'Jhankaar Beats' wins at US film festival

The applause hasn't stopped for "Jhankaar Beats". After finding a niche audience in India, it has won the Special Jury Award for Best Film at a prestigious US film festival.

The film picked up the award at the Houston International Film Festival, also known as Worldfest Houston, last week.

"We are extremely proud to receive the award," said Pritish Nandy, chairman of Pritish Nandy Communications that produced the film.

"It reaffirms our commitment to the new kind of cinema that is changing Bollywood and making it a global force to reckon with."

"Jhankaar Beats" was directed by debutant director Sujoy Ghosh and starred Juhi Chawla, Sanjay Suri, Rinke Khanna, Rahul Bose, Shayan Munshi and Riya Sen. Its music by Vishal Shekhar stayed on the charts for almost two years.

The Special Jury Award is one of the most prestigious awards at the at the Worldfest. Founded in 1961, the festival is one of the oldest in the US and is credited with spotlighting the likes of Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, the Coen Brothers, Robert Rodrigues and Ang Lee.

The award for "Jhankaar Beats" comes after the media studies course at the coveted Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) decided to use the film as a case study for students this semester.

Says director Sujoy Ghosh: "Yes, I did receive a call informing me about this. I was asked if I would be willing to come down and give a talk on my film to students there.

"As MIT and Harvard are linked, there is talk that even Harvard might take it up either in this semester or the next. I hope that happens.

"Unarguably, it's a great feeling, considering it was a first film made by a man with no formal training in filmmaking!"