Thursday, January 24, 2008

Govt offer to finance Konkani films evokes tepid response

Wednesday, June 3, 1998

Govt offer to finance Konkani films evokes tepid response
Shiv Kumar

PANAJI, June 2: A recent offer by the Government of Goa to provide finance for producers of Konkani films has received a lukewarm response from the artistic community in the state.
Industries Minister Luizinho Falerio recently said the government is considering setting up a corporation to lend money to film makers to help resuscitate the moribund Konkani film industry. If the proposal comes through, it would be the second attempt by the government in this direction.

The Film Development Corporation, a subsidiary of the state government-owned Economic Development Corporation which was set up in the late 1980s, shut shop six years ago due to lack of patronage. ``Though several film-makers showed interest, none of them approached us with viable proposals,'' says EDC Managing Director M Muddasir.

However, budding film-makers feel that granting industry status to the business and making producers eligible for bank loans will not help film-makers at all. ``What security can we offer the financialinstitutions? A few reels of film or some video cassettes are not sufficient. Even these get destroyed by fungus,'' says Rajendra Talak, whose telefilm Shitu was telecast by Doordarshan last year.

Film-makers estimate that a full-length feature film on celluloid would cost them between Rs 25 lakh and Rs 30 lakh at least. A telefilm shot on video would cost much less between Rs 6 lakh and Rs 8 lakh. But telefilms are not considered attractive options due to their restricted reach. However, a handful of potential film-makers are experimenting with the television medium especially after the state government began to organise film festivals last year. However with no celluloid offering from Goa being featured, the image of the festival has taken a beating.

Goan artistes are demanding that the state government offer subsidies to film-makers on the lines of those offered by Karnataka and Maharashtra. With Karnataka offering subsidies up to Rs 6 lakh for Kannada, Tulu and Konkani films, movies in Goa's ownlanguage are made outside rather than within the state.

The lack of a developed market and saleable stars is another hindrance to box-office offerings in Konkani. ``The only actress from Goa is Varsha Usgaonkar (a starlet in Hindi cinema),'' laughs Dharmanand Vernekar, a documentary producer in the state who has worked with director Gulzar and television personality Kamleshwar. He points out that even Doordarshan has not been able to attract quality programmes in Konkani which has deterred sponsors. Worse, Goa has just 16 cinema halls spread over 3,000 sq km and most of them are dilapidated. With only B-grade Hindi and cheap English sex flicks on offer, most Goans prefer to take in the charms of cinema during visits to Mumbai or Pune.

``The Hindu-Catholic divide is very sharp when it comes to entertainment. The Catholics, who spend big money on cinema and theatre, prefer Westernised forms of entertainment,'' says the spokesperson for the Konkani Bhasha Mandal. Consequently, purveyors of dance, drama andother arts in Indian forms are at a disadvantage, he notes.

Copyright © 1998 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.

Regional cinema in the doldrums

Special Correspondent

Shoestring budgets, falling audience interest plague producers


They solely rely on calls from film festivals to be screened
Films on social issues get insufficient media coverage

Panaji: Faced with shoestring promotional budgets, unsympathetic exhibitors and dwindling audiences, regional films, particularly art films, now solely rely on film festivals, both domestic and international, to get screened, filmmakers said.

Art filmmakers

Biju, producer of Malyalam film "Saira" which was screened in the `Indian Panorama' section at the on-going International Film Festival of India (IFFI) here, was vocal about the woes of art filmmakers. The screening of such a film in the `Indian Panorama' category ought to have helped its producer elicit financial support, he said.

However, a low budget, art film like "Saira" now had to solely rely on film festivals to get a screening, Mr. Biju added.

Some regional filmmakers made no secret of their disillusionment with the media. Rajnesh Domalpalli, producer of "Vanaja," an art film set in rural south India that explores the deep chasm that divides classes, as said that "regional cinema was in dire straits."

Blaming the media for not propagating art films, Mr. Domalpalli said: "The media chases only big budget films and stars. Films on social issues fail to get enough media coverage." Concurring with Mr. Biju, Mr. Domalpalli said that only calls from international film festivals helped producers of such films sustain themselves.

Marathi film industry

However, matters appear to be rosy in the Marathi film industry. Gajendra Ahire, a film producer, said that problems plaguing the Marathi film industry were different.

Despite the huge demand for Marathi films, distributors had failed to explore these markets. He, however, added that Marathi producers had realised that the key to success in the international market was to "universalise language cinema."

A revival

The Konkani film industry in Goa is seeing a revival after 20 years.

A Goan film producer, Rajendra Talak, said the revival was possible due to support from the State Government. He had premiered two Konkani films at the IFFI held in Goa last year.


He felt that other State Governments must emulate Goa, which recently unveiled a financial assistance scheme that gives subsidies and bonus points for regional films. The abundance of prints of films from other languages is the biggest challenge for Kannada film producers, T. S. Nagabharna, producer and director of Kannada film "Kallarali Hoovagi," said.

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