Indian film Bahadur – The Brave, wins prestigious Kutxabank – New Directors award

Thomas Ajay Abraham, Diwa Shah and Visvesh Singh Sehrawat at the San Sebastian Film Festival. Photo: Tanya Shandilya

Bahadur – The Brave, a groundbreaking film directed by Diwa Shah, made history by becoming the first-ever debut director’s Indian film to win the coveted Kutxabank – New Directors Award at the prestigious 71st San Sebastián International Film Festival in the city of San Sebastian in Spain. The film, produced by Hardhyaan Films (Visvesh Singh Sehrawat) and Sinai Pictures (Thomas Ajay Abraham), had its world premiere on September 23, as part of the New Directors section at the festival, marking a momentous achievement in the realm of Indian cinema.

For having a singular and opportune sociopolitical vision, and for delving into an exciting local story with universal scope, centered around an honest and touching friendship, the jury of the Kutxabank-New Directors award proudly bestowed the film with this esteemed honor.

Set against the backdrop of a nationwide lockdown imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic in India, Bahadur – The Brave weaves a gripping narrative around the struggles of Nepalese migrant laborers. The film’s protagonist, Hansi, seizes an opportunity to navigate the emerging labor crisis and secure a better future for his ailing son when his brother-in-law, Dil Bahadur, offers him illegal work in a godown. Diwa Shah’s directorial debut shines a light on the human condition and the relentless pursuit of hope amidst adversity.

Sharing her thoughts on this historic achievement, Diwa stated, “I am deeply humbled and overwhelmed by the honor. This award is not just a recognition of our film but a testament to the enduring power of storytelling and the indomitable spirit of cinema. I hail from a small town at the foothills of the Himalayas, Nainital, and I am so grateful to the people back home, who were ready to share their stories and help us make the film. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the festival, our dedicated cast and crew, and the incredible audiences who have embraced our film. Bahadur – The Brave is a reflection of the resilience of the human spirit, and I hope it continues to inspire and touch hearts around the world.”

San Sebastián International Film Festival has a storied history, having hosted some of the most iconic moments in cinema, including the international premiere of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo and the recognition of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Rain People with the Golden Shell.

Bahadur – The Brave joins the ranks of distinguished Indian films screened at the festival, such as Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay, Satyajit Ray’s Charulata, Mrinal Sen’s Antareem, and Rima Das’ Village Rockstars.

The film also received acclaim at the NFDC Film Bazaar Work-in-progress lab, where it was honored with the Prasad Lab DI award recently.

The cinematography by Modhura Palit, a recipient of the Pierre Angénieux ExcelLens in Cinematography (Special Encouragement Award for promising cinematographer) at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, Ankush Prashant More’s art direction, Komal Rawal’s (hailing from Nainital) costume styling, Viraj Zunjarrao’s editing, and the exquisite sound design by Rakesh Janardhan, Thomas Ajay Abraham, and Jishnu Dev have all garnered praise at the premiere.

The film features debut actors Rupesh Lama from Kathmandu and Rahul Nawaz Mukhia from Darjeeling, as well as non-actors from Nainital, meticulously chosen by local crew members Vivek Bhagat and Anupam Lamba and the creative producer, Nagma Chaudhary.

The entire team behind the film expressed profound gratitude to the San Sebastián International Film Festival, Kutxabank, and its audiences for this prestigious honor.



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