Arjun Munda and Hemant Soren inaugurate the film festival at Ranchi Club on Wednesday. (Hardeep Singh)
Curtains went up on Suhana Safar — the first state sponsored film festival — in Ranchi on Wednesday amid a lot of promises by chief minister Arjun Munda but a lukewarm response from cine buffs. The festival is being organised by the state information and public relations department in association with the Directorate of Film Festivals.
The four-day event, which is scheduled to screen celluloid classics like Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali, Guru Dutt’s Pyaasa and Vijay Anand’s Guide, was inaugurated by chief minister Arjun Munda at the Ranchi Club.
Call it Munda’s charm or political following, the festival, which kicked off to a packed house, saw the numbers thinning after the chief minister and his entourage left and the actual screening of the films started.
Sujata Cinema, which has been chosen to screen all the films, was barely half filled when Raja Harischandra, the first Indian film (silent, 13 minutes) made by Dadasaheb Phalke began rolling on its screen.
The next film to be screened, Chandra Prakash Dwivedi’s Pinjar, attracted a slightly higher crowd, which was however way less than what had been expected.
However, the organisers put up a brave face and refused to read much into the thin crowd presence on Day One. They claimed that a select group of audience seriously interested in cinema had made their way to Sujata Hall on Day One.
“Film festivals are always like this. They are acclaimed by critics and appreciated by movie-lovers, but are not much of a crowd-puller,” said Arunava Majumdar, a retired government official who was present during the screening.
A select group of audience who understood cinema was much better than a house full of chirpy audience, he added.
Earlier during the inauguration, the chief guest at the occasion Munda announced that the government was mulling its options of floating a film development corporation and was also thinking of setting up a small-scale outdoor studio (a film city basically) near Patratu to encourage film production in the state.
He also promised to provide security as required by a film’s unit during the shoot and said that festivals such as this would be held on a regular basis from now on.
Echoing Munda, filmmaker Chandra Prakash Dwivedi said the scenic beauty of Jharkhand was sure to attract more producers.
Apart from Munda, deputy chief minister Hemant Soren, director of Directorate of Film Festivals Rajiv Jain and director general of SKIPA A.K. Pandey were also present.
Artists with the canvas on which chief minister Arjun Munda scribbled the word “Johar” with a paint brush during the inauguration of an art camp, which is being held simultaneously with the four-day film festival, Suhana Safar, at Ranchi Club on Wednesday.
As many as 21 painters from Jamshedpur, Dhanbad, Hazaribagh and Ranchi are taking part in the camp, which aims at raising a toast to 100 years of Indian cinema through paintings. The state information and public relations department is hosting the event.
Haren Thakur, a well-known artist, lauded the administration. “Usually, art and film festivals come hand in hand. This initiative of the state government is praiseworthy,” he said.
Each artist is required to create a painting on the theme, 100 years of Indian cinema. The works will be later handed over to information and public relations department on the concluding day.
“I am planning to depict how nudity in Indian cinema has taken over and art films have been relegated to the backdrop. However, more thoughts need to be incorporated in my painting as I am still in the preliminary stage,” Thakur said.
Ranchi-based Tarak Shankar’s strokes will tell the story of shooting locations, minus actors, over the years. Others like Umesh Mehta, Ujjawal Ghosh, Subroto Roy Choudhary and Manoj Kumar Sinha were no less elated to be part of the art camp.
And all of them agreed that the film fest compelled them to give a thought to Indian cinema and reflect on the myriad changes that swept it over the ages. “Depicting the Indian cinema on canvas requires a lot of thought and imagination,” said Dinesh Singh, an organiser of the art camp.