Actor-director Rahul Bose, who delivered the Satyajit Ray Memorial Lecture at the 21st Kolkata International Film Festival at Nandan on Wednesday, chose to speak on the cultural diversity in Indian films. Bose whose spoke on Cinema and Civilisation: Ray’s India and India Without Ray, in his speech talked about how, over the years, cinema in India has set a fine example of diversity.
“Every time I am asked about the role of cinema in civilisation, I say, it’s the same as that fine arts play in civilisation. We live in troubled times and I wonder what Dr Ashok Gupta in Ganashatru would have made of the motive behind the killings of rationalists today. How would have Ray reacted to the successful brutal killings of these rationalists? Would it have deterred Ray from making his next film on rationalism versus blind faith? Nikhilesh, the hero of Ghare Baire, is a jamindar who takes his wife out from the confines of her room and teaches her singing. He even introduces her to his charismatic best friend, Sandip, who is a fiery idealist. He, at one point, understands that his wife is having an extramarital affair with his friend but allows her the freedom to grow,” said Bose.
The actor also spoke on how the country is going through a difficult situation. “I wonder how Ray would have reacted to the statement made by a political leader after the gangrape of a girl in Delhi? The political leader said, ‘The woman should have thought twice before boarding that suspicious bus?’. Would Ray have accepted that?” said Bose.
Watch Apur Sansar trailer here:
Bose also spoke on the importance of cinema in the society. “Cinema and civilisation are like two siblings. Cinema is the younger one and learns and depicts from its elder sibling,” said the actor of films such as English August, Everybody Says I’m Fine! and Mr. and Mrs. Iyer.
Watch the trailer of Mahanagar by Satyajit Ray here:
One of the highpoints of his lecture was how display has always existed in Indian cinema. “Cultural diversity always been there in Indian cinema. ‘Allah tero naam, ishwar tero naam’, a song from Hum Dono, was written by Sahir Ludhianvi, composed by a Jaidev, a Hindu, and sung by another Hindu, Lata Mangeshkar. Garam Hawa, one of the finest films on Partition that depicted the problems faced by a Muslim family, was directed by a Hindu director, MS Sathyu. When it comes to characterisations, Lagaan is a fine example, where a Sikh, Muslim and a Hindu all raise slogans together in a film. In a film like Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. we see three actors -a Hindu, a Parsi and a Muslim - acting together. If we go by stories, Amar Akbar Anthony shows how three brothers get separated and are then raised by people form three different religions. When it comes to acting, we have again seen a fine portrayal of diversity in Indian films. Farhan Akhtar, a Muslim, plays a Sikh in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Priyanka Chopra, a Hindu played Mary Kom, a Christian, and Naseeruddin Shah, again a Muslim, played a Parsi in Being Cyrus. So, diversity is the lifeblood of every society,” concluded the actor.