Indian director and cinematographer Jatla Siddhartha has brought together several of the biggest names in world cinema in the service of “In the belly of a tiger.” The film has its premiere next week at the Berlin Film Festival.
Presented as a mix of surreal horror and selfless love, the film is a fiction of supposedly real events in rural India, in which a couple manages to be devoured by a tiger to ensure their family’s financial security.
Co-written by Siddhartha and Amanda Mooney, the story revolves around two landless farmers, Bhagole and Prabhata, who return to their village after failing to find work in the city. The village they return to is in disarray after the death of a farmer, killed by a tiger. And, after losing their land, the family is supported only by the salary of their son, who works as a slave in a brick factory. When even that remaining hope is threatened, elderly parents decide to take drastic measures in hopes of collecting compensation.
Mooney was also a close collaborator on Siddhartha’s first film, “Love and Shukla,” which premiered at the IFF Busan Festival in 2017 before also appearing at IFF Shanghai, Tallinn Black Nights, Palm Springs and more than 40 additional festivals, before being chosen. by Netflix.
The multinational production team includes music composed by Japanese Umebayashi Shigeru (The Grandmaster”, “In the Mood for Love”), sound design by multiple Oscar winner Resul Pookutty (“Slumdog Millionaire”) and grading at the mainland Chinese studio owned and operated by noted action fantasy director Wuershan (“Creation of the Gods I – Kingdom of Storms”).
The film’s production process was equally cosmopolitan. It began its journey in 2018 and received development support from the Busan Asian Film Fund. It then spent several years participating in project labs and co-production markets including Less is More, Black Night’s Script Pool Tallinn, NFDC Film Bazaar – Script Lab, Hong Kong HAF and Tokyo Gap Financing Market before being listed as a work in progress on the Industry @Tallinn & Baltic Event, NFDC Film Bazaar and Shanghai International Film Festival Project Market.
The film, which attracted financing and partners along the way, ended up as a production of America’s Bhairavi Films, China’s Wonder Pictures and India’s Jeevi Films. Additional co-producers are Indonesia’s Qun Films, Taiwan’s Flash Forward Entertainment and mainland China’s Myth Image. Flash Forward also handles international sales.
“Speaking to the soul of India, my film uses Indian mythology as a sign of hope to tell a deeply personal love story designed to put these invisible lives at the center of human consciousness,” said Siddhartha.
Siddhartha, who filmed in Hindi and used mostly non-professional actors, previously lived in the village to complete his research. There he met several families whose mounting debts had forced them to give up their land. Having lost everything, they looked for alternative ways to help their families survive.
Watch the trailer for “In the Belly of a Tiger” here: