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Indian films ignore rural realities: Benegal

Filmmaker Shyam Benegal is irked with the blinkered vision of Indian movies.

india Updated: Jan 18, 2006 13:42 IST

Indian movie directors tend to concentrate on urban themes and ignore the stories of the country's rural majority, said Shyam Benegal, one of India's best known Hindi film directors. "Today's films are completely city or urban oriented, because the aspirations of the Indian masses lie in the cities," Benegal reportedly said.

"Even the rural Indian audience would not want to watch a film set in a rural backdrop," he was quoted as saying by PTI. In a career spanning three decades, Benegal has made 24 feature length films and more than 45 documentaries. He's considered one of the pioneers of the so-called new Indian cinema movement, which bloomed in the 1970s and early 1980s by focussing on realistic themes in movies.

His quartet of early films, starting with Ankur, or The Seedling, introduced a stable of powerful actors, including Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri.

Even though India's metropolises dominate Bollywood movies, "the cities which are shown in mainstream Indian films are not the real Indian cities," said Benegal Rather than showing the grim realities of the urban - and rural - poor, Bollywood tends to focus on affluent urbanites, the 71-year-film director reportedly lamented.

"Documentaries are still dealing with reality. They are taking up issues which confront society," he was quoted as saying. "But unfortunately, there are very few takers for such films." Benegal said he had begun work on his next Hindi film, a musical with songs composed by AR Rahman, one of India's top music directors.

"We are doing the music now. Shooting for the film has not started yet," he reportedly said.

First Published: Jan 17, 2006 23:00 IST