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The 73rd Berlin International Film Festival will take place from Thu, Feb 16, 2023 - Sun, Feb 26, 2023
Our team of festival ambassadors and reporters brings you the dailies from the Berlin Film Festival and European Film Market and keep an eye on past editions archives. WATCH OUR VIDEO COVERAGE TRAILERS INTERVIEWS AND AMBIANCE   PHOTOS

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Ritesh Batra on Photograph: Berlin Interview


Ritesh Batra is an Indian filmmaker based in NYC. He rose to fame with his feature film The Lunchbox, which premiered in Cannes in 2013. 

His new film, Photograph, premiered at this year’s Berlinale Special programme is a unique love story of a photographer in Mumbai and a girl he meets on the streets while looking for his next customer. From different backgrounds and each carrying their own baggage, the two strangers embark on a bittersweet journey. 



Do you think there is still a very stereotypical approach to what people want to see in India? 


The lunchbox was very successful there five years ago, and played for many months. And also there is a very diverse audience in India and things keep changing. It’s hard to predict it, but I’d say everyone should try and see what happens. 


Did you ever think about your films in a sense that they are always so sweet and positive? 


I don’t spent that much time thinking about myself. What my place in the world is or how I fit into the picture is most of the time irrelevant to me. But I love realism, seeing people do what they really want. And also sometimes the dialogue that films create is more important than the films themselves. Among my favourites are ‘A superstation’ by Asghar Farhadi and ‘Sideways’ by Alexander Payne. 


What message do you wish to convey with the story in this film? 


It’s interesting because the last scene is the first I wrote. What movies can do best is be a mirror, reflect the world and us. If a film doesn’t ask a question, it’s doomed. 


Do you think you can still find sincere magic and romanticism outride the cinema screen? 


Oh, I really hope so. 


Speaking of realism, when you have two people from different backgrounds, like your characters, do you think the story reflects society and sociopolitical changes  in India? 


Hm I don’t know, I live in New York and I’ve never really seen a plumber and a banker going out together. At places people are horrible when it comes to class, and in India is very similar, we know so little about the people who are not part of the middle class or above. And I think that’s pretty universal. 



The lunchbox opened so many doors, including a collaboration with Netflix. Do you feel you’re now able to do what you like? 


No, I don’t think so. Takes much longer and much more to reach that position. But I’m happy to be able to direct my own writing. At the moment I have two-three things going at the same time in order to be able to do what I want to do. 


Speaking of Netflix and cinemas, where would you go if you had to choose? 


I think everything will end up on VOD anyway. Which is nice, because people keep discovering a film over and over again and they can see it many times. 

I guess the big question is who will give you the most resources and what they want to do with the movie after. What Netflix has done with Roma is very impressive. But of course the product must be good as well, doesn’t work with every film. 


How do you usually choose your locations? 


For this one was hard, as it is very difficult to shoot in open air on Mumbai. It’s always so crowded and it doesn’t take long until people turn up and start making noise, asking questions, observing. We shot a lot indoors but managed to remain as true as possible to the story. But every time you choose a location in India, you must know you have to be flexible. 


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Chatelin Bruno

Berlin 2019: The dailies from the Berlin Film Festival brought to you by our team of festival ambassadors. Vanessa McMahon, Alex Deleon, Laurie Gordon, Lindsay Bellinger and Bruno Chatelin...
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