Need to build cultural bridge between India and US: Spielberg

Last Updated 12 March 2013, 13:55 IST

US filmmaker Steven Spielberg, who made several trips to India as a backpacker in '70s and '80s, feels Americans need to be more aware of Indian cinema and the director is keen to "build the cultural bridge" between the two countries.

"I am not as aware of Indian cinema as I should be sitting here. We don't have great access to Indian films in America," Spielberg told Amitabh Bachchan during a meeting with India's top 60 directors here last evening.

The multiple Oscar-winning filmmaker said Indian films and cinema from the world did not make it to American television screens because of commercial reasons.

When Bachchan asked whether Indians needed to do anything to popularise their films in the US, Spielberg said it should be done by his country. "You don't need to do anything. We need to do it.

"The social networking has shrunk the world... The countries have come closer and they are not so different now. We can share each other's culture and ideas."

The great director is in India to celebrate the success of "Lincoln" which was co-produced by Anil Ambani's Reliance Entertainment.

"I have propagated the case (of Indian films in the US) and will continue to do so and it is one of the fringe benefits of this great relationship that we have with Reliance Entertainment, Anil Ambani and Amitabh Jhunjhunwala. One of our goals is to build this cultural bridge between India and the US," he said while replying to a question from Bachchan.
Talking about his trip to India as a backpacker during his younger days, Spielberg said it was "one of the happiest moments" of his life because he enjoyed anonymity here which was not possible in America post the mega success of "Jaws".

"I have been to India several times before. Last time I was here was in 1983... I was here on my own backpacking through the country. I went to lot of places Benaras, Delhi, Kolkata, Jodhpur Jaipur... In 1977... I shot a small scene for my film 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' in a very small town, about three hours drive away from Bombay," said Spielberg.

When asked what he best remembered about the country at that time by Bachchan, Spielberg, 66, said, "People were very welcoming of a foreigner. They would invite me to eat with them, they would invite me to stay with them. They did not know who I was.
"They did not know who I was. It was after I made 'Jaws' and 'Close Encounters...'. It was so great to know that nobody knew who I was. I remember that being one of the happiest moments of my life."

Bachchan also asked him about his fascination with James Bond movies. Spielberg said he offered to direct the films twice but was rejected by producer Albert Broccoli.
"I love James Bond films but Cubby (Broccoli) would not hire me... ," said Spielberg.
Bachchan later blogged about his meeting with the director.

"An evening with an institution... an evening of sharing cinema with prolific maker, inventor, story teller, innovator and one who continues to surprise us with his genius... An honest evening - simple and filled with candor!

"Present too, the best in-house fraternity of the time... a rare presence, but one that lent the evening a feeling of 'family and brotherhood'."

(Published 12 March 2013, 13:55 IST)

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