Thursday, February 14, 2008

“Is the filmmaker a Visionary?” Mr. K. Hariharan, Director, L.V. Prasad Film & TV Academy

Management Insight for Social Transformation (MIST), recently invited Mr. K. Hariharan, Director, L.V. Prasad Film & TV Academy at Department of Management Studies for a talk on the topic “Is filmmaker a Visionary?” Mr. Hariharan, who heads the department of direction, is an accomplished filmmaker and distinguished scholar. He graduated from FTII Pune. The national award winning Tamil film "Ezhavathu Manidhan", earned him International acclaim, featuring in Moscow and other film festivals. Mr. Hariharan has also made many documentaries on subjects like travel, education and social movements. He is a visiting faculty at the University of Pennsylvania since 1995, and a guest faculty at the Miami University in Oxford, Film & TV Institute in Pune, and the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai.

Mr. Hariharan started the session by recalling an incident, where few young students dragged a collage girl and the blame was put on movies for spoiling the young generation. He emphasized that society has thrust upon a social and moral responsibility on the filmmakers. The films today have probably the most far reaching influence on our society. Mr. Hariharan defined the cinema as an industrial art as much as any technological product. But the strength of cinema lies in its use value. A film can be explained in by three dimensions, its Grammar (language), Technology (projectors, Cameras, mixing technologies etc.) & the Spectatorship (common viewers). From an artistic point of view films are reproduction of sound and image but the representation, which the viewers construe and spectators pick up, makes the crux of the issue. In Cinema we all try to imagine a world that does not exist.

Talking about the historical significance of the cinema in our country, Mr. Hariharan made a reference to the pre-independence era when India did not exist. What existed was hundreds of princely states divided by culture, language, believes and nothing common to share. Films brought together and integrated these separate states into one Nation which was just a notion till then.

Mr. Hariharan also emphasized on the fact that Cinema, to a certain extent, was responsible for the industrial growth in the country. In 1895 when the first film was shown in New York, there was already high level of industrial growth in US and cinema delivered on the dreams of consumerism. But back in our country when the first movie was screened in Bombay, country did not even have electricity. People saw movies running on generator, saw motors in movies and that was the beginning of urbanization in the country. But Cinema had to deliver on the message of National movements also and now post-independence, we have a new kind of brown empire, cinema has to deliver on the message of Indian at heart.

About 95% of films today in our country are love stories, even if it is a mythological, historical or social movie there will be a romantic angle to it. Mr. Hariharan questioned the obsession with romantic movies even if most people don’t seem to follow the idea of love stories as most marriages in our country are still arranged. He came up with the explanation that romantic movies are symbolic to our love for the land, the country and our determination to safeguard it from ill intentions of the state including Politicians, Police & Lawyers. Cinema in our country has adopted the Gandhian approach and says Nation is something to be romanced with.

Three things bring a nation together – Religion, Language & Political Leadership. This is a common standard around the world and India is the only exception to it. Cinema brings that commonality. The exchange of actors/actresses/directors between regional movies is so prevalent. Initially many south Indian actresses went to Bollywood for acting and now many north Indian actresses are working in south Indian movies. This is an indication of culture marriage that is happening in the country. People are increasingly defying the regional chauvinism, which was so rampant earlier.

Mr. Hariharan also pointed to the fact that we make about 900 movies a year and we are probably the only country where regional cinema is so developed. In France, most of the theaters show English movies and the French cinema is dying. In India, Cinema fulfills a cultural need. Our country was never integrated before like the way it is now. No film maker has done this keeping in mind the societal cause but unintentionally films have achieved what others failed to. In the end, Mr. Hariharan said “The Indian filmmakers have been Visionary except they did not know it.”

Vishal Chourasiya
DoMS Interface


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