Regional cinema is the buzz at the festival

Director Amol Palekar at the International Film Festival in New Delhi on Friday.  

HINDI CINEMA has competition. The Mumbai film industry may walk away with most of the spotlight when it comes to getting media attention, but hear the buzz at the ongoing International Film Festival of India, and it clearly indicates slow resurgence of the regional Indian cinema.

With the Indian diaspora opening up new vistas for regional film-makers with an eye on making new age cinema, Bollywood is clearly not the only one looking to tap the international market. Perhaps the reason why acclaimed actor Kamal Haasan on Friday confidently enough announced that English and not any regional language will rule the medium of cinema in India in the years to come.

"In times to come English will be the dominant language used in Indian films. It is one of the good things left behind by our colonial rulers. English is truly the national language, whether people like it or not. We will soon see a Tamil speaking English to a Hinglish film and it is good because it helps me communicate to my audience from different parts," the actor said during a visit to the Film Bazaar here today.

Actor turned director Amol Palekar may or may not agree with his South Indian counterpart, but he expressed delight at encouraging signs that Marathi cinema was once again showing . The Indian Panorama section opened with his new feature film "Anaahat" and Arun Khopkar's non- feature "Narayan Gangaram Surve" on Friday..

"I think it is a significant day for Marathi films. It is not very often that Marathi cinema gets this kind of spotlight. I hope that this will begin a new day and the oft asked question about Marathi cinema seeing a decline will not be asked again," said the actor who had made a mark with some memorable performances in films like "Chitchor", "Gharonda" and "Rajnigandha" and as a film-maker with movies like "Daayara", "Bangarwadi", "Ankahee" and "Thodasa Romani Ho Jaye".

Amol Palekar was more than vocal about his excitement over the success that the Marathi film, set in 10th Century India and starring Sonali Bendre has managed. "It was sheer pleasure making this film. Specially since we managed to finish the film in 18 days but still managed the grandeur magnum opus look not associated with mainstream cinema," he said.

Asked about films from mainstream segment also being featured in the Indian Panorama this time the director was quick to point out: "It is not about mainstream or non-mainstream. It is the quality of cinema. Something new is explored. It is only in India that films are associated with stars. In Cannes or any other festival, a film is known by its maker and not these so called stars. It is for the media to decide why Amol Palekar is not a star as a film maker or why Adoor Gopalakrishnan or Sathyu is not considered a star," he commented.

By Lakshmi Balakrishnan

Photo: Anu Pushkarna