Indian filmmaker Kumar Shahani looking for international finance for movies

Indian filmmaker Kumar Shahani, director of parallel cinema, who is working on two new projects, is looking for international finance for his movies. The 70-year old feels that global financing of movies is a stumbling block for offbeat Indians filmmakers ‘who try to find their own voice and idioms in their films, removed from the celluloid mainstream’.

New Delhi, Feb 21 (Calcutta Tube) Indian filmmaker Kumar Shahani, director of parallel cinema, who is working on two new projects, is looking for international finance for his movies. The 70-year old feels that global financing of movies is a stumbling block for offbeat Indians filmmakers ‘who try to find their own voice and idioms in their films, removed from the celluloid mainstream’.

‘Global finance standardises everything — from the way directors should take a shot to the kind of movies they should make. The corporate decisions taken to finance movies are based on international financial trends. Sometimes the judgements the financiers make are delayed and affect filmmakers like me whose originality lies in being in touch with the pulse of life,’ Shahani told IANS in an interview.

Movies cannot be standardised, he said. ‘Eighty percent of our mainstream movies flop because of the corporatisation of the movie industry. The filmmakers are usually dependent on the corporate understanding of the past and present.’

‘I am working with the Italian danseuse Ileana Citaristi, who came to India in 1979 and discovered her femininity through dance. She learnt Chhau in Orissa and then moved to Odissi. It is different from the movie ‘Bhavantarana’ (‘Immanence’), I made with Odissi maestro Kelucharan Mohapatra in 1991-92,’ Shahani said.

Shahani’s new project picks up the Odissi trail from where he left it in the 1990s.

He is also working on a project with British-Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor. But both projects are dependent on global finance.

The filmmaker, born in 1940 in Larkana in Sindh (now in Pakistan), studied screenplay writing and advanced direction at the Film and Television Institute of India.

He also studied under the renowned Marxist historian D.D. Kosambi and assisted French filmmmaker Robert Bresson. He returned to India to make his feature film ‘Maya Darpan’ in 1972 and waited for 12 years to make ‘Tarang’.

In 1976-78 he held a Homi Bhabha fellowship to study the epic traditions of the Mahabharata, Buddhist iconography, Indian classical music and the Bhakti movement.

He is known for his movies like ‘Kasba’, ‘Khayal Gatha’ and ‘Bhavantarana’.

Shahani says he does not like to make movies ‘unless they give me satisfaction – and all those who support me have to share my passion’.

The director feels that he has been indirectly affected by India’s 1947 partition – ‘it has helped me rise above regionalism’.

‘I do not identify myself with any particular region or city and I am loved by people from across the subcontinent. One of my favourite teachers in Pune was Ritwik Ghatak, who was a refugee from Bangladesh (then East Pakistan), but he had also transcended the geographical barriers.’

(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at madhu.c@ians.in)

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