Spotlight on reality

Focus on Sandalwood

Spotlight on reality
The curtains have fallen on the Bengaluru International Film Festival and film buffs in the city are a satisfied lot, having just been witness to a cornucopia of award-winning, critically acclaimed movies from within the country as well as across the globe. But when the applause fades and the lights come back on, they illuminate the fact that the problems within the film industry still remain.

Kannada film directors bemoan the lack of support they get from the authorities and the state, especially for the kind of cinema that doesn’t really classify as mainstream. While big-budget blockbusters have in built publicity measures in the guise of big stars and exotic locales, smaller movies often find it hard to compete with this promotional blitzkrieg.

“It is easier to make movies these days rather than marketing them,” says D Satyaprakash, the director of widely celebrated movie ‘Rama Rama Re..’. “Movie budgets can be shrunk to bare minimum by using technology and doing away with the frills. Reaching people is difficult. Of course, one can take to social media but its reach is limited to tech-savvy places like Bengaluru, Mysuru, Tumakuru and a few others. I want my movies to reach the common man.”

He says that the recent proposition of introducing ‘Janata Theatres’ that will be dedicated for Kannada film screenings is a good step, provided it is implemented properly. “Lack of theatres is the main problem; small-budget films can’t afford the exorbitant rent of multiplexes. We require decent, small theatres with lesser rent.”

Gopi Peenya, director of Kodava movie ‘Talang Neer’, talks about how multiplexes have failed to take into consideration changing audience preferences. “People are choosy and will not come in droves as soon as a movie is released. Earlier we just had to put a few posters some days before a movie’s release as a publicity stunt. But now the audience has many options for entertainment and movies are only a part of these. Which is why they will read the reviews and gauge responses before deciding to come for a movie. So a movie’s success can be measured only after 3-4 weeks. But big theatres want immediate profits; they move Kannada films from the screens after the initial few days when the revenue doesn’t match their expectations.”

He details the other option which is equally non-viable for low-budget films. “Hype and promotion; that too in a big way. That is the only way we can get in large crowds on day one itself. I think even a medium-sized marketing campaign costs about Rs 70 lakh nowadays.”

Promotion is indeed a thorn in the side of the Kannada film industry, agrees Janvi Jyothi, a dentist who has also acted in the movie ‘Urvi’. “Such movies lack proper promotion. While new directors have taken to social media extensively, I feel that their teasers and trailers are not cut properly and don’t really give an idea of the movie. So that doesn’t really help.” Talking about the many measures that the Korean government had taken up to promote the domestic film industry, she adds, “That kind of encouragement is lacking here. The government can at least help with the promotion of a deserving film.”

Film festivals are another way to make such films reach a discerning audience. “It is a way to make local movies reach even non Kannadigas,” says Satyaprakash. “Such festivals are not only for entertainment; we learn how to read cinema.”

“The Kannada movies I went for in the course of the festival had houseful shows,” details Urvi. “Though the common man is not really a part of the target audience here, such events help in opening up the vista of regional cinema to the crowd that comes.”

However, Satya Rayala feels that content is the king and any deserving movie will get support from the audience. The IT professional turned screenwriter and director says, “I watched almost all the Kannada movies at Biffes. While some were spectacular experiments, others disappointed me in terms of storylines and technical aspects. People want their money’s worth and one can’t really blame them for thinking twice.”

Orson Welles said that the enemy of art is the absence of limitations. But too many of them may not help either.
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