Posted by Editor on July 21, 2011 | No Comments

Mahindra’s creative offshoot, Mumbai Mantra, recently collaborated with the Sundance Institute to initiate a screenwriting program that aims to uplift the quality of independent cinema.
This meeting of the east and west is unique in many respects and also brings about a collaboration between two of the largest, filmmaking countries of the globe.

Here we talk to Aparna Purohit, the Senior Manager Creative Initiatives, for Mumbai Mantra Media.

 Is the time right now for the emergence of Indian independent cinema, given the onslaught of Bollywood?
This is a fantastic phase for Indian cinema. The recent success of films like Peepli Live, Udaan have clearly shown that the audiences are ready to accept newer ideas. In fact, it’s interesting to see how mainstream commercial filmmakers  are ready to support this movement. At Mumbai Mantra, we do not believe in drawing lines between art and commercial cinema. We want to invest in good stories that will connect with the masses. And, if the content is strong, the film will not only work commercially but will also resonate internationally! Any film which is successful is commercial, whatever the genre.

What motivated you to enter into this partnership?
We, at Mumbai Mantra, are committed to support good, meaningful cinema. We want to make films which are culturally specific – completely entrenched in our soil but would be thematically universal. So, more than anything else, we wanted to invest in stories. Also, in keeping with the Mahindra Group’s values and commitment to supporting art and culture, we had been assessing  various creative initiatives which would not merely enable the company to revitalize its strategy in media and entertainment, but also help in giving back to the film industry. This is the motivation behind our collaboration with the Sundance Institute to organize an annual Screenwriters Lab in India. This is a completely non-profit endeavor of Mumbai Mantra to provide a platform to independent voices in cinema and the Sundance Institute is an acknowledged leader in this effort.
Besides this, we have also instituted the Sundance Institute  Mahindra Global Filmmaking Awards where, in conjunction with the Sundance Institute, we would be selecting four filmmakers from different parts of the world. From next year, one of them will be Indian. This initiative represents our commitment to supporting good cinema that cuts across all boundaries of nationality, culture, language or ethnicity.

 On the foray of one of India’s leading industrial houses into the creative business, is it because of Anand’s film undergraduate in Harvard?
Not at all. Mr. Mahindra’s undergraduate degree was decades ago while his interest in cinema has always remained constant. The Group forays into businesses are based upon relevant business cases for each investment. The Mahindra Group straddles multiple industries and naturally media and entertainment has always been a logical one for us to consider investments in, which is what the Group is doing now at the appropriate time.

What has been the progress of this initiative in India till date, as in any projects that are work in progress?
If you refer to the website (  you will see that the inaugural Mumbai Mantra | Sundance Institute Screenwriting Lab is slated for March 2012 and there is plenty of time to accept entries for this.

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