‘There’s more to Indian cinema than Bollywood’

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‘There’s more to Indian cinema than Bollywood’

Movie lovers learn that there’s more to Indian cinema than big Bollywood productions at the Indian Film Society of UAE’s (IFSUAE) first film festival, being held here from Thursday.

By Aisha Tariq

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Published: Sat 21 Apr 2012, 9:08 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 11:59 AM

“This festival is being held to promote the exhibition of non-mainstream Indian cinema,” said IFSUAE Chairman Shamnad Basheer at the society’s inaugural event. “These films do not necessarily entertain in the same way as mainstream films do, but they are deeply engaging. Our mission is to show you that not every Indian film is from Bollywood, and Indian cinema is more than flashy dance numbers and cliché romance stories.”

Adoor Gopalakrishnan, M.K. Lokesh, Jabbar Patel, Girish Kasaravalli and Goutam Ghose at the opening ceremony of Indian Film Festival at the Indian Embassy, Abu Dhabi.— KT photo by Shoaib Anwer

The three-day film festival is screening four feature-length Indian films and five short Arabic films at the Indian Embassy, which lends its support to the Indian Film Society of UAE. Indian Ambassador M.K. Lokesh acted as host of the event.

“Cinema is a powerful medium. It is not only entertainment, but it is medium for conveying messages. We are very fortunate to have such luminaries as Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Gautham Ghose, Jabbar Patel and Girish Kasaravalli to represent this type of cinema,” said the ambassador, honouring the four filmmakers who have come from India to attend the festival. In addition to answering questions after the screening of their films, the directors addressed various aspects of filmmaking during a Friday morning seminar at the Indian Social and Cultural Centre.

The filmmakers applauded IFSUAE’s efforts to introduce local audiences to India’s “parallel”, or non-commercial, cinema. “This kind of initiative will pave the way, said internationally acclaimed director Adoor Gopalakrishnan. “After people get exposed to these films, they will understand what we expect of the audience—to understand our films, enjoy our films, be entertained by our films. We also want our films to be popular but on our own terms, not on somebody else’s.” His Malayalam film “Elippathayam” was shown on the festival’s opening day.

The directors also recognised the potential of Abu Dhabi’s growing film industry. Goutam Ghose, whose Bengali film “Moner Manush” will be screened on Saturday, spoke of how this environment can benefit Indian cinema. “There is a film culture in the UAE. You have two major film festivals and a lot of young filmmakers making films. They’re trying to create cinema, so I think it’s the right opportunity for an Indian film society to come up and show films, discuss films and create appreciation courses.”

The Indian Film Society of UAE hopes to cultivate film appreciation not only through public events like this film festival, but also by setting up similar societies at local schools and universities. In praise of these efforts to educate, Dr Gopalkrishnan commented: “That is how we develop our taste in music, in literature—with constant exposure. We keep learning, we keep developing our taste. That is the function of this new society that has been formed here.”


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