the multiple award-winning Marathi film "Ek Hazaarachi Note" (1000-Rupee Note, 2014), points out that his two new productions "have a thematic commonality because both films deal with displacement and a people in crisis."               He says: "I feel some of these stories do not come to the forefront. I therefore want t0 back themes that we do not usually see on the big screen. Even though The Sweet Requiem and Screwdriver deal with specific issues, the emotions in them are universal." "The Sweet Requiem", directed by Dharamshala-based Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, is part of TIFF's Contemporary World Cinema section.

The film tells the story of a 26-year-old Tibetan woman whose flight to India as a little girl 18 years ago had ended in tragedy. Her search for closure is triggered by a chance encounter with the guide who she believes was responsible for the personal loss that she suffered.

"Screwdriver", the first narrative feature by Ramallah-based Bassam Jarbawi, Sathe's film studies batch-mate at Columbia University, plays in the festival's Discovery section.

"I've been with this film since 2010," says Sathe, who was present all through the shoot on the West Bank and acknowledges that it was no mean challenge filming in Palestine, which does not have a moviemaking infrastruture.

As for "The Sweet Requiem", says Sathe, his association began in 2013, when he met Sarin and Tenzing in Goa and decided to come on board as one of the producers.

"Coincidentally, both films were shot last year and were completed at the same time," he says. "It is great to have two films premiering in TIFF," he adds.

Sathe, who has co-produced Partho Sengupta's Marathi film "Arunoday" and Afia Nathaniel's "Dukhtar", is currently prepping for his next directorial venture.

"It is a psychological drama titled 'Goodbye, Mr. Kane'. It will be for global distribution," he says.

The upcoming film, he adds, will have two versions Hindi and English.

"The Hindi version will be told from the protagonist's point of view while the English one will unfold from the standpoint of the antagonist," he says.

Sathe is scripting the film with "Ek Hazaarachi Note" writer Shrikant Bojewar and an American screenwriter.