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Screen + Sound + Stage
October 21, 2014

The MAMI Word

Text by Nittal Chandarana

In the movies, it’s the players behind the scenes that have all the say. Find out what the movers and shakers of the industry think

  • MAMI 2014, MAMI Film Festival, Panel Discussion
    Sriram Raghavan, Sridhar Raghavan, Vishal Bharadwaj, Anjum Rajabali, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and Vikramaditya Motwane
  • MAMI Film Festival, MAMI 2014, Panel Discussion, Ketan Mehta, Atul Tiwari
    Ketan Mehta, Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi, Atul Tiwari
  • MAMI 2014, MAMI Film Festival, Panel Discussion
    Tanmay Bhat, Jagdish Mahapatra, Rohan Joshi, Arunabh Kumar, Anupama Chopra

There’s much more to the festival than meets the eye. Over the course of these days, we watched some interesting cinema (watch this space tomorrow for the low-down on the movies), lent our ears to panel discussions, had lengthy discussions with fellow delegates and of course, pushed our way across queues to watch the film of our choice. It was quite interesting to see how everyone perceives each film. We were condemned for walking out Godard’s movie by new friends made here, film students, who took this affair quite seriously. It’s Godard! It was riddled with philosophy. Well then, we proclaim ourselves brave dimwits who refused to deal with the punishment of sitting through abstract cinema. The same friends disliked Fever as much as we did. “All theory, no practice”, they said. Besides the unravelling reels, we enjoyed a few panel discussions. A chance to watch some of our favourite people from the industry speak; no way we’d pass that up! Here are a few excerpts from the panels.

Why is there a dearth of good scripts?
Moderator: Anjum Rajabali
Panelists: Sriram Raghavan, Sridhar Raghavan, Vishal Bharadwaj, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Vikramaditya Motwane
It was a well put-together, informative panel, with a tad too much from the veteran moderator. We’d have liked to hear more from the others. Stuff got a little ugly when the conversation was thrown open to the audience and a few enraged lamented that there was no way they could pass the gang of loyalists around each director and get their script heard. A few noteworthy statements from the auteurs.

Sriram Raghavan: “I work with a lot of newbies in workshops and such in the hope that I might find one Salim-Javed. Most of them suffer from the ‘I want to write, there’s much to say. I want to very badly say it, but I can’t’ syndrome. And that’s where we step in.”
Sridhar Raghavan: “I have issues with bound scripts. The writers haven’t been able to select the right idea from the whole story. They want to come up with a finished script. No one’s really focusing on the heart of the story. I have friends who are redressing and botoxing the same story when you want to say that that child should never have been born. It should have been aborted back then.”
Vikramaditya Motwane: “I think there’s a dearth of good stories. The problem is we’re all writers and we want to direct our own films.”
Vishal Bharadwaj: “I think scripts and stories are two different things. I thought I didn’t have the talent for story ideas, which is why I went to Ruskin Bond, Shakespeare, etc.”
Rakesysh Mehra: “A screenplay is never written. It is re-written. You have to have something to say and the director identifies that. That’s where the auteur theory comes from. Stories emerge from how you perceive life and how you look at things.”
Vishal Bharadwaj: “I think we need to pay our writers well. The need to know that they will make more than a doctor, then maybe parents will push their kids to write.”
Rakeysh Mehra: “Jab Vishal bolta hai main suntan hoon. Ye panel hi galat hai.”

Adapting History for the Screen
Conveners: Ravina Kohli and Nidhi Tuli
Panelists: Ketan Mehta, Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi, Atul Tiwari
First off, they explained that history and itihas are two different things. Itihas means ‘it is thus’, which is what we do. Tell our account of the story. Ketan Mehta spoke of the fact that he faced over 80 court cases before Mangal Pandey released, issues as frivolous as ‘how can you show our leader having bhang.’ Atul Tiwari pointed out that on one hand we’re ignorant of our history and on the other, morbid. Atul Dwivedi noted that the nature of our history is such that we don’t have records from before and thus, people can go on questioning you but they won’t have any proof to back it up. Something as simple as ‘there were 6 lakh elephants in Alexander’s battlefield’ is itself false because there is no way so many could fit in to that kind of space which is where the itihas theory comes into play. A good, relevant panel. Rashomon all the way!

Social Media and the Changing Narrative of Bollywood
Moderator: Anupama Chopra
Panelists: Rohan Joshi, Tanmay Bhat, Arunabh Kumar, Jagdish Mohapatra
We love all the panelists and made a beeline for this one soon after watching Jimmy’s Hall. These guys could just be chatting and we’d still have a laugh riot but having them speak on a topic so pertinent to themselves took it to another level. Their replies to Anupama Chopra (who was fantastic herself) were riddled with wit and caustic overtones. It was a very entertaining 90-minute session. We’ll let the excerpts do the talking.

Does Bollywood have a sense of humour?
Pat came the answer. The popularity of the ‘gaana wala song’, a take on Student of the Year’s Ishq wala love by Arunabh’s YouTube channel, Q-Tiyapa, was elevated after Karan Johar promoted it. In fact, their most recent video stars Shahrukh Khan in an episode of Barely Speaking with Arunabh. It was revealed that the actor’s team contacted both All India Bakchod and The Viral Fever for this video but it was taken up by the latter as it didn’t make sense for both to do something like this. So yes.

The gap between fans and celebs is hugely bridged due to social media…
Rohan Joshi:
 “The Internet should be a place where stars get to be themselves, not a manufactured version of themselves. The Internet must be sacred. Unlike television and movies, the Internet, as a medium, will not bend for you, it will move on in a heartbeat.”

Has social media made new celebs?
Arunabh Kumar: “Neta, abhineta, cricketers were the undisputed celebrities. The Internet has given a Chetan Bhagat traction too.”

Bollywood and social media
Tanmay Bhat:
 “The ‘Internet effect’ is that the more you ignore them (Bollywood personalities), the more they want you.”
Rohan Joshi: “It’s like an abusive relationship.”

Original content
We still have our videos riding on Bollywood and politicians. It will take another decade for the audience to appreciate original stuff.

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