Bollywood encroaches on regional cinema

Locarno:  Malayalam film veteran Adoor
Gopalakrishnan feels that Bollywood is encroaching upon the
sensibilities of regional cinema, which he finds “very
destructive”.

He was speaking at a round table discussion on ‘Lessons
from Bollywood’ organized by the Locarno Film Festival, whose
Open Doors section has a special Focus on India this year.

Adoor’s Nizhalkkuthu is being screened at the festival
as a part of a retrospective of 19 other films from Indian
filmmakers including Raj Kapoor’s Aag, Ritwik Ghatak’s
Meghe Dhaka Tara and Satyajit Ray’s Charulata.

The 70-year-old filmmaker, known for delivering cinema
gems like Swayamvaram, Kathapurushan, Mukhamukham and
Naalu Pennungal, is troubled by Bollywood’s all-pervading
presence.

“Bollywood has encroached upon the sensibilities of the
South and is being replicated in regional cinemas. This is
very destructive, as the younger generation believes that this
alone is cinema. And Bollywood is not just at international
film festivals, but also has the International Indian Film
Academy Awards, in which Bollywood gives awards to itself,”
Adoor said.

He, however, conceded that his wife knows better Hindi
than him, just by watching Hindi films.

Other participants at the discussion included Gargi Sen,
actor Kabir Bedi, filmmaker and head of Magic Lantern
Foundation, producer Bhuvan Lall, Suresh Laxmanan, senior Vice
President of the Film Federation of India, Indu Shrikent of
the former Osian’s Film Festival, and Anu Rangachar,
programmer of the Mumbai Film Festival.

Kabir Bedi, who has had a 25-year acting career in India,
Europe and the US, also participated in the discussion. The
actor, who is remembered here for his role in the Italian TV
series Sandokan, said, “I am very proud of being from
Bollywood, but I could never have a career as a leading man
there, because I refused to sing and dance. That is why I
worked in Europe and the US.”

“If independents are to learn lessons from Bollywood, it
would be defining its audience, studying the craft of writing
good screenplays, and getting a good sales agent who will do
the hustling. Making independent film is not an excuse for
self-indulgence,” Bedi added. He is currently working on The
Final Promise
, the first feature film that he will make
himself.

An important distinction was made by Gargi Sen, who said,
“The aesthetics of Hindi cinema of the ’50s was inspired by
the European new wave, whereas Bollywood is more a post-1991,
post-liberalisation term. Hindi cinema is the basis of
Bollywood. We have also had many avant garde directors
including Ritwik Ghatak and Mani Kaul.

“The fact that Anurag Kashyap was producing a film by
Mani Kaul when the latter passed away, is a sign of Indian
film moving in new directions,” she said.

There is a strong Indian presence at the Locarno Film
Festival this year, thanks to Open Doors. There are 41 Indian
delegates, 19 Indian films and 12 scripts with their
producer-director teams at the Open Doors Coproduction Lab.

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