Gautaman Bhaskaran
an indian journalist
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© Copyright 2004

 

INDIAN CINEMA

Cinema In General

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Pans & Tilts…Getting into Cannes, Bollywood in soup, mindless morality, Mrinal Sen…

I have always marvelled at Indian ingenuity. At the Cannes Film Festival that opened May 14, Indians have found a clever way of being all over. Shut out of the top officials sections, such as Competition and A Certain Regard (except for the Classics, where Vijay Anand’s “Guide” will play), our desi bhais and bhens will be in full strength at the Market, arguably the biggest in the world.

Animation meets mythology work, Ghatotkach, by National Award winning moviemaker, S. Srinivasa Rao, will be screened on May 17. Rakeysh Ompraksah Mehra’s “Dilli 6” and perhaps Ram Gopal Varma’s “Sarkar Raj” will be on show at the Market. There would be many more films, but all outside Cannes Festival. Though, we have many people foolish enough to write that they are part of Cannes. And many, many more foolish enough to believe this!

However, what appears significant at this stage of the Festival is that Anil Ambani's Reliance Big Entertainment is reportedly set to announce around 10 Hollywood co-productions with stars such as Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. This will be a virtual coup at Cannes, and those who run the Festival would have no choice but to look at India once again. But that is next year.

Some Indian stars would be around: Abhishek Bachchan to promote “Dilli 6”, wife Aishwarya as L’Oreal’s brand envoy and Preity Zinta to promote Chopard.

In the final analysis, Indian cinema must understand that to be respected at Cannes, it must produce great, if not, good films. Is someone listening?

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In tune with what I have said, Bollywood is Bombing at the box. Two big budget movies that held out much promise have flopped in recent weeks. Yash Raj Productions’ “Tashan” and Filmkraft’s “Krazzy 4” have been nothing short of disasters. This has proved that all the gloss and glamour cannot produce results unless there is an intelligent script to keep them afloat. Of course, you need a good director. Otherwise, a brilliant script can fail as a film. I am told that the industry has lost Rs 400 million because of these two failures. Both movies had “saleable” stars who could not sell the dreams. Besides, the performances are seldom top of the line. Now, I am sure, you can understand why Indian cinema has not been figuring at Cannes for several years.

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Chennai is still steeped in a mindless morality mess. Tamil actress Shriya got a legal notice for a neckline that plunged. Mallika Sherawat got hers for a hemline that shot up. So what one may ask. But Chennai’s Rightwing organisations are getting to be as sick as the Taliban asking women to cover themselves to boredom. I really do not know when these men would learn that India has many, many more issues of mass consequence (hunger, homelessness, illiteracy, female infanticide, population explosion) than Shriya’s cleavage or Mallika’s legs!

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Tailpiece: Director Mrinal Sen will be honoured with a Lifetime Award at the 10th Osian’s-Cinefan Festival of Asian and Arab Cinema in New Delhi. The Festival begins July 10. I am happy that real cinema gets recognised in our country. At least, sometimes.

(Webposted May 15 2008)