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Sanjay Leela Bhansali On Gangubai Kathiawadi Going To Berlin

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Gangubai Kathiawadi

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s epic saga  of  a true-life female gangster Gangubai Kathiawadi is going to the Berlin Film Festival  in  February 2022

Barely able to contain his  excitement Sanjay Bhansali  in an exclusive  chat with this  writer said, “Not since the  time when my Devdas went to Cannes  have I felt this  level of enthusiasm for my cinema  being honoured  internationally. The Berlin Film Festival is  one of  the  best platforms  for international cinema. Our film will be screened  in the  very prestigious  Berlinale Special Gala section. I don’t know how many Indian films prior to this, have been screened in this  section. But I’m am glad  a mainstream  Indian film will make its way to this posh platform.”

Berlin International Film Festival’s Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian said in a statement: “We are happy to premiere Gangubai Kathiawadi and continue the tradition of the Berlin Film Festival being a special setting for Indian movies. This time with a film that joins the usual craft in shaping camera movement and the choreography of bodies with a subject that is socially relevant, not only in India. From the very beginning we were taken by the story of Gangubai, an exceptional woman dragged into exceptional circumstances.”

Says Bhansali, “Coming  from a cinephile of Carlo  Chatrian’s standard this  is  very high praise.I don’t know  why our  mainstream films  are  not sent  to international film  festivals. Normally it is  those esoteric arthouse films that are sent  to interntional festivalwGangubai  Kathiawadi is a   celebration of  mainstream cinema. It is dark yet flamboyant. It is  my most restrained work  to date.”

Sanjay Leela Bhansali feels it is time more  of our films ensure a wider viewership  the worldover.  “Any Indian film representing our country abroad which creates an impact, makes a difference to the way  our cinema is perceived  internationally Today  when  we look at Lagaan  we feel it  created a space abroad for Indian cinema.  We now  feel our content style and mood of moviemaking are being given a fair chance abroad.”

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  Bhansali feels   it is  the masters  of Indian cinema who paved the way for  a filmmaker like  him.  “Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen and Shahji Karun did get our cinema recognition.  At the same if  a new  film is  selected for an  international festival  it  isn’t necessarily because of those other films and filmmakers who gained international recognition earlier on.”

  So what according  to Bhansali is  the key to acceptance of  Indian  films abroad? “I think our cinema is being appreciated for  its melodramatic warmth. Even in the West people are  now eager to express themselves more openly . They aren’t  abashed by  open expressions of emotions. Indian films exude a lot of warmth. At a  time when the world is clogged with bitterness it’s reassuring to experience a cinema where the smallest of  emotions matter. Also  Indian cinema is celebratory  in mood. There’s a song for every occasion. That’s   again a novel experience for Western viewers. Filmmakers like Steven Spielberg   are  now attempting  the  musical  style that we have embraced  from time immemorial.  Indian films have their own distinctive  stamp and audiences out there find them great fun to watch. That why they good humoredly call us Bollywood. You and I may hate the term. But that’s how Indian cinema is going to be known for a long time. When I showed Hum…. Dil De Chuke Sanam in Berlin they called it  a ‘dancycle’. They were  thrilled to see the musical celebration  of universal emotions.”