Wednesday , 21 November 2018
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‘True Indian cinema is about finding voice in cacophony of entertainment’

Janice Rodrigues | NT BUZZ

Having worked on films across the country Resul Pookutty, who brought India several laurels, lives and breathes cinema. Passionate about films, music and sound production he is known to have supported the cause of promoting the whole range of what Indian cinema has to offer.

You’ve worked on different kinds of cinema across the globe and in India, how has it been working in such a range?

It’s different in each cinema. In India itself there is Hindi cinema and regional cinema. I’ve made a Goan and a Marathi film. The voice of each cinema is different. I have a soft corner for regional cinema, as their content is very strong. I think regional cinema is Indian cinema’s spinal cord. Hindi cinema per se has bigger budgets and is more professional in the way it works. When you go global, the only difference is the way people function and the way you put the business together. I think the West has understood cinema as a business far better than we Indians have. For us, even today, cinema is a family business. I’ve worked in all these facets: voices can vary, situations can vary, but what it comes to, is the passion for cinema and I see that everywhere.

Bollywood is not Indian cinema…

Bollywood is not Indian cinema. It’s only a part of it. But the business aspect of cinema promotes Bollywood. So when the Confederation of Indian Industries comes together to talk about how much foreign revenue you can accumulate in the next decade, they think of Bollywood. It is a very actor and glamour driven industry, but having said that, it does gets a lot of exposure in foreign markets and does well too. Hollywood is far stronger in the Indian markets than any other industry. For example, Avatar has taken 60 crores from the Indian markets and Fast and Furious 7 took 132 crores. Hollywood is taking away a chunk of our resources without spending a single penny in the industry. As an industry we need to be careful, as this can wipe out Indian cinema in the long run, like it did with European cinema. What is bolstering our Indian cinema is Bollywood. It is my bread and butter, but in the global market, regional cinema is very strong in terms of content, craftsmanship and the use of cinema as a language. Younger independent filmmakers such as the makers of Masaan and Titli are decisive about what Indian cinema is all about. We have to create a dynamic between entertaining cinema and thinking independent cinema with the help of the Government and the Confederation of Indian Industries. Look at the NFDC film bazaar. There were 164 films. Look at the kind of cinema people were making, film students and novices making a film! There was so much of energy and passion and they are dealing with the cinema of our soil, with stories of our people. They are trying to find a voice in this cacophony of entertainment. That is what true Indian cinema is to me.

The mainstreaming of regional cinema…

Every state government has to do something to protect their language and culture even if it means giving back to filmmakers in form of awards. Regional cinema may have complaints of technical incapability or the statehood being unable to support the industry. The North East film industry, for example, goes to Calcutta for any work. Every state government has to understand that they need to have a vision for cinema.  At the same time the centre has to get all these industries under one umbrella. There are 32 different languages in our country, which have their own cinemas, no other country has that.

Sound as an important aspect of storytelling…

It’s as important as hearing. Sound is considered the least important factor in filmmaking. But its cousin, music, is taken very seriously as it brings in business, is a very marketable and profitable proposition. Sound in Indian cinema has only been functional in that sense. Over the last few years, sound has been changing in a huge way. Its impact is changing. Media has been exposing youth of this country to far better work, which is reflecting in the industry, slowly and steadily.

Censorship issues…

The censor board has no relevance. It should be abolished. CBFC is a certification agency. They are not supposed to ask the filmmaker to cut the film. The whole purpose of the agency is misunderstood. We need to have a new vision. In today’s time no parent in this county has control over what their children are watching. I see far more violence and sexual content on television than what I see in cinema halls. I would say you rate the film as PG13 or the likes. The audience is very intelligent and they know what they can take back from a film. They are paying for an appointment with the director therefore you cannot treat them badly.

On the movie Lukka Chuppi…

The movie is a cinematic experiment. The film traverses the time from late evening to early next morning. How do you capture the audience within that short period of time? It revolves around a few friends coming together and finding out about the past, their relationships. It reflects the social reality of Kerala. The point of any get-together is you finish two bottles of liquor. Throughout the running time there is a line that states that ‘alcohol and cigarettes are injurious to health’. It was very interesting that someone used the idea to counter the CBFC notice. That is how you react to social realities.

On the FTII issue…

What is the image that the government is trying to protect? You tackle the insurgency problem with dialogue, then why not have dialogue with students? They stood out for 139 days and finally went back to their classes because they couldn’t stand anymore. And you don’t even show them any dignity by talking to them. On a personal level they, Jaitley and Rathore, admit to us that they have not made the best of choices, but it’s a government decision they say. Why is the government bigger than its people? That’s not right. We are in the minority, the Indian filmmakers, because we will not bring in 500 billion dollars in the next ten years. Independent filmmakers are the ones who are not part of the entertainment industry but are watchdogs of society.

I’ve worked in all these facets: voices can vary, situations can vary, but what it comes to, is the passion for cinema and I see that everywhere.

Bollywood is not

Indian cinema…

Bollywood is not Indian cinema. It’s only a part of it. But the business aspect of cinema promotes Bollywood. So when the Confederation of Indian Industries comes together to talk about how much foreign revenue you can accumulate in the next decade, they think of Bollywood. It is a very actor and glamour driven industry, but having said that, it does gets a lot of exposure in foreign markets and does well too. Hollywood is far stronger in the Indian markets than any other industry. For example, Avatar has taken 60 crores from the Indian markets and Fast and Furious 7 took 132 crores. Hollywood is taking away a chunk of our resources without spending a single penny in the industry. As an industry we need to be careful, as this can wipe out Indian cinema in the long run, like it did with European cinema. What is bolstering our Indian cinema is Bollywood. It is my bread and butter, but in the global market, regional cinema is very strong in terms of content, craftsmanship and the use of cinema as a language. Younger independent filmmakers such as the makers of Masaan and Titli are decisive about what Indian cinema is all about. We have to create a dynamic between entertaining cinema and thinking independent cinema with the help of the Government and the Confederation of Indian Industries. Look at the NFDC film bazaar. There were 164 films. Look at the kind of cinema people were making, film students and novices making a film! There was so much of energy and passion and they are dealing with the cinema of our soil, with stories of our people. They are trying to find a voice in this cacophony of entertainment. That is what true Indian cinema is to me.

The mainstreaming

of regional cinema…

Every state government has to do something to protect their language and culture even if it means giving back to filmmakers in form of awards. Regional cinema may have complaints of technical incapability or the statehood being unable to support the industry. The North East film industry, for example, goes to Calcutta for any work. Every state government has to understand that they need to have a vision for cinema.  At the same time the centre has to get all these industries under one umbrella. There are 32 different languages in our country, which have their own cinemas, no other country has that.

Sound as an important

aspect of storytelling…

It’s as important as hearing. Sound is considered the least important factor in filmmaking. But its cousin, music, is taken very seriously as it brings in business, is a very marketable and profitable proposition. Sound in Indian cinema has only been functional in that sense. Over the last few years, sound has been changing in a huge way. Its impact is changing. Media has been exposing youth of this country to far better work, which is reflecting in the industry, slowly and steadily.

Censorship issues…

The censor board has no relevance. It should be abolished. CBFC is a certification agency. They are not supposed to ask the filmmaker to cut the film. The whole purpose of the agency is misunderstood. We need to have a new vision. In today’s time no parent in this county has control over what their children are watching. I see far more violence and sexual content on television than what I see in cinema halls. I would say you rate the film as PG13 or the likes. The audience is very intelligent and they know what they can take back from a film. They are paying for an appointment with the director therefore you cannot treat them badly.

On the movie Lukka Chuppi…

The movie is a cinematic experiment. The film traverses the time from late evening to early next morning. How do you capture the audience within that short period of time? It revolves around a few friends coming together and finding out about the past, their relationships. It reflects the social reality of Kerala. The point of any get-together is you finish two bottles of liquor. Throughout the running time there is a line that states that ‘alcohol and cigarettes are injurious to health’. It was very interesting that someone used the idea to counter the CBFC notice. That is how you react to social realities.

On the FTII issue…

What is the image that the government is trying to protect? You tackle the insurgency problem with dialogue, then why not have dialogue with students? They stood out for 139 days and finally went back to their classes because they couldn’t stand anymore. And you don’t even show them any dignity by talking to them. On a personal level they, Jaitley and Rathore, admit to us that they have not made the best of choices, but it’s a government decision they say. Why is the government bigger than its people? That’s not right. We are in the minority, the Indian filmmakers, because we will not bring in 500 billion dollars in the next ten years. Independent filmmakers are the ones who are not part of the entertainment industry but are watchdogs of society.

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