When one meets the renowned Irish director, Jim Sheridan, one invariably remembers his most memorable work till date, In the Name of the Father, based on a true story. It is set in trouble-torn Belfast and is about four men falsely convicted for the Guildford pub bombings by the Irish Republican Army. Four British soldiers and a civilian were killed and 74 people wounded.
But Sheridan, who is the president of the Muhr Arab Feature Jury at the ongoing 10th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival, has walked many miles since the Belfast blast. And has seen many changes in the kind of cinema made.
There will be radical changes in America, he tells me during an interview here on Thursday, because of the presence of a large number of Indians and Chinese in the USA. “I think American studios are now making movies for Indians and Chinese. I think India and China will soon make films for the rest of the world, and why not. For, they have such an overwhelming superiority in numbers that they can easily do this”.
Sheridan feels that the time is not far away when American studios will make mainstream movies with Indian and Chinese characters. He avers that he and Indian actor Sanjay Suri (who is part of the Sheridan jury) have been wondering why nobody has ever thought of making a film on the East India Company, which heralded the birth of capitalism. “The Company fought against Afghanistan all by itself. It provoked the opium war in China. So when the East India Company introduced capitalism, it was the most ruthless variety. I have never seen such kind of capitalism being the subject in a movie. China and India are part of what I call capitalist communalism, and a film on the East India Company will be interesting.”
Sheridan says he will certainly be interested in making a movie set in India – perhaps about the growth of the East India Company. He will prefer, though, to make a television series on the East India Company.
“But there is always this issue of empathy. When people write a film or direct one, they seldom think of the spiritual side of things. And the spiritual dimension is the deepest. It is not easy for an outsider to have this kind of empathic belief”, Sheridan contends.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is covering the Dubai International Film Festival)