The Present Scenario of Bengal Movies
There are two kinds of films in Bengal, class movies and mass movies. Classy films would include films like Proloy, Jaatishwar, Apur Panchali, Baishe Srabon and so on. Films for the masses include Challenge, Shotru and Borbaad. While it’s true that films tend to aim to provide an escape for mass audiences because they are relatively expensive to produce, that’s not inherent to the medium. A mass film may be defined as a film that appeals to a large section of audiences in the society comprised mostly of the lower classes, youth and women.
It is often the lower classes, who tend to be more receptive than the upper more educated class of people. Usually, mass films have catchy dialogues and memorable songs which the audience can recite repeatedly. A class film, on the other hand, tends to deal with a specific type of topic for a relatively smaller audience, sometimes even a niche audience, as compared to a mass film. It is an amazing opportunity to roll the eyes on the movie that promises to bring in the complete package of music, art, culture and story in it. In short, a class film mostly portrays the middle-class Bengali families, their desires and despairs.
Today, we get to see Bengali films that are made up of violence, drugs, exploitation, sadistic beatings, murder, rape and they sometimes attract critical attention and cult followings. We get to see women who are crass exploited and rather shown as sex objects. We may also see exploitation films which may feature suggestive or explicit sex, sensational violence, drug use, nudity, freaks, the bizarre, destruction, rebellion, and mayhem. What a sad scenario. It’s going from bad to worse.
It is heartening
Indian cinema had been witnessing groups of businessmen, who are deliberate, greedy, self-centred, selfish and monopolized in their tastes. The same people who removed even the pretense of art from it and that is why most of our movies, even the ones from the better filmmakers, suffer from some affliction or the other. In general, says Anamitra Roy who is the Director of the Bengali Film ‘’One rupee film project aka ‘’ Small Fish Eats Big Fish’ ’ points out.
I make films because I want to express my point of view. I want to shake people up, to encourage them to think independently from what mass entertainment feeds us day in and day out. The ‘One Rupee Film Project’ was made for the same reasons. On top of that, it was a story that had to be told, there was a need for me to tell it, and there was an interest in other people to see it. We have made a ” Docu-Fiction movie” One Rupee Film” which is 132 min long and has more than 200 producers. It was shot in Kolkata, Bhubaneshwar, Delhi and Bangalore. We are releasing it for free on the internet shortly.
Internet Model- ‘’Back to The Future’’
Bold themes and an ever-increasing internet penetration make a solid case for releasing films online. The Internet becomes a challenging feature in recent times. Especially when filmmakers are contemplating with bold topics and often phrases that have never occurred before. Moreover, if the subject is politically motivated, it becomes all the more important and challenging and even more formidable than making the film. Lack of resources is another factor that constraints independent filmmakers and makes them rely on the Internet.
Movies are something that we all share. “What they are trying to do in the US is to launch movies on Netflix, the same day they’re opening in theaters. And not only low budget movies but also the medium budget ones too — there’s a lot of ways, and there are many players and lot of people to do that [already]. Mainly a good story or script has become the main key for this success. Most of them bringing films to a global audience. To generate revenues from movies, Indian filmmakers need to follow the US model. By making them available on the internet so that fans can watch the content on the device they choose, anytime, everywhere.
Crowdfunding is nothing new for the Indian film industry. India’s first film relied on crowdsourcing, a trend that is once again energizing independent cinema.”Shyam Benegal’s Manthan – made way back in 1976 – is perhaps one of the world’s first crowdfunded movies (More than 5,00,000 members of the Gujarat Milk Cooperatives gave INR 2/- towards the production of the film). It was a big hit. The film was talked about as a best successful venture in crowdfunding.
Given the nature of social media, people are already connecting and creating communities around similar interests – including films. There are now increasing instances of filmmakers in India who are leveraging this powerful medium to raise funds for their ventures. In recent times, crowd sourced funding is catalyzed by social media and the internet. The most advantageous part here is that through social media, film makers can address a group of dedicated followers or their target audience more efficiently.
“With crowdfunding becoming a $7Billion+ phenomenon globally, India also couldn’t stay behind. Even today, India produces more than 300 ‘Indie’ films and more than 150 ‘documentaries’ on an average per year. Because of highly-skewed theatrical and exhibition infrastructure in India, most of these projects fail to see the light of the day. Many creative artists within India and abroad now resort to generating funds through this medium. Various crowdsourced projects having been released in the last three to four years, this looks like the trend for the future of film.
I guess that crowdfunding will definitely prove to be a huge boon for these talented and aspiring film-makers. And if done in a right way, can usher a new cinematic revolution in the country. Some of the Crowd funding websites include Distrify, Funduzz, Wishberry.com, start51.com, igniteintent.com, ketto.org, catapooolt.com, fundmydream.com, makeitnow.in, thehotstart.in, bitgiving.com and the likes.
It’s time we give Bengali indie films the support they require and are looking from various quarters. With the tools available in 2015, anybody can make a film. And they do – in hordes. But a lot of people make a film and they stop at that. Hoping that somehow, miraculously, they’ll get a distribution deal. And the distributor will take care of the rest. The world is populated by DIY films that were deserted by their makers at the moment they were made.
It is a fact that everyone sees the mass-produced Bollywood or Tollywood movies; nobody sees the hidden, low-budget, indie, films. It’s just not fair. And it’s not fair for one simple reason: because the films did not get the respect they deserved. Next time when you try to help any film remember you are a part of it. As an innovator, as an entrepreneur, an investor, a film lover or launching a business venture promoted by you. This will surely help indie movies to a great extent.
Today, less and fewer people go to movie theaters. Even big studio productions fail to attract audiences. Please, stop for a moment and ponder – what do you have to offer that no one else offers? What is so special about you and your project? Probably the story line. You feel the message of the movie touches you in any form. It has impacted you so much that you begin to feel the positive changes that you will inculcate.
Raj Kosaraju is a well-travelled Business Analyst who has an immense interest in Films. His first cousin produced ‘’Mrigaya’ directed by legendary Mrinal Sen which won eight international awards. He was also awarded a ‘’Swarna Kamal’’ award for the Best Feature Film in the 1976 National Film festival.