The entire Indian continent sets its annual clock by the coming of the monsoon season. The rains bring life to barren fields, stave off drought and starvation, bring the economy back to life… But they also bring disaster, death and destruction.
Monsoon marks Sturla Gunnarsson’s filmmaking return to India, following his multi-award winning adaptation of Rohinton Mistry’s Such A Long Journey. This time the subject is monsoon, the incomparably vast seasonal weather system that permeates and unifies the immense and varied culture of India, shaping the conditions of existence for its billion inhabitants.
Winner of the People’s Choice Award at TIFF Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival 2015 and winner of the Polly Krakora Award for Artistry in Film at the Environmental Film Festival in Washington, D.C., Monsoon is part road movie, part spectacle, part human drama, and a personal reflection on chaos, creation and faith in the land of believers.
“Monsoon is my love letter to India,” says Gunnarsson. “I’ve been romanced by the idea of monsoon since I can remember. I’ve travelled often and extensively throughout India, I’m married into a big Indian family and have long dreamed of experiencing the monsoon.”
Monsoon was filmed over the course of the 2013 monsoon season across India, from coastal areas like Kerala and Goa to the drought stricken agricultural lands of Maharashtra, the teeming cities of Mumbai and Kolkata and Cherrapunji to the world’s rainiest place in the State of Meghalaya, where the monsoon ends its annual journey. Charting the huge system’s path as it surges toward and gradually engulfs every region of the country, Monsoon introduces us to a remarkable array of individuals whose lives are in different ways entwined with the phenomenon, such as Bishnu Shastri, the red-haired bookie who never seems to lose a weather bet; the desperate farmers whose land has been passed over by monsoon for years; Bollywood star Moushumi Chatterjee, who performed and danced in monsoon rain with Amitabh Bachchan in Manzil; and 12-year-old Akhila Prasad, whose family risks losing everything to the annual rains.
A cinematic journey into the terrain where nature, science, belief and wonder converge in one of the most astonishing and breathtaking landscapes on earth, Monsoon is a film that captures the timelessness and rich human drama of our engagement with the natural world.