National Award winning actor Girish Kulkarni says commercialisation of cinema is affecting independent filmmakers as their films are being watched by a smaller audience — reflecting how pure art is always consumed by fewer people.

“It has always affected independent filmmakers, but I feel commercial cinema has its own place. There shouldn’t be any competition between commercial and independent cinema as such,” Kulkarni told IANS on the sidelines of the recently-concluded fifth edition of the Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF 2016).

“Independent cinema would be consumed by a number of limited people for sure. Pure art is always consumed by fewer people and will not garner mass support. On the other hand, economy always depends on the numbers. That’s why the two equations don’t match,” added Kulkarni, who has delivered acclaimed performances in films like “Gabhricha Paus”, “Deool”, “Ugly” and “Highway”.

Kulkarni is all for “dedicated screens for independent cinema” in India. “In France, my film ‘Gabhricha Paus’ was screened for four weeks and was appreciated a lot. It was in 2008. This happens there because they want to inculcate that culture in their country. Art has been an important aspect in their being,” he said, pointing out how this is not the case in India.

“Here, in India, we are not finding solutions to basic needs like roads, water or electricity. Culture needs come very late. I feel that culture needs are equally important as your bare necessities. They have to be addressed in that fashion, like there should be a small theatre in every single village,” Kulkarni said.

“That’s happening because we don’t know how to appreciate art. We don’t know how to appreciate a painting or a kathak performance. And at the same time, the Western pressure is pouring down on us,” he added.

More than providing funds to filmmakers, Kulkarni feels that government intervention is required at the “very root stage and not pertaining to only films as such”.

“In the education system, there have to be certain major reforms. Like why can’t our schools have a screening of a nice film every month… So, the government should cater to those kind of needs, and not just fund money.”

He also finds the Western influence playing a transformational role in how Indians perceive culture.

“Indian society is going through a transformational phase. We are very much influenced by the Western powers — their cultural powers. Their understanding of films, lifestyle, food and other things is affecting us. But I find it interesting to deal with as an Indian,” he said.

Apart from independent cinema, Kulkarni feels that it is also a tough time for those working in theatre.

“With the explosion of media and advent of technology, the access to this medium (films) has got very easy as compared to theatre, which has now become very difficult because people don’t have time to watch a play. It has become very difficult to stage a play,” he said.

Kulkarni is himself widening his horizon in Bollywood with roles in Aamir Khan‘s “Dangal” and Hrithik Roshan– starrer “Kaabil”.

“I liked the roles and I liked the people. They invited me, I went there and I liked it,” added the actor-writer-filmmaker, who chose to keep mum about the projects.

As a writer, he says he keeps on “nurturing stories within by going to places and meeting people”.

(The writer’s trip was at the invitation of the Dharamshala International Film Festival organisers. Sandeep Sharma can be contacted at [email protected])

By Sandeep Sharma

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