The unit shot for two days in Mumbai in August to capture footage of the Ganpati festival that forms a backdrop to key sequences in the film. “Bhonsle” looks at a time when scheming local West Indian politicians use violence to rid the state of North Indian migrants. Manoj Bajpayee, star of Busan selections “Aligarh” (2015) and “In The Shadows” (2017), plays Bhonsle, a terminally-ill local cop, retired against his will, who finds himself forging an unlikely companionship with a 23-year-old North Indian girl and her little brother, while the raging conflict destroying the world around them reaches his doorstep, giving him one last battle worth fighting for.
Makhija made his feature debut with “Oonga” (2013) and worked with Bajpayee on the short “Taandav” (2016).
“ ‘Bhonsle’ is a film very close to my heart,” says Bajpayee. “I tried finding a producer for this film for three and a half years. Devashish is a very exciting talent. When he first approached me with the script, he didn’t have a producer. And whenever I approached a producer, they read the script and shied away from putting money into it.”
The film eventually found backing from Singapore- and India-based outfit Muvizz, the company behind “Taandav.”
Makhija feels that Busan is the perfect festival to debut “Ajji,” the tale of a grandmother seeking justice for the rape of her underage granddaughter. “We turned down premieres at two other very big ones to prioritize Busan, because the film we’ve made is somewhat Korean in spirit,” says Makhija. “I have been hugely influenced by Korean cinema in the making of this film. There is an earnestness I sense in the idea behind New Currents and the kind of support Busan – through its funds and nurturing of young cinematic talent – has consistently offered Asian cinema, and I wanted very badly to be a part of this.”
“Ajji” is produced by Saregama India via their Yoodlee Films subsidiary.
After Busan, “Ajji” will be in competition at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, the Mumbai Film Festival, the International Film Festival of India, Goa, and the International Film Festival of Kerala. France-based outfit Charades is handling international sales and will introduce the film to buyers at Busan and Tallinn.