Today, we see a drastic shift in the face of independent cinema with new challenges. First, the pandemic brought the audience closer to the OTT platforms. Now there is a digital revolution that floods the marketplace. As a result, online distribution is becoming commonplace.

Both Bollywood and Hollywood are bankrupt of ideas. Films distribution is still fit, but it is different with the changed funding parameters, and the Producers continue to struggle.

Today, we are in conversation with a courageous and creative national award-winning independent filmmaker Javid Banday, who stood firm regardless of the numerous challenges. 

Javid finished shooting Footprints right before the pandemic and then got stuck with post-production during the lock-down. 

In 2022, the award-winning film FOOTPRINTS opened for the World Premiere on June 17, in Mississauga, to a hall packed with celebrities, media, and VIPs.

Footprints received the Best Feature Film Award at the 2022 Jammu and Kashmir International Film Festival (JAKIFF), Pune. On behalf of the team, lead actor Amit Dolawat welcomed recognition from the former Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde.

At the World Premiere, the red carpet is filmmaker JAVID BANDAY with BOLLYWOOD actors SARFRAZ KHAN & UPPEKHA JAIN as the Guest of Honour. In India and Canada, audiences were amazed by the calibre of independent cinema raised in Footprints and couldn’t stop cheering the filmmaker.

“It is a unique story with excellent production value,” said Ms. Asha Bajaj, Founder of Canadian Media. 

“Footprints is a fantastic film, incredibly relatable and full of hope. It sheds light on important issues facing the people of Kashmir. You get stunning vistas and views of the beautiful environment of Kashmir; the cinematography is breath-taking!” expressed Ms. Jasmine Mamani, Life Skills Educator in the audience. She concludes happily, “I’m so proud to be Canadian Indian; we have such exceptional talent.”

In FOOTPRINTS, the National Award-winning filmmaker Javid Banday narrates a story about five college friends who now moved away from each other and reunited after three years. Mohsin, the protagonist, loves to capture the natural Kashmir beauty through his still camera as he will lose his eyesight in the next six months, which is unknown to his non-Kashmiri friends. So, he wishes to have a memorable time with his friends and invites them to Kashmir. Despite resentment of the families of the non-Kashmiri friends, they make it happen. But, when the friends begin their journey on a charming expedition, it turns out to be mysterious and odious.

LtoR: Javid Banday, Tushar Unadkat, Sarfraz Khan, and Uppekha Jain.

“Location – was the biggest challenge for our film. My base is in Canada, and arranging a film shoot in another part of the world is a big challenge, especially for an Indie filmmaker like me,” discloses Javid Banday to his audiences. 

He adds, “Since I was born and brought up in Kashmir, fortunately, I had a dedicated local team to make it all happen. Now, the challenge ‘Locations’ turned out to be the USP of our film.”

Javid proudly reasoned, “Kashmir is a character in our movie, and its mesmerizing and breathtaking beauty will always leave its footprints in people’s memories.”

“Javid Banday is as cool as ICE under all challenging circumstances, and that is inspiring,” reveals Amit Dolawat, the Indian TV star, and the film lead. 

In 1994, Javid bagged India’s prestigious National Award for Best Documentary of the Year for “He was a Reality” (Who Ek Sach Tha).

Having worked in India, UAE, and Canada, Javid Banday gained extensive experience in radio, television, and film production. He immigrated to Canada in 2006 and formed a media production company, Mediamark International Corp., in 2010.

“The Canada screenings is a soft release to tap into the audience’s first reaction as we lost some time due to the recent pandemic. However, the journey of an independent cinema is not complete without attending a few more film festivals around the world and then pursuing OTT distribution,” asserted Tushar Unadkat, MUKTA Advertising, the marketing and media partner of the film. 

Javid has written, directed, and produced around 1000 TV Shows, 40 Ad films, three short films, and five feature films, including his directorial debut “The Footprints.” 

Mr. Banday’s films have traveled worldwide to various film festivals, including Cannes Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival, and UK Asian Film Festival. 

Mr. Banday’s upcoming film projects include “Rang Ratta,” “Aazmaish – The Test,” and “Sin Story,” an official Indo-Canadian co-production.

The beauty of independent cinema is hearing the original voices of artists who are passionate about the craft and expression. Each year, many Indian Indie films suffer from a shortage of viewership, including their target audience, not to mention critical reviews: movies that are regional, experimental, or have new, timely interventions. Many of these deserve recognition from broad audiences and moviegoers. With the commencement of OTT platforms and streaming sites, some of these films have made it to the spotlight.

-Tushar Unadkat

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