Critically acclaimed actor Sanjai Mishra, whose upcoming film "Kaamyaab" will have its world premiere at the Busan International Film Festival in October, says with the digital boom the theatrical release of a film is becoming irrelevant for independent movies.
Explaining the thought behind his words, Sanjai told IANS here: "Since the release of a film is very expensive... for a small budget film, it is difficult to survive in the theatre if it does not get good show time and number of screens. The same film earns much better visibility once released on Amazon/Netflix or TV. So, I think the theatrical release of films is going out of fashion."
"Earlier watching a film was an event in itself. These days, the practice is going away unless it's a big canvas event film. Who wants to go to the theatre facing the bad road, traffic snarls and spend on such expensive tickets? Unless the government intervenes to limit the ticket price, the majority of the audience will opt for the digital platform."
"Kaamyaab", featuring Sanjai and Deepak Dobriyal, is an ode to all the character actors of the Hindi film industry who play an important part in many successful movies and remain unnoticed.
The term "character actor" annoys Sanjai to the core.
"I think calling an actor hero is to boost his ego and to give him self-satisfaction. And how do we project the hero in our mainstream films? Making him look his best, running after girls etc. If anyone is doing anything different, we are stereotyping them as 'performance-oriented role'.
"Acting is a performing art, isn't it?"
His films like "Masaan", "Ankhon Dekhi", "Angrezi Mein Kehte Hain" and "Kadvi Hawa" have travelled to various film festivals. What did he observe in the global audience about Indian cinema?
"I think people who come to watch our films at festivals, connect to the story at a universal level. That really gives them a chance to watch stories that show the mirror of our society, rooted in our culture and go beyond Bollywood," he said.
According to him, a majority of Indian audiences does not have the temperament to watch such films.
"The same film 'Kadvi Hawa' that was celebrated by the audience abroad, got a negative reaction from the Indian audience. People said 'Such a slow film', 'boring', 'not paisa wasool', 'time pass film' etc. I think the attitude towards film watching needs to be changed," said the 54-year-old actor.
Hardik Mehta has made his directorial debut with "Kaamyaab". So, from where did Sanjai gather the confidence to be a part of a debutant director's film?
"I am very happy to be a part of this film not only because the director is brilliant but also for the first time someone is making a story on 'character actors'. When Hardik came to me with the script, I was almost watching the film during the narration."
"Fortunately, the film panned out in the same way, so we made the film the way we conceived it. Also, Hardik and my wavelength are the same. So when the director and the actor are on the same page, a good film happens," said the actor, who is constantly trying to strike a balance between indie and commercial films.
"I never get a chance to earn money from these indie films. I satisfied the actor in me through these films. Big budget commercial films give me money to pay all my bills. Do I have a choice not to balance it?"
(Arundhuti Banerjee can be contacted at email@example.com)
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