How ‘Counterfeit Kunkoo’ became India’s first short film at Sundance festival in 15 years

(This story was first published in the New Indian Express)

Finding an apartment in the bustling city of Mumbai can be difficult. But do you know what’s more difficult? Being a single woman and trying to get an apartment.

Counterfeit Kunkoo is the first Indian short film in 15 years to premiere at the Sundance film festival in Utah, USA. Magic produced with a wave of Reema Sengupta’s wand, the short picked up the torch of glory from the last one which got selected in 2002 called Birju.

Making short films is nothing new for Reema. She made her first film in 2011 and has been experimenting with her ideas since then. She is also the co-founder of Catnip productions where, apart from producing music-related content, she also focusses on promoting individual content.

Earlier this year, Reema revisited a script that she wrote many years ago. ‘’It was a different script,” she said. “when I looked at it, I thought: What is wrong with me? What was I thinking? I was just so melodramatic!” That was where she dared to do something tough: “I looked at it as a harsh critic.” After a bit of tinkering, changing tonalities and “raising the dramatic stakes”, Reema presented her masterpiece short: Counterfeit Kunkoo.

“It’s a sign of marriage that doesn’t have any meaning anymore,” she said, explaining her film title. Her film looks into the struggle of Smita, a middle-class Indian woman without a husband and in search of an apartment. Without revealing much, Reema says that the film will also address issues such as discrimination, marital rape and reclaiming one’s sexuality.

A still from the film, Counterfeit Kunkoo | Catnip Productions

2017 is a year when this filmmaker managed to sow and reap. “If you’ve gotten through Sundance, there’s a lot of credibility to your name and your film,” she said. Sundance is a pioneering film festival that gives importance to independent filmmaking. “They look for how much the filmmaker has maximised the resources that they had.”

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