For several years, Hollywood, Bollywood and the regional cinemas has been the staple diet of cinema lovers in the country. The man-on-the-street had no access to non-Hollywood world cinema. However, the scenario is likely to change dramatically, with cinemas of the world set to hit the shores of Arabian Sea, and its ripples will be felt in Mumbai before they reach across the country.
The premiere of Spanish film The Orphanage directed by JA Bayona Starring Geraldine Chaplin was held at the PVR cinema in Juhu in western Mumbai on May 30. The Indian distribution rights for the film were bought by NDTV Lumiere, the forthcoming channel from the NDTV group that would telecast world cinema 24 x 7. This was one of the first premieres of a world cinema film held in Mumbai.
NDTV Lumiere has reportedly purchased the rights of 100 such contemporary films made in Europe and Asia. It has also entered into a tie-up with PVR cinemas for the theatrical release of these films. The next release planned already will be of Japanese film The Mourning Forest that bagged the Grand Prix at the Cannes International Film Festival 2007.
It is pertinent to note that during the silent era, India regularly screened films from Italy, Russia, France, and other European countries. Even Life of the Christ, which is believed to have inspired Dadasaheb Phalke to make a film on the life of Krishna, was a French film. However, in 1918 when cinema became a business with ever-increasing audiences, the British government in India introduced censorship and banned all foreign films except from the US and UK.
Since 1918, Indian audiences could not access world cinema till 1952 when the First International Film Festival of India (IFFI) held in Mumbai provided the opportunity to view Italian neo-realist films, Japanese film Yuki Warisu and other non Hollywood cinema.
Later, apart from film festivals, film societies were the only window to world cinema, but it was limited to film society members. After the liberalization in 1991, non-Hollywood cinema resumed their journey to India.
Like NDTV Lumiere, UTV has already launched its world cinema channel with Polish and Spanish films. Palador has bought rights of several classics by Kurosawa, Truffaut, Bergman and other directors. However, UTV has not planned a theatrical release for these films, and Palador has focused only on marketing the DVDs of their films. Even Zee Studio has organized a retrospective of Kurosawa films. But, NDTV Lumiere’s dual strategy of telecasting films on its channel as well as providing them theatrical release and final release of DVD is important for the film society movement to take note of the development.
In other words, world cinema will now be in theaters, on television, as well as readily available on DVD’s. We have to wait and see how the audiences respond to this. One thing is certain that film societies would have to change themselves and go beyond mere screening of films. It is imperative that discussions on cinema, and film appreciation become a strong part of our monthly programme. Winds of change are around the corner.
Courtesy:From the federation of Film Societies-News letter, May 2008