• Golden Globe Awards

The Disciple (India)

The setting is Mumbai, India and as the old, wise lady in the film states: “There is a reason why Indian classical music is considered an eternal quest. Through this music we are shown the path to the divine. If you want to learn to walk this path, learn to be lonely. And hungry.” This might be an eternal truth about all art. Is there such a thing as perfection?
These are the questions Sharad Nerulkar is pondering after years where he had been trying to follow in the footsteps of his father and become a practitioner of the centuries old Khayal music tradition. His devotion to reach the goal of becoming an Indian classical music vocalist, listening to and studying the old masters, his guru and his father is challenged when the success he craves and the excellence he desires alludes him. In a world that rewards mediocrity and commercialization, a man who strives for purity is an anomaly, and Sharad feels disillusioned and lonely. Sharad is played by a Hindustani classical singer who has never acted before, Aditya Modak.
The director, Chaitanya Tamhane – only 33 years old – made a big splash with his feature debut Court in 2014 which turned into a global success. It took him six years to follow-up with The Disciple, a true labor of love about a labor of love, as he called it at the world premiere in Venice in September.
“This film is actually a spiritual adaptation of a play I had written when I was 21 or 22 in Denmark, which was a story of a magician – nothing to do with music, but the core essence and the themes I was exploring were similar. This is a grown-up version of that play. In terms of Indian classical music, my entry point were all the stories that I had heard. Crazy geniuses and eccentric characters that surround this world,” he said.
Alfonso Cuarón executive produced the film which was first shown at last year’s Venice festival, followed by TIFF and the New York Film Festival.