Ketan Mehta: Indian cinema yet to break out of regional ghettos

Published: Jul 19, 2019, 08:59 IST | PTI

Director Ketan Mehta said a handful of films, like Baahubali, are able to break the language and barrier.

Ketan Mehta: Indian cinema yet to break out of regional ghettos
Ketan Mehta

Indian cinema is not able to capitalise on its volume and is still divided in ghettos, filmmaker Ketan Mehta said on Thursday. The director said a handful of films, like Baahubali, are able to break the language and barrier.

"I think Indian cinema has still not managed to break out of the regional ghettos. European cinema travels all over Europe. In India, in spite of 70 years of Independence, we still haven't been able to talk to each other. How many Telegu films do I see, apart from 'Baahubali'? Maybe 10. Apart from film festivals, there is no way to see them.

"We are not able to take advantage of the kind of population that India has. So we have to break through this is regional ghetto. And men managed to communicate with each other, much more intensely than we have," Mehta said at a panel discussion during the Jagran Film Festival. Shobu Yarlagadda, the producer of "Baahubali", said one way to break into regional markets is through content-driven films.

"In south India, every state has a language. Tamil Nadu has Tamil, we have Telegu. But we don't cross over into each other. It is just 100 miles... We have grown up across the generations in silos, where we only appreciate or understand our very local film. 'Baahubali' could do it because of a very universal, friendly, Indian centric theme." Yarlagadda said there is a need for different film industries in Indian cinema to unite.

"If you try and push, even if it's smaller films, more into other markets, and people start getting used to it, then we would be able to break those barriers. That's the only way for Indian cinema to survive. We have to come together and become a larger market. Because we've been broken down into smaller markets, we don't have the power of scale, like China," he added. Mehta also spoke about the impact of digital medium in influencing the pattern of consumption in the Indian society.

"In my early days, cinema was the medium of communication. I believe that in the post-industrial era, the next battle is not for natural resources or land, it's actually about the mind space. It is about occupying and controlling the mind space. All these entertainment platforms are giving you entertainment in the pocket.

"Transformation has happened -- from big-screen extravaganzas that excited us, to the cinema being consumed on the phone. That is where the maximum amount of consumption is happening. There is a completely qualitative paradigm shift that is happening in the way we produce and consume the audio-visual medium," he said.

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