7-10 OCTOBER 2023
Asian Project Market

2023 Project

I′ll Smile in September Director Aakash CHHABRA Country/Region India / Singapore
  • Producer Sanjay GULATI, Fran BORGIA
  • Production Company Crawling Angel Films, Akanga Film Asia
  • Writer Aakash CHHABRA
  • Shooting Format 4K  |  color  |  110min
  • Genre Drama
  • Project Status Script Development, Financing
  • Goals at APM Financing, Co-production, Pre-sales, Distribution, International Sales, Festival Contact
  • Total Budget USD 687,000
  • Financing in Place USD 100,000


After getting forcefully separated from the love of his life and losing his front teeth in a physical altercation which ensued after it, a brass band player in Old Delhi tries to find his smile back with dental implants.


Kismateen, 24, works for a brass band in Old Delhi. An ace trumpeter, he is well liked by his peers, especially the bandmaster Ashok, 50s, who considers him to be his protege despite the differences in their faith and social status.
For the past two years, Kismateen has been secretly dating Ashok’s daughter, Avani, 23. The two plan to elope and settle elsewhere. But their plan fails. Ashok confronts Kismateen. An altercation ensues. Kismateen gets his teeth knocked out and is also fired from work.
Ashok arranges for Avani’s wedding to a distant relative based in Dubai. The ceremony takes place online and she leaves soon after. Kismateen, on the other hand, throws away his trumpet in a river and stops pursuing music altogether. Days pass by.
The band’s performances take a dip in Kismateen’s absence. A few weeks later, the band owner summons him. A trade takes place. Kismateen is offered work at a rival band. Though the new bandmaster is affable, the players mock him for losing his girl and his teeth. He stops talking and smiling completely to avoid further embarrassment.
While traveling in a bus one afternoon, he comes across a smile clinic advertisement. He thinks that perhaps the only way he can move ahead in life is if he gets a set of dental implants. He visits the clinic and books an appointment.
The film set against the backdrop of Delhi’s brass band community, follows Kismateen’s quest as tries to get his life back and fall in love again.

Director's Statement

Through I’ll Smile in September I want to encapsulate Kismateen’s unspoken feelings about separation, the debilitation after his first big heartbreak and a vehement yearning to move on in life. During the pandemic I moved to my hometown to live with my parents. I closely observed the relationship the two of them shared with each other and started to reflect upon the idea of companionship. I thought of my failed romantic relationships over the years, the flawed attempts I made, moving from one partner to another, simply to rewrite the script about perfect endings. Dejected and desolate, Kismateen considers dental implants to be his only chance at life. He, too, is desperate to rewrite his storybook ending.

Producer's Statement

I’ll Smile in September is a character driven drama about a young musician living at the margins of society. It is Aakash Chhabra′s feature length debut. Told over a series of chapters from Kismateen′s life, the film is the first to draw a layered yet intimate portrait of the Shaikh Dafalchi Muslim Brass Band Artisan community who are integral to festive celebrations in New Delhi.
The film is in the late stages of development. It is co-produced by Fran Borgia, founder-producer at Akanga Film Asia, Singapore. We intend to begin our principal photography in late-2024 and are looking for co-producers, funds, financiers, and sales agents who can help materialize this film.

Director's Profile


Aakash Chhabra studied Film Producing at Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute and received further training at the Busan Asian Film School (AFiS), Locarno Documentary School and Ji.hlava Academy.
His short films have screened at film festivals in Oberhausen, Winterthur, Poitiers, Tehran and Dharamshala. His debut short Mintgumri (2021) received a nomination at the Film Critics′ Guild of India Awards 2022 while his short documentary A Winter′s Elegy (2022) featured on Sight and Sound - Best Video Essays of 2022.
He is presently working on his feature-length debut I′ll Smile in September which was developed at AFiS. It was later selected for the Produire au Sud 2022 workshop in Nantes, France, and also won the Cineuropa ′A Journey to Europe′ Screenwriting Competition 2021.
He is a recipient of the reFrame film fellowship 2021-22 and the Rough Edges Uncode Fellowship 2022-23 for his shorts A Winter′s Elegy (2022) and his latest short in post-production Warm Shadows.

Producer's Profile

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Sanjay Gulati is an independent film producer based in New Delhi, India. He is the founder of Crawling Angel Films. His films include Lajwanti (Pushpendra Singh, 2014) - Berlinale Forum, Ashwatthama (Pushpendra Singh, 2017) - Busan International Film Festival New Currents, Once Again (Kanwal Sethi, 2018), an Indo-German co-production distributed by Netflix, Nimtoh (Saurav Rai, 2019) - International Film Festival Rotterdam Bright Future, Laila Aur Satt Geet (Pushpendra Singh, 2020) - Berlinale Encounters and Guras (Saurav Rai, 2023) - Karlovy Vary Proxima Jury Prize. In 2022, his Indo-French-Norwegian project, Girls Will Be Girls received the Sørfond and CNC cinémas du monde grant.

Fran Borgia leads Akanga Film Asia, an independent production company based in Singapore. His titles include Here (Ho Tzu Nyen, 2009) - Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, Sandcastle (Boo Junfeng, 2010) - Cannes Critics’ Week, A Lullaby To The Sorrowful Mystery (Lav Diaz, 2016) - Berlinale Silver Bear Prize, A Yellow Bird (K Rajagopal, 2016) - Cannes Critics’ Week, A Land Imagined (Yeo Siew Hua, 2018) - Locarno Golden Leopard Prize, Yuni (Kamila Andini, 2021) - Toronto International Film Festival Platform Prize, Tomorrow is a Long Time (Zhi Wei Jow, 2023) - Berlinale Generation and Tiger Stripes (Amanda Nell Eu, 2023) - Cannes Critics’ Week Grand Jury Prize.