Beyond location, panellists debate Rajasthan in Indian cinema
Jaipur: The exotica of the mysterious Thar desert is inextricably crafted into the psyche of mainstream Indian cinema but it has yet to grow cinematic culture of its own, said panellists at a discussion at the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival Monday.
"Actor Shashi Kapoor had famously said in Deewar, `Mere paas maa hain (I have a mother)`... what do we have? Our earth and the rugged desert on which neither ice melts nor flowers bloom. But we have history, tradition, stories, dramas, ghosts, reincarnation and conflict," said actress-performer Ila Arun, a native of Rajasthan.
Participating in a discussion, ‘Rajasthan in Cinema: Beyond Locations’, anchored by film critic and writer Bhaichand Patel, she picked up three colourful leaves from Bollywood`s tryst with Rajasthan.
In 2005, actor-filmmaker Amol Palekar`s ‘Paheli’ was based on a Rajasthani short story by Vijaydan Detha. Starring Shah Rukh Khan, it was shot in Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Navalgarh and Samode.
Nearly a year later, Nagesh Kukunoor shot ‘Dor’ for 37 days across several locations in Rajasthan. The remake of a Malayalam movie ‘Perumazhakkalam’, it captured the essence of Rajasthan through the character of Meera, a conservative Hindu woman from a `haveli` in Rajasthan.
"Shah Rukh Khan came and made the film `Paheli`. We should thank him... When Rakheeji broke her bangles in the movie `Reshma and Shera`, we, the folks of Rajasthan (where the movie was shot) were her inspiration," Arun said.
The state which has been one of the favourite locales of the mainstream movie industry with classics like ‘Mera Saaya’, ‘Lekin’ and ‘Jodhaa Akbar’, however, has failed to evolve beyond its locales: it does not have a cinema of its own, Arun and filmmaker Govind Nihalani said.
Filmmaker Prakash Jha and lyricist Javed Akhtar joined Arun and Nihalani to throw light on the problems confronting regional and meaningful cinema from the perspective of Rajasthan.
Arun has own script about her favourite ghost in Rajasthan ready. "There is a ghost in every haveli and every hotel. Wait for my film...I am armed with knowledge about the state," she said.
"Rajasthan is the very state in the country- I have great love for this state. When you see it in the context of cinema - the history, values, courage, sacrifice, loyalty, monuments, temples and palaces make up the history of Rajasthan," said Nihalani, who grew up in Udaipur, said.
"But very little has been done to integrate Rajasthan, its culture and its location into the character of the film itself. In reality, beyond location, the literature of Rajasthan and the current societies have been facing the same problems that have come to us after the opening up of the economy," he added.
The filmmaker said the contemporary and traditional social structures of Rajasthan need to be brought out to the rest of India and the world.
"Rajasthan provides a good background for the adaptation of world literature in the backdrop of its society and feudal scenario," he said.
"I had once adapted Spanish playwright Federico Lorca`s play, `The House of Bernada Alba` and called it `Rukamvati ki Haveli`. If hadn`t divulged it, you wouldn`t have known it is not a story from Rajasthan. If we have to depict modern Rajasthan, then we have to make literature available in terms of translations," Nihalani said.
Rajasthan Tourism Minister Beena Kak, who was present as guest of honour, said that the stategovernment offers an incentive of Rs 10 lakh to filmmakers who shoot 60 percent of their movies in the state.
Movies like ‘The Far Pavilions’ and ‘The Octopussy’, shot in the state, had placed it on the global movie map years ago; but only as a quintessential Indian location.