Kamal Haasan spins the focus on script writing

The Eleventh Edition of the Chennai International Film Festival got off to a glittering start at a star-studded event in the city on Thursday. It witnessed the coming together of iconic Tamil actor film-maker Kamal Haasan and Hindi film star and path-breaking television anchor, Aamir Khan.

While answering a question on censorship, Mr. Haasan, in his trademark, candid way, urged the film industry to take the responsibility of censoring films as those on the Censor Board were not qualified enough to do so. “They like cinema … they like to watch films ... there are Censor Board officials who sometimes tell young film-makers ‘you could make your film shorter.’ It’s ridiculous,” he said in an open stage interaction with actor Suhasini Maniratnam, who asked questions on behalf of many film personalities.

To a question on closing the gap between Tamil and world cinema, Mr. Haasan said the industry was in need of new writers. “There are books, but books will not make cinema. Even Shakespeare will have to learn script-writing. The Malayalam industry is making films from books. I became a writer by default.”

‘Chain of theatres’

Mr. Khan appreciated the efforts of the Indo Cine Appreciation Foundation (ICAF), especially its founder and general secretary E. Thangaraj, in bringing the Indian panorama and world cinema to the Chennai audience. He said sometimes he wished the country had a chain of theatres that showcased films from different parts of the world and the country … that have programmes for art house cinema. “There is a considerable audience for such cinema and it will be a step towards healthy cinema.”

The Festival presented by The Hindu and Pudhuyugam, will be on till December 19 and the films will be screened in eight screens at five venues — the Woodland Theatre Complex, Inox Screens, Abirami Mega Mall, Rani Seethai Hall and Casino Theatre.

163 films to be screened

A total of 163 films from 58 countries will be screened.

Musician Anil Srinivas and playback singer Karthik presented a selection of songs from a few films. As an introduction to the music session, actors Rohini and Poornima Bhagyaraj read out poetry from a selection of Tamil film songs. Actor dancer Shobana and her students presented three choreographed pieces, including Vande Mataram. The event was compeered by actor Abirami and CIFF’s Ramya.

Actor-dancer Swarnamalya and her students presented a thematic presentation on classical dance in Tamil cinema. Kasturi and Sons Chairman N. Ram, The Hindu Editor-in-Chief N. Ravi, actor Lakshmi, South Indian Film Chamber president Kalyan, ICAF president S. Kannan, vice-president B. Ramakrishnan, incumbent president of the Film Federation of India, Ravi Kottarakara, Pudhuyugam CEO Shyam Kumar and Mohammad Ali of SIS graced the occasion.

The Tamil film competition jury was introduced and jury chairman, director R.V. Udhayakumar, and members, actor Sripriya and writer S. Ramakrishnan, were honoured. A souvenir was released to mark the occasion. Actors Sachu, Mohan, Y.G. Mahendra, Lissy Priyadarshan, Mohan Raman, and directors Balu Mahendra and Santhana Bharati, among others, were present.

Mr. Thangaraj thanked the Tamil Nadu government for its support for the festival.