Mumbai: He has a celebrated indie film “Titli” behind him as his directorial debut, but Kanu Behl feels such films are fighting tooth-and-nail to get a proper theatrical release despite there being an audience for it.
“Titli”, featuring actors Ranvir Shorey, Amit Sial, Shashank Arora, was co-produced by Dibakar Banerjee and Yash Raj Films.
Kanu feels today the market is such that it is getting “tougher and tougher” for independent films to be profitable at the box office.
“It is a great time because audience’s tastes are rapidly changing. We get a very strong sense that conventional is not working anymore. So, that is a really encouraging sign, audiences are going ahead to experience different kind of films,” Kanu said in an interview.
“But also the commerce, the whole jingbang around making a film is also changing. It is becoming tougher and tougher for smaller indie fair to make sense commercially.”
According to the director, the online space has opened up a whole new avenue for filmmakers, but even that is not such a viable option as it is ultimately a theatrical release which will ensure a film getting a wide viewing.
“Thankfully the digital space seems to be opening out, giving some breathing space to smaller films. I think the greatest challenge is how not to accept the death nail for indie, as far as the theatrical release goes.
“I think that is the biggest challenge, how indie films, which have a voice, still manage to find an audience because a theatrical release is still the largest way to get to an audience here, not the digital space. I think it is really a big cause of concern.”
Kanu’s directorial debut premiered in the Un Certain Regard section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and went on travel to several renowned film festivals across the globe, before finally having a theatrical release in 2015.
When asked if film festivals help create an awareness about smaller movies, Kanu agrees but feels adding that they don’t “help the survival of a filmmaker.”
The solution according to him, is government stepping in and providing some institutional support which will help directors tell their stories through the medium of cinema which is cost-heavy.
“Since filmmaking is such a cost intensive art, it is really important to have institutional support which in the broader times we live in, we see it actually shrinking.
“You don’t know where it is going overall at a larger scale. I truly think institutional support is something which we are overlooking.”
The filmmaker was part of a special event at the recently concluded 18th Jio MAMI Mumbai International Film Festival with Star.