Technology has a habit of throwing ‘adapt or perish challenge’ and cinema is no exception to it, renowned film director Govind Nihalani said on Friday when speaking about the changes filmmaking technology has seen in the last few decades. Nihalani and actor Rohini Hattangadi were in conversation with director Jabbar Patel at the Pune International Film Festival (PIFF) Forum, on the second day of the festival.
“Now, everything has become digital. In our hey day, we worked on celluloid medium and watching a film on celluloid film… it was a beautiful experience in itself because of its look and feel. However, it should be understood that technological change comes from the need for better things and hence one should always embrace the change. Technological change always throws an ‘adapt or perish’ challenge. Digital cinema has opened up newer dimensions of filmmaking,” said Nihalani.
He credited his interaction with playwright Vijay Tendulkar in his younger days for giving him the perspective to look at cinema. “Tendulkar had a depth to his work and I learnt a lot of things from him. His contribution to India cinema is very important but sadly, he didn’t receive the recognition he deserved from the film industry,” said Nihalani.
When the conversation veered to Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi (1983), Nihalani said when he was chosen as a second unit director for the film, it came as a surprise to him. “At that time, I only had one film, Akrosh, in my kitty as a director. But Attenborough’s team had studied Akrosh minutely and they felt I could do justice to the responsibility,” said Nihalani.
Hattangadi, who played the role of Kasturba Gandhi in the film and won the British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTA) in Best Actress in the Supporting Role category, said that playing the prominent role in the film helped her internalising Gandhi’s philosophy.
“It was only the fourth film of my career. I was told that apart from me, actresses Bhakti Barve and Smita Patil had also auditioned for the role. However, Attenborough felt that my personality was very close to that of Kasturba and hence he chose me,” said Hattangadi.
She reminisced about the strict discipline that prevailed on the sets of Gandhi. “There was no chalta hai or ho jayega attitude on the sets. Later, when I worked in other Hindi films, I saw a lot of indiscipline. However, things have now improved and a lot of discipline has come to our film sets,” said Hattangadi.
On Day 3 of PIFF, director Shyam Benegal will share his thoughts about “The Continued Relevance of Gandhi’ at the forum at 10.30 am. This will be followed by an interaction with director Shriram Raghavan, whose film Andhadhun was screened on Friday. The line-up also includes ‘Singing Strings’, a musical programme performed by Manas Gosavi, in the evening.