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Shimla filmmaker wins Best Film Award for “PAPA” at Kerala Short Film Festival



Short Film Festival of Kerala

SHIMLA- Siddharth Chauhan, a filmmaker from Shimla, has done Himachal Pradesh proud by claiming the Best Short (Fiction) Film Award for his short-film at the prestigious International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala, IDSFFK 2016.

It was the first Screening of the film and it had to compete with 30 other short films at the festival held from June 10 to June 14 in Trivandrum. The festival is organized by the Kalcharitra Academy of Kerala every year and features some of the finest films from all over the world.

Dev Kanya Thakur was another filmmaker from Himachal, who was recognized this year at the festival for her short-film “No Womans Land”

“PAPA” claimed the prize with an unanimous decision by the Jury Members, who found the film ‘unique & different’ from others and ‘innovative’ in its narrative and form.

PAPA is the story of a paralyzed mother, Sushma and her young son, Rajiv, who are learning to adjust with their new life. An accident leaves their lives scarred forever. Sushma’s only hope is a pigeon, which she found in her house the same day when her husband died.

The audience widely appreciated actor Mohit Parmar’s powerful performance in the film.

The 28 minutes long short film is written, directed and produced by Siddharth Chauhan.  It was shot at at YWCA in Shimla in October in a span of six days, in a limited budget, with mostly a non professional crew in collaboration with Snow Leopard Productions and Yin & Yang Films under the banner of Secret Corridor Pictur, known for their independent films which have been doing rounds at the festivals since last 3 years, such as Boys Don’t Wear Nailpolish and Infinite Space.

The Jury consisting of K. U. Mohanan, Barbara Lorey, Nishtha Jain, Kamal Swaroop, Henry Hughes, and
Vinod Sukumaran admired the film and said,

Innovation in narrative gesture and wicked understanding of human behaviour,

The jury head was also all praise for the film, and added,

Beautiful depiction in a limited time and space, Poignant and Witty

Lead roles were played by Mohit singh Parmar, an actor from Palampur, Nandita Aron, a Jewellery Designer from Bareilly, presently a resident of Shimla, and Sushma Kaul, HOD, English Department, Bishop Cotton School, Shimla.

Behind the scenes, the crew consisted of Yashwant Kumar Sharma as cameraman, Mridul Surbhi and Aastha Sen as assistant directors, and Tanmay Das as sound recorder. We hope to see more such works from Sidharth in future.

Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan gave away the awards. In his inaugural address, he requested Culture Minister A.K. Balan to take steps to include international films in the competition category of the documentary and short film festival from next year.

Mr. Balan, who presided over the function, said that there was an urgent need for decentralisation in the release of films, as those in the smaller towns and villages also needed to have access to films.

Film-maker Kamal Swaroop, the fiction jury chairperson, said that the short fiction category had fantastic films whereas the music videos were a disappointment. Cinematographer K.U. Mohanan, the non-fiction jury chairperson, requested for a ‘better standards’ in the selection of films as there were quite a few ‘mediocre’ works.

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City Lifestyle

Self-taught local artist to exhibit ’17 Paintings’ oil painting works at Gaiety, Shimla



Shimla: For the art lovers and critics in Himachal Pradesh, a self-taught local artist will showcase his collection of oil paintings titled “17 Paintings” on a two-days exhibition at the historic Gaiety Theater, Shimla on December 9 and 10 from 11.00 AM to 6.00 PM.

Surya Ranjan Shandil (31), who hails from Solan district, works in Bengaluru as a computer programmer in the field of education technology. After his schooling from Shimla, he obtained a B.Tech Degree from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.

Himachal's cutlural paintings

Courtesy: Surya Ranjan Shandil

However, he did not ignore his love for the painting and continued it at evenings after college, work, on weekends, and Sundays.

Later, Ranjan realized he has a collection of his own. His first solo exhibition was held in November 2016 at the Gaiety Theater.

The appreciation he received at the first exhibition encouraged him to present his second collection of oil paintings that he painted during 2017.

He received his education upto Class 12 from Shimla’s St. Edwards and Dayanand Public School.

He is best known for his captivating genre paintings.

I started drawing at the age of 3-4 years. At that time, I used to sign the drawings with incorrect spellings of my name,

Ranjan told Himachal Watcher

His father, Dr R G Shandil, who is now retired, was a professor of mathematics at the H.P. University, Shimla. His mother Dr. Sandhya Shandil was a teacher at the St. Edward’s School, Shimla.

After graduating in 2010, I started with oil painting during the evenings and weekends. Gradually I built up a collection and in November 2016, I held my first solo exhibition of 29 oil paintings at gaiety,

he said.

local himachali painting artist

Ranjan’s paintings reflect people. The upcoming exhibition opens with simple themes like the joy of shopping, local festivities, celebration, dance and music. Most works painted on these themes are in the context of Himachal.

Surya Ranjan Shandil

Following these are mellow paintings ‘Seaside Nap’ and ‘Personal Sunrise’ – more subtle takes on human thought. The artist also takes a step towards satire in comically interesting works ‘Monkeys’ and ‘Chimpanzees’.

Slowly moving towards expressionism ‘Kayal’ takes the viewer to the realm of subjectless painting while in ‘Frenzy’ the artist dispenses with form.

Ending on a light hearted note, the paintings ‘Bonfire’ and ‘A Silent Conversation’ recreate the magic of Gabbar Singh and Rajesh Khanna on canvas.

About his love for painting, he said,

I believe art is a journey of constant improvisation.  

It would be his second solo exhibition. Earlier, he has participated and won prizes in several painting competitions throughout his schooling and B.Tech.


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City Lifestyle

Pahari short film ‘Pashi’ selected for Oscar qualifying ‘Rhode Island International Film Festival 2017’



Pahari short film pashi by sidharth chauhan

Shimla – A short-film Pashi, from the budding short-film maker from Shimla, Sidharth Chauhan, has made into the prestigious Rhode Island International Film Festival to be held in the United States in August 2017. The festival is held every year since 1997.

The film is produced under the Secret Corridor Picture and it will be film’s first international premiere.

RIIFF is an official Oscar qualifying event. This year, PASHI is the only film selected from India. If Pashi manages to grab an award here, it will be directly nominated for the prestigious Academy Awards or the Oscars Awards.

Sidharth has been in news since 2014 and some of his other short-films like “PAPA” and “Boys Don’t Wear Nail Polish” have gathered awards and appreciation on the national and international level.

PASHI means a trap in the regional Pahari dialect of Rohru (Nawar valley), especially around the villages like Tikkar, Pujarli, Dhanoti, and Khalawan. It is a very old traditional concept used by villagers and children to hunt birds and animals.

The film is inspired from Siddharth’s childhood memories in his native village Dhanoti (in Rohru).

Pashi, written, directed and produced by Siddharth, is a story of a young boy (Chetan), who learns about this technique of trapping birds from his old grandmother (Savitri Ji). He begins to practice it. His friend John encourages him to go for it while his mother is worried about his future.

The film was primarily shot in Sunta Lodge, a beautiful wooden mansion of Village Khalwan. Some of the parts were also filmed in Village Dhanoti neat Tikker.

The production team is excited on receiving the news. “As an independent film production house based in Shimla, this is a dream come true and an unparalleled honor for all of us,” said the team.

Lead actors include Chetan Kanwar, a Class XII student at the Chapslee School, Shimla, John Negi, a model/actor from Rampur, Kamayani Bisht, an English Professor at the Government College Theog, Savitri Devi Sunta, the oldest family member of the Sunta family in Khawalan.

Supporting case includes Dewansh Kanwar (Chapslee School), Aditi Sunta ( Rohru), and Dev Ranta (Rohru).

Other crew members are as followed.

  • Assistant Directors: Mridul Surbhi, Shefali Chauhan & Ankit Rathore
  • Camera: Yashwant Kumar Sharma from Shimla
  • Music: Prabir Sekhri from Canada
  • Sound: Tanmaya Das from Mumbai
  • Visual Effects: Himanshu Hirwani from Pune
  • Story/Direction: Siddharth Chauhan from Shimla
  • Associate Producers: Swati Chauhan & Ankit Rathore (from Delhi)

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City Lifestyle

Shimla-based travel writer releases his new book “Tea Shop at Narkanda”



SHIMLA- Recently, Shimla-based travel writter, Sumit Raj Vashisht released his new book “Tea Shop at Narkanda”.

The book is a story from the hills. Through the life of Birju, the protagonist, the book talks about the victims of the natural calamities such as flash floods and cloud bursts. The over construction, the thinning of forests and increasing number of traffic in the hills are causing various destruction. The so called development is bringing unfortunate desolation. How miserable the life becomes due to the natural calamities in the hills is the flavour of the story. The traditions of the life in the hills, around which the life revolves are fading away, are also talked about in the book.The book is now available on Amazon.

Sumit was born at Shimla in 1967. His father, a railway engineer by profession also a well known Urdu poet under the pen name of Talat Irfani, was never interested in leaving Shimla. But because of his official transfers he had to move first to Rohtak and then to Delhi. Sumit’s phase of academic education was spread over these three towns because of which despite being a nature lover and a writer on nature based themes could not acquire the culture of big towns.

teashop at narkanda

Hills, his first love, where he hails from, here he tells stories, conducts educational camps for school children, writes books on his travels, works as a Heritage Guide and a Tour Companion on Himalayan Valleys outings and helps those British who return to India looking for their family history. His innovative ideas of providing experiences to his traveler clients have made Shimla Walks, his company famous.

In his words,

it is impossible for me to live away from the mountains. Mountains travel like blood in my veins and when I inhale; they enter my mind and body.

Sumit has authored five books already but Tea Shop at Narkanda is his first novella.


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