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Led by first-time actors, Gurvinder Singh's Khanaur will have its world premiere at the Busan International Film Festival

The film has been shot completely with first-time actors, including the lead, Kishan Katwal, who worked as a waiter in the cafe run by Gurvinder Singh in Himachal Pradesh. 

Shriram Iyengar

National award-winning filmmaker Gurvinder Singh's third film, Khanaur (Bitter Chestnut) is set to have its world premiere at the upcoming 24th Busan International Film Festival. The Indian film has also been nominated for the Kim Ji Seok award at the festival. 

Shot entirely with a cast of first-time actors, the film is based on Singh's own experiences in the Bir region in Himachal Pradesh, where he ran a cafe. The lead of the film is actually the young boy who used to wait tables at Singh's cafe. 

The film features Kishan Katwal as protagonist along with his family members Pawan Katwal, Rani Devi, Bhankher Devi, Gopi Katwal and Monisha Mukundan as café owner.

Made in Pahari, English, and Hindi, the film tells the story of Kishan, a young waiter at a cafe, looking at a fast-moving world and arriving at the crossroads of a decision -  whether to live a predictable life around his remote Himalayan village or migrate to the city.

Singh had earlier directed the National award-winning Punjabi films, Anhe Ghore De Daan (2011) and Chauthi Koot (2015).

Speaking of the film, the filmmaker said, "Khanaur is the vernacular word for a Himalayan variety of bitter chestnut, which the villagers believe is cursed, but made edible by washing regularly for seven straight days. It stands as a metaphor for the beauty of the region and its people and their immediate contact with the environment, yet the immense hardships of such a life." 

"Khanaur, the film, is born from this personal contact with the people and the tendencies of migration and reverse-migration. The film looks at the aspirations, fears, and insecurities of living in the present times, through the eyes of a young boy Kishan, as he yearns for the bitterness to eventually fade away from the Khanaur. As a film, it is both ethnographic and staged, an attempt to blend real life, people and events with a filmmakers’ desire for an arranged narrative." 

"Having moved to the mountains four years ago, I was witness to a flux of cultures and movements: the largely secluded remote mountainous villages until a few years ago, coming in contact with rapidly expanding tourism and influx of a few outsiders looking for solace from the mammoth and deteriorating urban city centres and wanting to live an alternate and ecologically sustaining life. At the same time, new exposure leading the local village boys to go explore life in the plains and its cities, in the hope for better economic benefits," Singh said about his need to tell this story.

The film will also have its India premiere at the upcoming 21st Mumbai Film Festival between 17-24 October. Khanaur is produced by Bobby Bedi, and co-produced by Nisheeth Kumar and Kartikeya Singh. 

Related topics

Busan International Film Festival MAMI Mumbai Film Festival