Enlighten Film Society’s director Pranav Ashar believes that classics are always more popular than contemporary films.
He reasons, “Classics have acquired popularity over many years and have generated much more word-of-mouth publicity. For instance, our highest grossing foreign film on DVD is Bicycle Thieves. Sales of classics like Battleship Potemkin and Metropolis are also high.”
Gautam Shiknis, founder & MD of Palador Pictures explains that world cinema includes movies from over 70 countries, each of which have at least five to six different cinematic styles. These add up to nearly 350 different kinds of film genres. “Of these, a Danish New Wave movie or a Russian neo-realist film won’t work because it does not relate to the Indian psyche,” says Shiknis. Indian audiences, he says, are more likely to watch Ingmar Bergman out of reverence for the masters of cinema. “It’s a sort of pilgrimage for them,” he says.
However Dhruvank Vaidya, NDTV Lumière’s Senior VP (New Ventures), is confident that contemporary world cinema can also be successful. Lumière owns the rights to new releases from over 35 countries in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and East Asia.
Says Vaidya, “Persepolis, a black-and-white animation film from Iran, which released in 2007, drew audiences here because it was a beautifully told story. The Class (2008),a French film about racial undercurrents in France, was also well received because it was relevant to the socio-political fabric of the world today. Ultimately, a well-told story with a broad appeal will work well.”