“Who Will Sing Folk Songs?”: The Film Musical in Nine Variations

Filled with soaring musical passages, the movie is finally a meditative, unsparing if compassionate exploration of the ineffable chasm between inspiration and industry, between greatness and the desire to be great.”

Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

The pressure of the guru-disciple dynamic in the making of classical Indian music provides the tightly regulated focus of Chaitanya Tamhane’s richly detailed and surprising second feature. Sharad Nerulkar (Aditya Modak) isn’t a star in the waning scene. He exists at one remove from a little-known legend: the ascetic Maai, who shunned public performances and whose lecture tapes are the only true influence in Sharad’s life, over family and any personality of his own. The status of this milieu was already on the precipice when Satyajit Ray used it as a symbol for a dying world in The Music Room, but Tamhane pitches this as only a dramatic set-up. Whether boldly crossing time or maintaining, during each of the many musical performances, a steady gaze of intricate, geometric compositions, Tamhane keeps our evaluations of Sharad’s choices in careful suspension up until the film’s stunning final act.

In Marathi, Hindi, English, and Bengali with English subtitles

Best Screenplay
Venice Film Festival 2020

Extraordinary … I’ve long believed that music is the closest art to cinema, and that the filming of musical performance is a uniquely severe touchstone of directorial artistry. Tamhane’s approach to the subject is passionately, probingly creative.”

Richard Brody, The New Yorker
Media

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  • Hole 2
  • The Hole
  • Taiwan/France1998
  • Tsai Ming-liang
  • 95 35mm
  • NR
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • Une Chambre Un Ville 3
  • Une chambre en ville
  • aka A Room in Town
  • France1982
  • Jacques Demy
  • 93 DCP
  • PG
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • Magical Substance Flows Into Me 1
  • A Magical Substance Flows into Me
  • Palestine/Germany/United Kingdom2016
  • Jumana Manna
  • 66 DCP
  • NR
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • West Indies 1
  • West Indies: The Fugitive Slaves of Liberty
  • West Indies, ou Les nègres marrons de la liberté
  • Algeria/Mauritania/France1979
  • Med Hondo
  • 116 DCP
  • PG
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • Disciple 1
  • The Disciple
  • India2020
  • Chaitanya Tamhane
  • 128 DCP
  • NR
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • Dancer In The Dark 1
  • Dancer in the Dark
  • Denmark/Sweden/France/Iceland2000
  • Lars Von Trier
  • 140 35mm
  • 14A
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • All About Lily Chou Chou 5
  • All About Lily Chou-Chou
  • リリイ・シュシュのすべて
  • Japan2001
  • Iwai Shunji
  • 146 DCP
  • NR
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • Red Psalm 2
  • Red Psalm
  • Még kér a nép
  • Hungary1971
  • Miklós Jancsó
  • 84 DCP
  • NR
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations
  • Golden Eighties 10
  • Golden Eighties
  • Belgium/France/Switzerland1986
  • Chantal Akerman
  • 96 DCP
  • PG
  • The Film Musical in Nine Variations