‘Rural India largely excluded from Indian cinema’

After successfully focusing the agony of migrants and their struggles for identity through “Naya Pata”, Pawan Shrivastava has now come up with a film based on a Dalit family. The indie filmmaker says that with the rise of multiplexes, cinema is now only being made for the urban audience.

Shrivastava’s latest offering, “Life of an Outcast”, is based on caste oppression and religious intolerance in India which seem to be on the rise rather than diminishing.

“As an artiste and a filmmaker, I have a strong belief that what we call Indian cinema… I have observed that in the last 20 years, the cinema which is being made in Hindi, it should not be called Indian cinema, it should be called Indian urban cinema.

“Rural India is excluded from the films most of the time,” Shrivastava, whose film was screened here on Tuesday, told IANS.

The 36-year-old said production houses are here for making money and not cinema.

“In the same way, a number of production houses have come up in India. They are only interested in making money.”

After multiplexes started coming up, he feels, cinema is now “only being made for the multiplexes”.

“If you go 100 km from Delhi, you will not find any multiplex. As a filmmaker in this industry, are we targeting this population’ Because film is a mass medium, not released for a handful of people.

“If you see the data, you will see that only two or three per cent of people go to watch a film in a multiplex. The films are mostly for the urban population, barring a few. They do not relate with many. There should be films for rural Indians as well. This inspired me (to make ‘Life of an Outcast’),” said Shrivastava.

He is also “highly influenced” by Iranian films.

“I follow them (Iranian cinema). I see that Indian cinema is going nowhere. UTV Motion Pictures and Eros are just into making money. They are not interested in making cinema. I am not opposing them. They are doing their work, but this is my choice that I want to make films for rural India,” said the filmmaker who was able to complete his film by crowdfunding.

“I cannot expect (filmmaker) Karan Johar to make a film on Uttar Pradesh because he has not seen that life. It is my responsibility to take it up because I have seen that life.

“I cannot expect (actor-filmmaker) Farhan Akhtar to make a film on my village as they have never been to villages. I have; so, I feel responsible to make films on those subjects which are close to me,” added Shrivastava, who hails from Marhowrah in Bihar.

Shrivastava has also directed documentaries, short films, a feature film and more than 200 street plays.

“I am not a Dalit but I have seen it, and I know it up and close. I have done a lot of research. As an artiste, I believe that I should be the voice for them. In the last 30 years, there have been only two films on Dalits — ‘Sairat’ and ‘Fanary’,” he said.

After his film’s screening in Delhi, he is planning to show it in 500 villages.

“I am going to use subtitles for this film in different languages and show it in 500 villages of India. After that, I will take this film to digital platforms like Netflix or Amazon Prime.

“Now indie filmmakers have an option of making money as well. But before that, I have to make a brand value for this film. For that, I am sending this film to various film festivals,” said Shrivastava.

“If I get a good response, then I can take it forward and sell it to the digital medium. This way I can target both audiences — rural and urban. I am open to theatrical release as well. I am open to getting my film censored as well,” he added.

(Kishori Sud can be contacted at kishori.s@ians.in)

By Kishori Sud

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