The following exchange between karrvakarela and me on my post on 'Tum Mile' seemed too important to be hidden in the comments section. Some of my Film & Television Institute friends, filmmakers themselves, The Third Man, Irene Dhar Malik and I, review films regularly, and we are often accused of hating Bollywood.
At the risk of sounding silly, I actually feel physically sick when I trash a film. As a film maker I know how difficult it is to get a film off the ground, and to actually see it through to the end.
So I take the liberty of speaking for all of us, and other film critic, film maker and film lover friends, in saying that the fact is that we love films, and therefore hate the sheer waste of money, effort, technical skills and star power expounded in an obviously lackadaisical manner, to make what can only be called 'products' and are definitely not films.
This displays a callousness in the film industry towards the audience and leads to a desensitization of both film makers and the audience. The Times of India today carries an interesting article 'Directors on the Fringe' which introduces us to a few of the film makers who are struggling against the system.
Anyway here is the exchange between karrvakarela and me, and I hope that all of you will add your own thoughts to this.
This has nothing to do with your review, or the film, which I will assiduously avoid, but is it just me or is the recent urbanization of Hindi cinema starting to get stale? Granted a lot of the audience is concentrated in the cities so it makes sense to make movies they can relate to but as an industry whose job it is to tell stories I think most new filmmakers have been willfully negligent in ignoring the rest of the country. I was watching Prakash Jha's Hip Hip Hurray the other with its charming portrayal of small-town Ranchi and it hit me how little we've seen this kind of story-telling of late. Films like Gulzar's Namkeen and Mausam, Shyam Benegal's Manthan, Basu Bhattacharya's Teesri Kasam; stories with local flavor and character. Where are they now? Will they ever be made again? I think Vishal Bharadwaj may be the only one who is exploring those possibilities and transcripting them into his own private genre. Everyone else seems too obsessed with the urban grind.
Karrvakarela, true. The trouble is not that those stories are not being written, nor that those films are not being made in the face of severe odds, but that those films are not getting distributed, and don't even have a chance of reaching the audience. When they are picked up by a distributor, they are released in a few multiplexes, where the audience is not necessarily interested in these films, and the ticket prices are too high, thereby killing the film.
I've watched several small films which are in fact fresh, interesting stories, different from this no-man's land, which is not even truly representative of any urban concern. In the last year itself I have seen, Sushil Rajpal's 'Antardwand' (not released), Paresh Kamdar's 'Johny Johny, Yes Papa' (not released), Paresh Kamdar's 'Khargosh' (not released), Ranjit Kapoor's 'Chintuji' (didn't do even one week), Shyam Benegal's 'Welcome to Sajjanpur' (did reasonably well through word of mouth), Pravesh Bhardawaj's 'Niyati' (today he is celebrating 2 years since he finished the film) . These are just a few off the top of my head. A couple of days ago, I saw Bela Negi's film 'Daayen Baayein' (awaiting release, and all of us waiting with bated breath hoping that this lovely film gets its due viewership).
Often, I am unable to review those films because they are still in the process of being sold. :(
Which usually never happens.
A lot of us now feel that unless there are exhibition spaces for art-house cinema, where ticket prices are low, there is no hope for it.
Marathi cinema, in fact, has made a huge comeback because of government subsidies in the making, and also tax-free exhibition, made compulsory for cinema halls.
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