Indian artists get a global platform
Dust, an Indo-German collaboration starring Vinay Pathak, and Line of Descent (2017) directed by Indian origin American filmmaker Rohit Karn Batra, starring Abhay Deol, were showcased at the Berlin film festival. Actor Pankaj Tripathi is also working in a web series, Dhaka, starring Chris Hemsworth. With Indian actors collaborating with foreign filmmakers and their films getting screened at international film festivals, one would want to believe that Indian actors are finally getting their due. But, since the Indian film audience seem to be driven towards mass entertainers, there’s a long way to go.
Transmigration of Indians abroad
Actor Adil Hussain who plays a Pakistani immigrant based in Norway in What Will People Say, feels transmigration of Asians abroad has contributed towards Indian actors being considered for international projects. “Since Asians share common ethnicity, Indian actors are seen in roles where the story is set in the backdrop of India, Pakistan or Bangladesh. As Indian actors are more popular, so the foreign filmmakers prefer to cast us,” says Hussain.
Tripathi also believes Indians working and living abroad has lead to more Indian characters in global cinema. “Since, India is rich with so many stories and Indians are spread all over the globe, so even if there’s a story about any other country it involves Indian characters,” he says, adding, Hollywood films being released in India get a huge opening these days, which is one of the reason why “international filmmakers cast Indians actors to create a wider audience outreach.”
Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap also feels there’s currently a non-stop international collaboration going on. “We have a Gujarati origin Indian guy Himesh Patel being launched in Danny Boyle’s new film. So a lot of Indian actors are getting work in foreign films,” he says.
Global audience is interested in Indian content
Hussain, whose film Mukti Bhawan (2015) was made on a small budget has completed 150 days in Japan. And the actor feels that international “cinema and film festivals are a boon to Indian actors who get to play noteworthy characters”.
Tripathi feels OTT platforms have reduced geographical barriers as Indian content is viewed across more than 200 countries. “The response from audiences in San Fransisco, New York and New Jersey for Indian web series is overwhelming. The global audience has started taking interest in Indian content,” he explains.
Films at festivals are meant for a niche audience
Although Indian actors are getting more work in global cinema, foreign language films or those screened at film festivals have limited viewership. According to trade analyst Taran Adarsh, movies showcased at film festivals are generally presumed to be meant for a niche audience. “When your work in an international film, it adds to the hype, curiosity and publicity. But it is the teaser, trailer and content that appeals to the public,” says Adarsh, who points that many argue “why send Indian films to festivals when our own audiences are not interested in such films beyond few metro cities.”
Trade analyst Atul Mohan voices a similar opinion and says, “The posters with all the stamps of film festivals and the kind of news that comes in social media helps in generating the kind of buzz required. If you look from a commercial point of view, such films would be for a niche audience at the multiplexes and metro cities.”
Interact with Anurag Singh Bohra at Twitter/KashiNomad.
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