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IFFI 2018: Regional cinema in India is making huge strides, says Rahul Rawail


Rawail, chairman of the jury for the Indian Panorama (feature) section, was upbeat about the progress of regional cinema while highlighting the strong content in the section.

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Blessy Chettiar

The Indian Panorama section at the 49th International Film Festival of India in Goa was inaugurated with the feature film Olu, directed by Shaji N Karun, and non-feature film Kharvas, directed by Aditya Suhas Jambhale.

Speaking at a press conference, the proud jury members agreed that watching hundreds of films in 30 days and selecting the best for the Indian Panorama was not an easy task.

“It has been a great journey for all of us," said Rahul Rawail, chairman of the jury for the feature films section in the Indian Panorama. "We watched some wonderful films and to finally pick out 22 was not easy. Finally, it is to the best of our collective judgement. Your have to make choices, right? There may be one good and one bad [film] and that’s the choice you make. It is a subjective matter."

The director, who has made films like Betaab (1983), Arjun (1985), Dacait (1987) and Bekhudi (1992), said regional cinema in India is making huge strides. "Right from the Indian Panorama last year to the National awards this year, the growth of regional cinema has been fantastic," Rawail said. "It has been a tremendous experience for all of us.”

Among the feature films selected for screening are the Bengali Abyakto (2018), Malayalam Bhayanakam (2018), Tulu Paddayi (2018), Tamil Baaram (2019) and Bengali Nagarkirtan (2019).

Rawail was accompanied by jury members Major Ravi and KG Suresh.

KG Suresh, Major Ravi, Rahul Rawail, Vinod Ganatra, Suneel Puranik and Parvathi Menon. Photo: Shutterbugs Images

“There is a trend of making certain stories every year," said Major Ravi. "This time we saw 18 films on transgender themes, each better than the other. It is a difficult task for us to select various subjects. There is no bad and good, it’s a balancing act. So, we have gone through 200-odd films. As jury members, we have enjoyed working against time. If you watch the 22 films we selected and say they are good, it is an award for us.”

“It [watching films] was a democratic exercise," added Suresh. "It was 30 days of heated debates about acting, cinematography and all other skills, then we analysed them. There were several rounds of discussions, and only then were the films selected."

The jury member said they had selected some of the finest films from across the country and the language spectrum. "Everyone in the jury is satisfied with the selection and there is an overall consensus on the films," Suresh said. "There was no major dissent on any film. All aspects, opinions, shades of thoughts, viewpoints were put on the table and discussed threadbare.”

Representing the non-feature film jury were chairman Vinod Ganatra and members Suneel Puranik and Parvathi Menon.

Non-feature films are not even talked about by the media: Filmmaker Vinod Ganatra

“We have done our job. Out of 109 films, 60% were short films. I believe a time will come when short films will dominate every space in Indian cinema,” said Ganatra. He waxed eloquent about the opening film Kharvas, which deals with the pangs of motherhood.

Menon, the only woman on the jury, said most of the short films entered were fantastically made, well structured and with strong emotional content.

Speaking about the opening film, she said, “Like you had Birth Of A Nation (1915) [an American silent film directed by DW Griffith], this is the birth of a child. It is about the pangs a mother goes through when she has not been able to deliver a child, but she sees in nature that it is a huge process and she accepts it. It is a sort of acceptance and there is a reconciliation.”

Menon went on to say all creators of films are like mothers.

Rawail was optimistic about the progress of regional cinema but wasn’t too happy with the term itself. “I hope this term ‘regional cinema’ is not used," the director said. "I don’t like the term. Cinema is cinema, and there’s language. Why do we say 'regional'? There should be no region.”

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