Chaitanya Tamhane’s The Disciple Wins Big at Venice Film Festival. Sadly, We Are Busy Obsessing Over Bollywood

Pop Culture

Chaitanya Tamhane’s The Disciple Wins Big at Venice Film Festival. Sadly, We Are Busy Obsessing Over Bollywood

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

As the country focused its attention on a celebrity embroiled in a feud with the Maharashtra government, a Marathi filmmaker was in the process of bringing international acclaim to the state in Venice. Director Chaitanya Tamhane was honoured with the prestigious International Critics’ Prize, and the Best Screenplay Award for his Marathi feature film The Disciple at the closing ceremony of the Venice Film Festival, 2020.

The Disciple, which beat out competition from other stalwarts across the world to win the honour, revolves around the personal and professional experiences of a Hindustani classical singer in Mumbai. It’s executive producer is Alfonso Cuaron, the director of acclaimed films like Gravity and Roma.

The Disciple is also the first Indian film to compete at the prestigious Venice festival since Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding in 2001. But this isn’t the first time the filmmaker himself has been in the international spotlight. His previous film Court, was arguably the most high-profile Indian film in 2014, when it was our official entry to the 88th Oscars.

As reported by Firstpost, it all started in the office of Balaji Telefilms 16 years ago when Tamhane was tasked with developing a serial called, “Kya Hoga Nimmo Ka?” Soon after, at the age of 21, he had already written and directed a play, Grey Elephants in Denmark, which is also when he met his collaborator and the star of his films Vivek Gomber.

Tamhane credits Gombar for instilling faith in him and enabling him to write and direct Court. Following the success of that film, Tamhane also got his chance to meet and work with iconic Mexican filmmaker Cuaron. While on the sets for Roma, the two developed a professional bond, and Cuaron was roped in to work as a producer on The Disciple, which has been under development for the last four years.


Chaitanya Tamhane brings his craft and discipline to The Disciple, the story of a conflicted musician in Mumbai. His mentor Alfonso Cuaron calls it stunning.

(writes @anupamachopra)

— Hindustan Times (@htTweets) August 9, 2020

The filmmaker, who cast mostly first-time actors for his latest film, has also won the praise of industry colleagues back home, including directors Anurag Kashyap and Alankrita Shrivastava as well as actors Swara Bhasker and Tillotama Shome.

The Disciple, will now premiere virtually at another prestigious event, the Toronto Film Festival, earning the young director another feather in his cap. It also marks a big moment for independent cinema in the country, which is often ignored in favour of the most recent Bollywood blockbuster.