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Off Beat Cinema
By Prerna Rao

Hey did u guys see Show?….. It was a clean and refreshing narration for a change what say?

It was indeed very relieving to watch a movie with such a clean and entertaining narrative. A castaway from the routine melodrama and mindless heroic stunts. It was amazing the way the director held our gaze on screen and diverted our full attention to the story instead of the good-looking guy/gal in the next seat. The movie was perhaps a perfect example of a beautiful film with good screenplay sans stars (and please note this).

Well I spoke of show because this was the latest "offbeat movie" I saw.

When I spoke to friend of mine about going to this movie………the initial reaction I got was "arey offbeat movie hai yaar kya dekhenge bas two characters and that's it… it cant get boring than that" …But did give in after all the coaxing and convincing that went in. But come to think of it even I would have probably reacted in the same way had I not seen the prior interviews and promotion and heard about the National Award, in fact I actually think all of us would have responded the same way.

But why?

Commercial cinema is called the mainstream cinema and movies like Show, Hu Tu Tu, Kalapani, to name a few and to a large extent cinema done by Smita Patil and Shabana Azmi are considered parallel cinema.

They are probably considered parallel cinema because they don't get released every Friday with masala elements and item numbers in them and do not even compete for the awards in the main categories…most of them end up either winning National Awards like Show and a few others or they go completely unnoticed.

And most of us don't really bother to watch them probably because we miss Urmila dancing in Manish Malhotra's ensemble swaying away to Sandeep Chowta's tunes….or Mahesh Babu in a Rocky.S' cowboy outfit singing nenu okadini oka vaipu lokam oka vaipu and exuding oodles of star persona, and that is one of the reasons why off beat cinema has so few takers as such. But I think its ok to stop and ponder over movies like these once in a while as only when we actually mull over cinema of this sort we realize that each one is a master piece in its own right and though being far from entertaining sometimes, it actually speaks of real world and practical problems so different from the mindless storylines we see currently…not that they are down market or to the trench works.

It actually takes a lot of moral fiber to brave and make cinema like this especially when you know you don't really have a market other than film festivals and if lucky enough the National Award jury, but a few fateful movies vanish with out even a trace left behind.

One thing I couldn't help but notice is Vishwanath and his movies…now u cant exactly call him a commercial movie maker as all his films dealt with some cause be it in a small or a big way. Who can forget the enchanting Swarnakamalam where Bhanu Priya ingenuously says ardam chesukorooo and the bewitching Apadbhandavudu and Swayamkrushi that made all of us fall in love with Chiru all over again for the histrionics he displayed or the unforgettable Zubeida by Shyam Benegal …and no this wasn't mainstream commercial cinema...Far from being it, it didn't even have the feel of it. These movies were beautiful not just the in the way they were made but also the way they were narrated.

So why is it that there is still no solid market for this stream of the industry?

Not to forget the recent sensation Lagaan it wasn't made in the regular masala way with all the commercial elements to its rescue, yes it had a fantastic musical score and Amir Khan but that alone wouldn't have been sufficient for the movie to pull of the stunt of being a stupendous hit like it turned out to be.

If the myth that ordinary audience was not mature enough to accept parallel cinema was to be questioned then it would never be answered as if u take a closer look Lagaan had cricket as its punch line and that's what perhaps that made it click with the common man too.

But how long do the makers have to find excuses like cricket and National Awards to attract people to the theatres.

I'm sure not many of you know of a film called Tiladaanam, it is a movie made by a Telugu man which won international acclaim at the recent Pusan film festival, it was awarded and applauded. The man in spotlight who is now the cynosure of all the film fraternities admitted in one of his interviews that he almost had to beg people to watch that film in India and Indian film festivals.

Why this step motherly treatment? Its either that the Indian audience has to grow up or the makers have to make and market their work in a much more appealing way for it to reach across to a larger medium.

Either ways it's a loss to cinema lovers who miss out on masterpieces that don't see light of the day, as there is no market, which means financial loss…financial loss huh it could make even Bharat Shah have an attack insomnia and spend sleepless nights musing over the losses.

Well let's hope we see a revolution (this word reminds me of an ad of a popular mixer where all the women go "we want a revolution" :-) ).

Want?..Hmm I'm not very sure about everyone wanting one because some don't even care like that friend of mine…but this I can say for sure that we need a revolution :-) we need to encourage this kind of cinema and treat it with equal ambience as mainstream cinema.


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