The response to good cinema in small cities is overwhelming: Sanjay Suri
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Writer-director ONIR and actor SANJAY SURI, who have launched a campaign called Save Indie Cinema, share their experiences of taking films to smaller towns as well as the challenges of finding support, censorship issues and reviving film societies across the country. Excerpts:
Why did you feel the strong need to start the Save Indie Cinema campaign? ONIR : Independent film-makers are often told there is no audience for our films because they (audience) opt for a big-budget film over our small-budget ones, with the same ticket price. That's because people have stopped exposing themselves to art in films, music or dance. So we don't have exhibition space for such films any more.
In Kolkata, for instance, Nandan used to screen parallel and regional cinema through the year. We need such theatres, maybe equipped with a library and space for workshops, especially in cities such as Allahabad, Lucknow and Baroda.
We want to start with 60 cities where government properties, lying unused, can be made into screening spaces.
This will offer a separate distribution channel for independent film-makers and we won't have to compete with big films in multiplexes.
The other prominent issue is of satellite telecast.
Doordarshan used to have a Saturday slot for indie cinema but has now started airing blockbusters instead.
If national TV denies us that space, what is the point of giving the films a government award? We asked them to restart that slot and also increase the Rs 50,000 - Rs 1 lakh per screening payment to Rs 15 lakh, which they have.
Prasar Bharati has decided to acquire awardwinning films and air them on Doordarshan.
Have they decided a time slot?
ONIR: The slot will be 10 pm. But they are still trying to figure out the day. The telecast will start from June. All films that that have won national awards and all films screened in any of the 20 listed international and Indian film festivals will be telecast.