On my recent trip to India to attend the NFDC Film Bazaar, India's largest film market, I got to see snippets of lots of great looking projects that may or may not ever see the light of day. One of those projects, that literally left my jaw dropped at its audacity was Samit Kakkad's upcoming feature film, Ascharya Fuck It.
Ascharya Fuck It is based on the short stories of Saadat Hasan Manto, one of South Asia's most revered modern writers. While I haven't read any of Manto's work, it's notoriously brazen in its depiction of the unmentionable dark corners of society, and Kakkad's new film doesn't shy away from the more salacious details of life in the bustling metropolis of Mumbai.
The story, as it has been described to me, is that of a Bollywood star, his driver, a prostitute, and her pimp, and is one of the most graphic and fearless depictions of the underbelly of high society in and around the Bollywood dreamland. The film stars Santhosh Juvekar, a star in the Marathi language film industry just outside of Mumbai, Priyanka Bose, an indie darling and star of such films as Oonga and Lion, and another actor's actor Vipin Sharma, who has worked in films like Gangs of Wasseypur, Dhanak, Shahid, and many more.
Director Kakkad previously had an international festival hit with his last film Half Ticket, a Marathi language remake of a Tamil film, in which a pair of poor brothers scheme to taste a slice of pizza after having seen it advertised on TV. That project, a decidedly family friendly film, seems miles away from the sex and violence of Ascharya Fuck It, but when I talked to Kakkad, he told me that's the way he wanted it.
The film was produced by upstart indie company Yoodlee Films who recently had a critical success with their release of Devashish Makhija's revenge drama, Ajji. Yoodlee have taken up the challenge of producing and releasing content driven films, as opposed to the kind of star vehicles that have diluted India's cinema screens for a long time, and it's an interesting challenge, but they've yet to be proven profitable at the box office. Producer Siddharth Anand Kumar had this to say:
Ascharya Fuck It is a bold and edgy film in every way. It holds a mirror to desire, greed, ego and lust as defining forces of urban life. It’s a striking contrast of two worlds - the murky neon lit world of prostitution and the glitz and glamour of Bollywood, finding similarities in both. In many ways the film is as shocking and provocative as the literary works of the eminent writer Manto from whose bombay stories anthology it is drawn. This film is an example of #fearlessfilmmaking that Yoodlee films believes in.
The trailer for Ascharya Fuck It makes it look pretty bold, but in a really fun way. Not to tell tales out of school, but if the sales reel I saw last fall is still accurate, this trailer is actually pretty tame compared to the full film, but we'll see how it all pans out. No concrete plans for release have been announced yet, so I'm not sure if this is going theatrical (the sales reel I saw would seem to make that impossible) or direct to streaming (which seems more likely), but I can't wait to see the whole thing!
Check out the trailer below