The Indian Films – Studio 18 presented Road, Movie had a grand premiere at Toronto’s historic and cavernous Winter Garden Theatre on September 18. The Dev Benegal-directed drama, the only Indian feature to be invited as a special presentation at the recently concluded Toronto International Film Festival, was incredibly received by the media and audience alike, culminating in a standing ovation from a diverse audience.
Abhay Deol, acclaimed Brick Lane actress Tannishtha Chatterjee, Satish Kaushik, production designer Anne Siebel, cinematographer Michel Amathieu, editor Yaniv Dabach, costume designer Amba Sanyal, producer Susan B. Landau, co-producers Fred Berger and Sopan Muller, director Dev Benegal, presenters Sandeep Bhargava and Vandana Malik, and senior officials from the international operations team of Studio 18 emerged from the jet black limos that rolled outside the illuminated venue.
After the movie’s pre-screening introduction by festival co-director Cameron Bailey, Benegal introduced his cast and crew saying, “making the film was a delightful discovery of sorts celebrating life for all of us.”
“I am extremely honored at the selection and to have found a place among the best of world cinema,” added Benegal. “The festival has been really kind to me in the past as well.”
Elaborating on the film, he explained, “From early childhood, we would go on these long drives and visit different parts of the country, both North and South (because my mother is from the North and my dad from the South)… that is something, which has stayed with me – something I obviously wanted to make a movie about. Road, Movie is really about my journey.”
Several pre-screening activities by the producers, including celebrity parties, media interactions and giveaway contests around Road, Movie, created a week long buzz in the festival circuit, enabling the premiere to be sold out days in advance. Studio 18’s after-screening party held at a plush vodka bar was a smash success, attended by leading society and media figures from Toronto city.
Road, Movie tells the story of Vishnu, a restless young man, who rejects his father’s faltering hair oil business and hits the road with a travelling cinema. Colorful and full of unforgettable characters, the film celebrates India’s open road and the pure love of movies.
In a bid to augment the curiosity around the film, the producers abstained from revealing the film in public domain, and unveiled its first look and website just days before the premiere.
At The Atelier, Cannes 2006, the script of Road, Movie was an official selection, and at Cannes 2009, Indian Films-Studio 18 inked a major deal with global sales giant, Fortissimo Films, to represent Road, Movie internationally, the latter’s first Indian take-up.