S Asian filmmakers have turned to television: Barua

Posted on 2009-06-10
PANAJI-Mr Rahul Barua, the secretary general of South Asia Foundation, the main organiser of the South Asian Film Festival (SAFF) on Monday said that in recent times, the number of feature films produced in South Asian countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh has considerably reduced due to common challenges like ethnic problem, terrorism and limited employment opportunities, with the film makers in these countries forced to undertake productions for television channels, which require cheaper cast and crew as well as limited technical expertise.
“How can one expect the people of these countries to visit theatres and enjoy films, when the very concept of entertainment is hampered by more serious issues having direct implications on the public life,” he questioned, pointing out that though focussing on television production provides these film makers with a large-sized audience, the marketability aspect takes a backseat.
Mr Barua is presently in Goa to finalise the details of the second South Asian Film Festival in the state, fourth in the country, which will be held in the city from June 26 to 29. The event will present a bouquet of 50 productions from South Asian countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bhutan, Nepal and India, split into four categories namely short films (feature/ documentary), documentaries, classics and mainstream films.
Speaking further, Mr Barua said that the film festival will also include a special section on Iranian films, with 12 films produced in Iran being screened for the audiences.
“In addition, the SAFF 2009 in Goa will witness two seminars on ‘South Asian cinema and Indian cinema’ and ‘Role of Indian Cinema in South Asia’, to be participated by renowned film personalities from the South Asian countries,” the secretary general of South Asia Foundation said, adding that the SAFF theme, ‘Dissolving Boundaries…’ indicates the aim of the film festival, that to diffuse tensions among the South Asian countries by making use of their similar social as well as cultural backgrounds.
“The SAFF also tries to assist the film makers from South Asian countries in film-related exchange programmes as well as joint ventures,” he noted.
The film festival will witness screening of globally recognised films like ‘Yousuf’ (Maldives), ‘The Roots’ and ‘Opium War’ (Afghanistan), ‘Ramchand Pakistani’ (Pakistan), besides a recent film by Sri Lankan film maker, Sumitra Peres- ‘Yahaluwo’.
The Indian films will include ‘Welcome to Sajjanpur’, ‘Fashion’, ‘Firaq’ and a Tamil film that has been an entry at the recently concluded Cannes Film Festival, besides others.
Film makers like Shyam Benegal, Mahesh Bhatt, etc, film personalities including Manisha Koirala, Pooja Bhatt and others will attend the event, besides a number of well-known film luminaries from the South Asian countries, Mr Barua informed, stating that top names in film world would present their respective films at the festival.
Making observations about films produced in South Asian countries, Mr Barua said that a country like Afghanistan, in spite of being involved in violent turmoil, has outside producers showing interest in film collaboration with the country.
“Some other countries like Bhutan, on the other hand, have tiniest film market,” he noted.
Mr Barua, reacting to the film festival infrastructure in Goa said that it is better than the one existing in New Delhi.
“Some countries like Nepal and Bhutan do not produce films in 35 mm format, while some like Bhutan produce films in digital format,” he informed, adding that Goa has facilities to screen films in all formats, during the film festival.
The secretary general of South Asia Foundation also stated that the tremendous response from the local audiences for the SAAF 2008 is another reason to return to Goa.
“Mostly the films produced in South Asian countries are being made for masses, however, the current issues are also reflected in these films,” Mr Barua said, adding that film production in many of the South Asian countries was tremendously hampered by some of the issues prevalent in these countries.
“Today, Goa can provide the cheapest film infrastructure, with film-related equipments easily accessible from Mumbai as well as South India,” he observed.
The South Asia Foundation will be approaching the government for funds, while the Indian Missions in South Asian countries including Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates having helped the Foundation to carry the films by organising visas, Mr Barua observed.
Mr Kapil Sibal is the chairman of the steering committee of the SAFF, while Mr Jitendra Deshprabhu is the organising committee chairman for the
film festival.