With Doordarshan giving a permanent slot to indie film makers, documentaries find a stable foothold.
Documentary film makers have reason to feel vindicated. From May 26, every Saturday, for the next five years, a 24-minute slot will showcase documentaries on the national network. After a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Doordarshan and Indian Documentary Producers Association (IDPA) was recently signed, almost 35 documentaries by indie film makers have been shortlisted. The topics range from social commentaries like environment and health to compelling personal accounts.
Despite a disappointing past – no data on documentary films and film makers being maintained, absence of archives available and viewership meters - the coming years look promising. The recently-held national documentary film festival in the capital and the plan to launch a dedicated TV channel for the medium, indicate a changing tide. “We are in talks with the Ministry of Culture and they are positive about it. This will take time, but work has begun,” says film maker Sanskar Desai, IDPA.
Citing the fact that hundreds of documentaries are made every year and most go unnoticed, unrecorded and uncensored, the move may not be enough but a 24-minute slot every week, is surely a step up, feels Desai. He adds that the initiative was long-awaited in the light of documentary industry’s fight for fund and audience.In March this year, ten select documentaries were featured at Delhi's North Campus. Called the Pravah- PSBT Documentary Film Festival , the fest saw some compelling narratives by young film makers.
For Ravi Kiran Ayyagari, cinematographer from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), small windows of opportunities are like light creeping in. "The fact is that we keep making documentaries. We beg, borrow and steal at times to fulfill our creative aspirations, but we do it still. There are so many film makers I know who have been working and researching on their films for the past four years. They love the medium and they will continue to work for it.” On Ayaagari's filmography are documentaries shot on the life of potters in Kolkata, a character-sketch of the Park Street and the story of a monk who travels all over the county looking at the gap between growth and development.
The documentary film making narrative is not entirely dark – it’s a mix, a grey, feels award-winning documentary film maker Bidyut Kotoky. However, he adds that while technology and online portals have given