No. 9, E A temple street
Bangalore - 560 004
17/1, Shanthishree Industrial Complex
Rupena Agrahara, Hossur Road
Bangalore- 560 063.
SUB: THE DEATH OF ALEMAARI
This letter is to share with you the personal turmoil and frustration I am going through for having made the mistake of making a feature film 'Alemaari' for the bureaucratic Films Division, Government of India, being run under the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.
I would like to relate a brief background so that this letter is not mistaken as 'sour grapes' or a letter from 'just another frustrated' director.
When I made 'Deveeri' in 1999, a private distributor was invited to the screening. While viewing it he realized even with the famous Nandita Das as the lead, she was not 'Properly utilized' and that there were no revealing or sexy scenes. I might not have shown vulgarity, but he showed his true colors by walking out half way through the screening. After which Bharathi Gowda, the producer and myself released the film ourselves. It is to be noted that ' DEVEERI' had a very decent run of 50 days, in times when films made with multi- crores budget do not even succeed half as much.
Making a film is only fifty percent of the effort. The other half lies in promoting it and making sure people see it, be it in India or International. I am proud to say after the theatre run, Deveeri's print is being given freely to charitable organizations with the sole intention of wanting people to see it and to inculcate in them a taste for good, sensible films. Deveeri also participated/competed in 17 International film festivals and has won more than 9 State/ National and International awards.
When a director of any decent repute makes a film it is her/ his wish to screen the film in public theatres. Otherwise why would any one with an iota of sense cast popular and award winning actors such as Prakash Rai, Bhavana, Anu Prabhakar and Avinash in such a low budget film (Alemaari budget: 22 lakhs). A costume alone in a film such as Devadas cost more than the budget of my entire film!!
After completion of Alemaari in December 2001, I requested the Films Division, to make available a print to screen ' Alemaari' to a prospective distributor, but they ordered me to show it on a VHS cassette! The irony is that not even my family members or my friends have had the chance to view ' Alemaari' till date. It was a no-win situation in December 2001, as the last installment of the Alemaari had to come to us and I had to clear the lab bills etc and unless I submitted the print and everything else related to the film to the Films Division Bombay office, I would not get to pay the lab etc. Being optimistic I thought that I could always call for the print later. To date, apart from a few stills, I have nothing to show I ever made the film.
Coming to the point, after having wasted more than Rs. 20,000 on phone calls to Films Division and three months of my time, I have now learnt that the Films Division has not even bothered to send the application form for this years Karnataka State Film Awards.
I had sent across a duly filled form etc to them requesting them to submit the forms to the Information Department Karnataka before the deadline, which was the 20th of July 2002. On the 1st of August I learnt that the Films Division has sent the form but without signing on it and that they had not sent the required demand draft, a meager amount of Rs. 3,300. I would have paid and submitted the form myself but I am not authorized to do, as they are the sole right holders and producers of the film. I called enquiring about this lack of initiation, they told me that this being the salary time and they could not send the DD. I hung up the phone after having told them that a salary is waste for such lazy bunch of idiots. Apart from this at least 15 International film festivals have enquired and shown interest in viewing ' Alemaari', and I have filled the forms and reverted it to their office, but they have not replied back to any festival except The Asian Women's festival, London where it was screened in March 2002.
Now, I wonder why government agencies such as Films Division
- Make films at all?
- Waste precious taxpayers money if they do not intend the film to be seen or reach anywhere, not the people or the jury?