Kannada film makers must come out with better content, says Benegal

Kannada film makers must come out with better content, says Benegal

Having closely witnessed the growth of Indian cinema over the decades, iconic film director Shyam Benegal holds an optimistic view about present-day films in India.

The director was in the City on Sunday to present the National Handloom Awards. He spoke to Deccan Herald on the sidelines of the event and shared his views on modern-day films and the Kannada film industry. Here are the excerpts:  

What is your opinion on the Kannada film industry and the way it is being taken forward?

The imagination and inventiveness to create works that are unique is what is needed. Unless they do that, they will face problems. It is true to say that Telugu is the largest South Indian industry. They make more films than anyone else and spend lavishly. The public of Andhra Pradesh is completely cinema crazy, but it is not the case in Karnataka.

Thus, Kannada film makers must compete with better content, better performance, better storytelling and moreover, better stories. When you do not have their kind of money, as the market is low here, use creative strategies. The Kannada film industry must be as inventive as it can possibly be if they should hold their tone with other South Indian films.

Bengaluru is a cosmopolitan City. There is a large Tamil and Malayali population here creating a natural market for regional movies. There is a need to understand this. Even in the Middle East, there is a good market for Telugu, Malayalam and Tamil films. That is not the case with Kannada.
There is a lot of controversy in Karnataka with regard to dubbing of movies into other languages. What is your take on the issue?

One of the major problems with the Kannada film industry is the small market. Compared to other South Indian movies, yours is the smallest market. Therefore, when a film maker makes a film in Kannada, he does not like to compete with films made by other film industries.   
What is your take on the present-day films in India?

Present-day cinema is seeing a lot of young blood. We are seeing a lot of welcome changes and also there is fresh energy in film making. Take for instance films made by Dibakar Banerjee, Anurag Kashyap, Vishal Bharadwaj and Abhishek Chaubey. They are making films that are thought-provoking and these films are far more successful than ours. This tells me that the audience is willing to look at different kinds of films.
Over time, what are the changes you have seen in the Indian cinema space?

The graph of Indian cinema (especially Hindi) is like a sine curve. At the moment, new Indian cinema is on the upswing.
There is a lot of criticism about the way films are chosen for various awards, these days.
Awards are as good as the jury. We cannot expect all juries to be alike. Although there are guidelines, a lot depends on the sensibility of those judging the movies. Sometimes, people making films have a very subjective way of looking at things. Fifty to sixty per cent of those selected are worthy of awards. By this, the system appears reasonably good.
What roles do film festivals play in helping debutants gain recognition?

Since it is their first movie, they might not be able to shell out lavishly on promotions and will be at the mercy of distributors and exhibitors. Film festivals are a great platform for debutants to promote their work.

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