Regional films don't have audiences: Jahnu Barua

N0ew Delhi, March 9 (IANS) Inefficient marketing strategies, incompetent distribution, lesser number of screens, language difficulties and viewers' lack of interest are major roadblocks in the growth of regional cinema, acclaimed filmmaker Jahnu Barua said Saturday.

"I feel the main reason behind the decreasing number of regional films is the lack of interest and awareness," Barua said.

"It's the mainstream cinema that sells today. Regional films don't have audiences. For example, an Assamese film is only watched by the northeastern people. Even if it is dubbed in other languages, it requires right promotion, marketing and distribution. Only then would a common man would know about it," he added.

Barua spoke at a group discussion on the state of regional cinema and its growth in the country. The discussion, organised by as part of the Infocom-Assocham EME Awards 2013, also saw participation by Bhojpuri actors Ravi Kishan and Rinku Ghosh and composer Pandit Durga Prasad Majumdar.

The much-awarded Assamese filmmaker, who has helmed films like "Xagoroloi Bohu Door" and the Hindi movie "Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara", recollected one of his past struggle with an Assamese film he made over two decades ago.

"I remember I had made an Assamese film called 'Halodhia Choraye Baodhan Khai' in 1987. It was made with a budget of Rs.11 lakh. I remember how much I had to struggle to find distributors.

"No one was ready to accept it here in India because it was an Assamese film. Later, a European agency saw it, translated it in varied languages and it earned me more than Rs.3 crore. So it's all about right marketing and creating awareness about the subject."

Barua stressed that there is a dire need to change people's mindset.

"I feel every film has a cinematic value and it shouldn't be ignored by putting it under the category of regional films. Every film is a piece of art. What matters the most is how a filmmaker narrates a story and holds the audience.

"Nowadays, Hindi films with high budgets and big star casts sell, but it's high time that regional films should also be promoted and showcased at national and international film festivals," he said.

He also rued how the viewership of audiences is region-specific.

"If a Bengali makes a film, it is watched only by Bengalis. A Gujarati or Assamese wouldn't watch it. That's the main point where we have to stress," he added.

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