Film appreciation with K S Sivakumaran:
Random observations on SAARC films
In a rapidly changing world the second half of the last century
witnessed the changing patterns in the cultural scene. The
western-centred cultural activities began to decline in the eastern
world with the awareness of the newly emerged nations gradually
rejuvenating their own cultural traditions and roots soon after
decolonization. In the 1950s what was known as the 'Dark Continent'
Africa came to be noticed by the world through the increased number in
membership of the United Nations. In the following decades it was not
only Africa but also Asia that contains great nations like China, Japan
and India evolved into exerting its rich cultural roots to be noticed by
the rest of the world. The Non-aligned Conferences, SEAC (South East
Asian Conferences) and the SAARC (South Asian Association of Regional
Conferences) furthered the aspirations of greater number of people in
the Southern Pole of the Globe.
The Indian subcontinent that includes India and Pakistan and the
other neighbouring nations like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and
the Maldives have become important countries that the rest of the world
began to take notice of the significance of such countries. Likewise the
West Asia (what we call the Middle East) and South East Asia too have
brought about remarkable development in all areas of progress including
It is in such a map that the film cultures of these great countries
have been globalized through International Film Festivals. One such
Festival is the forthcoming SAARC Film Festival to be held in Colombo
organized by the SAARC Cultural Centre in Colombo, Sri Lanka between May
11 and 15 at the National Film Corporation (NFC) Hall at Torrington
We understand that already four or five films from SAARC countries
have already been scheduled and further details of the Festival would be
notified through the media.
This columnist suggests that those who are interested in seeing
quality films should patronize the festival to get a better
understanding and appreciation of the film medium.
From our observation on the SAARC Film Festival let us switch on to
some comments on an film production in a region in India. The region is
Maharashtra State. S we know Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) is the
capital of this state. It is the centre for the immensely popular
Bollywood films which are largely made in the Hindi (Hindustani)
language spoken by over 200 million people in Northern India. The
present population of India is reportedly over one billion.
The main language in Maharashtra is Marathi, but Mumbai being the
business capital and a cosmopolitan mega city besides Marathi such
languages like Gujarati, Hindi, and Urdu and in some places Dravidian
languages like Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada are also spoken.
Some people say that Maharashtrans have Dravidian affinity.
In the latter part of this week's column, let's focus on an
outstanding Marathi film director and one of his recent films. The
director is Amol Palekar and the film is titled And Once Again It was
shown two years ago at the IFFI ((International Film Festival of India)
two years ago. I have met this theatre man and film director several
times at the different IFFI. His former wife Chitra is also an actress,
director and a member of Film Juries on many occasions.
Amol Palekar's mother tongue is Marathi. He began his career as an
experimental theatre person. He introduced the 'Theatre of the Absurd to
Maharashtra audiences. He performed in street dramas and in 1971 his
friend Satyadev Dubey directed a film called Shanta! Court Chalu Aahe
with which Amol's film career began. That film is described as the
starting of the 'New Cinema Movement' in Marathi. After acting in
several outstanding Marathi films directed by different directors from
other regions, Amol Palekar began to himself direct films from the
beginning of this century.
His film And Once Again is set in hilly Sikkim. It's about a married
female architect, Manuvela and a diplomat, Rishi who in his posting in
Yugoslavia lost his wife and son in a violent assault. The architect is
the daughter of the psychiatrist under whom the diplomat gets his
treatment for his mental agony after the indelible memory of his wife
and son. Mauvela's husband is Rishikesh. But as fate has it the
architect falls in love with Rishi. They get married. And he regains his
Although the story is interesting, yet it is non-conformist and a
little 'alien' to eastern audiences. But the film is absorbing with
appreciable cinema fare.