Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Indian Panorama has lost its sheen ,don’t allow national awards to follow suit - Adoor Gopalakrishnan

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When the Toronto International Film Festival included films of Master film makers from India ,Adoor Gopalakrishnan  and Buddhadev Dasgupta  in the Masters Section, this year’s Indian Panorama selection Jury rejected both the films. IFFI had shamelessly avoided the films Pinneyum -Again and the Bait-Tope directed by  two auteurs  of Indian cinema . Adoor has written to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting urging him to ensure that the jury to select films for the National Awards this year is headed by a filmmaker of eminence who is familiar with modern trends in cinema, and the jury as a whole instil a feeling of fairness in the minds of the professionals involved .
It is learned that he has written to the Secretary , Information and Broadcasting, that “The national film awards were conceived as a means to select and award films for their thematic relevance, social commitment, original approach, technical excellence and above all aesthetic brilliance. Unfortunately, when the national awards for 2015 were announced all the major prizes including the best film and the best director went to outright commercial films undermining the very purpose for which it was instituted. Apparently the problem lay in the appointment of the jury. It was composed mostly of people who had little or nothing to do with meaningful cinema either as professional practitioners or as discerning critics and scholars. The appointment of the jury seemed to have been done casually not realizing how deeply it would demoralize the genuine and committed practitioners in the profession. The story was repeated this time when it came to the selection of films to the ‘Indian Panorama’ of the IFFI 2016. Everyone in the profession was shocked by the kind of selection that was made. Anything genuine, original and artistic was rejected with a vengeance. The naïve, gaudy and incongruous got in. If one finds a reasonably good film in the selection it should have got in by mistake. Critics attending the Mumbai, Kolkata and Kerala festivals were heard saying that the rejections in Goa would make a good festival of the best of Indian cinema in the year 2016. That goes for the standard and taste of the selectors. Soon there will be an occasion to choose members as well as a chairman to the National film awards jury. I am writing this to request you to treat this matter seriously and stop another incompetent jury from sitting to judge our work. We insist that the jury should be headed by a filmmaker of eminence who is familiar with modern trends in cinema and enjoys a national stature and he and other members on the jury would instill a feeling of fairness in the minds of the professionals involved.”Adoor  reminded the Ministry that “The national awards were instituted (following the recommendations of the S.K.Patil Committee in the 1950s) to help a new cinema break out of the encrusted commercial constraints of our film industry and express itself in a new voice that would be Indian in every sense and international in its artistic appeal.Similarly, the idea of showcasing an Indian Panorama at the IFFI meets a vital need to parade the best of our Cinema to the world outside. Ever since we started this section in 1978 festival directors and selectors have been arriving from around the world with the sole aim of watching original works of cinema produced here in a year. It appears like there is a definite lack of understanding of its purpose among the people in charge of the panorama. To go by this year’s experience, the festival selectors will now stop coming here because they take their job more seriously than we do. It was to appease the commercial industry that a special national award was instituted for ‘popular and wholesome entertainment’ to one of the ten blockbusters proposed by the Indian Motion Picture producers’ Association.  Over and above this, there are the five films directly proposed by the IMPPA to be included in the Indian Panorama representing the core of commercial cinema. We are at a loss to understand why there should be more concessions made to it at the cost of the struggling minority cinema of merit and integrity which alone are being seen as the real Indian cinema outside our country. It is very important that the names of nominees as well as their qualification to be on the jury are made public before they sit for selecting films. Keeping their names from public knowledge is a sure way to infiltrate wrong people into such bodies.”
Adoor appealed to Mr.Mittal,Secretary,I &B Ministry “not let the Governmental machinery discourage and destroy a cinema movement of purpose and integrity and that is already struggling against all odds and pressures”.

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