Cannes, May 20: India's rising star director Anurag Kashyap has complained that filmmakers in in the country still do not enjoy the kind of freedom of space and expression that would allow them to make meaningful films.
"Today, we are forced to treat our audience as children of less than five years and hence we have to only make goody-goody films with a huge dose of escapism. I want to have the option making films that tackle the issues of Indian society head on, rather than being obliged to refer to them in an oblique fashion," Kashyap said at a discussion on the future of Indian cinema at the Cannes Film Festival here.
The discussion centred around the film "Bombay Talkies", a compilation of four films made by four directors - Karan Johar, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee and Kashyap - which was premiered here during a special screening at Cannes on Sunday evening.
The screening was followed by a gala dinner. During the discussion, Kashyap openly attacked the numerous barriers and controls that were imposed on cinema in India.
"We can not even keep surnames for our characters as we do not know who would be offended, so there are far too many special interest groups that we have to take care of. The biggest hurdle is, of course, not being able to make films about the governance of the country. I want to be able to make a film on say the Commonwealth Games scandal, or about the current government. But I can not," he said.
The four directors were unanimous that Indian cinema had indeed improved. "We had the first Golden Age of Indian cinema in the 1950s and 1960s. Now, I think, with the current crop of filmmakers, we can be sure that we are about to embark upon the second Golden Age. Whether it comes in five years or 10 is not very important, what is key is that we are improving and it gives me a great pleasure to see the young generation of Indian cinema," Johar said.
Talking of the film made by her in the "Bombay Talkies" series, Akhtar said her first impression on seeing the rough cuts of all four films was that hers was the most beautiful, almost girlie. She was also equally optimistic about the future of Indian cinema, outside the traditional and home markets.
Johar said that while making "Bombay Talkies", his biggest fear was to know how to make it within the duration and budgetary limits imposed by the producer, Viacom 18.
"I have never made anything with 15 million rupees and in 25 minutes. My prologues last longer and cost more. So, all the time I was trying to sneakily find out what the others were doing," Johar said, creating a spur of laughter in the room.
Banerjee said his film was adapted from a short story written by Satyajit Ray about a common man who suddenly finds himself on the sets of a film and is obliged to act the role. "I adapted it to the city where I live, Mumbai," he said.
(Ranvir Nayar can be contacted at email@example.com)