The Tribeca Film Festival is experimenting with a brand new program, selecting a handful of great films to also make available via Comcast Video On Demand, so you can take part in a big celebration of film without denting your pocketbook by traveling to New York City. A huge part of any festival experience is checking out movies you’re likely not going to get a chance to see anywhere else, as well as expanding your horizons by investigating films from other countries that provide a better understanding of the world around our provincial nation. This is why VOD is offering the Indian film Road, Movie as part of the Tribeca Film slate. It’s a film about a young man (Abhay Deol) who takes a rickety old truck with a dilapidated old movie projector out into the barren deserts to show films to people who ordinarily would never get to see them. Also along for the ride are Bollywood legend Satish Kaushik as a kindly old sage looking to go to a mysterious fair, and a mysterious gypsy woman (Tannishtha Chatterjee) on the run from a ruthless waterlord.
Why should you watch this film? Renowned Indian director Dev Benegal is happy to tell you. “It’s a magical mystery tour. It takes you to places you’ve never been before, and it’s the kind of journey that I think all of us need to take. We need to step out of our worlds, get out, get somewhere to discover ourselves, and you’ve got to watch this film.”
“The traveling cinema is a modern-day phenomenon in India. 70 percent of the Indian audiences still watch movies out in the open. That’s a huge number. That’s huge,” Benegal says of the subject of his film, but he’s well aware that that’s not how Americans tend to do things. That’s why he’s also excited about the On Demand initiative. “I love the idea of hybrid distribution,” he says. “I love the idea of it getting out into 40 million U.S. homes. I think that’s extraordinary, because it’s historic for a movie of this kind. There’s no Indian film in a long, long, long time that has gotten this kind of distribution in the U.S., and to be able to get out there is like a dream.”
It’s also thematically appropriate for the content of the movie. “From another point of view, it’s also phenomenal because this film is about a traveling cinema which travels all across the countryside and stretches a piece of cloth and shows movies,” Benegal continues. “In a sense, when you go there and watch the movies, you are seeing it on a huge screen, but it’s a really, really personal experience and you’re taking away something. I think this idea of Video On Demand, it becomes really personal. It’s intimate. It’s yours. I love the idea that the movie can be yours. So in a sense, it’s similar to the kind of experience you might have when you’re watching it out there in the open with 3000 people. I like it. I’m really excited by that.”
“Just dim the lights, get the popcorn and sit right up in front of the television screen,” he advises. “That’s it.”