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“In terms of the film industry, it’s been a long but an enchanting journey. Film as a medium is still surviving, which is a great thing. It remains one of the most important and powerful art forms, affecting the minds of the entire country. Yet, when we talk about how we have progressed in this field in the past 70 years, we need to seek answers to some pertinent questions,” says Umesh Kulkarni, National Award winning filmmaker.
Have we developed our sensibilities in aesthetics and form? Have we successfully achieved a combination of qualitative and quantitative development in terms of cinema? Have we really started the process of understanding the language of visuals and in what way?
“In 1960, we converted Prabhat Studio in Pune into the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). Over 15 years ago, we started Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute of India (SRFTII). In a vast country like ours, there are only two government-run film schools. We have National Awards, we have the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) and a couple of state-run film festivals along with NFDC, Film Federation, Children’s Film Society and NFAI. Are these institutes at par with the ones run abroad?
“How have they changed in the last 70 years? For instance, CBFC is run as per the norms that were introduced by the British. After the Independence, we have not even bothered to change them according to our cinematic sensibilities. The rules and regulations and the way of functioning of all government-run institutes that are related to the film medium are following pre-Independence rules,” says Kulkarni.
“We need to find how and whether regional and Hindi cinema are able to tap into the Indian social fabric. The regional cinema is definitely closer to life but Hindi cinema in the recent past has got cut off. Rural life has suddenly disappeared from Hindi cinema. What does it signify?” he asks.
The way audience views cinema has changed drastically in the last few decades. “When the film is on, the viewers shamelessly speak on the phone, disturb others. While watching the film, they are simultaneously checking WhatsApp and Facebook. Likewise, the concept of watching a film with friends or family has been replaced by individual experience after the emergence of Internet and mobile,” says Kulkarni.
“Short films and documentaries have no place in the centrestage of the film industry. Due to the emergence of the Internet, thankfully, more works in this genre are coming to the front. But they are kept away from the main space, which is unfortunate. We need to question whether enough children’s films are being made in the country?” says Kulkarni.