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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

Dev Benegal makes a comeback

Dibyojyoti Baksi, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, March 17, 2013
First Published: 13:36 IST(17/3/2013) | Last Updated: 15:53 IST(17/3/2013)

After returning from the French premiere of his 2009 film, the director talks about his upcoming films and the future of independent cinema in India

Do you think Indian screenwriting has matured enough to get recognition?
For me, words and moving images closely tied together form cinema. It’s great to see that writing for films is finally getting recognised. We have a great tradition in terms of literature in our country. Earlier, writers from Kolkata would come down to Mumbai to write for cinema. The awareness is spreading again. There’s incredible talent in our country.

You were among the first filmmakers to push the barriers of Indian cinema with English August (1994). Do you think you could set a new template for Indian cinema again?
I think it’s about doing things in bits and parts. I have just come back from the French premiere of Road, Movie (2009) and it was unbelievable how people responded
to  the versatility and storytelling. English August was an adaptation of a novel and people shunned the idea as crazy. But I think that attempt sort of started the whole generation of independent cinema.

Since ours is a star-driven industry is there scope for independent cinema?
It’s not a zero sum game. While you want to watch your mainstream action, comedy and romantic films, you also have a choice of opting for dark and edgy films. What’s interesting is that these films are getting their space and their voices are being heard around the world.

Do you think Indian independent film writing is mature enough to make a mark internationally?
My next two films, Bombay Samurai and Dead End, are already at the scripting stage and are garnering a lot of international attention. If you talk about maturity, I think it’s round the corner. It’s just the matter of one script and you can make it to that level. But we need to come up with many more such films.

You are making a comeback with two back-to-back films. Can you share some details about them?
Bombay Samurai is a war thriller set in Mumbai and Dead End is a political satire. I have written the scripts for both. The films will comprise an interesting cast, a mix of big stars and international talent.

We have also heard that you are grooming fresh scriptwriters from India. Would you be producing any of their films?
I am producing a couple of films that will be made by fresh filmmakers. Though their scripts are rooted to our culture, anyone in the world will be able to connect to them.

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