The shift in the sensibility is subtle. It seems the Bollywood dream-makers are into some serious introspection. The belated releases are reflective of cinema of import, once pigeon-holed as ‘art films’.
If the year gone by minted big money for the industry, this year promises a slew of much-awaited films. Rahul Dholakia’s film Parzania opened at cinemas two weeks back while Anurag Kashyap’s Black Friday will hit the screen this week.
Both Parzania and Black Friday had controversial content drawn from life, which is the perceived cause for the delay. While the former is on the Gujarat riots of 2002, the latter is based on the 1993 Mumbai blasts.
Black Friday was held up for two years as a case was filed against the film by the accused claiming the film was playing judge, jury and executioner before the court verdict.
Now that the judgment is out and the accused have been found guilty, the producers have approached the Supreme Court. Says director Anurag Kashyap, “Moral policing is detrimental to the truth. I want people to see the film and feel the pain and grief that Mumbai went through during the blasts.”
Deepa Mehta’s Water is another stalled ox. From its inception Water faced opposition by Hindu activists who took umbrage to the portrayal of the Benaras widows of 1938. Now the film is slated for release on February 23.
Says Ravi Chopra of BR Films, “The Censor Board has cleared the film with a U certificate. The movie deserves to be seen by all Indians. There is nothing in it that hurts people’s sensibilities."
Another film, which was put on the back burner, was Jagmohan Mundhra’s Provoked (starring Aishwarya Rai and Naveen Andrews) based on the real life story of battered wife Kiranjeet Ahluwalia. But in this case, the delay has nothing to do with any controversy.
Ready for slice of life
Having toured the international circuit including the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, Provoked will release in India by March end or early April.
Says Viki Rajani, Director India, “It’s based on a story which changed the legal system of United Kingdom. It makes for powerful content.” Among other late releases are Mira Nair’s Namesake and Anurag Kashyap’s Paanch and Gulal, which are expected to hit theatres this year.
Giving the last word, trade analyst Taran Adarsh says, “It is clearly a sign of evolution. Today the Indian multiplex audience is ready for a slice of life.”