T.S. Nagabharana, who is one of the few film directors to have straddled both the mainstream as well as parallel cinema worlds, says that these categories are artificial: there can only be “good cinema.”
Mr. Nagabharana, who is now the chairman of the Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy and the director of fourth edition of the Bangalore International Film Festival, spoke to The Hindu.
Do you think it is possible to break the distinction between “commercial” and “art” cinema?
After “Grahana”, I had to wait for more than three years to direct another film. After directing “Bangarada Jinke”, which was appreciated by both “class” and “mass”, I realised that unless one is identified with the mainstream, it is difficult to remain in the film industry and make films that one loves to make. For me, each and every film is very important — whether it is a commercial or a parallel film. The results may vary. “Akasmika” and “Janumada Jodi” were big budget films and they were super hits. Similarly, “Nagamandala” and “Mysooru Mallige” were made with small budgets. They were also big hits. So, it is up to the people to accept or reject films. I believe in making good films, all other aspects are secondary.
Your films are being branded as “bridge films”. How do you describe the genre?
Basically I am a fan of Akira Kurasawa and Ingmar Bergman. Inspired by them, I began making parallel films. That was when I made “Grahana”. I was branded an art film-maker and it did not help me carve a career as a director. At that time, Puttanna Kanagal was making films on women-oriented issues. I wanted to approach the films from different perspectives blending the artistic and commercial elements to reach a wider audience.
Do you think the local film industry can learn and benefit from the festival?
Kannada films that manage to have a presence in the global film circuit are shrinking in the recent days. The industry has become an island of sorts. Under these circumstances, the festival will help open new horizons and introduce developments and advancements in the international film circuit, besides helping in disseminating film culture.
Is the international film festival aimed at only a niche audience?
No, definitely not. There is a wide variety among the 175 films being screened. The political cinema section will have classics, including “Z” of Costa Gavras. For those who are inclined to watch old classics, there are 21 films. There are good Kannada films too. These will appeal to all.