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TIFF 2023: Jayant Digambar Somalkar’s debut Marathi feature ‘Sthal’ (A Match) wins the NETPAC award

Jayant co-wrote and co-directed the award-winning web series, Guilty Minds along with Shefali Bhushan



Jayant Digambar Somalkar

Writer-director Jayant Digambar Somalkar’s debut Marathi feature film ‘Sthal (A Match) wins the NETPAC award at the 48th Toronto International Film Festival where it recently had its World Premiere. Sthal won the NETPAC award at TIFF 9 years after Margarita with a straw which won the award in 2014. It is an annual film award, presented by the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema to honour the best film from the Asia-Pacific region screened at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The film which was screened to a packed house of audience at the 48th Toronto International Film Festival 2023 got rave reviews. 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.

Sthal (A Match) explores the tradition of arranged marriages in rural India, where the relentless pursuit of a girl’s marriage overshadows the very sustenance of life. It is narrated from the perspective of a young girl, Savita, highlighting patriarchy, colorism and social evil deeply rooted in society.

The film shot in Jayant’s native village, Dongargaon in the Chandrapur District of Maharashtra, features an ensemble cast of first-time actors from the village starring Nandini Chikte as the protagonist Savita along with Taranath Khiratkar, Sangita Sonekar, Suyog Dhawas, Sandip Somalkar, Sandip Parkhi, Swati Ulmale, Gauri Badki & Mansi Pawar.

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Jayant Digambar Somalkar wrote & directed an award-winning short Iyatta: Class (2016) and also co-wrote and co-directed the Amazon Prime Original Series Guilty Minds (2022).

The 2023 NETPAC jury released the following statement, “The jury commends the courage of this year’s winner, a first time feature director, for taking a risk and delivering a story that is enlightening and entertaining. The director worked with a cast of non-actors that not only resulted in a stellar performance, but achieved a level of authenticity needed to drive home the social message. An immersive portrayal of life in an Indian village, highlighting its oppressive patriarchal customs, the NETPAC award this year goes to: A Match by Jayant Digambar Somalkar.”

Elated about winning an award Director Jayant Digambar Somalkar says, “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! I dedicate this award to all the brave women who challenge their adverse circumstances.”

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The producer Shefali Bhushan, who wrote and directed Jugni and Guilty Minds says, “Sthal (A match) getting the NETPAC award just reaffirms my belief that all you need to make a good film is the vision and the hardwork. An independent film like Sthal, which is also a debut for the director, Jayant Somalkar, the entire cast and many of the crew too, has been an actually inspiring journey for all of us.”

The producer Karan Grover says, “Belief in the art form comes alive with accolades being showered by the fraternity and viewers. As an independent producer, its never easy but the impact of being awarded is far greater a motivation and brings faith to self belief. Humbled with love people have shown to ‘Sthal – A Match’”

The film is produced by Dhun, a production company co-founded by Karan Grover, Shefali Bhushan, Jayant Digambar Somalkar & Riga Malhotra