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Blending art and cinema

FINE BLEND Neville Tulli believes entertainment should only be by-product of films

FINE BLEND Neville Tulli believes entertainment should only be by-product of films  

As New Delhi gets ready for Osian's Cinefan Film Festival, Neville Tulli tells us how it all came about

Following the crowd is never Neville Tulli's way of life. He believes that those who follow the crowd are never followed by the crowd. And so, when he founded Osian (art) auction house in 2000 in Mumbai after his stay in London for 32 years, he had great plans. Plans to merge art and cinema for aesthetic and economic reasons.

Later Aruna Vasudev, editor of Cinemaya magazine joined hands and Tulli acquired her Cinefan festival, and together both materialised Osian's Cinefan Asian Film Festival. The festival, into its sixth year now, will come to New Delhi on July 15.

"Anything creative can stand alone. It does not need any philanthropist or the Government to sponsor it. And unless we show it to the world, there is no way we can make them believe in it," he says.

He thinks that it will take India 15 to 20 years more to change its perspective towards arts. To make people understand art, he created a hype of the Indian art abroad. "It was only after our own Indians abroad (NRIs) started buying Indian art that Europeans started looking at it. From 1987 to 1997, Indian art abroad was recognised only by Indians and not Europeans. We built a market for it there," says Tulli. In his auction house, he made money from auction of art works and diverted the money to film festivals. Not only that, he also started a movement wherein he created collectors' interest in buying and investing in film posters as art works. "In an attempt to blend popular and fine arts, I mounted the poster of the classic film Guide and artwork by Gaitonde side by side to make visitors take both as works of art," he recalls.

To sustain people's interest in the festival, he has kept the entry free, invited student bodies from important universities and so on. "It wasn't easy to collect money for this festival. It cost me about Rs. 2 crores inviting 250 people from different parts of the world to be a part of this besides other expenses, but I wanted to do it at any cost."

He has continued his efforts to arrange money for the festival by organising India's largest auction of film posters, nearly 25,000 in number, lithographs, black-and-white as well as colour photographs, song booklets and collage-show cards in Mumbai just prior to the festival. And in Delhi's India Habitat Centre too, he is mounting one of the largest exhibitions of Indian and Hollywood film memorabilia, which coincides with the film festival.

"It is amazing that despite making almost 1,000 films per year, we don't have even 0.1 per cent of film's global market share. Even after 57 years of Independence, we have only one Satyajit Ray to boast of as internationality acclaimed filmmaker. And except for Amitabh and Shah Rukh, there is no market for Indian actors abroad. It is all because we have not still tested the layman's intuitive logic of films. We have given them trash in the name of film. I believe that film should be a true experience of art and aesthetics. Entertainment should only be a by-product of it."

RANA SIDDIQUI

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