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“Hopefully, festivals will boost regional cinema”

Umesh Kulkarni, Director

As a jury member of the Dimensions Mumbai section at the Mumbai Film Festival (MFF), I look forward to watching different films. I’m making sure that I can learn as much as I can from different filmmakers. We are also showing a film which I have produced titled Pune 52. In a way, I am also presenting my film at the festival.

I am looking forward to watching independent efforts in our country. Miss Lovely, which was also screened at Cannes, is one of them. So it’s just not Marathi films that I want to watch; I also want to know what’s happening in independent space too.

Festivals definitely provide a platform for good regional films, which is watched by all kinds of people. Unfortunately, in our country, regional films are not distributed in states where that language is not spoken. But cinema can transcend language. For instance, we don’t get to watch Bengali films in Pune or Maharashtra or a Marathi film in Punjab. If they do get screened, they lack subtitles. Yet people respond to these movies very positively when they are screened at film festivals. So I wonder why our own films can’t be released with subtitles in other states?

I am very happy with the selection of films at MAMI this year. In India, we are bombarded with commercial cinema. But MAMI’s selection of movies will expose the audience to different genres, which will break the clutter.

Things are changing but it’s still very tough for independent filmmakers to release their films in India. Take, for instance, Anhe Ghore Da Daan, which was produced by NFDC. It was a fantastic movie but it released only in Delhi and Mumbai, and that too, it was assigned only one show. So I believe festivals will create greater awareness of regional and independent cinema.

It’s hard to say whether a festival shapes a director’s career but it gives him an opportunity to express himself. Each festival has its own unique way of understanding cinema. Iranian films, for instance, came to the forefront because of festivals. Irianian cinema became so popular that the Iranian film Baran was released in India!

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