Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar has recently said that India needs better films at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival (France), where the best International films are showcased annually.
India doesn’t get much attention at this festival. But Bollywood definitely does with its actors dressed in fascinating fashion and expensive international brands.
Compare Bollywood to Iran.
Iranian films are much loved at the festival, despite the fact that many of their filmmakers face extreme censorship from their government and make films on shoestring budgets.
Bollywood is very liberal as compared to Iran. And very rich! Yet, its edgy and sexy content loses out to the conservative yet bold subjects portrayed in Iranian films.
And while Bollywood actors are having a great time at Cannes, as is seen in the daily papers these days, their Iranian counterparts are struggling because of Iran’s economy! They are not able to profitably sell their films to America and Europe because of the political conflict between the countries.
Whereas Bollywood faces no restrictions and has the money – but it doesn’t have the content!
Well, Bollywood doesn’t, but what about the regional films? Films from, say, Assam and Manipur and Bengal and Kerala or Odisha... why are the best regional films not showcased abroad and celebrated?
That is why – films need to sell; they need local press coverage and support of the people. In the absence of such support, films need government patronage so that there is some talk about the film nationally and internationally. And why is this important?
Think, why will the people at Cannes care for Indian content if they are anyway receiving great films from world over, including from countries such as Bosnia and Thailand? They have no shortage of stories set in villages, or stories centred around family relationships. So it’s India that has to do the hard work and reach out.
And for this to happen, perhaps we need to get over our Bollywood mania.