Umesh Kulkarni at IFFK 2018

Freedom seems to have become the buzzword at the ongoing 23rd International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK). In his conversation with film critic and writer CS Venkiteswaran, director Umesh Kulkarni seconded Majid Majidi and Buddadeb Dasgupta’s ideas saying, “Politicians are completely using the idea of faith of the common people and trying to set their own agendas.” 

The director of films like Vaalu (2008), Vihir (2010) and Deool (2011) said that the growing trend of politicians using religious propaganda is dangerous. He said, “With the money, libraries and basic amenities are not what are being constructed. It is all vote-bank politics, faith is getting manipulated. Politicization of religion is what is happening.” 

The director’s Marathi film Highway (2015) is currently being screened at the festival under the Jury Films Package. The director also dismissed the concept of a good film being associated with its box-office numbers. 

He said, “My concept of a hit film is different. The numbers are not what matters. When a film strikes a chord inside someone, that is what matters. How deep a film affects someone, the longevity, that is what matters.” 

Praising the influence of growing OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, Kulkarni said, “Thanks to digital technology and film festivals, people have started watching, experimenting, and studying cinema. Film clubs should start in major cities, and have screenings every month. That is the ground work that needs to be done. We should even have a channel dedicated to documentaries.” 

A key point of discussion was also the rise of regional cinema which has brought in different and wide ranging subjects into discussion. “Regional films have improved a lot. Films are not just a product; it is a genuine expression of one’s thoughts. We should encourage the production of regional films more, and make it global. And on whether we should focus on international film festivals, I would say that is not the final destination. Our audience is here, we need to make films for them,” he observed

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The 23rd International Film Festival of Kerala is being held from 7 to 14 December 2018 in Trivandrum.

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