MELBOURNE, 13 August 2023: A Sunday with people from the world’s biggest film industry, despite the hype and glamour speaks for itself. The Indian film industry produces around in terms of number of films produced with between 1,500 to 2,000 films every year in more than 20 languages, says Deloitte. And, it adds, in terms of revenue, the industry has gross box office realisations of $2.1 billion which is expected to grow at 11% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) reaching $3.7 billion by 2020. Not bad. But listening to the people who run it or are part of it is entering a complex world.
The five IFFM Chats Rajeev Masand anchored at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM-2023), today gave some information (One can also read between the lines) about the state of affairs, the actors, directors, globalisation, role of cinema on social issues, family violence issue, content, OTT platforms, North India- South India, scripting, direction, careers and so on. India’s dream merchants, I must say, are not just stats.
At the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), the chats remain one of the best platforms the film festival presented. Actress Shabana Azmi opened up her career journey from Shyam Benegal’s Ankur to Karan Johar’s current Rocky aur Rani. She completes 50 years with around 160 movies of her career in 2024. Answering to Rajeev Masand, she said, an actors resource is life. Yes, she comes from a leftist family laced with Urdu gazals and theatre. She is married to Javed Akthar, screenwriter, lyricist and poet. That resonates in her movies and her activism. Shabana is candid about her background. Her being a former Member of the Indian Parliament, activism and the acting career are a medley of sorts. For her using arts (cinema) for social change is unflinching.
The chat on ‘Globalisation of South Indian Cinema with The Sita Raman Team, Anjali Menon & Prithivi Konanur’ saw the contemporary landscape of South Indian cinema in the context of the Bahubali series, Sita Raman and RRR, making waves globally. It was unanimous that content had taken the front seat. South Indian movies now having more pan-India consumption was seen an important development apart form the global acceptance. It was accepted that the emergence of OTT platforms, has helped movie makers to have better content. They, it was felt, were fearless to make an OTT production, with a little set of limitations.
Bhumi Padnekar, the activist actress (Bheed, Badhai Do, Afwaah) is a hard core environmentalist (She got the Unpredictable Disrupter Award at the IFFM-2023), talking to Rajeev Masand left no stone unturned talking about climate change as a dangerous thing. “The Earth is not warming, it is boiling, she told Rajeev Masand. And, ” We cannot move to another planet”. Basically, what Shabana Azmi is to social change, Bhumi is to the environment. Her movies have done well at the box office and the latest Afwaah is making waves. She talked passionately about her movies and other actors she appreciates.
The Darlings Team on Family Violence, Patriachy and Empowerment Chat had Director Jasmeet K Reen, actor Vijay Varma and producer Gaurav Verma. They were joined by Dr. Manjula Datta O’Connor, a psychiatrist with special interest in migrant women’s mental health, complex trauma and family violence. “Education and entertainment combination is why I liked Darlings “, said Dr. Manjula. ” It is all about power and its abuse,’ she added. The Director said Darlings is a classic story of social control. Vijay explained about his role and disclosed his personal experience between him and his father. Rajeev’s penetrating questions made the gender question an interesting topic, with the audience throwing in many questions. It was unanimous that the gender issue has no caste, religion…” Vijay said it was risky to take this movie but I am glad I did it.
To have five prominent directors from India in a panel discussion (Navigating Narratives that challenge, Confront, and Break Conventions) consisting of Anurag Kashyap (Kennedy), Kanu Behl (Agra), Onir (Pine Cone), Sarita Patil (Monica, O My Darlings) and Vikramaditya Motwani (Jubilee) was a critic’s feast. Anurag Kashyap talked about the fear in the atmosphere. “I cannot make ‘Mukkabaaz’ today” and “What cinema people are going through, which everybody is going through” ” The situation today is worse off as compared to the situation before the pandemic,” he said.
Motwani said, If I have to tell a story then format does not matter. Kanu Bahl said, We have to find the way to do what we we want to do. Another view was that so much content being created had never happened before.
All info- https://www.iffm.com.au/
Inputs – Siddarth Maitrak, Ateev Dang.
-All views in the report are that of the interviewees own. South Asia Times (SAT) does not take responsibility for any viewpoint in this report.