Gautaman Bhaskaran
an indian journalist
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© Copyright 2004

 

INDIAN CINEMA

Cinema In General

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Pans & Tilts…No distributors for small cinema, NFDC is anti-Press, Paris as locale, Dasavatharam…

There are many ills facing Indian cinema, but lack of distributors is now snowballing into a major impediment. Smaller movies, such Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s or Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s find it even more problematic to find a distributor and an exhibitor. Adoor’s latest, “Four Women”, despite a great worldwide Festival run since last August/September when it premiered at Toronto, is yet to have a theatrical release outside Kerala.

Madhusudhanan’s “Bioscope” and Anjali Menon’s “Lucky Red Seeds”, produced by the National Film Development Corporation of India, are now travelling to the Cannes Market, where some people would see it. Will they get an overseas buyer? Will they get on the theatrical circuit in India? I really have my reservations. Prabhakar Shukla’s “Kahaani Gudiya Ki” is yet another movie that seems to have run into problems. It was to have opened a few weeks ago in South India, but there is no sign of this.

Robert Friedman, member of the U.S. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and former President of Columbia, regrets that despite an awareness of and demand for Indian films there, distributors are hard to come by. He says he finds it frustrating that Indian movies do not get the exposure and distribution they deserve. “India is a sleeping giant. It is slowly waking up, but it needs to fortify its distribution link in the U.S.”, he adds.

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I fail to understand the NFDC’s strange reluctance to let journalists watch the three movies it is carting to the Cannes Market. Despite my valiant efforts to watch them, I could manage to do so only one, “Via Darjeeling”. With little chance of the other two films, “Lucky Red Seeds” and “Bioscope” finding distributors or exhibitors in India, the NFDC could have at least let journalists watch them in the hope of garnering some publicity. Perhaps, the NFDC is not sure of the kind of reviews the movies would get. But let me tell you, even bad publicity is better than not being written about at all.

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Paris is now the favourite locale for Indian movies. After Farhan Akthar’s “Don”, Shaad Ali Sahgal’s “Jhoom Barabar Jhoom” and I.V. Sasi’s “Manam”, there is a long queue of Indian producers all set to fly to exotic Paris, where Sharmila Tagore once frolicked in a swim suit for “An Evening in Paris”. The city charms me no end. It is majestic, historic, green and yet modern with really beautiful people. No wonder poets and painters found inspiration by the Seine. Chennai’s celebrated painter Viswanathan lives in Paris for half the year. He spends the other half by Chennai’s Bay of Bengal at the picturesque Artists’ Village called Cholamandal. Now can we blame our cinema producers if they look up the Eiffel Tower or walk by the Seine or peep into the Louvre or climb the Montmartre for their own fix of stimulation?

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Tailpiece: Kamal Hassan’s “Dasavatharam” has evoked not the blessings of Lord Vishnu, but the ire of Hindu Munani, a religious group that says the work ridicules the Vaishnavites! Every other picture these days is running into obstacles placed by some religious sect or the other. Cinema needs to remain unshackled if it is to create motion and magic.

(Webposted May 8 2008)