On independence day, Bengali filmmakers stated their reasons for not making patriotic movies. The Tollywood industry has produced fine patriotic films for Indian cinema – ‘Beyallish’, ‘Sabyasachi’, ‘Debi Chaudhurani’, ‘Mahabiplabi Aurobindo’ and ‘Chattagram Astragar Lunthan’ are some excellent examples of them.
So why now, despite making these films, do the Bengali directors shy away from them?
The Bengal filmmakers
According to national award-winning director Atanu Ghosh, it is not easy to recreate a particular time when the city’s architecture and colors were appropriate for that period. Secondly, recreation is very costly.
He said that the films made in the 50s and 60s were made by a generation who had seen and experienced their day of freedom struggle.
They witnessed that time in close ad particular order. This element added more edge and perspective to their movies.
Today it is more difficult to recreate the same situation as we are far away from history than ever.
He also said that he wanted to make a film ‘Agnipurush’ based on a story by Ashoke Kumar Mukhopadhyay but is unable to do so as there are no takers for the film.
However, SVF, the biggest and the only production house of Bengal, has produced some hit films on patriotism – ‘Aami Subhash Bolchhi’, ‘Rajkahini’ (which was remade as ‘Begum Jaan’ in Hindi with Vidya Balan in the lead role) and ‘Gumnaami’.
Mahendra Soni, co-founder and director, SVF Entertainment, said that the reason behind making such movies was not to make them commercial.
He said he would instead present something impactful to the audience. Films like ‘Gumnaami’ or ‘Rajkahini’ were made in a way that infused an element of patriotism through its main storyline.
The idea was to present some unique and thoughtful Bengal, and these films were a hit at the box office.
Especially a film on Subhash Chandra Bose displayed a different level of nostalgia and pride for Bengalis worldwide.
Despite many hit films, the cost of production is the main issue of Bengali producers.
Shiboprosad, a Bengali filmmaker, said that Tollywood makes films depending on satellite rights sales. Earlier it used to be Hindi remakes.
He said that the present situation in Tollywood is depressing as the halls are empty, and there is no such guarantee that the producers will get the money back.
Even actors and directors are not ready to experiment, so similarly, the producers are not willing to take the risk.
Keeping aside the expense of production, another major issue is anti-establishment rhetoric that hinders sales.
Shiboprosad added if someone wants to make a patriotic film besides cost, one will have to be aware of anti-establishment rhetoric.
There will be a fear of not being able to recover satellite rights costs. So, everyone would want to be in a safe place.
He gave an example of the movie ‘Accident’ where dialogues went against the system. Hence they faced problems in selling the film.
He feels that this is the reason why it’s essential to reopen halls. The audience cares about the content, not the film stars.
If they enjoyed the content, the film would become a hit. There was a phase where they had a content-driven cinema, but now it’s back to square one.
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