Cinema plays a crucial role in reversing the erosion of values in society, he said

President Pranab Mukherjee has urged the film industry to use the powerful medium of cinema to reset the nation’s moral compass by striking a balance between entertainment and social responsibility.

In his valedictory address at the centenary celebrations of Indian cinema, co-hosted by the Tamil Nadu Government and the South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce, the President said that while he would not advocate a dilution of cinema’s mandate to mirror reality, filmmakers should also use the medium to convey the “right type of message in the right manner.”

Referring to the recent crimes against women and children that had shaken the nation’s conscience and communal riots in some parts of the country, Mr. Mukherjee said cinema had a crucial role to play in reversing the erosion of values in society.

He urged filmmakers to create cinema that led to social transformation and moral upliftment, and promoted values of tolerance, harmony and a humane society.

According to Mr. Mukherjee, from the days when the Father of Indian Cinema Dhundiraj Govind Phalke sold his wife’s ornaments to make the country’s first silent movie Raja Harishchandra in 1913, Indian cinema had grown to become one of the most dynamic and vibrant film industries in the world.

However, at a time when Indian films found markets in a large number of countries, filmmakers were getting recognised at international festivals and playback music was earning patrons overseas, the need to preserve the country’s cinematic heritage was turning increasingly relevant, he said.

Underlining the Centre’s collaborative engagement with the film industry to preserve the country’s film legacy, Mr. Mukherjee felt the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India, Pune and the Satyajit Ray Film and TV Institute, Kolkata, should be declared as institutions of national importance.

He also highlighted the major role of south Indian cinema in the development of Indian cinema and contribution to its overall quality through luminaries such as MGR, Sivaji Ganesan, N.T. Rama Rao, Prem Nazir, Rajkumar, G. Nageswara Reddy and L.V. Prasad.

Then, turning to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, he said he was happy that apart from her contributions as Chief Minister, the jury had also recognised her contributions to cinema.

Ms. Jayalalithaa was the first of the awardees to be honoured by Mr. Mukherjee. The other awardees from Tamil cinema included M.S. Viswanathan, K. Balachandar, Vyjayanthimala, M. Saravanan, Anjali Devi and Sridevi.

Awards and medallions were also presented to stalwarts from Hindi, Gujarati, Bengali, Telugu, Kannada, Punjabi, Malayalam, Marathi and Oriya film industries.

Indian films have it all, says Jayalalithaa

Speaking on the occasion, Ms. Jayalalithaa said the Indian cinema’s uniqueness was that it reflected the socio-economic, political and cultural changes that took place in the country. Life in India would not be the same without the exuberance of cinema, song and dance, melodrama etc.

“Indian films have it all, be it episodes from the freedom struggle or present day issues. Of the countless individuals associated with cinema, some are eternally identifiable,” she said.

The Tamil Nadu government was giving necessary support and guidance of the film industry. Over the hundred years of Indian cinema, the anonymous moviegoer had been giving the film world his/her patronage, encouragement and goodwill.

But for the moviegoer, the film industry would cease to exist. It was, therefore, imperative that every person associated with the film industry should bear in mind that this anonymous but discerning individual — the moviegoer — was the supreme and ultimate judge of them all, Ms. Jayalalithaa said.

Tamil Nadu Governor K. Rosaiah said cinema could effectively sensitise the people on social issues. South Indian cinema had served as a gateway for many to enter politics.

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said while the four regional language cinemas of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala were clearly distinct, they were also bonded together by some kind of fraternity.

Karnataka Information Minister Santosh Lad highlighted the State’s contribution to the might of India cinema.

The star-studded event was attended by Rajinikanth, Kamal Hassan, Surya, Vijay and Ajith. C. Kalyan, president, SIFCC also participated.

The President presented medallions to Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan, Mohanlal, Mammootty and filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan. Other Hindi artists honoured included Rekha and lyricist Javed Akthar.