Movie magic with Monsoon’s Sturla Gunnarsson

If I could plaster my life with stills from Sturla Gunnarsson’s film Monsoon, I would.

The documentary is one of the most beautiful and breath taking films I’ve seen in a long time. Shot completely in 4K with Red Epic cameras (oh beauty), director Sturla and his relatively small crew followed the monsoon season across India in 2013. They take you on a visual tour of the country: mountains, plains, deserts, villages and cities. You experience both the joy and the devastation that the torrential weather system can bring.

monsoon boats

Sturla, a Canadian (yay!), says that the monsoon delivers all of India’s fresh water for the year so it’s crucial. However, when it rains, it can literally pour — washing away homes and livelihoods. Nonetheless it’s usually a magical time in India during monsoon season and this film perfectly encapsulates the nuances of its impact.

One of my favourite scenes in the movie blends a romantic interview with Bollywood star Moushumi Chatterjee with scenes from her 1979 film with Amitabh Bachchan (all hail!) “Manzil“. The entire time, Chatterjee looks out a foggy car window at a camera positioned outside the car. As an aspiring filmmaker, it’s unbelievably cool. She coos about the significance of the monsoon in Bollywood stories. The scene reminded me of sultry nights in rainy Paris but set in India.

I just realized I didn’t even ask him about this scene. Reporter fail.

Moushumi Chatterjee

The beautiful Moushumi Chatterjee in Monsoon.

I did ask Sturla a whole bunch of other questions though. It was a soggy Vancouver day and being a BC boy, he says he actually loves the rain (no surprise). We ducked undercover though to avoid getting wet (hello, the hair cameras)…unlike what his crew experienced during their film. We talked a bit about what went on behind-the-scenes: from shooting in remote villages, to the gear they used, to how his faith changed in the 3 months of shooting as a “non-believer”.

This was filmed and edited by my talented friend GP Mendoza (soon to be published in the New York Times!!).

Monsoon by Sturla Gunnarsson

Monsoon won the People’s Choice Award at TIFF’s Canada’s Top 10 Film Fest. Click for screening dates.


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