Film News: Chicago Filmmaker Prashant Bhargava of ‘Patang’ Dies at 42

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NEW YORK – He was a Chicago-born director who explored his culture with a delicacy and poignancy that set his debut feature film “Patang” apart from any other experience, and within that art he sought to understand the world beyond his American birthplace. Prashant Bhargava passed away suddenly in New York City on May 16th, 2015, of undisclosed causes. He was 42 years old.

Prashant Bhargava
Filmmaker Prashant Bhargava
Photo credit: Kushi Films

I first met Prashant not through a face-to-face happenstance, but through his mother. It was at the opening night reception at the 2011 Chicago International Film Festival that this smallish women approach me, out of the blue, and asserted that she thought I was someone who was “important.” When I described what I was doing there, she thrust a flyer into my hand promoting “Patang,” making its Chicago debut at the festival. I attended the screening, and secured a interview date with Prashant. That date happened to be the same day I was giving a film tour of Chicago, dressed as Elwood of the Blues Brothers, and I met him in full costume. There probably had never been a better introduction and interaction from a Chicago film reporter to a Chicago filmmaker…


Prashant Bhargava was born on the southside of Chicago, and attended Kenwood Academy there. He combined studies at Cornell University in computer science with a theatrical director instruction from the Barrow Group and the Actors Studio (New York City) MFA program. Breaking from his career as a commercial director and image artist, his first short film was “Sangam” in 2004, and his first feature film was “Patang” seven years later.

“Patang” is a lyrical overview, set at the kite festival of Ahmedabad in India, and follows the event and its participants. Weaving stories and the at-flight beauty of the kites, Prashant explored issues of class, gender, family and point-of-life perspective into a pastiche of characters and stories. Roger Ebert gave the film four stars, and called Prashant “a poet of cinema.” He followed that assertion with an invitation to EbertFest in 2012, where “Patang” was chosen as one of 12 films presented there.

The City of Ahmedabad During the Kite Festival in Prashant Bhargava’s ‘Pantang’
Photo credit: Kushi Films

His final short film was released last year, “Radhe Radhe: Rites of Holi,” based on Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” and set during the celebration of Holi in Mathura, India. Prashant was also a successful commercial director and image motion designer, with clients as diverse as HBO, Accenture, NBC-TV, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Volvo.

The last time I saw Prashant was when I introduced “Patang” at the Facets Theatre in Chicago, and moderated the after film Q&A. He was full of energy at that screening, and the audience loved both the film and his enthusiasm. Between shows, my film critic colleague Matt Fagerholm and I went to dinner with yes, Prashant’s marketing mother, and she was brimming with joy for the future her son was sure to have.

Prashant Bhargava summed up his journey with this observation – “I think ultimately you make a film because there is some sort of self therapy going on. It was the connection to spirit and family, the exuberance that exists in the most simple things in India that I found very interesting…The kite flying holiday is something that goes across all boundaries – Hindu, Muslim, young, old – they are all on the rooftops doing this thing. I thought it was a great metaphor for the character’s lives to parallel, what is happening above.” Time to fly, my friend.

Sources for this article from Wikipedia and Prashant Bhargava, 1973-2015. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Writer, Editorial Coordinator

© 2015 Patrick McDonald,

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