SS Rajamouli, Konkona Sen Sharma and other top filmmakers of 2017 on Bollywood's performance in the year gone by
SS Rajamouli, Konkona Sen Sharma, Alankrita Shrivastava, Ashwini Iyer Tiwari and RS Prasanna discuss Bollywood in 2017 on the Directors Roundtable.
Five filmmakers, who delivered arguably the best Hindi films of the year, congregated for the The Directors Roundtable 2017 with Rajeev Masand.
They addressed a variety of issues including incentives to make movies, films that shaped their inclination towards this career, their modus operandi, Bollywood's performance this year and the stifling of the freedom of expression by the state, most recently in the case of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's period drama Padmavati.
SS Rajamouli, who came up with a period drama of his own this year — Baahubali 2: The Conclusion — the biggest hit of the year, said that the Indian culture has thrived on a multitude of diverse narratives. "There are thousands of versions of the Ramayana across the continent. There are even versions in which Ravana is the hero and Rama is the villain. But this is only because our rich and diverse culture has allowed that to happen. Whatever is happening with Padmavati, that is not our culture," said Rajamouli, during the Directors Roundtable.
Alankrita Shrivasatava, who had a run-in of her own with the Central Board of Film Certification earlier this year for her audacious film Lipstick Under My Burkha, claimed that if she has learnt anything from the trying episode, it is perseverance. "I believe that emotional honesty is primary to a director. I know there are suggestions that a filmmaker should keep in mind what the audience would like. But I can make only the films I can relate to. And for that, I do not need the CBFC's permission, the distributors' permission, the audience's permission or anyone else's."
Konkona Sen Sharma, who incidentally starred in Lipstick Under My Burkha, turned director this year with A Death In The Gunj. She admitted that while she had a stellar ensemble cast, she often had to enact the scenes in order to maintain the coherence of how she perceived the narrative in her head. "For example, if a character has to be sad in a scene, I cannot just instruct them to be sad. I will have to give details, either through word or action, of what they should do to convey the idea that they are sad. I do, sometimes, find it easier to act it out than explain it through words."
On the other hand, Tamil filmmaker RS Prasanna, who made his Bollywood debut this year with the romantic comedy Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, said that he believes in giving a lot of space to his actors, though puts his foot down if it dilutes the film's essence. "Seema ji (Pahwa) did three versions of the scene in which she explains sex to her daughter (Bhumi Pednekar). One of them was rather demonstrative as she plonked on the bed and showed movements through her legs to her daughter. We all had a great laugh but after we were done, I asked her to stick to my way. Because that earnestness had to be there in the film to prevent it from coming across as crass."
Ashwini Iyer Tiwari, who directed another romantic comedy Bareilly Ki Barfi this year, lauded the range Bollywood displayed this year. However, she also added that differentiating between mainstream cinema and parallel cinema is an intrinsic confusion created by the industry and that the audience merely chooses to go for the film they want to watch, irrespective of the scale. "For me, there is cinema and there is cinema," she emphatically concluded her argument.
Watch the full Directors Roundtable 2017 with Rajeev Masand below.
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