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Indian cinema's focus widens

An increasing number of Mumbai productions are today employing the Queen?s lingo to tell their urban Indian stories, writes Saibal Chatterjee

india Updated: Jul 21, 2003 20:05 IST

There has been one happy offshoot of the rapid mushrooming of multiplexes and the consequent surge in the production of urban films: the world has shrunk just a tad for Indian cinema and filmmakers who form the world’s largest movie industry have made bold to develop ambitions that transcend geographical boundaries.

The result: it is suddenly raining English-language films in Bollywood. An increasing number of Mumbai productions are today employing the Queen’s lingo to tell their urban Indian stories. And that seems destined to take them places on the world map provided the cards are played right.

Films like Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding, a certified commercial success on the Western circuit, and Rahul Bose’s directorial debut Everybody Says I’m Fine, which won admirers around the globe last year, have shown the way forward. A host of young Indian filmmakers, having taken the cue, have begun to explore newer pastures.

Tanuja Chandra, a Bollywood filmmaker who is yet to deliver a real blockbuster, has announced her intention to direct a love story set in the Big Apple. Needless to say, the film, targeted at a global audience, will use the English language.

What’s more, even Dheeraj Kumar of Creative Eye, the company that specializes in soppy television mythologicals, has roped in an Oscar-winning British director to helm an international venture, tentatively titled Behind the Painted Veil, which will be shot in India as well as in foreign locales.

It is not uncommon any longer for an Indian director or producer to talk of a global release of his film. Kerala’s Shyamaprasad, having just premiered Bokshu – The Myth in Bangalore, is preparing for the European release of the “mystery-adventure film” in August. The all-India release of Bokshu is scheduled only for October.

Clearly, the world market has opened up like never before and Indian films have begun to make the right moves. That is why Bokshu, produced by a Chicago-based NRI, has James Bond villain Steven Berkoff and a fair sprinkling of American actors in the cast, which includes Irfan Khan, Nandana Sen, Harish Patel and Surekha Sikri. The film was shot in Hampi and Kedarnath on the one hand and Los Angeles on the other. The world has never been smaller than it seems now.

A Bengali science fiction film, Patalghar, which tasted huge success at the box office earlier this year, is now in the process of being dubbed/subtitled in English for worldwide release. Thanks to its world-class production values – Patalghar is slicker than any film of its kind ever made in India both in terms of visual texture and sound design – it looks perfectly capable of traveling well.

In Mumbai, of course, the trend is acquiring the proportions of a full-fledged movement. Jhankar Beats, released in the domestic market recently, made an impact at the Bite the Mango film festival in Bradford, UK. Hinglish films like Oops, produced and directed by Deepak Tijori, Mumbai Matinee, produced by Pritish Nandy Communications, and Jogger’s Park, from the Subhash Ghai stable, are lined up for domestic and global release.

Not all the above films may be masterworks in purely cinematic and creative terms but who really cares! It is enough that they are being made and pushed globally. With each little conquest that these films make on the world stage, they are only likely to boost the cause of Indian cinema in the long run.

First Published: Jul 21, 2003 20:05 IST