Panaji, Nov 21 (IANS) Filmmaker Rahul Rawail, chairperson of the Feature Film jury of the 49th IFFI’s Indian Panorama segment, on Wednesday outrightly rejected an allegation that they dismissed “anti-national” films from the line-up.
Ujjwal Chatterjee, a part of the 13-member jury, was quoted in a Times of India article saying: “There were at least six-seven films that wrongly represented India. They were not considered because they reflected anti-national sentiments.”
Questioned about this, Rawail said at a media conference here: “I was waiting for one of you to ask about this… I don’t know who used the term called ‘anti-national’.
“All deliberations of the jury are held within a closed door room, and there’s an undertaking that we all give that we will not talk about the deliberations. My personal feeling is the gentleman who said they were ‘anti-national’ films… I am sorry to say but it’s the press who must have misquoted him.”
Reminded that Chatterjee was quoted on record, Rawail said: “(He may have) Quoted on record… You can’t say that this is what he has said. Maybe he was implying something else.
“I can’t stand up for him. But this is probably a misquote. There are responsible people on the jury and they won’t go around talking like this. There’s nothing that’s anti-national.”
It may be recalled that the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) last year found itself in troubled waters as two films — “S Durga” and “Nude” — were unceremoniously dropped from the gala over concerns they may hurt sentiments.
KG Suresh and Major Ravi, who are part of the present Indian Panorama jury, chimed in to support Rawail’s view.
“We can say there was not a single film that was anti-national,” said Suresh, while Malayalam filmmaker Major Ravi said: “We have rejected over 190 films… We selected only 22 films. We can’t say we have rejected due to anti-national films.”
In a year where the entertainment industry is engulfed by discussions on #MeToo, gender pay gap and representation, the jury was asked about how many women were a part of the decision-making process?
“Unfortunately, there was no woman in the feature film jury this time,” Rawail said, quickly adding in that it was a question he raised. He appealed that women must be made an intrinsic part of such exercises.
Epic big-screen dramas like “Padmaavat” and “Mahanati”, as well as features like “Nagarkirtan”, “Sinjar” and “Bhayanakam” are a part of the selection of Indian Panorama films for IFFI this time. It opens with acclaimed director Shaji N. Karun’s Malayalam drama “Olu”.
There’s a mix of Malayalam, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Tulu, Ladakhi, Jasari and Hindi films.
Rawail whole-heartedly lauded regional movie entries.
“Regional cinema in India is making huge strides. This whole thing of Indian cinema being centred around Hindi films… Though I have made Hindi films only, but right from the Panorama last year to the National Awards this year and the present Panorama, the growth of regional cinema has been absolutely fantastic.
“I hope these strides of regional cinema carries on so finally that the term regional cinema is not used. Cinema is cinema, so why do we say we regional in this?”
(Radhika Bhirani is in Goa on an invitation by IFFI organisers. She can be contacted at [email protected])