An award in the name of Satyajit Ray is being instituted by the Centre in the same lines as Dadasaheb Phalke to mark the centenary of the legend. The union ministry will formally make a request to the Cannes Film Festival authorities for showcasing a few Ray masterpieces at this year’s physical edition of the international festival. Union minister of Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar, in the presence of union minister (MOS) Babul Supriyo, made these two vital announcements at his meeting with members of the film fraternity that was organized by the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) at a city hotel in Kolkata on Monday evening.
The who’s who of the Bengal film industry attended the meeting. That included the likes of Goutam Ghose, Arindam Sil, Kaushik Ganguly, Churni Ganguly, Srijit Mukherji, Shiboprosad Mukherjee, Ustad Rashid Khan, Rituparna Sengupta, Abir Chatterjee, Firdausul Hasan, Mahendra Soni, Ashok Dhanuka, Himanshu Dhanuka, Nishpal Singh Rane, Arijit Dutta, Hiran Chatterjee, Rudranil Ghosh, Paoli Dam, among others.
Speaking about the Satyajit Ray award, Sil said, “I think it is a commendable effort by the union ministry. This is exactly what the centenary celebrations of the legend should start off with.” Producer Firdausul Hasan welcomed this move too. “The effort made by the union minister to meet us and hear our views is extremely appreciable. I felt very good to hear that the union ministry is instituting an award in Ray’s name. The union ministry’s effort to showcase Ray films at Cannes is also commendable,” Hasan said.
From government funds for movies, pension for technicians and artists, tax rebates to the need for increasing the market for Bengali movies, saving the single screens that need immediate attention and compulsory shows for Bengali films with flat 50% producers’ share for them – the discussion spanned over various issues involving Tollywood. Suggestions were also given on reviving the trend of mandatory Doordarshan screening of films making it to the Indian Panorama.
During the interaction, Hasan raised the concern about the need to increase the Bengali film market to Bangladesh. According to him, Hindi films and those made down South easily do business worth 100 crores while movies made in Bengali, which has been ranked at the seventh position among 100 most spoken languages across the world, struggle to do business worth Rs 2 crore. “Bengal is culturally so rich. We need to find out where the fault lies in not being able to market our films. We need to find a solution to that. As producers, we want the market of Bengali movies to increase. Unfortunately, we can’t release our movies in Bangladesh. The I&B minister assured us that discussions are on to sort out this issue,” Hasan said.
The producer also suggested that videos and photo bank of virgin locations of Bengal be posted on the National Film Development Corporation website. “Besides, I also highlighted that more branches of the Animal Welfare Board in India be constituted. India is the highest film producing country in the world. At present there is just one office in Chennai from where everyone needs to obtain the no objection certificate from the board for using performing animals in films, serials and commercials,” Hasan said. He also pointed at the sudden hike in the amount to be paid for obtaining permission letter to use animals and birds in cinemas from the Board. “I suggested a reduction of the application fees that had seen a steep jump from Rs 500 to Rs 55,000,” Hasan added.
The problems involving compulsory employment of technicians that unnecessarily increase the budget of films were also an important part of the discussion.