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Benegal does not want to become a shopkeeper of entertainment

Madhur Tankha
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Veteran film-maker Shyam Benegal at the grand finale of PVR Nest’s “Cine Art: Steer to Safety” in New Delhi on Friday.— Photo: Sandeep Saxena
Veteran film-maker Shyam Benegal at the grand finale of PVR Nest’s “Cine Art: Steer to Safety” in New Delhi on Friday.— Photo: Sandeep Saxena

Noting that entertainment is the overriding priority for commercial film-makers, veteran director Shyam Benegal on Friday said he does not want to become a shopkeeper of entertainment but someone who strives to make films for the larger social good.

After attending the grand finale of PVR Nest’s “Cine Art: Steer to Safety” in the Capital, Benegal, synonymous with films like Ankur and Manthan , said commercial film-makers focus only on the entertainment component.

“However, even while entertaining the audience there can be elements to educate people. The notion that the message gets diluted in commercial cinema is incorrect. While entertaining, a film-maker can also educate the masses on certain things. You go to a theatre to be entertained, but while entertaining a film-maker needs to establish a connection with life. While reading William Shakespeare’s work you get an insight into life,” he told The Hindu .

Candyfloss

Describing most films produced by Bollywood as candyfloss, he said these films look terrific but are not.

Earlier, while addressing schoolchildren inside a packed hall, Benegal said he was given to understand that one lakh children were involved in disseminating the message of road safety through films and other means of self expressions. Emphasising the need to become good communicators, he said budding film-makers need to inform, educate and entertain.

Messages

“Though I was in the business of communication, the film industry is a place where entertainment came before anything else…Apart from entertainment, films have different kind of educative and informative messages. Not all are socially valuable, they can be negative also. Therefore, the recipient has to decide what to absorb or reject.”

Narrating an interesting episode during her recent trip to the Ranthambore National Park, theatre personality Sanjana Kapoor said that while on a tiger trail there she came across a beautiful tiger, but suddenly youngsters on a bike — who were not supposed to be in the sanctuary — came from the opposite side. “The bike stopped, the young men disembarked and started running in different directions in the sanctuary. But the tiger did not move. Those youngsters will never break the rules again. This was a lesson for them.”

Filmmaker Shoojit Sircar, known for Madras Café and Vicky Donor , said breaking rules was like corruption in the country.

“The need of the hour is to make films on women safety, child abuse and medical malpractices. I insert social messages in my films.”

Admitting that selecting three films out of 10 was a tough decision, veteran actor Amol Palekar said the overall standard was so good that it was difficult to come to terms with the fact that the films were made by novices.


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