Letters to the City Yet to Come

Shot in the weeks following the deadly gang-rape of a young woman, "Letters to the City Yet to Come" provokes reflection on the past, present and future of New Delhi, India. The film is a city symphony composed of three letters written in three languages (Hindi, Urdu and English) by an artist, an academic and an activist. Each letter is intimately addressed to a loved one in the future, describing the city as it is today, as it might become tomorrow.

Juxtaposing voice-over narration, music and contemporary imagery, the film immerses the viewer in the daily rhythms of New Delhi. It explores historical relics, street life, political protest, and other vivid urban scenes to complete a portrait of this vibrant yet violent city.

  • Gorav Kalyan
  • Rohan Kalyan
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    11 minutes 50 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 15, 2015
  • Production Budget:
    2,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    English, Hindi, Urdu
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • New York Indian Film Festival
    New York, NY
    May 5, 2015
    World Premiere
  • Altered Esthetics Art House Film Festival
    Minneapolis, MN
    July 23, 2015
  • Corto Creativo Short Film Festival
    Tijuana, Mexico
    August 28, 2015
    International Premiere
  • DocuWest International Film Festival
    Denver, CO
    September 13, 2015
  • MICGenero
    Mexico City, Mexico
  • Oaxaca Film Festival
    Oaxaca, Mexico
  • Vasteras Filmfestival
    Vasteras, Sweden
  • Filmstock Film Festival
    Scottsdale, AZ, USA
Director Biography - Gorav Kalyan

Gorav Kalyan (Director) is a New York-based filmmaker and co-founder of Nonetheless Productions. Gorav studied philosophy at the College of New Jersey and studied Film Directing at the California Institute of the Arts. He was a 2013 Film Independent Project: Involve fellow, and his most current project is "The Biography of the Philosopher," a feature length documentary about French philosopher Alain Badiou.

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Director Statement

When we first conceived of "Letters to the City Yet to Come," we were thinking about making something like a time-capsule film. New Delhi was a city that was changing so rapidly that we thought we should exploit film's inherent ability to excise time from itself in order to capture it ("This is what was happening in front of the camera at this particular place at this particular moment in time."). We expected our writers to tell their letter recipients from the future of the everyday concerns of early 21st century urban Indian life. We further hoped that, by being addressed as a person from the future, the viewer would be unmoored from the present day, and see contemporary New Delhi from a distance across time.

What we got instead was another type of time-capsule altogether--not at all quotidian or mundane. In the weeks surrounding our filming, India suddenly and permanently changed how it talks about the treatment of women in its society. Consequently, we captured not just a moment but a historical turning point. "Letter to the City Yet to Come" is still a time-capsule, but now one of a cultural touchstone, the thoughts, feelings and actions that it inspired, and the world in which it existed.

It doesn't feel right to say that our project was fortunate to have found itself in such compelling circumstances. After all, the brutal death of an innocent young woman haunts every frame seen and every syllable spoken in this film. Maybe it's more accurate to say that our conception of "Letter..." was itself mistaken; that there is no typical moment in a city like New Delhi; that every moment, any moment, is consequential and compelling, as long as we look and listen.