Students queue up before Sujata Cinema in Ranchi for the screening of Halo on Friday. (Prashant Mitra)
The start may have been slow, but Suhana Safar — a four-day film festival to raise a toast to 100 glorious years of Indian cinema — is more than making up for the poor turnout on Day One.
The crowd continued to swell on the penultimate day of the first state government- sponsored film festival on Friday with school students, Bhojpuri and Santhali film lovers and connoisseurs of old classics flocking to Sujata Miniplex to catch six films.
“Ranchi is not a Santhal belt. So yes, I had not expected such an overwhelming response to my film,” said Dasharath Hansda, director of Sita Nala Re Sagun Supari (Santhali), which was screened at the small hall of Sujata cinema to a packed house in the morning.
The audience, mostly Santhals, were more than elated to watch a film in their own language. “This is the first time that I watched a Santhali film on the big screen. It was a wonderful experience,” said student Suman Mandi, who had come from West Singhbhum’s Baharagora along with her friends.
Students, who had turned up in large numbers, also loved Santosh Sivan’s award winning 1996 children’s film Halo. The touching story revolves around the life of a seven-year-old girl Shasha and her pet dog Halo.
“I loved Sasha’s character and the way she loved a street dog,” beamed Ichcha Kumari, a student of Jagannathpur Madhya Vidyalaya.
The more serious kind, however, waited for Guru Dutt’s Pyasa, Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Anand (1971) and Kundan Shah’s Jane Bhi Do Yaron, which were screened later during the day.
Among them, Anand turned out to be the major crowd puller.
Though announced as late as on Thursday, Bhojpuri film Ganga Maiya Tohe Piyari Chadaibo (1963) also drew a decent crowd.
“We always wanted to include a Bhojpuri film in the list but did not manage to procure the proper clearances on time. We screened it as soon as we got the nod from the Directorate of Film Festivals,” said Alok Gupta, director of state information and public relations department.
However, Ganga Maiya Tohe Piyari Chadaibo’s gain was a Tamil film’s loss as the screening of Mani Ratnam’s Kanathil Muthamital was scrapped to make space for the Bhojpuri classic.
“The decision was taken seeing Ranchi’s sizeable number of Bhojpuri speaking population,” Gupta explained. A number of competition for students on various film-based themes and a discussion too was held during the day’s events on Friday.