Marathi film industry was advanced when it started out and Prabhat Studios was one of its leading companies,but somewhere down the line,they lost the plot, says actor-director Mahesh Manjrekar,speaking about his new venture,the Marathi International Cinema and Theater Awards (MICTA). The annual event,in its fourth year now,aims at bringing recognition to Marathi theatre and films on an international platform.
As many as 10 Marathi films and an equal number of Marathi plays are nominated,and Indians from across the world are allowed to vote for their favourites in both categories. The award ceremony is then held at a foreign location. It is also followed by a festival hosted in a city in Maharashtra every year,in which all the awarded plays are staged and films screened.
The fourth edition of MICTA will be held in Pune from September 1 to 7. The plays shortlisted for the awards include Proposal,Get well soon,Du and Me,Ekda Pahava Na Karun,Family Drama and Sukhant. Among the films screened here will be Duniyadari,Time Please,Aajcha Divas Maza,72 Miles Ek Pravas,Balak Palak,Premachi Goshta,Investment,Anumati,Aaina ka Baina and Dhag.
Now,directors are focusing on new themes and fighting Bollywoods big-budget films with their stories. We are trying to win our audience back by offering them stories and themes that they cannot find in glamorous Bollywood films, says Manjrekar,who is on the lookout for a Marathi film or play which has the credibility to contest for international awards.
He believes that the international market is open to all,and international cinema has no language. A French film is as good as an English film or an Iranian film. Hence,Marathi films stand a fair chance of being featured at such festivals and bagging international awards, he adds.
And hopes fly high after Marathi films such as Dhag and Investment have bagged the National Award. There is nothing stopping Marathi cinema from making a mark on the international film scene either, says Manjrekar.
Due to the drop in the value of the Indian rupee,the plans for hosting the awards function in Switzerland had to be grounded. Yet,it will live up to the tradition of being hosted offshore and will be held in Macau. The main aim of the ceremony is to get more people involved in Marathi cinema. In Maharashtra,everybody speaks and understands Hindi,so they prefer to go and watch Bollywood films over Marathi ones. Even Marathi theatre is believed to be a dying art by many. It is time to revive this heritage, says Manjrekar.