The producer of world-acclaimed films such as East is East and West is West, UK-based Leslee Udwin announced the launch of her India-centric project — People’s Cinema — on Tuesday at Chandigarh Press Club, Sector 27, with actors Yograj Singh and Yashpal Sharma.
Addressing the press and the people of Punjab and Haryana, Leslee opened up by saying, “Satsriakal, namaste and asalaam alaikum! I love the people of India, and thus want them to receive a healthy dose of independent cinema. That’s my way of giving back to the people I love.”
What is People’s Cinema?
“It’s a movement to promote film education in India; it’s a non-profit educative initiative, which will help introducing world class cinema to the youth of India. Being a mobile film club, we would travel different states of India and screen our movies in different colleges and
Next year, we will cover Haryana and Delhi NCR, which will help educate the youth socially, morally and ethically. It would be a one-day event every year, where we would invite a prominent filmmaker to interact with the students of India,” said Leslee. After the screening of the films at different colleges and universities, the team of People’s Cinema will engage in a dialogue with the college/university authorities, to initiate the setting up of cinema clubs and film libraries at each.
Vision for the movement
“In India, politicians also have tried changing the attitudes of people towards social issues, but to no avail. Communities here are still practicing social evils such as female foeticide and honour killings. People need to be sensitised, that’s where our movies come in; movies in general are known to have a lasting impact on the masses. I am not against Bollywood; it’s very entertaining. But with entertainment, there also is a need for a healthy diet of cinema, which will be provided by this movement,” asserted Leslee.
With a clear vision and a firm plan of action in place, Leslee is currently in the process of seeking out funding partners for the movement. So, is it just India that needs this movement? “No, it’s the entire world! Just like India, the US also needs to be educated about such issues. In the near future, I am also planning to screen a film in Africa, which is a true story based on a slum dweller who graduated with honours from Manchester University.”
How did the idea come about?
“It was the youth’s response that made me take up this project. While I was screening my films in various colleges and universities in India, I saw the youth responding well to these films, despite the absence of Hindi subtitles. So, I am very optimistic about the project,” she said, adding, “Awareness is the first step to understanding, which will then lead to a desire to make a difference.
The Indian film personalities who have confirmed their association with the movement are Om Puri, Gulzar, Ila Arun, Leela Samson, Nandita Das, Shyam Benegal, Dibang, Feroz Abbas Khan, Yograj Singh and Yashpal Sharma.”
People’s Cinema will come to life 2013 onwards, with Haryana being its first state.