Taking on India's new 'IT/BT' culture through films

Panaji, Dec 1 Kannada director P.R. Ramadas Naidu calls it the 'IT/BT' culture - the new values and approaches that have invaded life along with money and globalisation, especially in the southern parts of India.

Saturday, December 01, 2007 | 8:26:24 AM IST (+05:30 GMT)
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Panaji, Dec 1 (IANS) Kannada director P.R. Ramadas Naidu calls it the 'IT/BT' culture - the new values and approaches that have invaded life along with money and globalisation, especially in the southern parts of India.

'It's about the growing influence of the IT/BT (information technology, biotechnology) culture and Westernisation on the minds of India,' says Naidu, 55, speaking of his newest film 'Moggina Jade'.

Naidu, who has been in the film and TV industry for 33 years, has so far made eight tele-films, 10 documentaries and a large number of TV serials. He made his film debut in 1981 with 'Amara Madhura Prema', and five other feature films since then.

'Moggina Jade', a Kannada film, is his third entry in the Indian Panorama festival of IFFI, the International Film Festival of India, currently under way here.

'It's hitting our young people specially. The new (kinds of jobs) are sparking off new wants, aspirations and desires,' explains Naidu. His earlier films looked at the problems of the aged and the impact of urbanisation and urban approaches on rural India.

'Moggina Jade' literally means 'the plaits of jasmine buds'.

It depicts an elderly couple entrenched in traditional values, their son working for a multinational and their grandchild, a girl. The child is raised by the old couple, her grandparents, but her mother's milieu is different.

The young girl wants to be dressed up in jasmine flower plaits. Her grandparents promise it, but her mother finds it an old fashioned trait, for which she has neither time nor interest.

From there on follows the clash of values and aspirations, with a lot of twists in the story.

Naidu rues the fact that 'art films' have major problems in getting adequately exhibited. 'They are called off-beat cinema, parallel cinema or art films (and ghettoised),' he says. 'But it's a wrong notion that these films can't reach the common man or need to be boring!'

Speaking at IFFI here, Naidu said the alternative films of India - apart from Bollywood and other mainstream ventures - needed to be promoted by TV, exhibition and distribution, and at film festivals and film clubs.

'One worrying trend is the decline in film societies,' he said. He agreed that more subtitling of films could help to increase their potential market.

'Four to five years ago, Karnataka made 60-70 films. Now, the number of films made per year has touched 110 to 120,' Naidu told IANS.

But he said Maharashtra had done better, hiking the number of films produced from 15 per year to 75 per year. He felt this was because of initiatives offered by the regional government.

'Karnataka's government offers 20-30 percent of the cost of creating a film. But that's not enough. It takes at least Rs.4-5 million to create a decent film. The government of Karnataka offers (financial support) of Rs.1 million) per film,' he adds.

But then Naidu goes on to say, 'Of course, the government has a lot of priorities to attend to, other than just films.'

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