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India's indie filmmakers question new wave

The concept of the Indian New Wave has been over-hyped and doesn’t reflect the current situation in Indian cinema, said Miss Lovely director Ashim Ahluwalia at a DIFF Forum panel yesterday.

He said that clubbing new Indian films together under the New Wave banner could confuse audiences as Indian cinema, unlike Iranian cinema, had no common aesthetics. “A film like [Anurag Kashyap’s] Gangs Of Wasseypur is very different from an arthouse Indian film,” Ahluwalia said.

He added that the term is convenient for festival programmers but discouraging for filmmakers as it discredits individuality.

However, Ahluwalia agreed that there is a new generation of filmmakers in India coming up with more personal and rooted stories, and the changes are rubbing off on Bollywood too.

“The Bollywood format of the 80s with lots of songs doesn’t work any more. The audience wants to see more realistic stuff. Bollywood has moved away from the old style of filmmaking,” Ahluwalia said.

Raj Kumar Yadav, who plays the lead in Hansal Mehta’s Shahid, said: “Ten years ago, an actor like me  wouldn’t get work. Now there are filmmakers who don’t run behind stars. Even studios are investing in films with new actors.”

But Ahluwalia added that the Bollywood studios are still very powerful and not willing to back edgy or risky projects giving rise to the ‘new hybrid films’, which are neither independent nor Bollywood.

Speaking on international co-productions, Sourav Sarangi, director of documentary Chaar…The Island Within, said: “There is no infrastructure for documentaries in India. That is why filmmakers like us have to find a support system in international collaborations.”

Ahluwalia said that Indian studios are not ready for international co-productions as they interfere with their distribution plans.

Ahluwalia also said that he knew Miss Lovely would be difficult to finance in India, so he was looking out for experienced international partners. Co-productions depend a lot on the partners, as international broadcasters still want to see ‘poverty porn’ from India.

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