destination india

Sunday, May 15, 2005

the french connections

The Cannes Film Festivals 2005 has once again highlighted our inherent desire to be seen in the company of foreigners. We love to mingle with foreign Celebes in the fond hope that we will get noticed, one of them will come forward to recognize us in the crowd and acknowledge our miniscule presence by offering us tiny roles in some obscurely known producer/director combine. Like the kid in school – when asked what role he played in the school’s Annual function he replies beamingly ‘did you not see me? I was the corpse!’

This trait of ours is nothing new.

We believe that anything not Indian is good enough for us. We love to borrow their stories, their fashions, and their culture. Even though we may speak about propagating the causes of all that is Indian, we do just the opposite. We do not practice what we preach. Our Indian universities do not attract the students any longer; they prefer to go overseas to complete their college educations. Our cricket Bosses are looking for foreign coaches, we regularly induct foreigners into our football teams – we want to ride piggy back on their achievements.

Over the years, some of our really talented actors have performed remarkably well in foreign films. For that, they never had to go around begging for favors. The film makers recognized their potentials and offered them chances to prove themselves. Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi and Om Puri belong to that genre. Simultaneously, there were films like ‘Bend it like Beckham’, a product that was very much Indian. For our actors to act in such films makes sense.

To be frank, Indian films seldom deal with real life situations; they are artificial depictions, far removed from reality. All its characters are, like the story lines, contrived and do not do justice to the intelligence of the average foreign viewer. During the song and dance sequences, shot on foreign locations, we can see the locals staring in disbelief at the tom fooleries. We cannot listen to their comments but it is certain to be about the hypocrisy that is India – on the one hand we squander money on such silly ventures and, on the other, we go around with begging bowls, begging for funds to look after our hungry kids or to educate our illiterate womenfolk the majority of who, even today, hide their faces behind huge pallus rather than dance around trees.
In this context, the following quotes are relevant: the great SRK … ‘I’d rather be the best James Bond in an Indian film … Let them come to me with a role that isn’t the seventh villain or a cook in a Bond film …’. The inimitable Amitabh continues in the same vein … ‘The Oscars is for the British. Why are we even trying to compete there? Let Tom Cruise come to the Filmfare awards instead.’

If at all we want to attract foreigners to our style of movies, I would suggest a package of some select films like Shiva, Sathya, Sadak, Sarfarosh, Saudagar(Amitabh-Nutan), Maachis, Roja, Ghulam and Gangajal be screened in the land of the Oscars and in Cannes. These are much more true to life presentations of our country and have certain statements to make. These could really be used to win over the foreigners.

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