Saturday December 16, 2017

Cinema and protest: Dadasaheb, Golden Lions and FTII

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By Ishan Kukreti

The Government of India has the power to make decisions, decisions it feels are right. However, one of the beauties of democracy is that it leaves a window open for the voice that disagrees to penetrate the Parliament and reach the government.

Students of FTII have been trying to reach to the authorities through this very window since the last 30 days. Appointments of Gajendra Chauhan and other four members of the faculty according to many is an act of political back-scratching done to forward the government’s saffron ideology.

Saffronisation

The present government has been placing people with ideologies congruent to its Hindutva agenda. Censor Board, Indian Historical Research Institute and FTII are some of the examples. Though this is a common practice among State authorities, the resistance faced by NDA in doing the same says a lot about the general acceptance or non-acceptance of its ideology. 

The scope of cinema as a tool for propaganda and consent manufacturing was well established by the end of Second World War. Nazis had used it and the Soviets too reaped its benefit. Therefore, it wasn’t a surprise that the independent Indian government brought the industry under it with the creation of Bombay Board of Film Certification and the Indian Cinematograph Act, 1952.

The struggle of FTII students is the resistance of a nation refusing to be indoctrinated, to swap their history, culture and values with something they do not agree with. And as free thinking individuals and believers of freedom of expression, it is quite obvious that they have taken the lead in this movement.

Cinema and rebellion

Since its inception, cinema has been a major voice of protest; often serving as a platform for the dissident. Films of the silent era made by Dadasaheb Phalke, Sahala Shah and S.S. Vasan etc. had a strong nationalistic element attached to them.

Alam_Ara_poster,_1931Talkies (movies with sound) which started in 1931 with Ardeshir Irani’s Alam Ara had a similar note of criticism. Films also touched on social issues like caste,  child marriage, inter-caste marriages. The cinema of Prithviraj Chauhan, Franz Osten and Bijon Bhattacharya among others was nothing less than a sustained critique of contemporary reality and a ceaseless effort to improve it. 

 

Cinema in independent India

The spirit of rebellion that is an intrinsic characteristic of many artists has always worked as a check to the progression of societal development.

As a nation whose memories of oppression are just 70 years old, there are sections which have not exchanged the rebel inside them for something adulterated or watered down.

It was with this conscientious attitude that the Indian cinema created masterpieces reflecting, in great depth, the human condition of the newly independent nation. Filmmakers of the independent era like Ritwik Ghatak, Satyajit Ray, Chetan Anand have been hailed amongst some of the finest Indian filmmakers. The cinema they created deconstructed social reality to make it more personal.

Ray, who won a Golden Lion at Cannes, had said, “The only solutions that are worth anything, are those that people find themselves”.

Unsung genius Ghatak believed that cinema in a society cannot be based on a void, it has to belong, belong to man.

Their works have also been reflective of their beliefs. Most of the cinema of the time, be it Neecha Nagar (1946), Pather Panchali (1955) or Nagrik (1952) pensively ponders on the immediate issue of the then Indian polity and poverty.

Zanjeer, Albert Pinto and the angry Indian

The focus of cinema in India under Mrs. Gandhi and her “Garibi Hatao andolan”, however, shows the inseparable presence of state dictum has on the medium. Cinema moved on from the poor. Though it revolved around a general sense of poverty, the fulcrum became issues other than poverty. And gradually they become highly skeptical and sometimes openly defiant of the status quo.

Films like Govind Nihalani’s Ardh Satya (1983) delve into the tussle between the State and the individual, while Adoor Gopalakrishna’s Mukhamukham (1984) and Ketan Mehta’s Mirch Masala (1987) are introspections on the nature of the State.   

When Amitabh Bachhan shot to fame as the angry young inspector Vijay Khanna in Prakesh Mehra’s Zanjeer (1973), he was riding the wave of a highly dissatisfied nation; a nation that did not know how/whether to vent, after it had given its all to end a 300 year servitude.Satya

A cranky, hot headed Naseeruddin Shah in Saeed Akhtar Mirza’s Albert Pinto ko Gussa kyu Aata hai? (1980) or an enraged Satya in Ram Gopal Verma’s Satya (1998) are characters mirroring the shrinking patience of a disgruntled nation.

Globalization, cinema and struggle

The floodgates for the creation of a consumerist society which were thrown open by the Privatization of the Indian economy had a profound impact on the cinema too. The larger than life picture that films like Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995), Hum Dil de Chuke Sanam (1999) generated and their appeal to NRI audiences were results of Globalization. ddlj2
However, the anger that was so palpable in the cinema earlier was not lost. Films like Kamal Hassan’s Hey Ram (2000), Anurag Kashyap’s Black Friday (2004), Rakesh Omprakesh Mehra’s Rang de Basanti (2006) while looking back with nostalgia at a bygone era, made a clear and biting statement, bordering on a warning.

Now, as for the first time, a government with a different ideology has secured a majority in the Parliament. efforts are afoot to streamline the biggest propaganda machine in the nation for its own benefit.

In this round of the political chopat, the votes in the next general elections along with the future of the Indian cinema are at stake and the only ones defending the latter right now are the students.

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Aarushi Talwar Murder Mystery : Vishal Bhardwaj Calls the Verdict a ‘Victory of Cinema’

Vishal Bhardwaj had written and co-produced the Konkona Sharma starer "Talvar" on the murder of the teenage girl from Noida

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Vishal Bhardwaj
Film Director Vishal Bhardwaj. Wikimedia

Mumbai, October 13, 2017 : Vishal Bhardwaj says because of “Talvar”, which he wrote and co-produced, the Aarushi Talwar murder case and its various investigation theories came to limelight once again. On the acquittal of the teenage girl’s parents in the case, the filmmaker says it’s a victory of cinema.

The Allahabad High Court on Thursday acquitted Rajesh and Nupur Talwar.

 “I think there is no better victory of cinema than this as it has made impact like this and that exactly what we wanted. It is amazing news and we are so happy for the family, and especially the parents, but the saddest part is that we can’t bring back their nine years in which they struggled to get justice. It’s also a big victory of the Indian judicial system,” Vishal Bhardwaj said.
Asked if the film generated any kind of awareness among the audience, Bhardwaj said: “I think because of our film, their case came to limelight at least for some period of time because earlier things which were under surface came into public eye with our film. In the investigation, there were many aspects which were doubtful and in our film, we took neutral stance and we didn’t take anyone’s side.

“We showed what happened in investigation and what proceedings were carried out by both investigating agencies that was Delhi Police and CBI in the film. So in the outcome, it made things pretty clear”

Vishal Bhardwaj was present for the opening ceremony of the Jio MAMI 19th Mumbai Film Festival here along with actress Konkona Sen Sharma, who acted in the 2015 movie directed by Meghna Gulzar.

Konkona said: “Its fantastic news. It’s really a shame that it took us nine years for their innocence that has been proven. Its tragedy is also that we still don’t know who the killers of Hemraj (house help) and Aarushi are but I am very happy for Talwars.”

Actor Sohum Shah, who also featured in the movie, said in a statement: “Before commencing the shoot, I was very confused and curious about this case. I wanted to know the truth but I didn’t want to create an opinion sitting at home. We tend to make an opinion by seeing the TV or believe loose talk. I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to know the truth.

“I am very happy because somewhere or the other they are saved from injustice. I hope that the crimals are caught as soon as possible and the law gives them a harsh punishment.” (IANS)

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Just in! Kalki has a crush on this Bollywood actor!

Currently, Kalki is looking forward to her upcoming film "Ribbon", also featuring Sumeet Vyas.

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Kalki Koechlin
Bollywood actress Kalki Koechlin. Wikimedia

Mumbai, October 13, 2017 : Actress Kalki Koechlin says she wishes to work on screen with all the Khans of Bollywood, but she has a softer corner for Shah Rukh Khan.

Asked if she wants to work with any of the top Khans of the industry, Kalki told IANS: “I want to work with all three Khans, but if you ask me my favourite, it has to be Shah Rukh Khan.

“Shah Rukh is my childhood crush. I met him few times in real life as well and he is very charming.”

When it comes to a new bunch of actors, she thinks she “will look nice” with Ranbir Kapoor.

“We worked in ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’ and I really liked him as co-star. He is a natural actor and spontaneous. It would be interesting to work with him,” she added.

The actress is trying to balance her career between mainstream and indie films by working with directors like Zoya Akhtar and Ayan Mukerji in films like “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” and “Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani”, along with movies like “Margarita, With a Straw” and “A Death in the Gunj” which were popular in festival circuits.

Sharing her wish-list of directors, Kalki said: “I would like to work with an artiste like Vishal Bhardwaj. His cinema is a piece of art, he writes the story, he makes the music of the film and it’s amazing. I think it would be interesting to work with Vikramaditya Motwane as well.”

Currently, Kalki is looking forward to her upcoming film “Ribbon”, also featuring Sumeet Vyas. It is releasing on November 3. (IANS)

 

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Welcome the new Chairman of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Anupam Kher

Actor Kabir Bedi said Anupam “would do wonders” in his new role

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Veteran actor Anupam Kher. Wikimedia

Pune, October 11, 2017 : Anupam Kher, an actor with a repertoire of over 500 movies including international projects, was named Chairman of the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune. The film industry hailed the move.

Official sources confirmed Anupam’s appointment. He will succeed the controversial Gajendra Chauhan, whose appointment had triggered student protests.

Anupam’s wife Kirron Kher, an actress and BJP MP from Chandigarh, told Times NOW: “I’m very happy. Of course, it’s a challenging job for anybody. It’s not going to be an easy job. These chairmanships are crown of thorns. Here, people do get against you, but I am sure Anupam will be able to take them along because he is an extremely talented person.”

Anupam, who began his acting career with “Saaransh” in 1984, also has his own acting institute Actor Prepares.

Kirron said Anupam was the right choice to head the FTII, which provides training in acting, direction and other technical aspects of film making in a country which is one of the largest producers of movies.

ALSO READ Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune to Screen Films Made by its Alumni from August 5

“My husband is a very fine actor. He has been in the film industry for so many years. He is very capable of (being FTII head).

“He has been teaching acting for so long. He is the only person who earlier headed CBFC, then National School of Drama and now has been appointed Chairman of FTII.

“So, I am a very proud wife today. I would like to thank the government and the Information and Broadcasting Ministry,” she said.

Asked what she meant by ‘crown of thorns’, she said: “I meant the CBFC, not FTII.”

Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar tweeted: “Heartiest congratulations to Anupam Kher for being appointed as the Chairman of FTII.”

Filmmaker Pritish Nandy called it an “excellent change” at FTII. “Finally, the government is listening to us.”

Actor Kabir Bedi said Anupam “would do wonders” in his new role. (IANS)