Oscar-winning Iranian film, ‘The Salesman’ by Asghar Farhadi is set for an Indian theatrical release this Friday; however, the premise of world cinema releasing in Indian theatres is still a susceptible account.
The Salesman bagged the Academy Award in 2017 for the Best Picture in the Foreign Language Film category, his second after the much acclaimed ‘A Separation’ (2011). The Salesman was also hailed in Cannes 2016 and was conferred with two prestigious awards; Best Actor and the Best Screenplay.
The quintessential storyteller, Farhadi has amazed the world with his previous works and the Indian cinephiles watched ‘A Separation’ in packed house theatres when shown in various film festivals. A Separation was the opening film for a number of prestigious Indian Film Festivals including the 18th Kolkata International Film Festival held in 2012. Farhadi comes back strong with yet another academy award for a story that revolves around the life of a couple who relocates to a new apartment in Tehran and how a dramatic string of events related to the previous tenant change the life of this young couple.
Recently the Iran film was screened at the India Habitat Centre as a part of the Habitat International Film Festival programme.
Sunil Doshi Presents
The blueprint of Indian film business still remains quite vague as far as world cinema is concerned. However, people like Sunil Doshi who has maintained a stance of being a standalone film activist for decades make occasional waves in the otherwise mundane Fridays of India. He is the man bringing Farhadi’s oscar-winning film to Indian theatres (subtitles in English) under his novel initiative, ‘Sunil Doshi Presents’.
Doshi was the man who initiated a movie channel dedicated to organic international cinema NDTV Lumiere with Prannoy Roy and Manmohan Shetty. However, due to unforeseen business glitches, the channel had to shut transmission. Spurred by optimistic views and inspired by the art of cinema, Doshi’s latest venture under his company Alliance Media and Entertainment promises to bring more of world cinema to Indian multiplexes starting with The Salesman, this Friday.
Welcoming the initiative, ace-Indian filmmaker, Anurag Kashyap posted the following on Facebook:
Challenges of world cinema in India
The Indian film watching habit is a tricky proposal to convince international agents. In a country of 1.3 billion people, India has just about 9000 screens. The weekend competition from regional cinema, Bollywood and Hollywood every Friday, makes it an uphill task for a foreign language film to workout in India. Add that to the peculiar habit of the Indian audience where they would not want to pay for these films. They would either go to festivals, screenings or download it online.
Distributors are businessmen with very little acumen about cinema as an art or even as a form of international expression. They understand cash! Quite evidently, Doshi’s channel folded up although it acquired rights of almost 500 great foreign films. The situation is worsened due to India’s poor reputation as a nation watching pirated films.
Nevertheless, times are changing under the sheer leadership of people like Sunil Doshi. Now, it rests on the shoulders of the Indian film lovers to flock the theatres this weekend and pay back the dues to the man. Watch The Salesman in theatres. This will not only bring a paradigm shift in Indian cinema, it will also inspire other international film agents to distribute quality films in India.
Here is the Oscar acceptance speech of Asghar Farhadi that also has a subtle undertone for the Indian audience to chew upon the growing intolerance in the world:
“It’s a great honor to be receiving this valuable award for the second time. I would like to thank the members of the academy, my crew in Iran, my producer, Amazon, and my fellow nominees.
I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight. My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US. Dividing the world into the “us” and “our enemies” categories creates fear. A deceitful justification for aggression and war. These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which have themselves been victims of aggression. Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between us and others. An empathy which we need today more than ever.”