After winning the ‘Amplify Voices Award’ at the Toronto International Film Festival, Vinay Shukla’s feature film While We Watched, a turbulent newsroom thriller featuring Ravish Kumar has won ‘Busan Cinephile Award’ at 27th BUSAN International Film Festival 2022. This is the second award won by the film in a row.
Busan Cinephile Award is given to the best Korean and Asian documentary film presented in the Wide Angle documentary showcase section. The jury, consisting of students from the cinema-related departments of six universities in Busan region, selects the winner.
Titled ‘NAMASKAR! MAIN RAVISH KUMAR’ in Hindi, While We Watched is a turbulent newsroom drama that intimately chronicles the working days of news anchor Ravish Kumar, as he navigates a spiralling world of truth and disinformation.
Through the lens of its protagonist - a man clinging onto integrity even as everything falls apart - ‘While We Watched’ urges the viewer to consider their own responsibility and culpability as news and media come under greater scrutiny than ever before, Vinay’s upcoming film delivers the promise of a bold, timely, and globally relevant documentary.
While We Watched is Shukla’s second film after his highly-acclaimed debut feature An Insignificant Man (co-directed with Khushboo Ranka). An Insignificant Man won a historic censorship battle, was hailed at film festivals around the world, and became a runaway success in theatres.
The 94 mins documentary in Hindi-English language is a UK production and is produced by LONO Studio and BRITDOC Films.
Excited about winning the award, Vinay Shukla says, “I’m very overwhelmed. I’d like to thank the Busan International Film Festival, the audiences and the jury. I spent the last 4 years locked in, working on this film everyday. I had an incredibly dedicated team. We wanted to make an immersive cinematic film about the emotional cost of making and consuming news. It was a hard and long process. I moved to the outskirts of Delhi and rented a place there for two years to shoot the film.
Then, during Covid, my entire team was living and working together. Like most people in the world, we witnessed personal loss, made professional sacrifices and tried to stay sane by cooking meals learnt from YouTube. The film was our truest companion. To now know that the film is playing across the world and making new friends is a deeply satisfying feeling. This is our second award since our premiere last month. Our screenings in Busan and Toronto ended with spontaneous applause and standing ovations. I’m really grateful. A big thank you to everyone who believed in this film.”
The director Vinay reflects on the film, “Journalists are the foremost storytellers of our time. I spent two years in Ravish's newsroom, watching him build his daily broadcast. Ravish and his team would get some stories right, some stories just about. Watching him, I realized that for every report that we see on the news, the journalist behind the report pays a cost - an emotional, financial, ethical and mental cost. No story is easy, every story is personal. This film is about that personal cost that journalists pay to do their job right. My film would apply to any journalist who has stood their ground and chosen to file a story which was true to their beliefs. This film is my love letter to journalism.”
One of the film’s producers, Luke W Moody, remarks, "Amongst a cacophony of opinions, attention seeking headlines, and endless scroll of disinformation, Vinay's film steps forward to ask a generational question: how do we understand truth? How will we know when it's lost?"
A turbulent newsroom drama intimately chronicling the working days of broadcast journalist Ravish Kumar as he navigates a spiralling world of truth and disinformation. As factual reporting is in free fall globally, ‘While We Watched’ is a dignified lens into the abyss.
The Prime Time Indian TV journalist,Ravish Kumar, is in trouble.
Famous for his unflinching takedowns of the ruling establishment during his long-running primetime news hour, his nerves have begun to fray from carrying the torch of ‘good journalism’ for too long. In the public eye, Ravish has become a regular fixture, beaming from TV sets and widely shared phone videos. His primetime news bulletin has long been characterised by solid research, verified evidence, vignette-style notes from the field, and a sharp commentary with a touch of rustic sass. In the Indian media landscape, Kumar’s show is a far cry from the new industry standard of high decibel, polarizing, blustering TV news debates.
As press freedom further disintegrates and self-censorship becomes the new normal, Kumar struggles to stay afloat in the rising tide of his own network’s financial hardships, sinking TRP ratings, and the strain of continuous downsizing. The dangerously deteriorating standard of public discourse finds Ravish at the receiving end of harassment, intimidation, morphed images, threats to his life and even violence against his family.
With a growing target on his back, and the looming threat of his network’s imminent closure, Ravish transforms from a spunky troublemaker into a deeply troubled man, worried for himself, his family, and the soul of his nation.
Curators Note - KANG Sowon, Busan International Film Festival
This is a fierce film. Vinay Shukla vividly captures the intense newsroom in this dramatic and fast-paced film, much like Spotlight (2015).
About Ravish Kumar
Ravish Kumar is an Indian journalist, author, and a prominent media personality. He is the Senior Executive Editor of NDTV India, and hosts the channel’s flagship weekday show ‘Prime Time’.
Ravish has been conferred with various awards for his work in journalism. He received the highly prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2019, with the foundation remarking, “Despite all the perils and aggravations, Ravish has remained consistent in his effort to preserve and widen the space for a critical, socially responsible media.” He is also a two time recipient of the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award (2017, 2013), the Gauri Lankesh Award for Journalism, the first Kuldip Nayar Journalism award (2017), and the Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Award for Hindi
Journalism and Creative Literature. Ravish was included in the list of 100 most influential Indians (2016) by The Indian Express, and was also named ‘Journalist of the Year’ by the Mumbai Press Club.
A household name in India, Ravish’s primetime news bulletins are viewed across the country. His signature reports - thoroughly researched, fact-driven, charming, and poetically written - are instantly recognisable and widely shared. In recent years, Ravish has come under heavy fire for not falling in line with the changing news landscape. His unrelenting struggle in the pursuit of good journalism is the subject of the upcoming newsroom thriller, ‘While We Watched’.