Utpal Borpujari

January 23, 2015

My film shows democracy has to be imbibed: Makhmalbaf

By Utpal Borpujari

Panaji: Many have seen shades of real life characters in his satirical “The President”, which had opened the 45th International Film Festival of India (IFFI), but legendary Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf says the film is not about any particular character but about the way the word “democracy” is facing threat in many parts of the world.

“It is my way of saying that democracy has to be imbibed, and cannot be gifted by bombing and attacking a country,” says Makhmalbaf, a retrospective of whose films was a major highlight of the just-concluded 45th IFFI.

“Syria, Egypt and Libya, all of them had revolutions but the results have not been really positive. That is why in The President, I have shown how one has to imbibe democracy and cannot get it gifted through bombing and attacking a country.

Democracy needs education and development,” says the director, who has been living outside Iran for many years now after his strongly-political films ruffled feathers of the Iranian ruling class.

As compared to Iran and many other countries, Makhmalbaf says, India has imbibed the values of democratic practices much better. “The diversity in culture, philosophy and languages in India is because of the kind of democracy being practiced here,” he says.

All films and books by Makhmalbaf, who was jailed as a 17-year-old for his political protests against the then Shah regime, are banned in Iran, and he was forced to leave Iran ten years ago. Since then he has made London his home but continued to make films with stories based in Iran.

“In prison I realised that our political problems have roots in culture. That’s why I started making films and writing books to change the minds of people. When I was young I used to follow Che Guevara’s ideals but in jail I learnt about Gandhi’s non-violent principles. Making political films is risky but there is no other way,” he says.

In his film “The President”, a despotic president of a fictitious country is shown to be forced to go into hiding as a common man with his grandson following a coup, which is when he finds how much people hate him. This brings a change in his mindset. Through satire, Makhmalbaf makes a strong comment about the situation in many countries of the world in this film.

“I watched my his first film when I was 22. Cinema’s impact on me was like a blind suddenly getting vision. That’s when I decided to use the power of this medium to serve the people,” he says. About the philosophy behind his latest film, he says, “Killing the dictator does not solve the problem as it kills individual but not the dictatorial tendencies. My film stresses that the need is to change the mindset of people.”

45th IFFI showcased this very journey of Makhmalbaf, screening films like “Daddy’s School”, “The Day I became a Woman”, “Kandahar”, “A Moment of Innocence”, “Salaam Cinema”, “Sex and Philosophy”, “The Silence” and “Time of Love”.

(Published in Eastern Chronicle, http://www.easternchronicle.net; 04-12-2014)

IFFI salutes biopic on real life hero

By Utpal Borpujari

Panaji: India has many unsung heroes, among them some heroes who have earned international recognition for their selfless service to the society but yet remains known only to a limited circle simply because they eschew media publicity.

One such name definitely is Prakash Baba Amte, the elder son of the late Baba Amte. They together remain the only father-son duo to win the Raman Magsaysay Award for their social work, but unlike the father, the son’s is not a name recognized nationally.

But that is about to change, with “Dr Prakash Baba Amte: The Real Hero”, a Marathi film on him, wooing delegates at the Indian Panorama section at the just-concluded 45th International Film Festival of India (IFFI). Incidentally, the Hindi version of the film, called “Hemalkasa” after the village that Amte made his home after earning his medical degree, would soon be released nationally.

Starring Nana Patekar in the title role, Sonali Kulkarni as his wife Mandakini, and Mohan Agashe as Baba Amte, the film deftly captures the extraordinary life and times of Prakash Amte, who, inspired by his father and helped by Mandakini and a group of dedicated friends, took healthcare to Hemalkasa, one of Maharashtra’s most-backward, tribal-dominated regions affected by Naxalite activities.

The film starts a bit tamely, with an encounter between the Naxalites and the security forces seeking to establish the socio-political situation of the area, but immediately comes on track thereafter, chronicling the work and life of the doctor who chose to bring healthcare facilities to the most backward tribals of the area.

Directed by Samruddhi Porey, the film mostly takes a realistic approach to tell the real life story, with Patekar giving a go by to his usual histrionics to depict the soft-spoken but firm-minded Amte. He is most able supported by a superb Kulkarni who brings out the tender relationship Mandakini has had with Amte in several scenes in the film.

It could have very easily been a documentary-style, but Porey is able to bring in several dramatic incidents from Amte’s life to make the film interesting and dramatic. Carefully picking up several interesting stories from the years of struggle that Prakash Amte has undertaken to carry on with his work in a remote region, the director not only brings out his life but also the lifestyle of the tribal people who did not even have the most basic healthcare facilities till the good doctor came to live amidst them.

“The film is a tribute to a cause and it is very much heartening to know that the people have appreciated it in such a big way. The very fact that it is running house full even after seven weeks of its release in Maharashtra shows how much it has moved people,” says Patekar, who, apparently moved by the subject, has announced a biopic on Baba Amte that he would direct.

“I wanted the world to see the philanthropic work of Dr Prakash Amte and Mandakini Amte The film runs like a make-believe film story but the beauty is that it is a portrayal of reality. It is not only a story of struggle and sacrifice but also the unconditional love between a husband and a wife,” says Porey.

(Published in Eastern Chronicle, http://www.easternchronicle.net; 02-12-2014)

« Previous PageNext Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.