Going down memory lane is a favourite indulgence of cinema bug. Watching a Dhoom 2 or a Guru may still be the order of the day. But there is a section of cinegoers that still dotes on Guru Dutt’s on-screen woes and Dev Anand’s unrivalled charm.
Unfortunately, for those who want to watch such classics, the options are limited. While film festivals and retrospectives seldom take place, organising them is not always financially conducive for theatres.
Says Shalu Sabharwal, head, Sales and Marketing, PVR Cinemas, “People love to watch new films. There are only a handful who would want to see an old Hindi film. Besides, there are not enough auditoriums where we can screen such films.”
Lost in transition
The commercial prospects of such films are not quite bright. Most theatres see new films as safer bets. Says Rajender Singh, head of Operations and Programming, “We used to have old Hindi film festivals around seveneight years ago. Gradually, fewer and fewer people turned up for their screening..that’s why we had to stop screening classics.”
Getting appropriate print at a reasonable price is yet another hurdle. Says Sabharwal, “If we get the prints at a reasonable rate, we may hold such screenings. But distributors lose interest because of the high prices.”
Model Meyhar Bhasin, an ardent movie buff confesses, “The experience of watching a film on the big screen is fantastic. We have no option but to watch these films on a DVD.”
The young generation seems to be clueless about films which are not shown frequently on the TV channels. Even filmmakers in their 20s and early 30s confess that they have not seen any film by Satyajit Ray including Pather Panchali.
Disturbingly, even the so-called ‘aware directors’ like Ram Gopal Varma make it a point in their interviews that they don’t care about the nation’s film heritage.
Mr Varma has not seen Pather Panchali or Mughal-e-Azam and neither does he intend to. Needless to say the loss is entirely his.
However, film clubs do try to spread awareness of classic cinema. The cinema of Raj Kapoor, Mehboob Khan, Bimal Roy and V Shantaram are a must see. And of course, the best way is to see these classics are at the National Film Archive in Pune..if you can get there.