Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Jaipur misses out on making history in the Indian film industry

Jaipur could have been part of a revolution in the Indian film industry this Friday but has instead laid its hands off from the opportunity. As multiplexes in Mumbai, Pune and New Delhi go on to make a history of sorts this Friday by screening a 15-minute film, those in this city have backed out from this first-ever experiment in the Indian film industry citing apprehension about its viability.

The Little Terrorist, which has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Live Action and Animated Short Films category, is going to be the first commercially released short film in the country.

The irony couldn’t have been greater for this city as the film was shot in Rajasthani at Boraj, a village near Jaipur last year, and has a storyline that is deeply linked with this state. Directed by Ashvin Kumar, the short focuses on the plight of Munir, the 13-year-old boy who strayed across from Pakistan to Rajasthan in 2003. After having generated considerable attention from the media, Atal Behari Vajpayee, who the PM then, intervened and had him sent home.

Shringar Films Private Limited (SFPL) is releasing eight prints of the film in Mumbai and three each in New Delhi and Pune this week. “Because something like this has never been done before, it has been harder to convince the multiplex owners in Jaipur. They are waiting to see how the film fares in the other cities before they latch onto it,” said Aditya Shroff, the SFPL Director. However, he was hopeful of the film making it next week to the local mutliplexes.

The firm is lending out each print for a fixed rate of Rs 14,000 and leaves it to the exhibitor to decide the way the film is screened. The film may be shown independently, as Fame Adlabs is doing in Mumbai, or it could even be tagged along with a mainstream film, with or without a surcharge. Most of the multiplexes elsewhere have decided to club it with ongoing films such as Page 3, Black and The Aviator.

Sunil Bansal, a city-based film distributor, said that information about the film has been very sketchy and that it would be too early to say when the film could be released in Jaipur. “We may decide to club it with Hum Dum that is also a SFPL offering. But it will be released definitely, maybe on February 25,” he added. On the other hand, Komal Nahta, a film critic of Rajasthani origin, said that audiences across the country have not developed a taste for short films and the decision not to screen The Little Terrorist in the first week reflects that. “I don’t see it changing at least for the next 10 years in places like Jaipur,” he added.

One of my reports for Hindustan Times


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