Jayant Somalkar’s Sthal, Dhandwar’s Dear Jassi win big at Toronto Fest


Writer-director Jayant Digambar Somalkar’s debut feature film Sthal and Tarsem Singh Dhandwar’s Dear Jassi emerged winners on Sunday at the closing ceremony of the 48th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
While Sthal (Marathi) won the NETPAC Award, Dear Jassi (Punjabi/English) earned the Platform Award, according to TIFF’s official website.
Sthal (“A Match” in English) recently had its world premiere at the prestigious gala. It is backed by production company Dhun, co-founded by Karan Grover, Shefali Bhushan, Somalkar and Riga Malhotra.
The NETPAC Award is presented by the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema to honour the best film from the Asia-Pacific region screened at the TIFF.
Told from the viewpoint of Savita, a young girl, portrayed by first-time actor Nandini Chikte, Sthal is set in Somalkar’s hometown of Dongargaon in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region and explores the custom of arranged weddings.
Somalkar, who has previously co-directed Prime Video web series “Guilty Minds”, dedicated the award to all the brave women who challenge their adverse circumstances.
“The official selection of Sthal (A Match) at The prestigious 48th Toronto International Film Festival was a great honour for us! And now this award is an added feather.
I, along with my entire team, am thrilled and honoured to receive the 2023 NETPAC Award for Sthal at TIFF. This is for our love, belief and passion for good cinema,” the filmmaker said in a statement.
Sthal is the third Indian film to win the NETPAC Award following Margarita, with a Straw (2014) and Qissa (2013).
According to the makers, it was the only Indian film to be selected in the Discovery Programme, which showcases the first and second features of emerging filmmakers from around the world.
Bhushan, who also co-directed Guilty Minds, said Sthal receiving the NETPAC award reaffirmed her belief that one only needs vision and hard work to make a good film. (PTI)


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