Goa celebrated the 51st edition of International Film Festival of India (IFFI) with the screening of Saand Ki Aankh as the opening film. This decision left many critics surprised as this movie has been produced and directed by Anurag Kashyap and the lead cast is Taapasee Pannu. Both have been quite vocal against the Central Government and their vendetta based on their tweets and acts have created multiple controversies and rifts ever since the NDA Government took charge at Centre. As the recently concluded festival was being held during the pandemic, registration was less. About 1500 films were registered from different parts of the world in divergent categories.
Keeping Panorama’s decision to screen Anurag Kashyap’s film, Anita Choudhary did an exclusive interview with Bollywood aspiring director Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan, who was part of the jury that selected films for IFFI. We also discussed other issues concerning the film industry. Sanjay has directed award-winning movie Lahore, and his other venture Bahattar Hoorein is on the pipeline. Excerpts:
Why was Saand Ki Aankh chosen as the opening movie for the festival taking into account the ideological differences and negative approach of the director and the lead cast towards the Bharatiya Janata Party government at Centre?
Many jury members were surprised with this decision but selection was done through 100% democratic process via the majority votes. The ‘Right Wing’ always believes in the ‘Right Approach’ for the ‘Right Cause’. Jury has not taken the decision on the basis of pro or anti-Government approach of the producer-cum-director and the actor. Whether they are pseudo seculars or not, it is irrelevant. This selection is not for reel heroes but real life heroes like the legendary myth breaking daadis (grandmothers) of Haryana Chando and Prakashi. I don’t follow any ideology. Creativity is my only ideology. I feel that Right Wing has the right approach towards women’s empowerment and society.
The festival should make its own identity and choose freshly flavoured films of newcomers rather than focusing on already shown movies in different platforms.
What is Bollywood’s approach vis a vis production and selection of stories?
Bollywood has been dominated by the Left lobby for long. The Left dominated group is still holding on to its position and wielding influence over Bollywood. Opposing the nationalistic thought and playing with the sentiments of viewers belonging to majority Hindu community is actually the agenda of these so called progressive filmmakers. But nowadays viewers are very much aware. They have rejected these agenda-based movies. So Bollywood’s Left lobby is unanimously blaming the government and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) but they should look their own culture and work on their lines. Question is why viewers will spend their hard earned money to buy tickets for movies in which their community and society have been wrongly presented. May be, Bollywood is a small revenue-oriented industry which makes small contribution to country’s economy, but it makes a large impact on society and influences thoughts and lifestyles of numerous viewers. At the moment, it is misusing the power of art for its personal vendettas.
Comment on the recent controversy arising out of series Tandav?
Bollywood movies are generally vendetta based and have an agenda. They do not bother about sentiments of Hindus. Their motive is to demoralise them by using abusive language and wrongly presenting the majority community’s culture. Using disrespectful dialogues in movies is not only a fashion but it’s malicious intention. Now time has come to transform Bollywood keeping sentiments of their viewers. Cinemagoers’ views matters a lot. Success and failure of a film does not depend on high budget and star cast but it depends on content, right message and positive impactful approach. Nowadays viewers have rejected agenda-based entertainment. Controversy around Tandav is one such example of that. The problem is that the film industry has invented another platform to run their films. There needs to be strict monitoring and a regulatory system put in place on the OTT platform.
Tell us about your upcoming project?
Very soon my movie Bahattar Hoorein [72 Virgins] is going to be released in cineplex. The story revolves around the Islamic ideology of Jihad, justification of terrorism, Jihad advocated by radical Islamic maulvis.
You have so many creative ideas yet only two movies have been made so far in 16 years?
There are two reasons. One is that I always love to do proper homework when it comes to making of movies and the second is I have no family background in this industry. I am an outsider. Bollywood never welcomes outsiders.