Global audience for an Indian film, still a dream?, Mani Ratnam, Shankar



“Dr. Chandran, a young scientist travels to the new planet that he just found and discovers that there are red Lilliputs. He falls in love with one of the lady Lilliputs and the earthlings, who sent him to negotiate and capture the new planet to build more IT parks are mighty pissed at Chandran’s behaviour. But, the brave Chandran stands tall (obviously… After all he is with the Lilliputs), fights for the little ones and wins the planet back from the enemies from the earth.”

I narrated this fantasy story I wrote recently to my friend. He replied, “Wow!! Anandha Thollai has a more logical story,” and he is a great fan of Avatar.

Why am I telling you this? Because, I genuinely feel fantasy stories have the capability of taking Indian films to the international audience. I discussed my points with two young successful directors, Karthik Subbaraj, director of Pizza and Balaji Mohan, director of Kadhalil Sodhappuvadhu Yeppadi. This column summarizes our little chat, or rather an argument, I would say. In other words, this is a conversation between two captains and a spectator (on what people will prefer and what people want to see).

So my argument is that while watching a fantasy film, the question of regional sensibility, relativity and logic might not arise, therefore drawing people of different cultures, countries and whatever to see it. Unfortunately, both the professionals dissented from my view.

Karthik says that we already have got the talent and people like Satyajith Ray, Ameer, Mani Ratnam have taken their films to a lot of international film festivals. I agree and I do understand that Satyajith Ray’s films are even part of academics in international film schools.

But my question is, isn’t there a difference between a film critic or an enthusiast watching an art/experimental film and a common man, who goes to a theater just for the sake of breaking the stress, watching it? For example, I honestly find Amala Paul prettier than Monalisa. Obviously, artistes would spit on my face if they hear it.

We all in India, watch the James Bond, Christopher Nolan, Tarantino and many other films. But how many general Americans or English people have watched Mankatha, Thuppakki or any other Indian film? English films enjoy commercial success in India, but how many Indian films enjoy commercial success in the global market. Maybe a good Indian film might get more number of Indians living abroad to watch it. But how do we get the foreigners to see our films?

My bet is on Fantasy, because Naan Ee did well in the international market too. I don’t say only fantasy movies can draw international crowd. I just think it can be a catalyst to pull the international crowd. Once we get our own global audience, we can show them our style of films.

But, director Balaji Mohan feels it need not be just fantasy. According to him, any subject which people can relate to will be accepted. Emotions are something that every human have in common. So, a quality film with emotions as its seed can pull crowd from any part of the world and Karthik Subbaraj agrees with him too. “And Naan Ee is a fine example. The romance between the lead pair is the essence of the story,” pointed out Balaji. 

True. But wasn’t it the fantasy element that gave the film the extra push? However, Balaji has a point. Anybody around the globe will find Karthik’s Pizza sensible, because ‘fear’ is the USP of the film and every human being knows what fear is and can imagine how terrifying ghosts can be.

I asked Karthik which upcoming film might draw international crowd and he thinks Vishwaroopam might do it. It is possible. I’m expecting Barrie Osborne to bring his family and friends from Hollywood to watch the film and they might suggest it to their kin and pals. My bet is also on Kochadaiyaan. After all, it has the fantasy element I prefer.       

We spoke for a long time, but didn’t get to a conclusion. From what we have seen this year, so many experimental and successful films, we just hope, Mani Ratnam, Shankar, Karthik Subbaraj, Balaji Mohan and many other Indian directors earn international audience (I mean foreigners) in the near future. Just like Avatars, Dark Knights and Sky Falls rake the Indian BOs, we just wish to see a Mani Ratnam film (or any other Indian director) to have houseful shows for weeks in all the biggest centers in the world. 

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