A different take on My Name is Khan

A different take on My Name is Khan
Tuesday, February 16, 2010 12:21 IST
By Atul Pandey, Santa Banta News Network


Today and the last ten days make me extremely sad and take me back to June of 2008 when we were trying to release my first production 'Summer 2007' - a hugely socially relevant film that is based on perhaps the largest but most ignored issue of free India - rural poverty and farmer suicides, disproportionate distribution of national wealth.

The artistes and technicians involved were at least equally committed & passionate about the film and their careers, my money and intent too had similar significance (though i'd wish to believe more). Our dreams & hunger was surely larger and we all deserved it.

The film had everything. The Kalawati equivalent from Amravati, the Mohammad Yunus equivalent from Grameen bank, the reckless youth equivalents, the equivalent of pathetic state of rural medical centers, an equivalent of blood sucking politician and a landlord reincarnated as farms essential goods suppliers, an equivalent of some mad men who think they can change the world, the equivalents of naxals, of cops. Above all, it had the biggest problem that independent India faces.

The problem that has consumed more lives than terrorism has, or rioting has, or natural calamities have. It had everything that the government of the day puts on table while formalizing policies for the future.

It had everything but the support of the government (which will do nothing for anyone's cause unless there is political mileage involved), mostly the politicized media that thrives on shameless sensationalism and blatant favoritism, the spine less film fraternity that is governed by money bag carrying guys, who will seek support of everyone when they need it but will never help a genuine cause unless it is glamorized and well publicized.

Career of 12 amazingly talented new comers was at stake in addition to that of few established ones who were part of our film only because they wanted to contribute.

I ran from pillar to post to get if not decent than some release, if not decent than some media patronage, if not great than some national debate - I failed miserably.

I still recall I got tears in my eyes in my office on the day of the premier of the film at Fun Republic, I was so much in anger and anguish that I did not wish to attend the premier of my own first film.

I knew the fate of the film was already decided by the guardians of the industry - ironically few of the same guys who seek justice for themselves when faced release related problems.

Some big guys came to the premier. People spoke of getting political support, we never got it - the film perhaps would have been an embarrassment for the government at the time of the dicey vote of confidence in the parliament. I was naive, I tried for re-release, met many people many times till they started ignoring me.

My only hope was Festivals, Indian Panorama and perhaps National award.

Between significant and not so significant, we went to some 8-10 Indian and international film festivals, we got into Indian Panorama. But the national award ditched us.

Couple of months back the DFF had sent our film to Cairo international film festival as official entry under the socially relevant film category. As I said earlier as well, I was naive so I believed that we are the best film in the category.

I have nothing against ‘Jogwa, ‘A Wednesday' or ‘Rock On', but I think we were very strong claimants for the three of the awards these films won.

Obviously, we would not have won all 3 but 1 would have helped me from thinking that there is something called fair chance in this industry - in making money or getting famed or at least blessed with a chance to be just 'happy'.

I have nothing against MNIK, but is it fair that the career and dreams of talented newcomers is less important than 6 well established stars? Entire life's savings and borrowings of first time producer is less important than maybe 5% of a well established producer.

Hate me for writing this on the day when the cause of celebrations is victory of a different kind but for me today is one of my saddest days not because MNIK is won but because people like me have been told in unambiguous words that we don't matter, only clout, stardom and strength of resistance does.

The government has shown once again that whether it is the rural poor, peasants, any deprived class anywhere, it will standby the rich and the influential.

Whether it is the film maker or the farmer, poor farmer and small film maker will always suffer howsoever good cause he might be fighting for/working for. Freedom of expression must prevail. The society does not need selective attack of consciousness.
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