Screen scenes to preserve regional identity
SAARC filmmakers speak out about the scope behind
Gone are the days when the creative
skills of artistes are affected by cultural aspects. Filmmakers have
adapted themselves to the dilemma in such a way that they no longer
perceive cultural barriers as an obstacle. Instead, they believe that
the diversity in culture and customs can help them create unique
cinematic creations, harnessing a distinctive identity to the South
Asian cinema. This was the stance which embodied each film that was
screened at the SAARC Film Festival which was concluded at the National
Film Corporation recently. Daily News ‘Projector’ spoke to two of the
award winning filmmakers during their brief stay in the isle.
Indian film director, Somnath Gupta, believes that South Asian cinema
has its own unique identity.
Somnath Gupta. Picture by Sumanachandra Ariyawansa
“I don’t think culture act as a barrier. Film has its own language.
Cinema is such a powerful medium that it can overcome all the barriers.
True, there are cultural differences. When we talk about our people,
religions, practices and beliefs, it allows us to carry own identity to
the world. There has to be differences, otherwise all films will look
the same, there won’t be any diversity and then everything would look
very boring,” he explained.
Puppets of Nadia - A documentary film produced by the Government
of West Bengal
* Bhasa Mandakini - A documentary series on the development of
* India 24 hrs - A film on tribal marriage system for Irish
* Theatre Directors at work and Story of New Theaters -
Television series produced by Doordarshan, India
* Won second place for his movie Ami Aadu at the SAARC film
Born in Calcutta, Somnath comes from a part of India which has
produced many great artistic personalities such as Sathyajith Ray and
Gautam Gosh. He represents the Indian regional film sector which is
different from Bollywood cinema.
“India is a country with many languages. This plurality has its own
character. The kind of films presented in film festivals such as this
are from the Indian regional cinema,” he said. Somnath’s debut feature
movie Ami Aadu was screened at the SAARC Film Festival. Translated into
Enlgish as Sound of Love, the movie was highly praised for its touching
storyline and went on to win second place at the event. The tale
revolves around the heart-wrenching story of Aadu, a girl from Hindu
Brahmin family, who finds herself in love with a Muslim boy called
Suleman. The beginning episodes unravel around the touching love story
of Aadu and Suleman. Then the movie takes a different route and shifts
its tone with Suleman deciding to leave the country to search for a
better job in Iraq.
From a vibrant, energetic first chapter, the story turns to a sad
melancholic one, as it projects young Aadu, now pregnant with child
waiting for Suleman’s return. Even though the movie does not follow the
same glossy, glamourous style of Bollywood cinema, it has the capacity
to keep the viewer hooked.
Elaborating on this topic Somnath adds that filmmakers do not
necessarily have to make extravagant and flamboyant movies to attract
“If you think glamour means very glossy pictures without any
reasoning, it is not right. It depends on how you define glamour. For
instance even after so many years, I find Akira kurasova’s Rashoman and
the Seven Samurai glamourous. Just because a film has colourful music
sequences and action scenes you can’t call it glamourous,” he concluded.
Aspiring South Asian filmmakers face problems on how to take regional
movies to the international community. Technology, finance and many
other challenges have halted their progress and prevented them from
making it big in world cinema.
* Sangwai Charo (The secret Partner)- 2006
* Chortan Kora Part 2-2010
Bhutan film director Wangchuck notes, “We try to commercialize films
with lots of action scenes and musical sequences. We do not possess some
of the latest technological devices or money to make big budget
productions to compete with the global cinema trends.
Wangchuck. Picture by Sumanachandra Ariyawansa
We need to make simple movies as an answer to this problem. Look at
our way of life with a creative eye and recreate them in a very
The acclaimed director has been nominated for many accolades for his
cinematic creations in his country.
Wangchuck was in Sri Lanka to showcase his film Chortan Kora 2 (The
Celestial Dancer) at the SAARC film festival. The movie was a sequel to
Chortan Kora - part one which was made in 2004. It delves on the lives
of ethnic minority, ‘Brokpas’ and brings out features of their lives and
Speaking of the cultural aspect of his movies, Wangchuck says, “In a
sense cultural restrictions could be looked upon as a factor which
confines the artiste. We have the same problems in Bhutan. In a way it
is good for us, because it gives us a unique identity.” He is very
optimistic about the growing interest towards cinema among Bhutani movie
“Bhutani cinema is on the rise. During late 80s people were only
interested in watching Hollywood or Bollywood movies, but now things are
changing. More people coming to watch our movies,” he says.
He also believes that South Asian cinema could offer lot to the
world, if they work collectively as a unit. He feels that the SAARC film
festival is an ideal platform for the regional movie makers to get
together and share their thoughts on the problems and challenges that
Speaking further on the topic Wangchuck notes, “We have to admit that
making small budget movies won’t always attract viewership. Although
such movies are good for film festivals, they don’t have a good market.
But if the regional movie producers get together and work collectively,
we can draw in money and make a big project. It doesn’t necessarily have
to be a Hollywood or Bollywood type of film, but if the creative
individuals in the region are provided with the necessary incentive, I m
sure they can do wonders.”