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Indian Films fail to capture Quality Literature, says Indian-Origin Canadian Film Director Richie Mehta

"When I read a book from here, it boggles my mind with just how well written it is. But it doesn't translate to film scripts. The quality of Indian literature is not reflected in the quality of Indian scripts, by and large." says Richie Mehta

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Director Richie Mehta at the Miami International Film Festival. Wikimedia Commons

Panaji, November 24, 2016: Richie Mehta, the Indian-origin Canadian film director feels that India has a very rich heritage of literature “on par with the world” but it is not reflected in the movies made in India.

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Richie, who is known for directing critically acclaimed films like “Siddharth”, and “Amal” says that he is highly impressed with the literary work in the country, but it is yet to find space in cinema.

According to PTI, he told the reporters, “When I read a book from here, it boggles my mind with just how well written it is. But it doesn’t translate to film scripts. The quality of Indian literature is not reflected in the quality of Indian scripts, by and large.”
“In order to survive as a viable industry, specially with the changing face of distribution, the script will always be important,” he added.

His recent project known as “India in a Day” was screened at the 47th edition of International Film Festival of India (IFFI).

Richie feels that there is an obvious disconnection between literature and films here, and that is not necessarily a criticism but it is more of his idea.

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“I’ve recently come to feel in this country one thing that excelled in the arts and cultural sectors is literature. The level of literature that has come out of the country in the past is unmatched in the word. It is on par with the rest of the world, easily…”

“But why is it that Indian literature is studied all over the world and Indian cinema is not. There is s disconnect there. This is not a criticism. This is an idea.”

The director acknowledges that writing for films and books are two completely different things.

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“When an Indian author writes his or her own book, it is their reflection. They only have their alphabets to work with, they know how to wield those letters.”

“But the language of cinema is much more complicated because you are wielding letters, images, every colour of the spectrum, every sound.”

“The distribution is already collapsing, we are seeing it in the studios here, they are all starting to not fund the big films. But a good script will pass through. It will get made.

prepared by NewsGram team with PTI inputs

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A little truth needs to be added in children’s literature

Children's literature needs to be developed with changing time and society

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Literature for Kids in India
Indian literature was all about mythology but now things are changing.Wikimedia Commons

– Paro Anand

I grew up in a house of books and reading. Every evening, we had what was called a “quiet time”, when we sat together just before dinner, listening to classical music and reading our own books. I hated that time. I resented being made to sit still and quiet. But my parents and sisters were avid readers; so I just had to fall in line.

I started reading whatever my sister seemed to enjoy. So at the age of 12 or so, I began reading “Great American Plays” and German poet Bertolt Brecht. I was part of a theatre group and so found reading plays fascinating. It did me more good than harm to be reading way beyond my years. I went back to reading these plays much later and enjoyed them in a totally different way. There didn’t seem to be much distinction between literature for children and adults. The lines had barely been formed. And there was no parental interference, we were free to pick any book off our parent’s shelves.

Yes, I was reading William Shakespeare, Pooh and also, Brecht, all at the same time. Whatever took my fancy. The biggest change from my growing-up years to my children’s and onwards is that there were practically no Indian books to choose from other than the usual mythology and folktales, not for the young reader, at any rate. When my children were growing up, there were some books for them to choose from that lay within India. Besides Ruskin Bond and R.K. Narayanan, there was also “Target” magazine which showcased some wonderful new writers like Sigrun Srivastava, Anupa Lal, Subhadra Sengupta and Deepa Agarwal, among many others.

“Target” and “Children’s World” spearheaded a much-needed trend of Indian writing in the contemporary context. Sadly, “Target” was closed down — a great disservice to children’s literature, I feel. Childrens Book Trust and National Book Trust were also bringing out exciting new writings like Arup Kumar Datta’s “The Kaziranga Trail”, which remains one of my all-time favourites along with Sigrun Srivastava’s “A Moment of Truth”.

And this trend has continued unabated. The growing number of foreign publishers coming into India and then starting a children’s imprint supports this. Of course, Penguin’s Puffin has been around for a long time, but they are bringing out exciting books that break new ground. Even Indian publishers like Duckbill, which is dedicated to young literature, Speaking Tiger launching Talking Cub, Rupa launching Red Turtle and Full Circle’s Tota Books are all important moves in the right direction.

Scholastic, the biggest children’s publisher worldwide, has been very successful in India, holding book fairs in schools. Schools themselves hold Book Weeks and book events where authors are invited. I am working with several book sellers who sell my books in the hundreds at schools. Supplementary readers are often from Indian authors.

The problem, I feel, is really one of access. While more and more schools are putting in a lot of effort to get books to their students, once that push is over and children have got excited by reading, where do they go? Where do they get more information about new releases and new authors? Media and bookseller support is a must. The growing trend of local literary festivals that has been sparked by the tremendous success of the Jaipur Lit Fest sees huge numbers of school students flocking there looking to meet and hear authors and buy copies.

Today, as I proudly receive my Sahitya Akademi Bal Sahitya Puraskar Award, I am humbled as I see how far we have come in the journey of winning a deserving status for children’s literature. Think of it, the Sahitya Akademi awards have been given since the 1950s to those writing for adults. The prize for children’s writers came only in 2010. So, yes, it has been a long time coming. But it is here.

There are now wonderful writers writing about real issues, real life — the lives that young people are grappling with every day. “Unbroken” by Nandhika Nambi (Duckbill) and “Slightly Burnt” by Payal Dhar (Bloomsbury) are wonderful books that are important in marking the paths of children’s literature in the modern context.

I speak, of course, only of Indian literature in English. There was a time when I could speak with some authority about the Indian languages but can no longer claim adequate knowledge. However, sitting on the stage to receive the Bal Sahitya Puraskar by Sahitya Akademi, I was so proud to be with other winners from 23 other languages, including Santhali, Manipuri, Dogri and others. It is important that our Indian languages and young literature in them are equally experimental, equally brave and path-breaking.

Yes, there is a place for mythology and folk tales. There is room for monsters and rakshasas, but there is also room for the monsters that inhabit our real world. The issues of dichotomy and prejudice. There is space for children to read about the issues that are already impacting them on an everyday basis as well as issues that they should know about. There is a time for fantasy and there is a time for truth. The fantasy has always been there. It’s time to put a little truth and trust in the hands of our young. (IANS)

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JY Pillay: Indian Origin Civil Servant Appointed as the Acting President of Singapore

As CPA Chairman since 2005, Pillay has been acting President each time the President goes on an overseas trip

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Acting President of Singapore
JY Pillay. Youtube
  • JY Pillay has been appointed as the acting President of Singapore
  • Pillay, also the Chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers, is a veteran civil servant of Indian Origin
  • The Singapore polls take place on 23rd September

September 2, 2017: Indian-origin veteran civil servant JY Pillay on Friday took over as Singapore’s acting President until a new head of the state is elected later this month.

The temporary appointment of Pillay, Chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA), follows the completion of President Tony Tan Keng Yam’s six-year term on Thursday, the Strait Times reported.

The nomination day for the Presidential election is September 13, followed by polling day on September 23.

According to the report, when the office of President is vacant, the first in line to exercise its powers is the CPA Chairman, followed by the Speaker of Parliament. This is the first time the office has fallen vacant since the elected presidency was introduced in 1991.

Pillay is no stranger to exercising the powers of the President. As CPA Chairman since 2005, he has been acting President each time the President goes on an overseas trip. He acted as President in May, when Tan made state visits to Europe.

He has served more than 60 such “stints”– the longest of which was 16 days in April and May of 2007 when then President SR Nathan visited Africa. (IANS)


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Indian-Origin CEO Ravin Gandhi Faces Racism in The US for Criticising Trump After Charlottesville racial violence

Ravin Gandhi posted a voicemail from an alleged Trump supporter on the social media along with the nastier emails he received

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Racism, Ravin Gandhi
Indian-Origin CEO Ravin Gandhi faces racism in the US. Pixabay
  • An Indian origin CEO says he was racially abused and was told to “go back” to India
  • He refused to defend US President Donald Trump’s economic agenda following the racial violence in Virginia
  • He said he will speak out against such abuse as long as he has a platform to do so

Washington, August 24, 2017: An Indian origin CEO says he was racially abused and was told to “go back” to India and also take along top Indian-American diplomat Nikki Haley after he refused to defend US President Donald Trump’s economic agenda following the racial violence in Virginia.

Ravin Gandhi, founder, and CEO of GMM Nonstick Coatings, a global supplier of coatings for cookware and bakeware, penned an op-ed for CNBC following the Charlottesville racial violence but in response was slammed and racially abused by readers, the Chicago Tribune reported.

 At least one woman was killed and dozens were injured in Charlottesville last week during clashes between white supremacists and counter-protestors at a rally. Trump, instead of blaming white supremacists, held both sides responsible for the violence and was criticised by both Democrats and Republicans for the response.

“I recently told the New York Times I was ‘rooting’ for certain aspects of Trump’s economic agenda,” Gandhi, 44, wrote in the article.

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“After Charlottesville and its aftermath, I will not defend Trump even if the Dow hits 50,000, unemployment goes to 1 per cent, and GDP grows by 7 per cent… I will not in good conscience support a President who seems to hate Americans who don’t look like him.

“The fact that Trump equated hate groups with those protesting hate lit me up,” Gandhi said. “His moral leadership on this issue is reprehensible.”

US-born Gandhi, after his op-ed was published, received a voicemail from an alleged Trump supporter, who told him to “get your (expletive) garbage and go back to India”.

“You can take that other half-(expletive) Bangladesh creep with you, Nikki Haley,” the woman said in the message.

“She’s the one that started all this when she took down the Confederate flag. So don’t tell us that you gave him a chance. We don’t give an (expletive) who you gave a chance, OK? We’re going to start taking down Buddhist statues and see how you and Nikki Haley like that.”

The caller told Gandhi to “go clean up your own (expletive) country, it’s a filthy mess”.

He soon posted the voicemail on the social media and also shared the nastier emails he received, the report said.

“It was obvious that people thought my professional position somewhat protected me,” he said. “I wanted to show people that racism is blind to socioeconomics.

“Even though my race is a complete non-issue in my day-to-day life, the sad reality is there’s a group of racists in the USA that views me as a second-class citizen,” he said.

“I wanted my peers in the business community, the civic community, my friend community to see that this can happen to me. Because there’s this delusion that racism is dead because (Barack) Obama was elected (President),” Gandhi said.

He said while his sharing a “bigoted” voicemail may not make a big difference, he will speak out against such abuse as long as he has a platform to do so. (IANS)