Tuesday 28 September 2021

News Analysed, Opinions Expressed

Culture | Film

Why is the Goa Govt treating Konkani Cinema as ‘Kaajro’; a bitter tree?

 

Do you know how the Goa government treats the local Konkani or Marathi cinema, which wins the prestigious National Award instituted by the Government of India? Make them desperate and completely frustrated for their rightful government funding, so that Goan filmmakers don’t dare to produce another quality film.

Added to this list now is Kaajro (bitter tree), the Konkani film that ‘bagged’ the prestigious National Film Award for 2019. The award-winning producer will have to now stand in a queue, as a ‘beggar’. 

Incidentally, producer of Kaajro, Rajesh Pednekar, is not a new ‘beggar’. He is already in the queue, who has not been paid for K Sera Sera, which had won the national award in 2017.

Dinesh Bhosle is another filmmaker, whose two Konkani films bagged national awards, Enemy?  for the year 2015 and Amori for 2018. 

Other prestigious Konkani films lined up by the insensitive authorities for the last seven years are Baga Beach (2013) directed by Laxmikant Shetgaonkar and Nachom-ia Kumpasar by Bardroy Barreto (2014).

“In fact me and Laxmikant met all the concerned authorities possible, from Entertainment Society of Goa to the Director of Information and even the Chief Secretary. We are still waiting for them to fulfill their ‘firm’ assurances”, says Bhosle. 

The film Kaajro, written by Dr Prakash Parienkar, has a dialogue. Leaves of the tree Aapto are distributed as ‘gold’ during Dasro festival and fruits of Kaajro are bitter. But the forest or the mother nature doesn’t discriminate against them. The one who discriminates against is a human being. 

Right now, the Goan filmmakers are being treated by the ‘human beings’ in Goa administration in a most ‘inhuman’ manner, as if Konkani (and local Marathi) cinema is a tree of Kaajro while the Goa government spends crores of rupees on IFFI and other film festivals, as if they are the trees of Aapto. 

THE PLIGHT OF THE GOVT SCHEME

The Goa government has a Scheme of Financial Assistance for Films, which is now handled by the Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG). It provides 50% financial assistance to the locally produced films - non-feature as well as feature - with a limit ranging between Rs three lakh to Rs 50 lakh in different categories. 

In addition, Rs 7000 is paid per show up to 100 screenings (means Rs seven lakh), Rs five lakh if the film is screened at the international film festivals recognised by FIAPF, Rs 20 lakh if the film bags National Award and Rs one crore if it wins Oscar award. 

In order to scrutinise the applications and approve the films for the financial scheme, a finance committee is constituted, headed by the Chief Secretary. 

ESG Vice Chairperson Subhas Phaldesai admitted while talking to goanews.com that the finance committee has not met for the last five years. The last meeting was held in 2016.

And no new applications for the finance scheme are invited since then. 

According to information given by Phaldesai, 23 films had applied for the period of 2011 to 2015, out of which expenditure of 50% was released to nine films by the finance committee. Queries were raised for five films in two meetings and the third meeting is yet to be held.

“Out of Rs five crore sanctioned for this period, Rs three crore were released. Besides the pending Rs two crore, an additional amount of Rs three crore was budgeted this year. Funds is not the issue, The meetings could not be held due to Covid19”, said Phaldesai. 

In fact the file reportedly kept on shuttling between the Information Department and the Chief Secretary, debating upon who should convene the meeting of the finance committee. And a fortnight ago, the file has come to the ESG, asking them to convene the meeting. 

“But our new CEO Tarik Thomas is also the urban development secretary and he is right now busy with municipal elections”, says Phaldesai helplessly. 

Even if the meeting is convened after elections, the finance committee would decide about those five pending films, which were produced till 2015, not the films produced in the last six years, unless new applications are invited.

THE FRUSTRATED FILMMAKERS

Dinesh Bhonsle

Dinesh Bhosle, who won a national award for his Konkani film Enemy? today wonders who the real enemy of Konkani cinema is. 

While Rs 37 lakh of his six-year old film is not released till date, he has not been able to submit his papers for last year’s award-winner Amori because the applications are not being invited for.

“How can you expect quality films in Konkani if we are treated like dirt by these people”, asks the normally soft-spoken filmmaker. 

Bardroy Barreto

Bardroy Barreto’s seven-year old Nachoi-am Kumpasar not only bagged three National Awards and several awards internationally but even made an initial entry at the nomination stage for Oscars, a proud moment for all Goans. 

While his budget was Rs 4.25 crore, he could get only Rs 50 lakh towards the production. The rest of around Rs 30 lakh for the awards and international screenings is still lying wrapped up in the red ribbon by indifferent Babus. 

In fact Barreto takes a step ahead of the lackluster attitude of the authorities of sitting over releasing the funds in time. 

“The real ‘recovery’ for a filmmaker is when the maximum number of people watch the film. We had shown a path to make Konkani films viable by screening it at ESG’s Maquinez Palace in Panaji and Ravindra Bhavan in Madgao. But the ESG has suddenly hiked the rentals while the non-functional projector at Ravindra Bhavan is still not being replaced. This shows clearly how much concerned the government is about the future of Konkani cinema”, says Barreto.

To everybody’s surprise, he had over 400 housefull screenings of Nachom-ia Kumpasar at the 232-seater Maquinez Palace and 125 screenings at Ravindra Bhavan, Madgao with a capacity of 1064 seats.  It means over two lakh people watched the film.

Rajesh Pednekar

Rajesh Pednekar, producer of K Sera Sera and Kaajro, fully agrees with his colleague Barreto. “What has the ESG achieved by hiking its rentals and leaving the auditorium idle since then”, he asks angrily. 

He is still waiting to get released Rs 77 lakh for his four-year old award-winning film K Sera Sera. And because it was not recovered till date, he decided to go for a low budget film like Kaajro, the experiment of uncut film being applauded at national level.

“This would ultimately kill the creativity of Goan artists. The only achievement of ours in the films would be organising film festivals successfully, be it the Marathi film festival or the IFFI”, he says with disgust. 

Laxmikant Shetgaonkar

According to Laxmikant Shetgaonkar, no A grade film can be produced without a budget of two to four crores. His eight-year old Baga Beach with a budget of Rs three crore got merely Rs 50 lakh from the government. The impatient long wait for the rest Rs 37 lakh including Rs 20 lakh for the national award, which is meant for ‘encouragement’  has turned out to be a big ‘discouragement’.

“Such an apathy would ultimately result in Goan filmmakers either going to the Bollywood to struggle and survive or producing Marathi films, which are well-supported by the Government of Maharashtra. The Marathi film industry is prospering precisely because of this proactive support”, he points out. 

Shetgaonkar is sitting over his new film Bhavarth, based on a powerful theme of religious conversion, for want of funds for the last three years.

Miransha Naik

In fact Miransha Naik, who made waves internationally with his Konkani film Juze, has finished shooting last week his next film Vaat (the Path), but in Marathi. He is still waiting for applications to be invited, for his  film produced way back in 2015, to partially recover what he spent on Konkani film Juze

“I have given up on Konkani films. There are good schemes for Marathi films in other states as well as OTT platforms. Konkani film is being killed ruthlessly in Goa”, says Miransha out of desperation. 

Precisely as Shetgaonkar predicted, this young and amazingly creative filmmaker has discovered a new Vaat (the path), simply because the government has spoiled (वाट लायल्या) all the prospects of quality filmmaking in Goa.


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