By Arun Fulara. Posted on November 22, 2015
The 4 day NFDC Film Bazaar got off to a flying start with co-production & screenwriter pitches to investors, sales agents & distributors, a slew of interesting panels, launch of the film facilitation logo as well as closed room sessions for producers. Delegates could be seen running around from session to session, or huddled in corners, discussing projects across the beautifully located Goa Marriott Resort. What better place to discuss movies than this?
The day kicked off with pitching session for the projects in the Co-Production market. These 19 projects, curated by distinguished screenwriter Urmi Juvekar, showed the diversity of films that are being conjured up by new-age filmmakers from the sub-continent. With films in languages as diverse as Tibetan & Sinhalese, the pitch had it all. Some of the filmmakers who pitched at the project included Amit Masurkar with his next project Newton, Aditya Vikram Sengupta with his second film, Memories & My Mother, Kanu Behl's Agra, Tenzing Sonam & Ritu Sarin with their Tibetan drama, The Sweet Requiem & senior Assamese director Jahnu Barua with his next project titled, The Unread Pages.
— Jamuura (@JamuuraBrigade) November 21, 2015
— Jamuura (@JamuuraBrigade) November 21, 2015
Here's Jahnu Barua talking about the experience of pitching to the room full of investors, distributors & sales agents.
The evening saw another round of pitches by participants of the three screenwriter's labs at the Film Bazaar this year. Most participants at these labs are first time writers & this was a novel experience for them. Again, the range of stories indicated the fearless nature of most of the writers.
The day saw some interesting panels as a part of the Knowledge series at the Bazaar. While the series started with a session by YouTube on the monetisation potential of the digital medium, the most interesting panel of the day was Shoojit Sircar's insightful session on storytelling, which we have written about in detail here. The day also saw acclaimed Bollywood directors' Sudhir Mishra & Anurag Basu discuss whether woman protagonists are finally getting their due in Bollywood. They were joined by theatre actress Vani Tripathi and the discussion was moderated by Namrata Joshi, the National Cinema Editor from The Hindu.
This session was a part of NFDC's Knowledge Series - a platform that explores several angles and perspectives towards cinema through interesting panels, debates and discussions. Traditionally Bollywood has portrayed most of the female protagonists as good girls who kept mum and dutifully followed the norms of the society without ever questioning them and the Indian television industry continues to depict such cliched and regressive characters through the daily soaps.
Though parallel cinema brought about some variation and personality to the female protagonists, however, the mainstream portrayal of women has not changed much over the years. However in recent times, thanks to films such as Kahaani, English Vinglish, Queen, Dum Lagaa Ke Haisha and Piku, we have been able to see some realistic and stereotype-breaking portrayal of women in cinema. The discussion by the panel centered around the current scenario and the various aspects associated therein. Though we have seen films of late that have strong women protagonists at is core, Anurag Basu disagreed that the trend has changed and it is wrong to infer the same on the basis of just two to three films.
In his opinion, the trend will change for good when more number of women filmmakers are able to make films and this is what in his opinion will make a difference. He cited the example of Gauri Shinde (who directed English Vinglish) and Juhi Chatuvedi (writer of Piku). In his opinion, it was their unique way of dealing with female characters that made these films stand apart. In Sudhir Mishra's opinion, the parallel cinema of the 80's which saw films like Shyam Benegal's Bhumika being made was instrumental in ushering this change in the portrayal of women in Hindi cinema. He rued that people have however forgotten this fact over the due course of time. He added that in the mainstream space, there were filmmakers like Nazir Hussain who made films on female characters who often broke the shackles of convention. And there there was Hrishikesh Mukherjee, whose films such as Guddi, Mili etc gave us several strong and memorable women characters. He also quoted Wahheda Rehman's character in Guide as an example of a powerful female character.
In Mishra's opinion, Bollywood's assumption of possessing knowledge of what works and what doesn't (which often has been proved wrong) is what has led to this inaccurate and imbalanced depiction of women characters. When it comes to actresses in mainstream cinema, the money factor is also what often leads them to accept stereotypical and regressive characters. In his opinion for things to change, actresses need to take a stand against the same.
Mishra also stated that filmmakers must also explore the digital platform as it gives filmmakers the freedom to make films and write characters as they want. Besides this he made several remarks on the topic that made for some interesting quotes.
The first day also saw the launch of the logo of the Film Facilitation Office by the Information & Broadcasting Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. The office is meant to help cut through bureaucratic red tape and ensure that film projects get rolling faster. Sounds like good news & the single window clearance system should help more international projects get shot in India. This comes at the right times, with more & more projects showing an interest in India.