MUMBAI— “Harami,” an Indo-American production feature film written and directed by Shyam Madiraju and featuring Emraan Hashmi, has officially been selected to be a part of the main competition section (New Horizons) of the Busan International Film Festival 2020. One of the 10 films from 9 countries in the competition, “Harami” is the only Indian film to be selected for this year’s main competition.

Besides Venice, Busan is the only festival that is happening physically. All 194 films selected this year for the festival will be screened physically in theatres. The festival will happen from Oct. 21 to 30.

Says Madiraju, “As a filmmaker, I’m truly elated that ‘Harami’ has been invited to be a part of the Busan Film Festival’s main competition section. Korea is the epicenter of the filmmaking universe right now, so it’s an immense honor to be a part of their celebration of cinema this year.”

He goes on, ““Harami’, while set in the streets and slums of Mumbai, is a universal story of hope and redemption. The film, a labor of love, took me over two years to just scout during numerous visits to India and, despite all the monumental challenges, we shot live in Victoria Terminus, Bombay Central, and other trains stations, a feat not for the faint-hearted. With crews over 200 including international talent from America, UK, Denmark and South Africa, ‘Harami’ was a global production set in the slums of Dharavi and crowded streets of Mohammed Ali Road.”

Madiraju says that the most endearing and cherishing part of this whole journey was working with all the actors. Especially the kids, a majority of whom had never acted before, and some were actually from Dharavi. Madiraju terms it “the experience of a lifetime.”

“But it was Emraan Hashmi playing the role of Sagar-bhai, a very Dickensian and Fagin-like character, who is a former English teacher turned gang-lord, who is the real revelation. The role is complex and nuanced and unlike anything Emraan had done before, was a true challenge for both Emraan and I,” says the director.

“Having never worked here, or with Emraan before, all my concerns disappeared when I saw how collaborative and detailed Emraan, a true director’s actor, was with his preparation for the role. We discussed in great detail, over numerous reading sessions and rehearsals, the smallest elements of his character, like his gait, his diction, his style of speaking, the choice of English over Hindi, and his unique look that we created for him.”

Adds Hashmi: “It was Shyam’s script that really attracted me to his project. And his obsession with details was very contagious. Kudos to Shyam and his team for making it to the prestigious competition section of the festival. It was a true passion project for all involved and I am looking forward to the day when we will be able to share the film with the Indian audience.”

Producer Pravesh Singh Rajput says, “This is a bold and artistic film, but at the same time it has a very modern style of filmmaking that will appeal to a very wide range of audience in India. It is also a very timely film for the youth of India as they are increasingly voicing their displeasure with the status quo in the film industry and the nation. With the majority of the child actors being first-time actors, the film brings an authenticity and rawness to the film that will appeal to the younger audience of India. I am proud that we are premiering at Busan and I am even more proud to have helped bring Shyam Madiraju’s vision to the screen.”

Executive Producer Paul Feig stated, “I absolutely love ‘Harami’.  I think it’s the perfect blend of beautiful filmmaking, poignant storytelling and amazing performances, all while keeping a firm eye on its commercial appeal.  Between the cast of amazing young newcomers and the deep talents of Emraan Hashmi, the film is affectingly performed and a total crowd-pleaser.  Its ultimately uplifting message is exactly what is needed in these troubled times, and Shyam Madiraju’s masterful balance of heart, emotion and tension powers the film forward skillfully.  I could not be prouder to be an executive producer on this wonderful film and won’t rest until the world gets the chance to fall in love with it the way I have.”

Brent Maddock, Dori Zuckerman, Gavin Lurie, Mohit Rastogi and Madiraju are also co-producers.

The film is a hard-hitting street saga of youth crime and broken destinies, love and redemption, played out against the backdrop of chaotic and relentless Mumbai.

Rizwan Shaikh, Harsh Rajendra Rane, Dhanshree Patil, Diksha Nisha, Ashutosh Gaikwad, Starr Liu, Sachin Parikh, Rohan Sood and Subrat Dutta are in the cast.

Shyam Madiraju and Shahin Khosravan are the writers. Antonio Sanchez has composed the original score.

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