Streamer Chorki has acquired Bangladesh rights to iconoclastic Indian filmmaker Q’s latest film “Zewel,” it was revealed on the sidelines of Singapore’s Asia TV Forum and Market.
Chorki has also boarded the project as a co-producer alongside Rita Meher, curator of Tasveer Festival and CEO of Luminary Pictures (Seattle). Produced by India’s Oddjoint, the project is currently in post-production.
More from Variety
The film, shot across India and Bangladesh, tells the story of a young TikToker’s journey from zero to villain. Zewel wants to be a hero on Tiktok and already has 15,000 followers. He is a firestarter, a matchstick master who never misses a target. Living at the edge of an industrial wasteland in Bangladesh, Zewel and his brother Zibon, both daily-wage labourers, were planning to move to Qatar to join the booming influencer factories. But dreams come at a cost. As Zibon gets busted selling drugs, all doors to a meagre livelihood are closed for Zewel. Ruined, he crosses the border into India. But a bigger tragedy lies ahead of him.
“‘Zewel’is a film about the underbelly of Bengal, on both sides of the border. A fresh wave of youth has been embracing a new identity. One that defies the archaic, violent stereotype of the disenchanted poor. Zewel is soft, humane and vulnerable. I wanted to explore the genuine shift in aesthetics that is inundating this part of the world, the K-pop mania. The other major factor of telling this story is how social media is both lighting up their lives while burning them. Most importantly, the film tries to underplay the massive identity and religious politics that the Bengal border has seen since the lines were drawn,” Q says in his director’s statement.
Q is known for his strikingly different approach to storytelling, with credits including “Gandu” and “Garbage.”
“‘Zewel’ starts a new phase of my cinematic process, one where filtered phone images and emojis control narratives. The film reflects on the current scope of emotional and socio-cultural challenges that the subcontinent youth have to face. The burden that the phone camera lays on their souls,” Q told Variety.
Chorki is known for championing independent cinema, with recent credits including Bangladeshi auteur Mostofa Sarwar Farooki’s “Something Like an Autobiography” and “Last Defenders of Monogamy.” Producers on “Zewel” are Chorki’s Redoan Rony, Oddjoint’s Hina Saiyada and Q and Rita Meher. Footprint is also on board as a co-producer.
The assembling of co-producers began at India’s Film Bazaar market in 2022 and continued at the 2023 edition, with the deals being finalized during ATF.
Rony said: “Last year in Film Bazaar I met with Q and from that meeting I heard about ‘Zewel.’ We kickstarted our collaboration right after that. Chorki always aspires to experiment with new stories, new genres and new teams. For Chorki, the collaboration with Q has expanded our horizon. Our aim is to produce and distribute diverse content across the globe.
Meher added: “I am thrilled to collaborate with Q on this project, having long admired his work. I would like to leverage my expertise in international markets and festivals, and am eager to showcase this remarkable film to a global audience. This quirky coming-of-age story, brilliantly intertwines the influences of social media across various cultures, which you don’t get to see otherwise.”
Best of Variety