Cinema should be under culture ministry: Onir

Noida, Jan 6 (IANS) Filmmaker Onir, whose production “Chauranga” is releasing on Friday, believes that cinema in India must be liberated from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and shifted to the “space of art and culture” in order to necessitate much-needed changes within the industry’s framework.

Onir, who is known for directing “My Brother…Nikhil”, one of the first mainstream Hindi films to deal with the subject of same-sex relationships and AIDS, says that cinema in India has to go through “constant barriers”.

“I think the problem is in the fact that cinema in India is not considered, unlike other forms of art, under art and culture ministry. We are not like artists, painters or sculptors… Though there are forces that attack them, they don’t have to pass through censors… it is only the filmmakers,” Onir said said during a visit to the IANS office here with the team of “Chauranga”.

“On TV too, you can put out anything. On internet, print… everything is available. Only cinema has to go through all these barriers constantly, which does not recognise you as an artist,” he added.

Onir also rued the ticket pricing at multiplexes and the distribution system, which is “eliminating” people who would watch films.

“Also the entire distribution system, the ticket pricing at multiplexes… art is something that’s considered essential for society or for the country, but we are not because we are cinema… It is entertainment. You are constantly eliminating people who could watch films. Single screens are disappearing, they were much more democractic, much more numbers could come to watch films,” he added.

Onir also gave a thumbs up to acclaimed filmmaker Shyam Benegal’s appointment as the head of a panel to revamp the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

“Shyam Benegal is progressive, he is more of an artiste… As a person he is open enough to have a dialogue with independent filmmakers. We had started a campaign to save indie cinema at, and he was the first person to sign it,” Onir said.

Directed by Bikas Ranjan Mishra “Chauranga”, sheds light on the violence of class oppression that continues to exist in rural India. It is produced by Anticlock Films, co-owned by Onir and Sanjay Suri.

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