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“Our films are slowly transcending international borders”

Are Indian art house films making their presence felt in the overseas markets? In Spotlight this week, Sagorika Dasgupta finds out

Filmmaker: Anand Gandhi

Film: Ship Of ThesEus

Background

During my formative years, my mother and grandmother exposed me to a lot of pop culture. Their heroes were poets, artistes, thinkers and philosophers. I directed plays in school and wrote my first play, Sugandhi, at age 19. At 22, I began directing short films. One of my films, Right Here, Right Now, did so well that in 2003, it reached the Tribeca film festival. It has achieved near-cult status in the Indian underground. It has been screened at many colleges, and many universities have it as part of their syllabus too. I wrote a few TV shows also. It’s really embarrassing to talk about it now but they were some of the biggest and the longest running shows on TV!

I also began engaging with foreign filmmakers and a new window opened up for me. In 2006, my film Continuum was appreciated and that’s where I met the actress of my film Ship Of Theseus. The film is about our choices and the consequences of a few questions and their answers.

International Market For Indie Films

Our films are slowly transcending international borders, language barriers are dissipating too. There is certain optimism about indie films in India and I would have to say that, culturally, we broke even in 2012. The biggest boon my generation had was the Internet. Thanks to this, we were exposed to global cultures through foreign films. We may have to give some credit to the foreign film piracy too!

The growth of indie films can be attributed to many things. First, there is a strong economic reason. India is becoming a stronger economy, due to which European filmmakers are looking East. Second, craftsmen are getting more and more educated. And the entire digital revolution has also fuelled this growth. Imagine how cheap it is to shoot a film on a DSLR these days. Digitisation has also made sure we sometimes get more screenings.

Indian Scenario

We have to wake up to the fact that movie-making is not a profitable business and that Bollywood was not making enough money all these years. The stars were being paid insane sums, driving filmmakers to haggle even with spot boys for the last penny! That might still need a correction, but things are a little better. For smaller art house films to do well, the bigger films will have to work so that the surplus trickles down to us. And that has started happening. The international market for indie cinema might not be all that big yet, but it is looking up.

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