The youngest Indian writer/director with an Academy Award Oscar® nomination, for ‘ Little Terrorist’ and National Award winning director for ‘Inshallah Football’ is all set to release his mainstream ecological thriller ‘The Forest’ on May 4th, 2012. Incidentally his ‘Inshallah Football’ was banned earlier, and later received the National Award this year for Social Issues. His latest controversial ‘Inshallah Kashmir-Living in Terror, is under cloud again.
Director Ashvin Kumar is emerging as the independent voice of Indian cinema in the true Indie spirit. His first fiction feature film, The Forest (www.theforestmovie.com), is a thriller with an ecological message, a chilling tale of a man-eating leopard set in the jungles of North India. The Forest is the third release under PVR Cinema’s ‘Director’s Rare’ series. The Star cast of the film in the pivotal roles are Javed Jafferi, Nandana Sen, Ankur Vikal (Slumdog Millionaire) and Salim Ali Zaidi (Little Terrorist).
Ashvin Kumar joins the select list of Indians at the Oscars with global sensitivity with legends like Mira Nair, Deepa Mehta, Ashutosh Gowarikar, Shekhar Kapur, Resul Pookati, Bhanu Athaiya and AR Rehman and remains the only Indian to ever be nominated into the short film category.
Ashvin has merged human complications with wildlife in the mainstream gripping thriller ‘The Forest’, a triangular love story with a sub plot of a man eating leopard. Ashvin in order to create realism and authencity also assembled an international Hollywood technical crew. Besides the film required leopards to play the man-eating predator, Thierry le Portier (Gladiator, Two Brothers) and his two leopards were specially flown from Paris. ‘THE FOREST’ is a finely written, edge of the seat thriller with well drawn characters and a very intricate plot.
THE FOREST -Brief Synopsis
A quiet, peaceful forest, a secluded rest house – the perfect place for Pritam and Radha, a couple from a big city, to sort out a troubled and childless marriage. But things start going wrong from the moment they run into a forgotten adversary. Abhishek, the wife’s ex-lover turns out to be the local cop; he invites himself and his son Arjun to their vacation.As husband and lover lock horns for the woman, primitive instincts are heightened by the wilderness that surrounds them. Embroiled in their dark secrets and dangerous games they fail to see signs of a much greater threat.A man eating leopard is drawn by the smell of human flesh and as night falls,. The nocturnal predator comes into his element He knows that man is the weakest animal in his jungle and he is a perfect killer. In a night of terror, survival for the city slickers will depend on outwitting a wild animal who is hunting on his home turf and has lost his natural fear of man.
(More than a 150 people are killed in leopard or tiger attacks in India every year due to mounting poaching and encroachment on the wilderness. Such animals become man-eaters. The film is about a wounded leopard, who’s only choice for survival is to hunt humans and this story is inspired by one such attack…)
The film premiered at Cinequest Film Festival in San Jose in February 2009, and had its market premiere at Cannes Market ‘09. It was also a part of the official competition of Montreal International Film Festival, Canada and Sitges International Film Festival, Spain.
“I decided to make my debut feature a suspenseful thriller with a dramatic relationship around it. The danger posed by the leopard is heightened in this story because we come to know the characters before the leopard appears. A man-eating tiger is not as scary as a man-eating leopard, due to man-animal proximity the incidence of such attacks is on the rise all over the country. The leopard is a smaller animal, it is a sneaky animal, it rarely allows itself to be spotted – it hunts elusively and comes at you through the shadows. It can climb onto roofs, trees and attack its prey from the ground or from above. When a Leopard becomes a veteran man-eater it begins to think like us human beings. It is unnerving to consider that it actually learns our ways….” The behaviour of the leopard was inspired by the stories of Jim Corbett, in particular The Man-Eating Leopard of Rudraprayag”.
Ashvin was introduced to the jungles by a trip to Jim Corbett National Park in 1998. Since then he is a regular visitor to national parks all over India and rest of the world, and been raised on a diet of books by hunter turned conservationists like Jim Corbett and F W Champion.
Ashvin’s love for the wilderness is tempered by dismay of its disappearance. “The message of conservation through a thriller; the fact that animals are fighting for survival in our jungles, counterpoint the idea that human beings have become prey. The animal both as a victim and aggressor, wherein the protagonist leopard is also an antagonist, man-eater. That was the challenge of writing and directing The Forest.”