‘Cinema is meant to educate people’

‘Cinema is meant to educate people’

Actor Suchendra Prasad talks about why he likes to treat cinema as an art with a mission.

Suchendra Prasad

I grew up in Bengaluru, and I have very fond memories of that time. I had to change almost ten schools in Bengaluru over ten years. This change was for inevitable reasons, but it did more good than harm to me.

I was fortunate to pick up a variety of learning methods- right from traditional teaching methods like studying the Vedas and learning Sanskrit to being convent schooled at Bethany. This strengthened my personality. 

I was always drawn to communication and wanted to use it as a tool to reach out to people. I chose the arts to connect with people. None of my family members were into arts but I opted for a different route. I got hooked to theatre in my college days and later joined National School of Drama.

I had the opportunity to interact with great thinkers like B V Karanth and Prasanna.
I drew heavily from their experience. These interactions taught me to differentiate right from wrong and inspired me to develop a mind of my own.

Then, I moved from the stage to the small screen. I must have acted in more than 5,000 television serials as a protagonist. However, I felt a void inside me and realised that I wasn’t doing anything worthwhile, except helping the big producers earn money. This is when I started getting offers to do films. I began by working with M S Sathyu and slowly but steadily moved onto bigger projects. I also started a guild of filmmakers from across the globe called ‘Voicing Silence.’

Between 1998 and 2012, the films that I worked in won five National Awards; my films ‘Prapaatha’ and ‘Sandigdha’ won international awards. It was indeed an interesting journey. But that void still remained and I yearned to do more.

Since I felt there were very few people making sensible cinema; I turned a director and began making short films. I also simultaneously held the principal post at several film schools where I taught students to look at cinema as an art and not just from a commercial perspective. I also realised that cinema had not really developed as an art form. It had, in fact, developed into an industry and a commercially viable one at that. Films were treated as products which
I couldn’t accept. 

I believe that cinema is meant to educate and enlighten people. This view of mine has been echoed by several luminaries whom I met. Sound technical knowledge of filmmaking and a desire to go beyond just the commercial aspect is clearly missing. Even those who wanted to make a difference didn’t want to come forward because they find the environment pretty claustrophobic. 

Having said this, I don’t want to give up hope and wish to contribute in whatever capacity I can.

Although I am a director’s actor, I can’t help but look at every project from a director’s eyes too. I sometimes make suggestions that may better the script. 

Even after all these years, I am still excited during the release of my films. When people ask if I am nervous, I tell them that when one is confident about their work and what they have delivered, there is no room for any kind of doubt.

My film ‘Soojidhara’ is releasing on May 10, and I am more than looking foward to watching it with my fans.