x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

India’s bold new directors feted at Cannes

The directors of Bombay Talkies argue that just as India has changed rapidly over the past 15 years, so too have the sort of films being made.

Four members of India’s new generation of filmmakers – Karan Johar, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee and Anurag Kashyap – appeared on the Cannes red carpet Sunday evening for a gala screening of their film Bombay Talkies, an anthology to which each contributed one short film.

India is the guest country at Cannes this year and the event was timed to coincide with the nation of one billion’s celebration of a century of cinema.

The filmmakers argue that just as India has changed rapidly over the past 15 years, so too have the sort of films being made and the people making them. “There are many directors who took mainstream Bollywood films, big sets, stars and narratives and gave them a new tilt which reflects the urban India of today,” said Banerjee, 43.

“There were a lot of filmmakers who were not from the film fraternity, who came from outside – like me or Kashyap – who started making films about non-traditional subjects.”

The Bombay Talkies film by Akhtar focuses on a young boy who dreams of becoming a dancer even though his father wants him to be a footballer.

Akhtar, 39, said Indian cinema was changing to accommodate new subjects. But she said there would always be a place for the traditional Bollywood musical even if some features evolved. “Indians like music. It’s how our folk stories were – they all had music in them. It’s part of our narrative, it’s part of our storytelling and it’s not going to go.”

Kashyap, did have a complaint to make, however.

He insisted that, in India, filmmakers still do not enjoy the kind of freedom of space and expression that would allow them to make meaningful films. “We are forced to treat our audience as children and make goody-goody films with a huge dose of escapism. I want to be able to make films that directly tackle the issues of Indian society,” Kashyap said.

He openly attacked the numerous barriers and controls imposed on cinema in India. “We can’t even have last names for our characters because we do not know who would be offended. The biggest hurdle is not being able to make films about the governance of the country. I want to be able to make a film on, say, the Commonwealth Games scandal, or about the current government. But I can’t,” he explained. – IANS & AFP

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