CHENNAI, June 16, 2012
news story by B. Kolappan
Thr propaganda van of the Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers and Artists Association carrying projector and other materials for screening films on the streets. Photo: M. Karunakaran
Multiple screenings to mark a century of Indian cinema
Today, only some film-buffs might remember Avan Amaran, a film with strong Marxist moorings, highlighting the relentless struggle of the working class.
Released in 1958, after being subjected to massive editing by the Censor Board for its “strong political message,” the film failed to make a mark in the box office, despite a good story, excellent direction (by Veena S. Balachandar and Leftist producer S. Nagarajan) and an impressive cast.
And now, fifty four years after its release, the film will be screened again by the Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers and Artistes Association — however, not in theatres, but on the streets, in as many as 600 places all over the State.
“Not just Avan Amaran, beginning Saturday in Chennai, the Association will screen many short films, documentaries and world class films including Charlie Chaplin's comedies to mark the 100th anniversary of Indian cinema. As many as 1,500 of them will be screened in 15 days,” says S. Tamilselvan, president of the Association.
The film movement affiliated to the Association has already sent 15 copies of 25 short films and documentaries to be screened in 15 districts. Directors and producers of the short films and documentaries will be invited for discussions during the screening.
“Our objective is to create an audience for serious cinema. Every year, many good films are made out of individual efforts but they are not given any attention due to lack of patronage. We want to take the films to the people,” noted Mr. Tamilselvan.
The Association has in its possession over 500 movies in various languages that have made a mark across the world. Moreover, in every district, the Association has a bank of CDs and DVDs. Many of these will be screened during the next fortnight.
“There is no point in just blaming the film world for making B-grade commercial films. We have to inculcate a taste for alternative and serious film among the masses. This screening will go a long way in fulfilling such an objective,” Mr. Tamilselvan said.
Film director Karuna, who is also the co-ordinator of the film movement of the Association, said films had been classified to suit various sections.
“We will screen a different set of movies in schools and colleges, and a different variety on the streets,” he said.
The Association has good prints of some of the best Iranian and Chinese movies, besides films by Indian directors such as Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen and others.
“The Iranian movie, Children of Heaven, will be a feast for school children,” Mr. Karuna said. Akrinai, a short film on transgenders, Aarayatha Theerpu, which depicts the plight of members of the Irula community working in granite quarries, and Ezhumalai Jama, a film on ‘therukoothu' artistes will also be screened.