Cinema falls victim to misplaced priorities
By Gautaman Bhaskaran
HYDERABAD, Jan. 12.
Food seems to be the top priority at the International Film Festival of India, now into its third day here. The American film “Wilbur Falls”, part of the prestigious Cinema of the World section, began at the main venue for the Press and delegates 25 minutes late. The reason The free lunch that the Andhra Pradesh film industry has been providing at the venue was delayed!
Somewhere, priorities seem to have got mixed, and in the confusion, cinema has been the victim. There have been other instances, but one of them certainly underscores the need to separate the Festival from innane functions.
Last evening, Mr. Vinay Shukla’s “Godmother” started almost an hour late, because speakers — a Union Minister included — inaugurating another Festival section, ‘Women in Cinema” overshot their allocated time by disturbingly wide margins.
Unfortunately, the wait was not worth the effort. “Godmother” is a distinctly bad work. Starring Ms. Shabana Azmi among others, the film which is in Hindi, reportedly got into the Festival, because of certain “pressures”. “Godmother” is all about a rustic woman who tastes political power and begins to enjoy it. So what, if there is blood and gore on the screen, and several corpses that need never be accounted for.
Merely a day earlier at the inaugural ceremony, it was emphasised by many, including the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister, Mr. Pramod Mahajan, that movie-makers must be socially responsible and committed. “Godmother” is sadistically violent, melodramatic and highly exaggerated, and one fails to understand why an important actress like Ms. Shabana Azmi would want to be part of this film,
However, there were a few pleasing diversions. One was “Four for Venice”, from Germany. Eva slogs to earn bread for her husband, Luis, an unsuccessful artist and their two kids. But when she catches him emplaning to Venice with his lover, Charlotte, Eva turns into a superwoman, kidnaps the woman’s husband, Nick, bundles him and her two children into her car and races off to Venice.
The movie takes off at a wonderful pace, not allowing a dull moment to creep in. The road journey sees a gradual transformation of Nick from a pompous yuppie, allergic to children and water, into a caring character. There are beautiful contrasts between what happens in Venice and what takes place en route. As Luis and Charlotte realise that their bond is merely physical attraction, Eva and Nick understand that there is something deeper in the way they feel about each other. The director handles these transformations splendidly without a hurried or harried pack up schedules. As the frames keep alternating between lusty Venice and the tantrum-hit highway, one felt a kind of muted excitement at watching a movie that was shot with feeling.
Mr. Dariush Mahrjui from Iran creates almost poetry on celluloid with his “The Pear Tree”. Indeed, the film is a great piece of art, photographed brilliantly and acted out splendidly, especially the two old gardners and the children. And what authentic portrayal of situations.
Mahmud, a middle-aged poet and writer goes back to his place of birth to write a book. The pear tree in the garden reminds him of his childhood, and his first love, who later leaves him and goes away to Paris, where she dies in a road accident. The pear tree plays cupid, and later when it does not bear fruit, it probably signifies how unhappy it is to see a beautiful and innocent relationship die. Does Mahmud discover this secret of the tree as he reminisces about his life? One would never know.
But, Iran undoubtedly creates beautiful images that remain with us long after the screen has gone blank. It is incredible that Iran, despite its severe resource crunch, makes wonderful motion pictures that are no patch on the most of the fare that emerges out of the Indian cans.