Archive | February, 2017

A subculture of serious filmmaking

28 Feb

“As an independent filmmaker, I have to depend on a lot of other people to market the film.” Sudhish Kamath, director of Good Night Good Morning

On the top: Sudhish Kamath’s Good Night Good Morning was shown at the Transylvania and Noordelijk festivals as well as MAMI 2010

Without a Khan or an item number, indie films find it hard to survive. Undeterred, indie films today are well on their way to creating their own space

Bollywood films are known world over for their eye-candy dance numbers, catchy songs and distinct run times. What makes this industry uniquely distinctive is the number of movies it churns out every year. India as a country has no singular identity, yet it is commonly mistaken that we have a singular cinema. The audiences are made to assume that any Indian director producing a film has the backing of the fraternity. But most Indian films are non-commercial, about 90-120 minutes in duration, and grapple with ground realities existing in India.

Welcome to the world of indie cinema where directors face a Sisyphean struggle to find distribution for their work, not to mention an audience. Indie film director and one of Bollywood’s finest yester year actors, Amol Palekar in one of his interviews had once said that independent movies in Indian cinema fail to garner enough support from the audience and that there was no platform to showcase smaller films. We agree.

Sudhish Kamath, director of The F Word Twice and Good Night Good Morning, says independent cinema is ironical. “As an independent filmmaker, I have to depend on a lot of other people to market the film,” he says.

With many a mainstream film crowding and bombarding multiplexes, there is no visibility for different films as they get just two shows compared to the 19 shows that bigger films enjoy. I AM director Onir, suggests that the pricing at multiplexes for indie films should be less in order to allow more people to watch the film. “Ticket pricing is killing independent cinema. As we are making independent films, what we need to recover is much less so having them priced at Rs.150 to Rs.400 doesn’t fit the bill.”

Indie filmmakers eventually resort to film festivals but their films are not just meant for a niche audience and movie-goers need to be made aware of it. “Another way to accumulate a bigger audience for indie films is if Doordarshan bought them at a decent price, three months after its release. It has such a huge reach and I think it’s an excellent medium,” opines Onir.

Kamath’s film Good Night Good Morning wowed the crowds in Transylvania and Noordeljik festivals and was premiered at MAMI, 2010 but did not garner enough publicity in Hyderabad when it premiered last month. It ran for only six days and not many knew about it. “Anurag Kashyap who has made six films so far has an audience of 50,000 people. I started out with a zero audience and for this film elsewhere, I had about 500-1,000 people who had come down to watch it. So it’s definitely a start,” says Kamath. “But to say that channels like Doordarshan should buy the film, what we as filmmakers also need to understand is whether it is sustainable for the channel. Do they have the kind of audience you are aiming for? GNGM is for a niche audience as it is made in English,” he says.

The films and filmmakers discussed above represent a new age in Indian cinema, one that stays away from rose-coloured fiction. And this new kind of auteur-ship is not to be underestimated. Youngsters today, film students or otherwise, are taking their own cameras, shooting their stories and are expressing their concerns. This is gathering to be one huge oppositional form of art to the bigger, Bollywood narrative that has been developing for decades now.

Indie movies

  1. Amu
  2. That Girl in Yellow Boots
  3. Manorama Six Feet Under
  4. Dev D
  5. Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi