Content is the star and audience is the king
Think about any Durga Pujo or Kali Pujo: if you start today, you will surely hear, ‘at least 3 years you have to continue.’ If you stop in between, you may have to face the omen which is not so friendly. On a serious note, for any venture, the 3rd year is always very important. The 1st year, people hardly take you seriously. 2nd year it is a kind of surprise, in many cases – ‘oh you are still around!’ kind of expression. And then comes the 3rd year. Now people have to start taking you with seriousness. This comes with more expectations and responsibilities, goes without saying. HBFF is no exception.
Adoor Gopalakrishnan, the legendary Indian film maker from Kerala, wrote in his famous article in 1997, Cinema with a purpose, “I THINK the most important thing that has happened to Indian cinema since Independence is the emergence of regional films.” Indian language films contribute immensely in making India as the producer of the highest number of films globally. In 2014 a total of 1969 films were made in India. Out of which only 263 were in Hindi, reports the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). This means, 1706 films (86.64%) films made in India are in regional languages, like Telugu, Tamil, Malayam, Marathi, Kannada, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Odia, Punjabi, Gujrati etc. Only about 13% of Indian films were in Hindi, in 2014. In the same year, 2014, Bengal produced 135 feature films. Are these figures not amazing? Still when we talk about Indian films, eventually most of us talk about Hindi films! In nutshell, only about 15% of Indian films, made in Hindi, attract more than 50% of the audience & commerce. Perhaps Adoor ji’s comment is more significant today! Now the question that struck me, as a film loving Indian ‘mango-man,’ where are those 86% language films? How much do we know about them? That’s why, boutique film festivals like HBFF, are important. HBFF is a very small effort to showcase the representative strata of all those unseen wonders of Bengali Cinema (and Indian Cinema in a larger canvas)!
We, the Team HBFF, are just trying to fill in the gaps, within our limitations. We are doing it for the 3rd time. 3rd year! Hope the unfriendly omen won’t hurt us in near future J
This year we have two premiers: Bridge and Kolkatar King. Not many people have got an opportunity to watch them in India so far. There are four films of debut directors: Bridge, Babar Naam Gandhiji, Natoker Moto, Asa Jaoar Maajhe (Labor of Love). All these movies are critically acclaimed and we are happy to see the content as the real star in them. The other movies – Cinemawala, Onyo Opala, Anubrata Bhalo Achho?, and Kolkatar King are also in the list of ‘most awaited.’ This year we have arranged for more discussions, Q&A. These sessions are very important to develop the ability to appreciate cinema as a multidisciplinary art form. Our panelists will discuss & debate to find out, “What makes for successful cinema: money, talent, or networking?” We are proud that the representatives of the Film Critics Circle of India (FCCI) are taking part in several seminars which are definitely going to add value for the cine-lovers.
In all festivals we normally observe critics selecting best movies and artists. Box office collection is definitely a way to understand the mind of the audience; but that is a limited and overall trend that a film maker receives. If content is the star, audience must be the king. But in our country, we don’t have many options for the audience to speak out. HBFF wants to offer a platform where we celebrate good content and prioritize the audience. Truly! With that though, we are introducing, the Viewer’s Choice Award, where you all will select the better movie and let producers and directors know, what you liked and what not among these 8 films.
The last but not the least, HBFF is paying tribute to a legendary screenwriter, Nabendu Ghosh. We are proud to screen a documentary made on this multi-faceted artist, novelist of Bengal who has taken the screenplay writing in India to a new height.
I, on behalf of team HBFF, would like to thank our curator, participating producers, filmmakers, directors, actors, and sponsors to take this boutique film festival so seriously and making this a success with their gracious presence. Last but not the least, the movie-buffs of Hyderabad, without you this would have not been possible! Keep supporting us, keep going!
Partha Pratim Mallik
Hyderabad Bengali Film Festival