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Filmmaker Balachandra Menon feels freedom is being misused in India

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New Delhi: Veteran Malayalam film personality Balachandra Menon feels freedom is being misused in India and does not believe in the manner in which protests are conducted as they break all permissible levels.

Asked about his concept of “creative freedom” for filmmakers, Menon, who has directed more than 40 films and acted in close to 100, told reporters: “There is a strong social premise in our country and I feel today freedom is being misused and not used. There is a right to protest in our country, but at times, the manner in which the protest is done breaks all permissible levels. I don’t agree with it at all.”

The 62-year-old will be in New Delhi to screen his latest film “Njan Samidhanam Cheyyum” to a select audience. He will also interact with them. The film released last year.

Talking about the information and broadcasting ministry’s decision to set up a new committee to look into the functioning of the censor board, which has been mired in controversies, Menon said: “Over the years I have always said what I wanted to say through my films. I have ensured that I will not allow anyone to question what I tell through my films.”

“I have expressed it well too, and have at times argued for the right to express my creative freedom with the censor board officials, and they have allowed me to express it the way I want it.”

Menon, who entered filmdom in the 1970s and has a distinctive style, also pointed out that there are numerous clubs in the country which insist on a dress code.

“Please don’t misunderstand that I am batting for the censor board. But I say the truth from the bottom of my heart.”

“It was in 2001 that in a leading vernacular newspaper I wrote an open letter to then Kerala chief minister A K Antony saying that some sort of benchmark should be set for TV programs. There are rules and regulations, and we live in a country where the Constitution gives us rights and at the same time there are things that have to be restricted.

“Hence, I believe the law of the land should be adhered to,” added the filmmaker, whose debut directorial “Uthrada Rathri” had an A-certificate.

Commenting on the emergence of film festivals across the country, Menon said: “The concept is good, but it should not be hijacked by people with an agenda. If that happens, then the concept of holding festivals would be lost.”

While he appreciates the proliferation of digital media for the film world, Menon stressed that a film’s success is not dependent on digital media because people come in huge numbers to theaters if a film is good.

“The success depends on the way the film is made and not whether it’s promoted through the digital media.”

About his future projects, Menon, who has introduced hugely popular actresses like Shobana, Parvathy, Karthika, Annie and Nandini, said he was soon going to don the greasepaint in the film “Oozham”.

He will act in the movie along with upcoming star Prithviraj. The film’s shooting will begin in April. (IANS)

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  • P. B. Josh

    That is exactly what the Honorable Judge said in granting six months conditional bail to Kanhaiya Kumar. She termed JNU students misuse of FOE as cancerous organs which need to be amputated.

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‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro’ Director Kundan Shah Passes Away at 69

The filmmaker, hailed by the Indian film fraternity as a "master storyteller", would have turned 70 on October 19.

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Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro
The celebrated filmmaker died in his sleep, after suffering a heart attack. (IANS)

Mumbai, October 9, 2017 : Filmmaker Kundan Shah, who gave Indian cinema a different brand of humor with the cult black comedy “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro” and subsequently television shows like “Nukkad” and “Wagle Ki Duniya” with the ‘aam aadmi’ at the centrestage, died early on Saturday, a family member said. He was 69.

“He died in his sleep early in the morning,” his relative told IANS.

Satish Kaushik, who wrote dialogues for “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro” and acted in it, said Shah suffered a cardiac arrest.

His last rites were performed at Shivaji Park crematorium by daughter Shilpa with close family members and friends from the film fraternity in attendance, including “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro” actors Naseeruddin Shah and Satish Shah, as well as Sudhir Mishra, Anil Kapoor, Deepak Dobriyal, Ratna Pathak, Raveena Tandon and Ashoke Pandit.

The filmmaker, hailed by the Indian film fraternity as a “master storyteller”, would have turned 70 on October 19.

His tryst with learning about film direction began at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune. Just last week, he was at the institute for an event. He had even paid a tribute to actor Tom Alter, who died on September 29, and had spoken about a tentative script that he wrote for a part two of “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro”, his debut directorial which came out in 1983.

In an interview to IANS, Shah had said he had applied for a loan of Rs 400,000 to make the movie, but then the production cost went up and finally it was made at a budget of Rs 725,000 as the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) came on board as producer.

“Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro” narrated a tale of two simple and honest photographers, who witness a murder and get dragged into the corrupt real estate circle where politicians and bureaucrats are involved. The film, laced with slapstick comedy, didn’t fetch good box office, but achieved cult status with time.

“When I was making the film, I never thought it would be such an acclaimed movie. Every filmmaker has some dreams and this film has given me more than I dreamt of. It surpassed my expectations,” Shah had told IANS.

He had received his first and only National Film Award – Indira Gandhi Award for Best First Film of a Director – for it. This was the same award that Shah had returned to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting during the student protests in FTII in 2015 over Gajendra Chauhan’s appointment as its chairman.

The movie featured actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Ravi Baswani, Om Puri, Pankaj Kapur, Satish Shah, Satish Kaushik, Bhakti Barve and Neena Gupta. And Shah believed it gave “a lot to the entire cast and crew and its success is beyond their imagination too”.

After making “Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro”, Shah moved to television and worked there for seven years — giving such gems as “Nukkad”, “Wagle Ki Duniya” and “Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi”, all of which gave the Indian telly audience a reason to laugh away their worries with stories of everyday struggles.

With its simple yet compelling narrative, the Doordarshan show “Nukkad”, told stories of lower income people battling issues while trying to survive in a tough social and economic climate.

“Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi” saw Satish Shah infuse laughter by essaying different characters from many professions and regions of India, in different episodes.

“Wagle Ki Duniya”, based on cartoonist R.K. Laxman’s character of the common man, dealt with the woes of the middle-class Indian. With impeccable performances by Anjan Srivastav and Bharati Achrekar, it’s still etched in the minds of Hindi TV buffs of the late 1980s.

It is for Shah’s sensitivity towards the common man that filmmaker Prakash Jha dubbed him as the “Common Man of Cinema”.

Shah returned to films with the 1993 coming-of-age romantic drama “Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa”, which saw Shah Rukh Khan romance Suchitra Krishnamoorthi.

“He was a good man and a genius filmmaker,” Suchitra, who wishes a “glorious afterlife” for Shah, told IANS.

In a long career, Shah came up with few but impactful works.

Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt described Shah as a brave man “who added vigour to the alternate cinema stream with movies like ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro'”.

Actor Satish Kaushik said Shah gave “comedy a new face”, while Sudhir Mishra, who was his friend, said Shah was “wise, crazy, academic, imaginative and mourned the impossibility of true love”.

Seven years after “Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa”, Shah came up with “Kya Kehna”. With teenage pregnancy at its core, the Preity Zinta-starrer was ahead of its time and did well. His subsequent projects “Hum To Mohabbat Karega”, “Dil Hai Tumhaara” and his last movie as a director “P Se PM Tak” failed to get commercial success. (IANS)