The 26th edition of the Jawaharlal Nehru Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative (IFFCO) Memorial Lecture had a rather unusual keynote speaker. It is funny that I am being asked to speak on Indian cinema at a lecture honouring Jawarharlal Nehru. The leaders of the Indian Independence movement were known for one thing; they disliked Indian cinema. Mahatma Gandhi called it a technology of evil and Rajaji hated it, said Girish Karnad,at the National Cooperative Union of India auditorium in Delhi on Friday. The Padma Bhushan and National-Award winning artiste was speaking on the theme of Indian cinema and the creation of a nation.
Hindi cinema was an urban phenomenon. If you want to understand what happens in the film industry,why certain kinds of films are being made,look at our cities, he said. From the 40s,Hindi cinema started changing in nature,from showing realism to the present day,when lyrics have regressed. Indian cities between the 20s-30s did not have slums. But once the migration from villages happened,entrepreneurs who were funding films decided that people wanted escapist,song-and-dance films, he said. For instance,the 1949 Raj Kapoor film,Barsaat,set in Kashmir,made no mention of the turmoil in Kashmir during the time. At the function,two awards,IFFCO Sehkarita Ratna and IFFCO Sehkarita Bandhu,were presented to E Chandrasekharan Nair and Khemabhai Hirabhai Patel,respectively.