From making cinema a part of school syllabus and ensuring healthy working hours for child artists to making a roadmap for animation films' release - as the new chairperson of the Children's Film Society Of India (CFSI), Amole Gupte plans to try new alternatives to create a strong foothold for children's movies in the country.
"As the CFSI chairperson, I should make a difference to children's cinema. Otherwise what's the point? I have the Information & Broadcasting Ministry's full support. My first mandate is to find an alternative distribution network for children's films through schools," said Gupte.
He says that one can't fight big production houses like Balaji and UTV "in getting theatres for children's films".
"Why not take children's films to schools directly," he asked.
He would be putting forth a proposal to include cinema as a subject in the school syllabi.
"When a family with its children enjoys a 'Dabangg' in a theatre, how can we presume they'd take the time out to watch a 'Gattu'? We must start building cinema into the school curriculum in India so that good films would be woven into a child's aesthetic sensibilities from early in his life," said Gupte, the writer of "Taare Zameen Par" and director of "Stanley Ka Dabba".
"I'd like our children to view Iranian and European films in the same way that they enjoy other school activities like elocution and debate. At the moment, the arts and culture are set aside by students when they reach class 8. Why can't cinema and the arts be given the same importance as science and chemistry? Give our children early access to aesthetics," he added.
Gupte also suggests regular screening of CFSI produced films in schools.
"In theory, this has been around for many years. But we need to implement the screening of CFSI films in schools more diligently."
He intends to tie up with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences to research the role of children in cinema and television. Also, he will undertake research on the impact of cinema on children.
"For example, films that get a U/A certificate from the censor board, meaning a film with potentially adult content, can be seen by children provided they are accompanied by a parent. Are we that broad-minded to sit and discuss adult content at the dinner table with our children? If not, then how can we sit and watch adult content with children in a theatre?"
Gupte is also concerned about the way children are made to shoot films, serials and ads "at the cost of their studies".
"Every child in my film 'Stanley Ka Dabba' worked during their vacations. In the US and Europe, kids can't shoot more than five hours a day. The same should be the case in India. That's more than enough for children. Filmmakers have to work around a child actor's timetable, not the other way around. I blame the parents of child actors for their inhuman treatment," he said.
Gupte intends to bring more new directors on board to make children's movies.
"But we can't have the same handful of directors doing children's films. I want to open up the CFSI to new directors. I intend to discover new talent from every state in India."
More mandate for the CFSI chief: "Children should be sensitized to their regional roots through films made by directors from that particular region. At the moment there is very little regard for cinema that is not commercial. It seems, every film has to be supported by advertisers. We need to appeal to corporate houses to support children's cinema. Television channels devoted to children are another feasible route."
And of course, boosting animation films is also on his wish list.
"So many Indian filmmakers have started making animation films. But they don't know where to go. Parents take their children to Hollywood animation films. For them to come to Bollywood animation films, we need a quality-escalation. The same goes for children's cinema on the whole."
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