Indian films at Locarno fest rise above song and dance

Locarno: A bouquet of films from India, from different genres and regions, is being showcased at the 64th Locarno International Film Festival here in an effort to dispel the notion that the Indian film industry, one of the largest in the world, means just Bollywood song and dance.

"The aim was to familiarise the Locarno audience and give them an overview of the development of Indian cinema. Now that`s very difficult when you think of what a vast country we are and to do it in about 13-15 films," said Uma Da Cuna, programmer for the Indian films at the Open Doors section at the ongoing fest.

"So I started with silent cinema `Prapancha Pash` (1929) by Franz Osten and from there we went progressively to Guru Dutt and Raj Kapoor. It can`t be a very comprehensive programme, but just enough to show over the decade what we were doing," Da Cuna told IANS.

Open Doors focuses on Indian cinema and the interesting list boasts of variety as it includes Chetan Anand`s "Neecha Nagar" (1946); Raj Kapoor`s "Aag" (1948); Guru Dutt`s "Pyaasa" (1957); Ritwik Ghatak`s "Meghe Dhaka Tara" (Bengali, 1960), Jahnu Barua`s 1987 Assamese movie "Halodhia Choraye Baodhan Khai"; and Shyam Benegal "Manthan" (1976).

The list also has Aparna Sen`s "Mr. and Mrs. Iyer" (2002); Adoor Gopalakrishnan`s Malayalam movie "Nizhalkkuthu" (2002); Rajnesh Domalpalli`s Telugu movie "Vanaja" (2006); Marathi film "Valu" (2008) by Umesh Kulkarni; Vikramaditya Motwane`s "Udaan" (2010); and last year`s Kannada film "Kanasemba Kudureyaneri" by Girish Kasaravalli.

A retrospective of Satyajit Ray is also being held here.

Adoor Gopalakrishnan, who is here as a part of Open Doors, feels it`s high time foreign audiences should be told that Indian movies are not just about Bollywood masala movies.

"It`s very important that while we talk about the Indian film industry, we should talk about the reality that exists there. We should not try to tell them lies because it`s very important that they should see things in proper perspective," Adoor told IANS.

"Bollywood is a very artificial term. The common man in the West and America take it as Indian cinema and that is a very wrong service it (Bollywood) is doing," he added.

Adoor feels typical masala Hindi films are not only creating problems for the regional movies but are doing a disservice to other better Hindi films.

"Even better films are being made in Hindi language itself. But they are struggling against this kind of concept about cinema of India. It (Bollywood films) may be making money, it may be popularizing a kind of mindless entertainment, but it is a very negative phenomenon.

"We cannot stop it, but then let them advertise themselves as popular Hindi cinema and there is space for that, and not something else, by which I mean the entire Indian film industry," added Adoor, who is happy with the kind of films being shown here.

"I think they have a good selection for the Open Doors," he said.

There are some filmmakers who are often accused of making films only for the international film festival circuit.

But Adoor clarified that, saying: "It`s wrong to say that certain filmmakers in India make films for international film festivals. It`s a wrong statement. Films are basically made for Indian audiences and better kind of cinema will find acceptance at the international film festival. That`s all. The primary audience is the Indian audience."

Krishna Duddukuri, president of the Geneva-based Association for Aid to Young Directors and Filmmakers (AARC), concurred with Adoor`s views on Bollywood.

"I am also in accord with Gopalakrishnan because people all over the world only know Bollywood and the masala films. I wish more independent movies are promoted in the world," Duddukuri told IANS.


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