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Essay, Paragraph or Speech on “Resources for Film Production in India” Complete Essay, Speech for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Resources for Film Production in India

In a developing society, creativity cannot possibly be art for art’s sake. It must be socially aware. This statement need not alarm the creative artist. After all, all creativity is a result of some compulsion—maybe inner or outer. A beautiful sunrise, a moving phrase of music, a touching personal tragedy is a compulsion which stirs the artist and creation becomes inevitable. A film-maker needs not fight shy of an outer compulsion. Struggle for political, economic and spiritual emancipation is compulsion strong enough to inspire him.

The most notable post-colonial problem is the continuance of mental subservience to the West, even in the creative fields. The artist in ex-colonial countries is often busy creating not out of his own environment but following the fashions and fads of the Western countries. The film-maker in developing countries is often found emulating the themes and styles of neo-realisms, new waves and underground cinemas of the Western countries.

Even when a socially aware film-maker in a developing country has taken up a theme from his own milieu, he has got obsessed, with the theme of poverty and next perhaps with the problem of corruption. Economic poverty is not only the poverty and not the most dangerous kind of poverty. The most fundamental corruption is not financial, material corruption. The poverty and corruption of the mind—the moral and psychological poverty and corruption—are the greater and longer lasting enemies. Until the mental and moral poverty and corruption are fought, only economic emancipation will not find lasting solution to the problems of poverty and corruption. As a matter fact, economic affluence alone not only will solve existing social problems but also give birth to many more, as is evident 11 many affluent societies.

Cultural, moral and spiritual development, if it cannot precede, must take place simultaneously with economic and material progress. Both the creative artists and the authorities in developing countries must see this clearly and constantly. Like the other media, the cinema should have a threefold purpose: to inform, to educate, and to entertain.

All the three are equally urgent in a developing country. Fortunately, they are not mutually exclusive. In a fast changing society—in a society in transition—it is extremely important to project nationally desirable ideas and aspirations. It is equally important, if not more, to check undesirable, unhealthy and dangerous ideas. The cinema in a developing country must do both.

Now, a few words about the role of the state in the meaningful development of the cinema in a developing country. Economic and material resources are of fundamental importance to a film-maker. The authorities—political, administrative and social—must see that a creative film-maker is not deprived of the opportunity to show the talent for want of these resources. The State must see that the work of a creative film-maker, who is also socially aware does not remain unborn, abortive, or unknown to society. The facilities extended must not help the creative film-maker only during production but also through the process of distribution and ultimately the most important stage—exhibition. Many important works of well-established creative film-makers remain unexhibited—at least not exhibited widely enough—even within the film-maker’s own country.

Not to demand the most ideal conditions for a film-maker from the authorities in a developing country—as the governments have their own political persuasions and limitations—the State should allow the creative film-maker to operate even within the confine of its avowed and declared policies and commitments. Even if this is done with imagination and an open outlook; a lot can be achieved both for the creative film-maker and for the authorities. Government in any country has certain avowed ideologies which are above party politics and political systems—say, to propagate the idea of peace, non-violence or curb violence; provide instruction and inspiration to children and youth; promote communal harmony; eradicate social, cultural, religious and sex discrimination; foster national integration; which are problems facing many developing countries.

These are the themes which can inspire and bring forth excellent creation from film-makers and which will not clash with any interests of the authorities. Of course, as pointed out earlier, here also the authorities will have to be not dogmatic but imaginative and open-mined. And the film-maker will often have to go beyond his very personal and immediate obsessions and compulsions. They both have to and they must co-operate in the name of pragmatism and practicality.

Talking of economic and material resources, the trouble is not so much that the authorities are really much short of these resources. In most countries it is their almost total inability to see clearly and appreciate deeply enough, the potential of the powerful mass media—television and film—in the transformation of the society—even within the limits and in the direction they themselves want the society to progress.

The much talked about poverty of many developing countries, is not so much objective as it is subjective. It is not so much economic as it is mental. The real poverty is that of imagination, integrated and farsighted planning and a practical and effective system of the execution of the plans. Most of the developing countries misuse or underuse their economic resources, most of the time. And international economic aid is available often than not.

The film-maker should not just sit and grumble and wait for the fine morning when the light of the day will dawn on the authorities and they will rush to the film-maker with the ideal conditions dished out on a platter. In the context of today, in the name of pragmatism it must become part of the film-maker’s job to demonstrate to the politician and to the administrator and to convince and convert them to establish the value of film in social, political, cultural and economic transformation.

The authorities should shed their fears of and prejudices against the creative and socially purposeful use of television and film media. They should stop setting up commissions on mass media, publishing and shelving their reports, stop addressing do-good speeches to the film-makers in making films on subjects which are both aesthetically satisfying and socially purposeful, and which will suit both the parties. They should not hold on to a dogmatic and unimaginatively narrow-minded approach to film-making.

Cinema, like any other art form, is a medium of expression. But its distinction from the other arts lies in the fact that it is also an industry. That is to say, it is both a medium of expression and a fact of economics. So much so that it is almost impossible to draw clear distinctions between ‘an economic problem and an artistic one—the two things are inextricably linked together. In fact, and inevitably, all but amateur films are made with greater or lesser degree of audience consideration. The cost of producing any kind of film bordering on a professional scale imposes the necessity to find an audience. All practicing artists be they novelists or painters. depend on their art to earn a living. But it is one thing to be able to sell what one creates and quite another to create only that which one thinks would sell.

The film-maker, like any other artist, needs to be free to establish his own discipline, to realise a personal conception, to present his own world-view. But he works with elaborate and expensive tools and must depend on an immensely large audience for his sustenance. And even worse, it is almost an anonymous audience that ranges over virtually all ages, and is drawn from a wide range of classes, cultures and degrees of education. The role of the film-maker, therefore, is a classic one: the creative artist, forced to earn a livelihood, seeks patronage which, from stupidity or commercial caution, may be denied to him. The present economic structure which supports the film industry transform the true values of the author—film-audience relationship, dehumanises reciprocal influence and converts it into one of mere merchandise—consumer. It is in the light of this particular nature of cinema that the relationship between the creativity of the artist and the resource available to him assumes special significance in shaping the course of its history.

Generally speaking, in the developing countries cinema is considered a luxury item and is left to the individual’s initiative. The accumulation of capital in a few hands and their natural urge to multiply this capital thaws them to all sorts of lucrative business including cinema. Secondly, due to lack of local production of raw material and equipment, the cost of film-making is exorbitant and out of the reach of an ordinary individual. Since the artist cannot produce on his own. he seeks patronage. The producer or financier being necessarily motivated by ‘profit’, his friendship with the film-maker is guided by the length of the line outside the movie-house. Since India provides a very wide market with such rich potential, it is no wonder that film-making has developed into a large scale industry and is churning out that largest number of films in the world. As necessary corollary to this, a very well organized, well-laid-out business network has been set up. In a situation like this the creative artist has to work against heavy odds to produce a work of some worth.

India is a large country, a subcontinent, with vast regional differences in language and culture. Any attempt at pleasing this enormously large audience of diverse tastes is likely to produce works which are devoid of regional flavour and culture. The net result is films devoid of backbone, escaping all reality, true opium of the people. The only possibility, therefore, lies in the field of regional cinema. For one thing it is rooted in a particular culture; and for another its target—audience—has one thing in common: the language. And over and above everything else, the limited market for these films has kept it free from ‘big business’ It seems that the wider the market, the greater are the chances of vulgarisation. This happens precisely because the common denominator remains to be an unknown quantity and the producer in his over-anxiety to meet everyone’s need resorts to the sure-fire means of appealing to his baser instincts. Good and serious film-making in Hindi—as a language acceptable to a large number of people stretching over a large region—has suffered a great deal on account of the insensible barrier put up by the producer-distributor-exhibitor monopoly. It does not therefore, come as a surprise that the regional film industry has served as the springboard for good cinema.

It would be relevant to provide a rough sketch of the Indian film history in this context. The period during and after the Second World War saw the collapse of the studio system and the rise of independent producers. This, in a sense, put an end to all purposeful film-making and heralded an era of thorough vulgarisation of the medium. The introduction of a patent formula of half a dozen songs, dances, comedy, fights and last-minute rescue. left no room for new ideas. In the process, the role of the director receded to the background, giving precedence to the star and the music director. In short the Lakshmana rehka for the director and the audience was drawn. In this atmosphere of gloom emerged a great director who had to pawn his personal belongings to realise his dream—even that would not have been enough without governmental help. That film called Pather Panchali redeemed the Indian film from its sins and put it on the world map. But sadly enough Satyajit Ray’s career did not influence Indian cinema in any considerable manner.

After long years of confusion, in 1961, the Government deemed it fit to set up a public undertaking called the Film Finance Corporation Ltd. to upgrade the quality of film making in India. But in the initial period of its existence this too was converted into another channel for the commercial film-maker and served little purpose. The film that made significant contribution towards the initiation of the Indian New Wave was made in as late as 1969. Bhuvan Shame directed by Mrinal Sen and produced by F.F.C. was a critical and commercial success and encouraged others to traverse the forbidden path. Although one cannot say that the new crop of films has changed the face of the Indian cinema, it is undeniable that it has given it a face-at. Significant among its contributions is the concept of low-budget film making with its inevitable corollaries such as the use of new faces, shooting at a stretch and on location. Its influence on the regional films in particular. and Hindi films, in general is easily discernible. But more than anything else if has shattered the myth perpetuated by the so-called guardians of public taste that the Indian audiences would not accept anything different. But the Indian film industry is too old and its economics too well laid-out to be shaken up by a handful of good films made sporadically. Its stiff resistance to a parallel cinema is evident from the number of films that have been canned on account of lack of release possibility. In order to make its presence felt, the F.F.C. has to undertake large number of production and set up a parallel marketing channel of its own.

Coming back to the story of Indian cinema, apart from Bhuvan Shome, Sara Akash and the like, which presented their subject matter in a refreshing but fairly acceptable manner, there were others like Uski Roti and Maya Darpan which took liberties with the accepted norms of narration. These two films had generated enough of heat in the Indian Press to draw public attention but instead of dragging oneself into any controversy by criticising its value, one could safely pass a judgement so far as audience reaction was concerned that there was not even a remote chance of its success.

In country where the conventions of commercial cinema have taken such deep roots, it might be fatal to attempt too radical a departure from the accepted form. More so when one is dealing with an audience whose exposure to and knowledge of good cinema is pathetically low. Although cinema-consciousness is perceptibly on the rise, the number of patrons for genuinely artistic films is lamentably small. And to add to the woes of the film-maker, there is no organised channel like the ‘art house’ to reach that discerning audience. Lack of immediate ‘box office’ seldom killed a good film but sometimes a good director. Therefore, a more tenable method is to accommodate one’s expression within the limits of acceptable form, so that the audience has the necessary mental pegs on which to hang the experience.

Cinema being an art and industry, the creative artist is inevitably restrained by the necessity to find an audience. Since film costs a great deal and has the potential to earn a lot more, it is invariably controlled by experts in money. The producer is a businessman, neither better nor worse than the other of his time, and his only concern is the ‘audience’. This restricts the film-maker’s creativity and forces him to conform to so-called ‘public taste’. In such a situation there are two alternatives open to him: to find out methods to accommodate his expression within the accepted framework or adopt some means to cut down the cost. In India the answer to the problem is a difficult one since the industry is too old and its conventions too rigid. The chances of survival for the creative artist lie in the field of regional cinema, the possibility of a parallel marketing channel owned and operated by a public undertaking with marginal profit motive, the introduction of sophisticated 16 mm technology, and the dissemination of film-culture to create a substantial body of discerning viewers.

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