Indian cinemas best yet to come

Updated: Dec 31 2006, 05:30am hrs
You have f*****ng sold out, screamed the ex art film maker. His alcohol overloaded body flopped to one side as he spoke and his lips quivered with rage and contempt as he spat venom at me because I had dared to be optimistic about the future of Indian cinema.

And then with a supreme effort of will he got up in the manner of the great ham actors of our cinema and proceeded with his diatribe. You call what is going on Cinema! Here where bloody pretty Christmas card type pictures are confused for good photography! Gimmick cutting for effect is considered editing. And the less said about the acting the better! Everybody just states the obvious. They are either so happy or so sad or so cool. Thats when they are not making faces and preening or posturing in front of the camera. And what is this shit about new ideas. Have they even gone beyond Guide. And all this nave talk about social conscience ****.

He went on and on and on.

Halfway through I disappeared on the pretext of going to the loo. They say he finished at five in the morning.

However, when I woke up, his ranting got me thinking. Much of what he had said was true. But then that has been true about cinema at any point.

More then 60% of films made in any given year have been crap. They were cheap, manipulative, totally regressive and have been forgotten as quickly as they were probably made.

By the 80s our cinema reached its lowest point when almost everything made in mainstream Indian cinema was pretty sickening.

And the art cinema was so mired in its socially progressive posturing that it sank under the weight of the so-called noble intentions of the filmmakers.

They forgot that art is not about intention but about wonder and amazement and lament in the face of this puzzling accident called life.

It is from this double whammy that the cinema of the new millennium is slowly recovering. Audiences have become like feudal over-aged landlords who do not want to sit up and watch but lie back and be titillated.

The state has abdicated its role and asked us to manage in the marketplace. But the surprising fact is that many of the young and not so young film makers are attempting to do just that.

Some have teamed up with the more adventurous among the stars and are trying to make more daring films that somewhat push the envelope while some others are getting by just on the strength of their ideas.

What is more interesting is that between these two there is no war but a mutual respect. So a Vishal Bhardwaj is producing an Anurag Kashyap film and Prakash Jha is producing the next Sudhir Mishra film. Also I hear rumours that a young man like Nikhil Advani is producing the films of three really interesting directorial talents.

That gives me hope as does the success of Vinod Chopra and Raju Hirani. Lage Raho Munnabhai is the victory of real talent. The fact that it is a resounding hit is hopefully a sign of things to come. Because the talent exists. I see it all around me.

Recently I saw a film by three kids from KC College, Mumbai which astounded me with its skill and daring. Please believe me when I say that there are at least 20 Anurag Kashyaps lying in wait for the correct opportunity.

Will the feudal hierarchies of this industry give way to this talent I have a feeling that even if they dont these young men and women will find a way in. There are many reasons for that.

These filmmakers like the audience but are not subservient to them. Also because they have good intentions but know that it takes much more than just that to make a good film. For instance, they know that it is not enough to merely photograph reality but that they have to interpret it, to write a poem on it and to find connections within it that are not so apparent.

Let me stick my neck out. I think the best of Indian cinema is yet to come. Because it seems to me that like in the 1950s we again have a set of directors who have not merely the courage but the talent to dream.

Also I think the time for the truly independent Indian film has come.

So dont be surprised if you hear about a new Indian short film made by a 21 year old which is sold directly on the net!

And dont be surprised it if it gets a couple of million downloads either.

Also watch out for a really interesting set of women directors. Like Ruchi Narain, Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti and many others. These young women are happy being who they are, confident of their sexuality and do not carry the burden of their mothers.

The world as seen through their eyes promises to be really exciting.

Along with them the already established directors like Ashutosh Gowarikar, Vishal Bhardwaj, Raju Hirani, Nagesh Kukunoor will I think make their best films in 2007.

And I am making one too.

(Sudhir Mishra is a well-known film maker)