Indian Cinema at KIFF: Is issue more important than aesthetics?

India Blooms News Service | 22 Nov 2015

Kolkata, Nov 22 (IBNS): The Indian Select of 12 films along with three unreleased films for the Bengali Panorama vied for the top prize within this section in the form of a certificate and a citation bestowed by the Indian Film Critics Association founded in 2013 to promote healthy film criticism, promote research on Indian cinema and to create a database of information about Indian Cinema.
The 21st KIFF has installed this Critics award for the Indian Select and the Bengali Panorama for the first time. The top prize went to the Kannada film Last Page directed by Nikhil Manjoo for “its delicate balance among form, content and technique to narrate a story that is a powerful metaphor pleading empathy for the aged.” This 60-minute film unfolded the story of an old couple who live all by themselves and the old man refuses any help from their son living away from them. He is suddenly struck by a severe heart ailment followed by surgery and this set him off to settle his financial matters so that his wife does not suffer. But the wife dies suddenly and the nagging husband changes forever, deciding to live alone drawing happiness from the children in the neighbourhood. It is a beautiful film well told without going loud on the ‘message’ that suggests empathy for the aged.
 
We would have been happy if all the 15 films followed suit. Sadly, they did not and in almost all the cases, issue dominated the form and the content so much and in so amateurish a  manner that the cinematic language got lost in loudness and crudity. Some of them were so badly made films that they do not quite qualify to be labelled as ‘cinema’ and value judgements may be laid aside.
 
The Bengali film Bhalo Meye Kharap Meye directed by Tamal Dasgupta was one of the thee nominees for the citation in this section. The film is obviously inspired by the Park Street gang rape case but gives the story a different twist by drawing parallels with another mainstream housewife of the lawyer who defends the rape victim without a fee. The director however, takes his time to come to the point and leaves much of the script dragging.
 
The other nominated film was Ain in Malayalam directed by Sidhhartha Siva that has a very interesting story which is somewhat damaged by a rambling script and a dragging narrative. Many Indian films were focussed on issues that are very relevant such as Saankal (Hindi) directed by Dedipya Joshi. The film deals with an age-old custom in Muslim-dominated villages where in order to sustain the community and prevent marriage of girls into another community, unmarried girls who grew beyond the marriageable age were married off to small boys within the community. These brides were then subjected to rape by the elder males in the family such as the boy’s father, uncles, older brothers and so on. The subject lent itself to wonderful exploration of a little known issue but has been spoilt by bad acting, wrong casting, loud music, and bad technique.
 
Among the Indian Select films, some have won National Awards in different categories which raise questions about the discretion with which these awards are bestowed.
 
(Reporting by Shoma A. Chatterji)
 

Indian Cinema at KIFF: Is issue more important than aesthetics?

India Blooms News Service
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