Give chance to independent filmmakers: Saeed Mirza

Kolkata, Feb 11 (IANS) Independent filmmakers in India should be given a chance and space to showcase their style of cinema, says Saeed Akhtar Mirza, award-winning director of the 1980 cult movie "Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyoon Ata Hai".

"Producers should give them a chance to show their ideas and cinematic style. Space should be made available for independent movies," Mirza, 69, told IANS in an interview here.

Mirza's independent filmography also includes gems such as "Naseem" (it won two national awards in 1996), "Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho" (1984) and "Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro" (1989) and cult TV show "Nukkad".

He praises directors Dibakar Banerjee and Qaushiq Mukherjee for making films such as "Khosla Ka Ghosla" and "Gandu".

"There is no space to show their work. Just give them a distribution network and they will get their worth. More people will watch and they will get enough of an audience and money to make the next film. When I made films, I had incredible freedom. Only distribution was a problem," he said.

Mirza also has an unfaltering faith on the average Indian film-goer.

"They are extraordinary! They think; they cry; they laugh; they sing with films. They should be given the chance to watch different kinds of films."

Besides independent films, space is also shrinking for regional cinema, he said.

"Regional cinema is very very important and should be given space. The space is shrinking," he said.

The problem, he said, lay with the world "narrowing down" and adopting a "tunnel" outlook.

"Freedom is not being curtailed but there is an atmosphere which has turned the world very narrow, chauvinistic, tunnelled. The broadness of spirit, of vision, of inclusiveness, and to be generous - that is decreasing. And all this comes with liberalisation. The irony is here," he said.

On changing nature of TV shows, he said: "'Nukkad' was made for that period of time. It wouldn't have fitted in today. There are a variety of serials on offer for different segments of viewers."

Mirza is also against dividing films into commercial and parallel genres.

"These are words coined by the press. As far as I'm concerned, there is a cinema with integrity and a cinema without integrity. That is the only difference," Mirza said.

He urged youth to make films they believed in.

"They can do path-breaking work. You must decide and believe in what you want to tell, to show the world and tackle it headlong. You have to have faith in your work. You don't have to make my kind of cinema. Make your kind of cinema," he said.

Mirza said he is currently writing a play on a time and space debate between Aryabhata and Copernicus.

(Sahana Ghosh can be contacted atsahana15ghosh@gmail.com)