MIFF 2012 - Interaction with renowned documentary film maker Anand Patwardhan

MIFF 2012 Interaction with Anand Patwardhan, Filmmaker, Jai Bhim oomrade- Documentary film

Filmmaker Anand Patwardhan’s film on atrocities committed against Dalits throughout the country included the much talked about incidents like the Ramabai Ambedkar incident and the Khairlanji incident that garnered newsprint space right across the country(in real time). Anand’s film documents the history of these struggles and talks about the mindset that terms these events as leftist/maoist / anti-national sentiment , allowing the governments to overlook the real problem that these disadvantaged face in terms of livelihood and existence itself. During the interaction that was held on the following day, an erudite Anand Patwardhan fielded questions that labeled him as controversial and boring with quiet elan. In his defence he said, “ I make films that speak about the reality of the disadvantaged. It is possible that some people might not like to face the bald truth that my films depict. I don’t set out to create controversies. I make films about legitimate struggles- struggles which concur with the constitutional provisions of law so how can they be termed controversial? As far as ‘boring and unduly long ‘ tag for my films is concerned I think that it is a matter of opinion. When I showed this film that runs over 200 minutes at Ramabai Nagar just yesterday, there were more than 1500 people there watching with rapt attention without moving an inch from their seats.”
Anand’s film received an award at the Kathmandu film festival but was rejected by most of the European ones. Anand was asked why his film was rejected by the European film festivals. To this he replied, “ My film doesn’t fit into their time slot requirements. Most of the festivals have television networks as sponsors and look to promote only those films that fit into TV time slots. My film is obviously too long for that.” He went on to say “ I am satisfied by the reception my film and I have been receiving from the people who matter to me most. Wherever I have shown this film, the reception has been phenomenal. People have been thronging in large numbers to watch this film. For a filmmaker that is the biggest victory!”
Anand Patwardhan said he was amazed by the ‘Fair and lovely’ fixation of the classes. “ I find it incredible that in a country where the majority is dark skinned , there is such a craving for fair complexions -as signified by the number of fair and lovely ads promoted by Bollywood’s biggies on Dish TV and other satellite networks, “ he said. These are some of the people who do not care much for the dalits and the disadvantages they face because of centuries of neglect. It is therefore time, these issues acquired central focus so that something can be done to bring about a change in their lives.”
He advocated further, “Until people begin to accept inter-caste ,inter-community alliances this problem will be difficult to eradicate. Dalits and other disadvantaged like them will only find acceptance and equity when generations of inter-caste and inter-community progeny find it difficult to pinpoint their exact origin of caste or community.”
On how he generates funds for his films, Anand said, “ I don’t make proposals and go around submitting them to producers for funds. My films are mostly self funded. Since I have been making films for several decades now, I have managed to make enough money to recycle into the production of new ones. My creative spirit is never hampered for want of funds. My films are team work. It is not me alone who does all the filming. I have my team members who work with me on the film and we do it together in perfect harmony.”
Johnson Thomas


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