The Malayalam film director has said that there is no market for Indian Panorama films these days. He was speaking at a press conference during the 49th International Film Festival of India (IFFI), in Goa, on 23 November.
Jayaraj’s film Bhayanakam was screened in the feature section of Indian Panorama at the festival. The film is about a World War I veteran who is Kuttanad in Kerala to deliver letters and money orders.
“Bhanayanakam was released in theatres and ran for two weeks. I am still waiting for a digital platform like Netflix. Every year lots of films are coming out through the Indian Panorama selections. Previously there was a chance to show them on Doordarshan and they would give us some money. Nowadays that does not happen. Now there is no market for Panorama cinema.
“IFFI used to support promotion of a film at other festivals too, but not anymore. So we have to find a way to exhibit internationally and do the marketing. I feel if you have a digital platform like Netflix or a festival like IFFI, more people will be able to watch a film,” said Jayaraj.
Jayaraj has won the National Film award eight times. Bhayanakam got him the National award for Best Director in 2017. It also won for Best Adapted Screenplay trophy.
Speaking about the reach of these films, Tamil film Baaram director Priya Krishnaswamy said, “Recently I was talking to a film representative and he had an interesting point of view. He said as a filmmaker you just want to sell your film and get on to the next one by recovering whatever money [you have spent]. You don’t know the value of the product which has a lifespan that you cannot imagine.
“The big mistake is to sell everything outright and just move on. He said you should sell it piecemeal and see how it goes. It [the film] wil acquire a momentum. The whole thing is P&A [prints and advertisements], which is expensive. I am surprised Bhayanakam lasted only two weeks in theatres. It deserved a much longer run.”
She added that while her film was brand new, she would like Baaram to be released theatrically, “which is every filmmaker’s dream”.
“Having said that the ecosystems are different. Baaram is a new kind of film for Tamil cinema,” she added. Baaram is a about the social practice of Thalaikoothan, a euphemism for mercy killing where 26 different ways are used to put the elderly family members to rest.
Srijit Mukherji, who directed Uma, had a different perspective. His film ran for 75 days. “It’s also matter of treatment. Uma was a huge blockbuster, not because of how it was done. It made it to the Indian Panorama for a different aesthetic and it ran for 75 days for a totally different aesthetic. I interacted with the audience to find out what made it click. It was wishful film. It’s that fantasy of human kindness and the father-daughter relationship,” he said, adding that when you can balance both elements, you can reach out to more people.
Uma is a Bengali film in which a single father recreates the festival of Durga puja along with the whole community way ahead of its actual time for his terminally ill daughter.