Indian art filmmakers don’t take Indian masses seriously: K. Hariharan5 min read
The passion in his words is such that the young and the aged are captivated alike when K. Hariharan talks about the whys and hows of cinema. The filmmaker’s romance with cinema, which took off from his days as a student of the Film and TV Institute of India (FTII), Pune now breeds young aspirants of cine world at one of the most renowned film colleges in the country. As Director of the Chennai based L.V. Prasad Film and TV Academy, the 56 year old cineaste helps the budding filmmakers exceed their potential.
The director of the National Award winning Tamil film, Ezhavathu Manithan was in Manipal for Cinephilia 2012, a film festival organised by Manipal Institute of Communication (MIC).
Here are the excerpts of his exclusive interview with TMJ:
What do you prioritise and emphasize on among the students of your institute (L V Prasad Film and TV Academy)?
As film makers they should never think of films as good or bad. Even the trashiest film, in the beginning set out to be a good film. They need to do a lot of research to know exactly what they want. They should also know their potential, whether they can take a certain film forward or not. They should be strong enough to admit that they can’t do it. And finally, they shouldn’t get sucked in to the elitist world that the film critics have seemed to create.
Could you elaborate on this ‘elitist world’?
They have made these definitions of what’s good in films and what’s trash. Say for example, you like Shahrukh Khan’s movies because you’ve grown up watching him. So now when you come to a film school, what tends to happen is that your peers shatter your perception of everything that you liked before. Now Shahrukh Khan is too mainstream and Dabangg is trashy. So, I try to teach my students not to shift gears and switch to a different genre so easily.
Indian films are getting recognised at a world level like never before. How do you think this international recognition affects the way the directors make films?
I am very happy to see that modern Indian and Tamil films are getting a large international viewership. It shows that these filmmakers are also learning modern cinema from non-conventional sources, like independent German and Japanese film makers. It’s not a change, it’s an evolution! You see the works of your peers and that helps you learn something from them. It’s a healthy growth. Modern film makers are becoming global because they are able to learn more from cinema than books.
Also, the internet has made it easy to breach territorial boundaries. We have people in Korea watching Tamil films and liking them, and we have people in India watching Korean films and appreciating them.
As a film director, how deeply do you think are film and society related?
I don’t see films as any different from society. To me, they are a part of social action. I don’t feel that films are made from one group of people to be shown to the other. I don’t see any kind of disconnect between the person who is making the film and its viewer. That is, the director isn’t saying this is what the audience likes so, I’m going to make it. And the audience doesn’t say that this is what I want, so let’s see if you can give it to me. Here, I don’t want to use the word ‘cater’, when we use the term cater we are saying that a director can do much more but, he compromises to meet mass appeal. Take Karan Johar for example, it’s not that he is compromising and forcing himself to make the kind of films he makes. This is what he can do and he is doing it.
Why do the Indian art films fail to be popular amongst the Indian masses?
The Indian masses don’t take Indian art films seriously because the Indian art film makers don’t take the masses seriously. They are making films for award audiences. They are targeting a totally different audience. So, why should the masses care about films that aren’t meant for them? The art-film people believe that realism is the only logic to art films. So, if I ask them what is an art film in India? They will say a film that doesn’t have songs, no fight scenes and no big stars; it has a lot of social issues over flowing. Nobody will want to go watch something like that. What I suggest the art film makers to do is, ask what the masses want? The audience isn’t stupid, out of the 1100 movies made in this country 850 are disasters, and these aren’t art films, this means the masses are discerning. The art film makers don’t have the right perception of Indian society and its wants.
How far do you approve of censorship?
Censorship or anything that is controlling the artist in his or her expression is certainly not admissible for me and I won’t even regard it. I am also not a very big fan of state sponsored cinema and neither do I approve of tiniest kind of interference from big production houses. I would not want to listen to a board of directors telling me to change this and tweak that. Getting constructive criticism by the people in the same field as you is a much healthier environment to work in, than have some bureaucrat pull the strings of your expression.
Sub-edited by Priyanka Sharma