Mainstream Cinema is regressive: P.N. Ramachandra4 min read
Hailing from Karnataka, P.N. Ramachandra is best known for making critically acclaimed short films, television serials, documentaries as well as feature films. His first feature film, Suddha (Tulu), which was filmed in 2004 won the Best Indian Film category at the 2006 Osians Cinefan Festival of Asian and Arab films. His second venture, Putaani Party (Kannada) won the Best Children’s film at the 2009 National Film Awards. ‘Mainstream cinema is a route to escape from reality’ is his stand on big screen entertainment today.
After graduating from Mangalore University, he went on to do a three year course in Film Direction and Screenplay Writing from Film and Television Institute of India, Pune (FTII). After attending the Manipal Film Festival 2013, TMJ caught up with the recipient of the ‘2009 National Award for the Best Children’s Film category’ for an exclusive interview. Here are some excerpts.
After completing high school and college, what is it that you wanted to pursue as your career? How did that lead to a deviation into performing arts?
Udupi is known to be rich in culture and tradition. Traditional folklore is said to be propagated at a large scale from quite a few decades back. Amidst such cultural diversity, cultural activities were organised in most colleges around the area. When my college was bubbling with cultural activities, I started involving myself in these competitions and slowly developed an interest towards theater. I even tried my hand in Yakshagaana. However, this did not work to my favour.
Once I finished my course, I decided to enroll myself in FTII to nurture this interest I developed. Along with this, I also polished my still photography skills by attending various workshops. This in-turn helped me get into film-making.
When you set foot in the industry in the 1990s, documentaries were not very popular. How did you plan on reaching out to the audience?
This continues to be a challenge for me even now. When I graduated from FTI, I only knew the technical aspects and did not know what to keep in mind while making short films or documentaries. The knowledge was based on the documentaries that were screened in my college.
What is your take on the current scenario of mainstream cinema? Would you like to try a hand in that as well?
According to me, mainstream cinema of the current generation only appears to be progressive but it is actually regressive. I did start off by helping in the production of a film in Bangalore. But after a period of 20 days, I decided to quit as I felt it was not the correct thing for me to do. Hence, I decided to start making feature films and documentaries. If the current situation prevails, I would be happy to continue working with my current pattern of feature films. One main reason for this would be that I have a progressive mindset, which does not gel with the current notion of cinema. However, I will use certain elements like songs and dances if required.
What were the difficulties you went through due to the absence of technological advancements?
During our times, we did not have the kind of devices available today. Our pattern of editing itself was very different. However, technology has advanced to a great extent and is easily accessible as well. Hence, the current generation is at a great advantage in this manner.
Films are made sometimes to create an impression or leave a message for the society to interpret and understand. How much of an impact do you think short films and documentaries have?
According to me, every film has some message or the other. It all depends on how the audience interprets it. Also, when any form of film is made, be it a short film or documentary, it is made with a certain perspective in mind. However, the biggest failure would be if the filmmaker expects his audience to see it through his eyes. It is very important to understand that perspectives make all the difference here.
The documentary you are currently working on is of a very sensitive issue, drug addiction. Is there any particular reason to base your documentary on this theme?
This documentary is being filmed in a small village in Arunachal Pradesh. Here, people make a living out of Opium cultivation. One in every 10 individuals is said to be a drug addict. Natives grow these crops on acres of land and make a business out of it. Financial needs are taken care of by selling a bit of this. It is seen as cultivation of cash crops. This is the current scene which I propose to choose as my theme.
Sub-edited by Bhavya Balakrishnan