Eight years after it regaled Bollywood audiences with its song and dance sequences, filmy storyline and ensemble cast, Farah Khan’s Om Shanti Om was screened at the 37th Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF).
Despite the film’s success, the film-maker is of the opinion that “commercial or massy” films are looked down upon at film festivals in India. “When a foreign film festival honours you, I think, in a way, they get your movie. They get the business of your movie. But I think here [in India], the ones who organise the festivals tend to look down upon commercial successes or what they call the masses’ love,” Farah told IANS.
The 50-year-old director’s views seem all the more relevant when put into perspective with Bengali actor Dhritiman Chatterjee’s recent comments where he objected to Bollywood star Anil Kapoor’s ‘tapori’ dance at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa.
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Farah, who has made films like Main Hoon Na and Happy New Year, said it’s only ironic that actors and commercial film directors are invited to film extravaganzas to increase footfalls. “They [people at film festivals] want to go for the niche highbrow intellectual films, but at the same time they also want actors and commercial directors to come for the festivals because that’s what gets the crowd and the press,” said the outspoken choreographer-director.
Farah’s Om Shanti Om, which was screened in Cairo where Farah was honoured with the Faten Hamama Award for excellence in cinema, starred Shah Rukh Khan and marked Deepika Padukone’s Bollywood debut. It is also remembered for the song Deewangi Deewangi which featured over 30 of Indian cinema’s renowned actors.
Farah nevertheless remains hopeful that film festivals will strike a balance between commercial and art-house films. “I think if they had a mix of both, it would be ideal… especially if they did not ignore the commercial movies... the good commercial movies,” she said.
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Perhaps steps are being taken, as Salman Khan’s blockbuster entertainer Bajrangi Bhaijaan not just set the cash registers ringing but also left people moist-eyed with a heart-warming story.
Meanwhile, films like The Lunchbox, Masaan, Angry Indian Goddesses and Titli are some offbeat movies from Hindi filmdom that have found prominence at movie galas. These days Farah is planning to make a movie on ‘girl power’, which will be produced by her friend and frequent collaborator Shah Rukh’s production house, Red Chillies Entertainment.
Farah’s last directed film Happy New Year proved to be one of the highest grossing films of 2014 but received mixed reviews from critics. Despite the lukewarm response, the film’s script ended up being selected by the Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for its core collection.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 29th, 2015.
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