Stars slammed for foreign event bias

Stars slammed for foreign event bias

Big Kannada actors fly anywhere in the world to appear at corporate events, but skip the Bengaluru International Film Festival. Is that fair?

Big Kannada stars flew to Qatar for the two-day South Indian International Movie Awards (SIIMA) last week.

A question is doing the rounds within the industry: why don’t they ever attend the Bengaluru International Film Festival?

Last week’s event took place at the Lusail Sports Arena, Doha, in the Arab country of Qatar.

SIIMA is a corporate event while the Bengaluru International Film Festival (BIFFes) is a government-sponsored initiative.

Shivaraj Kumar, Puneeth Rajkumar, Sudeep, Darshan and Yash are among those who fly out for events such as SIIMA. They skip BIFFes, which brings films from across the world, besides the auteurs who made them, to Bengaluru. 

“For big Kannada stars, events like SIIMA are top priority and that is not so respectful to the Kannada film industry and its fans,” a leading filmmaker, on condition of anonymity, told Showtime.

Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy chairperson Nagathihalli Chandrashekhar says some stars live in an illusory world, and forget they are human like anyone else.

“We don't have stars like Dr Rajkumar and Rajinikath known to be natural and simple,” he says.

He believes another reason could be the lack of adequate security and privacy. “Fans mob stars who appear at Bengaluru events,” he says.

Vidyashankar Jois, artistic director, BIFFes, says cinema has commercial, artistic and cultural dimensions, and actors should be aware of all three.

“BIFFes focuses on artistic value, not commercial value. We are attempting to ensure the participation of big stars. We conduct a separate screening for them at Kalavidara Sangha, Chamarajpet, during BIFFes,” he explains.

Well-known director T S Naghabarana understands why the stars skip some events and attend some others.

“Film festivals and national award presentation ceremonies are academic in nature. Events like SIIMA are market-driven. It’s a question of priority. Those treating cinema as art attend film festivals. Those who look at it as business attend corporate-style events,” he says.

Insiders say artistes are chosen for awards on the basis of their current market standing. For organisers it is a platform to draw in more advertisers. Stars consider it an opportunity to meet big producers and directors.

“Some think they’ve learnt everything there is to learn, as people have accepted them. That is why they don’t attend academic-oriented events,” says Nagabharana.

However, the industry needs showmanship as much as art, he says.

Leading actor Ramesh Aravind defends the stars. “It’s a personal choice,” he says. 

Ramesh says he makes it a point to attend BIIFes if he is in Bengaluru.
“Organisers invite me and treat me well. We should be a part of such events in our city,” he says.

A leading actor, who has acted in 100-plus films, justified his decision not to attend BIIFes.  

“You are invited, but nobody receives you. It was tough for me to find a seat last time, though I was a guest. Sessions are not disciplined,” he says.

BIFFes organisers are aware stars don’t turn up because they get no appearance fee. 

"A leading actor sent a quotation showing payments he had received for attending events. He wanted similar payment from BIFFes," a source in the Academy said.

When the hosts said they couldn’t pay an appearance fee, he said he was busy, and skipped the event.

What’s SIIMA?

SIIMA Awards, instituted by Vishnuvardhan Induri in 2012, are presented for artistic and technical achievements in the South Indian film industry. The jury comprises senior artistes and professionals and the awards are also based on public voting.