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These Three Speak Under Pressure

26 May, 2020 | Archival Reproductions by Magazine Reproductions
V Shantaram, Chandulal Shah and B N Sircar. Image Courtesy: Film India, February 1940

Film Journalists On Their Round Of Confessions From Producers

During the month, the members of the Film Journalists' Association of India, interviewed Mr. Shantaram of Prabhat, Sardar Chandulal Shah of Ranjit and Mr. Sircar of New Theatres Ltd.

We reproduce below their opinions on different problem of production, and as these men are very important in their field, readers will be interested in what they say.

Mr. Shantaram of Prabhat is the first one of face a battery of questions.

In a way, every man or woman is a born artiste. The success of the artiste essentially depends on the type of role he or she is cast in.
What is a good artiste Mr. Shantaram?

In a way, every man or woman is a born artiste. The success of the artiste essentially depends on the type of role he or she is cast in.

Do you know that several well known stars are dying to work under you? Don't you think that you should give them a chance or do you believe in training 'raw material' always?

I know that several good artistes would like to work with me and in return I would be only too pleased to work with them, because their inclusion would make my task easier. But my method of production varies very much from the one usually in vogue. I select my story first and then search for the cast. My choice is therefore limited by the demands of the story. I believe in top-notch artistes. But I must have a role to give them. Whenever I got a role for them I took them e.g. Durga Khote in "Amar Jyoti", Leela Chitnis in "Beyond The Horizon" etc.

Provincial Talkies
    
Why do you produce pictures in provincial languages? Don't you think that producers should scrupulously stick to Hindusthani Pictures?

I admit that Hindusthani pictures are essential for the ultimate evolution of a national language. But we are still in that stage where our people are not fully cinema conscious. It is easier to interest a virgin feild in its own provincial language than in Hindusthani which till a later stage remains an alien tongue. Once the people in this new field become film minded, it becomes easier to show them Hindusthani films later on.

The pictures in provincial languages therefore help to expand the field of exploitation.

What is a good picture. Mr. Shantaram? 

This is a difficult question which will perhaps be never satisfactorily answered in spite of numerous books written on it. I would however consider a picture good if it tells the story effectively.
Every good picture should take our society and nation a step towards progress. I believe in art but not merely for its own sake.
What do you think should be the purpose of a good picture?

Every good picture should take our society and nation a step towards progress. I believe in art but not merely for its own sake. Art must become the handmaid of a practical purpose and used as a beautiful drapery to present our massage to our people. If art and ambition are harnessed to a beautiful design, I am sure the film will fulfil a greater social purpose than it is doing now.

Pure Entertainment

What do you think of pictures for pure entertainment?

Is "pure entertainment" a fare for the blank mind? I feel that even the so-called "pure entertainment" must have a purpose that will take us a little further.

What part do the following factors play in the success of a picture: Story, Direction, Performances Technique and Publicity?

Hundred per cent. Each of these factors are of utmost and equal importance. Relatively, however, the story is of primary importance. A good story is the soul of a picture and putting it over naturally requires competent direction.
Is "pure entertainment" a fare for the blank mind? I feel that even the so-called "pure entertainment" must have a purpose that will take us a little further.

Sardar Chandulal Shah Hits Back

The second pitched battle between the film critics and the producing elements took place at the Ranjit Studios in Dadar.
"Do the critics know even the A.B.C. of film technique when they comment on films?" asked Sardar Chandulal Shah. "Which is also equally true of several producers and directors", retorted a critic.
"Do the critics know even the A.B.C. of film technique when they comment on films?" asked Sardar Chandulal Shah.

"Which is also equally true of several producers and directors", retorted a critic.

When told that the producers encouraged mercenary reviews in preference to impartial criticism, the Sardar pointed out that the film critics were often too hard in their criticisms and did not consider the numerous practical difficulties of film production in India.

What made you produce "Achhut" and why did you add a Gujrati version?

In producing "Achhut", for the first time, I set aside all commercial considerations. Years back when I was activcly working in the quarters of the untouchables for their uplift, the cruel and pathetic lot of these people had moved me so deeply that I had promised myself to produce  a picture someday which would bring their pathetic tale of agony before the eyes of the world. These mute victims of our social order needed the eloquence of a film to present their grievances.
In producing "Achhut", for the first time, I set aside all commercial considerations. Years back when I was activcly working in the quarters of the untouchables for their uplift, the cruel and pathetic lot of these people had moved me so deeply that I had promised myself to produce  a picture someday which would bring their pathetic tale of agony before the eyes of the world.
In Gujrat this untouchability problem is very intense and I felt that the conditions would not improve till the theme of the picture would be understood and felt by them in their own mother tongue and therefore you find "Achhut" in Gujrati.


Sircar-The Aristocrat

The third, in the series of these interviews was with Mr. B. N. Sircar, the Managing Director of New theatres Ltd., during his recent visit to Bombay.

The journalists were tickled at the idea of such a wealthy aristocrat being so deeply interested in film production and one of them inquired why Mr. Sirear preferred this troublesome business of film production when he had actually qualified himself as a Civil Engineer.
"Of course. I do not produce any pictures for the sake of my health" said Mr. Sircar and in stating so perhaps endorsed the general belief that film production is a very paying business and as such is worthy of the attention of even a wealthy aristocrat like him.
"Of course. I do not produce any pictures for the sake of my health" said Mr. Sircar and in stating so perhaps endorsed the general belief that film production is a very paying business and as such is worthy of the attention of even a wealthy aristocrat like him.

When asked what part he would take in the forthcoming Motion Picture Congress to be held in Calcutta. Mr. Sircar said that he would contribute his best efforts to make it a grand success and he hoped that people from Bombay and other centres would attend the sessions in large numbers.

Film Stars & Social status

Discussing the social status of film artistes, particularly those female stars to whom unfortunately a social stigma was attached because of birth or some other reason. Mr. Sircar said that they deserved the same position and respect which is commanded by people in other professions.
Discussing the social status of film artistes, particularly those female stars to whom unfortunately a social stigma was attached because of birth or some other reason. Mr. Sircar said that they deserved the same position and respect which is commanded by people in other professions.
"Even if others were unreasonably prejudiced against them," continued Mr. Sircar, "The producers ought to treat them well as colleagues and as artistes."

"Do you like your films to be criticized?" asked a critic.

"I can't say that I always like criticism" said Mr. Sircar, "but I believe in critics enjoying the privilege of independent criticism. Well meant criticism is always good. It might hurt one, but it improves one also."

Asked, what in his opinion would be a suitable subject for the overseas market, Mr. Sircar said that a picture of modern India that would portray the best in Indian culture.

This article is a reproduction of the original published in Film India, February, 1940.

 

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