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Jahnu Barua chastises B'wood "trends"

 
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Wednesday, August 30, 2006 

Guwahati (UNI): Internationally acclaimed film-maker Jahnu Barua has called for a vibrant society to check the rising number of 'Mallika Sherawat-brand' of heroines, blaming the phenomenon on the negative aspect of 'liberalisation of Indian cinema'. He also urged the need to produce world-class movies, citing the example of Iran, which makes a dozen films annually but all top-class. The Padmashree awardee was delivering the fourth Jyoti Prasad Agarwalla Memorial Lecture on 'The New Trend in Indian Cinema - Thematically, Aesthetically and Technologically', organised by the Gauhati Cine Club, here yesterday.

Mr Barua traced the origin of the type of commercial cinema we are seeing now to the economic liberalisation of 1991. He said, ''Cinema is a huge economic investment, the content of Indian cinema was forced to go through rapid changes with the advent of new economic policies.'' While the liberalisation encouraged the film-makers to experiment with new themes, the multiplexes and various TV channels provided a platform for these films. He said the audience for 'alternative' cinema, which always existed, could be identified with these changes and films like 15 Park Avenue, Everyone says I'm Fine and My Brother Nikhil could be counted in hits. English language Indian films and use of English in Hindi films was also growing, he added. Moreover, liberalisation also helped in bringing the true talents to the fore, he added.

The 15 international-level award winner pointed out that this had also set in mediocrity and a lot of 'non-talent' had arrived. Mr Barua said liberalisation had brought in 'corporatisation', which had changed the look of the mainstream movies. He claimed that the heroine's image had been hit the hardest by this concept with the heroine taking over the vamp's role, as it made more economic sense to the producers. Quoting film critic Ajit Duara, Mr Barua said the success of Murder and Mallika Sherawat led to a glut of films like Girlfriend, Julie and Zeher, which saw the marketing of the heroine as 'commodities'. Mr Barua opined that the current bunch of heroines, starting their careers as models might have fanned the phenomenon as these girls were trained in a profession where 'creation of icons' is the primary target.

Elaborating on the negative side of the liberalisation of Indian cinema, the director said subjects or stories were being given the least importance. ''The most interesting effect is in how it has transformed the traditional story telling into something that is mostly borrowed from the West,'' he added. While appreciating the technological advances film making has seen over the years, Mr Barua said if ripped of its technological gimmicks, most films of the present lot would have no base at all. He said funding of films had become easier now but 'frequently the source is obscure and there are many vested interests involved'. He also lamented that organisations like NFDC and CFSI were not getting adequate funding, due to which quality films were not being promoted.

On the regional cinema scene, Mr Barua, who has to his credit 10 Assamese films, said the condition was pathetic. It was more so for Assamese, Manipuri, Oriya, Kannada or Bengali films compared to Hindi, Tamil or Telegu films as 'it has become a question of survival not a new trend'. Mr Barua lamented the fact that there was 'hardly any new trend in our cinema'. He said there were only some haphazard changes in contemporary cinema, which have proved to be too short lived and purposeless. Mr Barua called for discussions on the current scenerio of Indian films and asked the audience to discard films which failed to portray society properly.

Topics: jahnu barua, girlfriend, julie, zeher, regional cinema vs hindi cinema, the development of bollywood, the development of hindi cinema

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