The Disciple, Chaitanya Tamhane’s Venice Winner, Heads to Netflix

The Disciple — Court director Chaitanya Tamhane’s next movie — is headed to Netflix. The world’s biggest subscription-based streaming service has snapped global rights for The Disciple, which won the award for best screenplay at the 2020 Venice International Film Festival. Tamhane wrote, directed, and edited the Marathi-language movie The Disciple, which tells the story of “Sharad Nerulkar, who devoted his life to becoming an Indian classical music vocalist, diligently following the traditions and discipline of the old masters, his guru and his father. But as the years go by, Sharad starts to wonder whether it’s really possible to achieve the excellence he’s striving for. This is a journey of devotion, passion, and searching for the absolute in contemporary Mumbai”.

Aditya Modak, Arun Dravid, Sumitra Bhave, Deepika Bhide Bhagwat, and Kiran Yadnyopavit lead The Disciple cast. Vivek Gomber is the producer, and Oscar-winning filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón served as the executive producer. The Disciple was also awarded the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize at Venice, and the Amplify Voices Award at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival. It has been nominated for Best International Feature at the Film Independent Spirit Awards.

Early reviews for The Disciple have been promising. The Disciple currently holds a 95 percent rating on reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes from 22 reviews, and a 79 score on fellow reviews aggregator Metacritic from nine critics.

Cuarón (whose most recent movie, Roma, also premiered on Netflix) said in a prepared statement: “I believe Chaitanya is one of the most important new voices of contemporary cinema and I’m thrilled The Disciple will be able to be enjoyed by audiences all around the world.”

Tamhane added: “The story of The Disciple came from my own search for excellence and direction. It’s about how many of us follow all the rules, and yet sometimes find that something is missing. I was honoured to get the opportunity to work with a creative genius (and my mentor) like Alfonso Cuarón — who directed Roma and Gravity. And now, not only has Netflix acquired it to stream to a discerning global audience, I’m truly grateful and humbled that global industry stalwarts have found this film worthy. A great deal of research goes into making a film and my aim as a filmmaker has always been to tell my story authentically within a dramatic framework. One also needs to afford the audience intelligence and intuition to be able to invest in your story, no matter what the cultural context may be. I’m glad this approach worked out well for The Disciple.”

Netflix India’s director for content acquisition Pratiksha Rao said: “We want to be the home for India’s finest films and filmmakers. As we expand our film slate and tell more diverse stories from across the country, we are thrilled to be the home for Chaitanya Tamhane’s, The Disciple. The film is a beautiful story of aspiration, struggle and self-doubt, and celebrates the magic of visual storytelling in the backdrop of Indian classical music, that we can’t wait to share with the world.”

The Disciple doesn’t have a release date, but Netflix says the film will release “soon”.

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