EVENT The film festival in Mangalore screened a whole variety of films
The Sahamatha Film Society and SDM College of Business Management, Mangalore, organised a five-day film festival showing 15 chosen films – mostly from the parallel stream – to mark 100 years of Indian cinema from February 6 to 10.
As expected, it was not a crowd puller, but those who came appeared either keen to understand the language or content of parallel or good cinema or understood it to some degree. One could not disagree that many of the films, made decades ago, continue to find new meaning and reflect – often without being judgemental – on bizarre things happening today.
Defining women’s suffering in nuanced or brazen way was a highlight of many of the movies screened. At one end of the spectrum was Mehaboob Khan’s Mother India (Hindi) a celebration of motherhood, on the other was Mrinal Sen’s sensitive Dahan (Bengali) holding mirror to the dirt and bankruptcy in the mental landscape of people of either sex around two women – one molested by a group of men and the other who rushed to her rescue. The latter also raises questions on the judiciary which rather traumatises rescuer to no end. Then there was Ek Din Prathidin (Bengali, Mrinal Sen) which caricatures people around a woman, the sole bread earner of a family, by exposing their minds when one night her return home is delayed by hours.
If Gulaal (Anurag Kashyap, Hindi) was heavy for many, N. Laxminarayan’s Abachurina Post Office , was light and enjoyable. B.V. Karanth and Girish Karnad’s Vamshavruksha still created a sense of vacuum after the powerful narrative showed how lifelong beliefs could be shattered by a chance revelation. If that was the tale of a traditional Brahmin, Margam (Malayalam, Rajiv Vijayaraghavan) showed how a committed communist reaches mental asylum when a chance interaction exposes his hollowness. On the other hand, B. Suresha’s Artha came as an apt warning on the right wing’s deadly games. Mangalore, boiling in the heat of communal divide, the movie couldn’t have come at a better time. The depth of that divide resurfaced when a viewer chose to say it should have dwelt more on Muslim fundamentalism than that of Hindus.
Some films stood out for their unique use of symbolism, and fine cinematography – Santosh Sivan in Vanaprastham (Malayalam) for example created a surreal world. The tragedy Engeyom Eppudo (Tamil, M. Saravanan), another example of fine camera work, stood out for simple modern day narrative, while Ma Bhoomi (Telulgu, Gautham Ghose) appeared more like a documentary than a cinema. Yet, Neecha Nagar (Hindi, Chetan Anand) did give cinematic experience in spite of taking the topic of people’s revolt against ‘Sarkar’ over industrial effluents causing diseases in a locality.
Biopic Dr. B.R. Ambedkar (English, Jabbar Patel), satire on Brahmins’ dogmas Agraharattil Kazhutai (Tamil, John Abraham) and poetic Bhuvan Shome (Bengali, Mrinal Sen) were also screened.
The film society, which has already held three film festivals earlier, ensured this time the participation of college students who were drawn into debates on films. The efforts to bolster the festival’s theme – understanding Indian culture and communities through films – were earnest, it appeared.
GOVIND D. BELGAUMKAR