The future of Bengali cinema, a regional film industry in India, looks optimistic with the advent of independent film making, international collaborations, organic marketing and innovative distribution. However, is the prevalently buoyant Bengali cinema ready for the global alliances, changing perspectives and the inevitable transformation?
The present time is basically a very interesting period for Bengali cinema. Genuine efforts are put in to compose more engaging and contemporary content. But the shrinking regional market over the years, the lack of innovation in film distribution and the rising buoyancy in investment has strongly affected the prospects. We spoke to two National Award winning directors regarding a tentative transition in the Bengali industry.
“Shankhachil”, the latest film by Goutam Ghose is an Indo-Bangladesh co-production that won the Best Bengali film award at the 63rd National Awards. The acclaimed filmmaker describes the film as a metaphor for freedom and shared how the film’s release in India and Bangladesh serves as a radical move in the Bengali film industry after a long time.
Goutam Ghose while commenting on the future of Bengali cinemas remarks: “There are ups and downs in every industry and Bengali cinema is no exception. However, I don’t think proper research and survey has been done to unleash the potential of Bengali cinema in terms of identifying new markets. I have seen tremendous interest for collaborative projects from abroad but we lack specialized bodies or companies who can handle these collaborations properly.”
“Although, the number of productions might have gone up but the producers are not getting back their money. Why? I don’t know, maybe our industry is still a frog in the well. We don’t want to go out. We need to identify the immense potential of Bengali film lovers all over the world besides West Bengal and Bangladesh”, he adds.
Aditya Vikram Sengupta, famed for his first independent film “Asha Jaoar Majhe” (Labour of Love), which won multiple accolades from international film festivals such as Venice, New York, Marrakech, London and Abu Dhabi (Labour of love also won the Indira Gandhi Award for Best First Film and Best Audiography at the 62nd National Awards), is now gearing up for his second project which is an international co-production with France and Germany.
A need for good producers
Speaking about the window of experimental cinema and the precise unification of art and commerce in Bengali cinema, Aditya Vikram Sengupta comes clean as he states: “The connection between art and commerce can be done with good producers. We don’t have good producers in Bengal. The producers here think that a certain kind of product will work and they want to remould the personality of the artist to produce that product.”
Talking about the responsibilities of a good producer, he adds: “Apart from pumping cash, it is the job of a producer to identify an artist and simultaneously identify a market for the artist. However, this needs hard work and time. But, people in India don’t have time. So, we need good producers in Bengal more than anything else.”
Film making as an art and technique has developed in Bengal over the years but the crust that differentiates this otherwise highly potential film industry is probably the vision of the film industry stake holders. While the region is brimming with talent and innovative project ideas, the dearth of finance can be abridged with strategic collaborations with global film bodies and expanding the market. This requires substantial knowledge sharing exercises and continuous research leading to the endorsement of new mediums and frontiers inflicting a positive future for Bengali cinema.