By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: In what appears to be the very first instance of an Indian film journeying from commercial release to the film festivals, Dibakar Bannerjee’s Shanghai is proceeds to the Toronto International Film festival and then to other selected festivals after its full commercial run in Indian theatres.
This, according to a very reliable source from within the project’s core crew, was a decision taken by the producers.
Says the source, “Festival films are automatically perceived as non-commercial projects. If a film goes to the film festivals it is presumed that the film is meant for discerning audiences.Masses stay away from it. The producers of Shanghai willed that the film be released commercially first. They didn’t want it to be branded a ‘festival’ film.”
When asked about this unconventional route taken by his film, director Dibakar Bannerjee said, “It’s true we had to release Shanghai in India commercially before it could go to any of the festivals. That’s because of some interesting compulsions regarding the marketing and release. We had no choice but to release the film in India before it went to any festival. Having said that I’d like to point out that the profile and outlook of the audience in India has changed substantially thought not radically in the last ten years. A new brigade of filmmakers has emerged in our cinema with films that dare to go against norms.My film Love Sex Aur Dhokha was shown in festivals and was a big commercial success.”
However Dibakar admits that the journey of Shanghai into festivals has started only now. “We are now taking the film to selected festivals.And also releasing it commercially in several countries where it has not been released so far.”
Says Dibakar, “As far as I understand, Shanghai has opened up a new kind of Indian cinema to the outside world and westerners are re-orienting their image of Indian cinema according to the India that they’ve seen in Shanghai.So far they’ve imagined India and Indian cinema to be one way. In my own way I’ve shown the existence of another India and another kind of cinema which shows a society in a state terrible flux. In contrast my next film would enter a world of absolute tranquility torn apart by the kind of evil that they are too innocent to comprehend.”