‘Our flamboyant style has helped us survive Hollywoodisation'
With the ongoing Legislature session keeping Chief Minister D.V. Sadanada Gowda on his toes and his presence at the launch of the Bangalore International Film Festival (BIFFes) to a mere formality, it was the film fraternity that rightfully took centre stage at the event on Thursday.
The inaugural day saw two veterans — Om Puri and Anant Nag — speaking on the need to bridge the gap between “art” and “parallel” cinema, while the much-respected Iranian director Dariush Mehrjui sang praises of Bangalore, which struck him as “civilised and chic” on his first visit.
“Art film directors should not shy away from using song and dance, which is part of our culture,” said Om Puri, making a case for bridging the gap between the two streams. The distinctly Indian and flamboyant style of filmmaking, he said, had played an important role in helping us “survive the American film attack”, which had killed several other film cultures.
Om Puri described the films of the 1950s and the 1960s — which had greats such as Guru Dutt — as those that succeeded in appealing to a larger audience without compromising on quality. He bemoaned the loss of this quality in later films, with “Munni badnam hui…” ruling the roost. He, however, was optimistic of the revival of the old glory considering the richness of Indian literature and arts.
Anant Nag, Kannada's own star and once a parallel cinema staple, pleaded for more films which have “education and enlightenment” alongside entertaining the audience. While Shyam Benegal had initiated him into parallel cinema, Kannada director Bhagavan had introduced him to “good commercial cinema”. It was sad that the two streams had been “running parallely”.
Narahari Rao, artistic director of BIFFes, said the festival had been designed to cater to many sections of the society — ranging from a homemaker to a student of cinema to a senior citizen.
Mr. Mehrjui, who was seen patiently signing autographs for scores of film enthusiasts and students of cinema after the inaugural function, said it was a great pleasure for him to listen to a “special language” spoken in Bangalore, which was neither Bengali nor Urdu.
Mr. Narahari Rao said the 72-year-old director had braved a six-hour wait at the Doha airport on his first visit to the city.