In this interview, Ravinder Bhakar talks about his grand vision to transform the NFC; Satyajit Ray Cinema Fest organized on the occasion of Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav; the growing importance of film festivals and upcoming NFDC projects.
These are exciting times for the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC), which finds itself on the cusp of a major transformation with Ravinder Bhakar at the helm. The 1999 Batch Officer of Indian Railway Stores Service (IRSS), who is the CEO of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), was given the additional charge of NFDC as Managing Director.
During his illustrious career as an Indian Engineering Services officer, Bhakar has a wealth of experience holding many prominent positions in Indian Railways. He is also the recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Ministry of Railways National Award for Outstanding Service and the Western Railways (WR) and Central Railways (CR) General Manager’s Award for Exemplary Service. He also played a key role in various modernization efforts in WR and CR and was closely associated with the development of modern public relations techniques, the implementation of electronic procurement, the formulation of various multimodal logistics plans and to transport management.
In this interview, Bhakar talks about his grand vision for the transformation of the NFDC, Satyajit Ray’s Cinema Fest held on the occasion of Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav as part of the legendary filmmaker’s birth centenary, rising prominence film festivals and upcoming NFDC projects, including India. – Bangladeshi co-production directed by Shyam Benegal entitled “Mujib – The Making of a Nation”.
Q. Tell us about Satyajit Ray’s Cinema Fest. Could you please share some numbers that can give an idea of its reach/attendance?
A. On the occasion of Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, it is a great honor for us to celebrate the birth centenary and roll out a special gallery at the National Museum of Indian Cinema in tribute to the legendary filmmaker. People have seen Ray’s movies in one form or another, but this time we’ve invited Ray lovers for our hand-picked package on the big screens in select theaters for free.
There was an overwhelming response at the film festival. The public had fun and enjoyed the festival. Over 5,000 people attended the screenings and activities of 15 films chosen by Satyajit Ray Fest across the six venues – Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune and Bengaluru.
Q. On the occasion of the commemoration of the centenary of the birth of Satyajit Ray, what is your view of the cinematographic heritage of the filmmaker?
A. Ray’s films are world famous. It’s always a learning experience to watch his films. We are happy to be part of the great celebrations of the centenary of the birth by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. It is indeed a pleasure to hold the film festival at the National Museum of Indian Cinema as well as the new Ray Gallery in the state-of-the-art museum.
Q. As part of the festival, Satyajit Ray’s semi-permanent gallery was also inaugurated. Tell us about the vision behind it.
A. On the occasion of the centenary of Ray’s birth, we wanted to make him special and bring his works to ordinary people. The gallery was supposed to be done earlier, but due to the pandemic things got delayed. Nevertheless, we are having it inaugurated and everyone, cinephile or not, must visit the Museum and be inspired by its works. He was a visionary person who brought laurels to the nation. National Council of Science Museums (NCSM) Kolkata has once again done a good job.
Q. How do you see the growing importance of film festivals, especially given the impact of the pandemic?
A. With the pandemic and the evolution of technology, film festivals around the world have been affected. Their importance to featured films has become more relevant. Most festivals are now held online and in person. It made the films wide and distant. Online festivals have helped most filmmakers connect with each other without being physically present at festivals too quickly.
Q. Satyajit Ray’s Cinema Fest kicked off with “Aparajito,” directed by Anik Datta. What is the film about and why the title “Aparajito”?
A. ‘Aparajito’ is a tribute to maestro Ray on the occasion of his centenary of birth. The film celebrates Ray’s “undefeated” (Aparajito) spirit when he was shooting his first film. The movie character is also named Aparajito Ray and hence the title. The film is inspired by the direction of “Pather Panchali” by Satyajit Ray. In this movie, a character called Aparajito Ray aka Apu makes a movie called “Pather Podaboli”.
Q. As Managing Director of NFDC, what are your main priorities/focus areas to usher in a new era of cinema in India?
A. We are a film development organization mandated to promote Indian cinemas. As a result of the merger, NFDC will become a fully integrated film development company which will be empowered to enable the growth of the Indian film industry, through the development, production, distribution and marketing of all forms of films in various Indian languages.
Our priority is to leverage emerging technologies, especially digital media, including our own OTT platform www.cinemasofindia.com to help solidify our international positioning as a producer of culture-supported Indian films. We would also prioritize co-production and financial support for filmmakers and encourage global players to shoot in India. Emphasis is placed on improving the conduct of national and international film festivals organized by the society, as they bring together storytellers and people associated with filmmaking from various parts of the world under one roof and promote and enjoy talent and various other aspects. the cinema. We will also strengthen the departments of Skill Development, Commissioned Production, Media Planning and Social Media to consolidate our position with various central and state government departments. The activities of NFAI, Pune and its restoration program will be handled with utmost care and attention in achieving preservation of film content. The NFAI Film Circle will be designed as a pan-Indian film circle program that will target schools and colleges across India. The activity will be designed to capitalize on students’ natural interest in films and use the medium as a tool for disseminating social and aspirational values, nation building and as a medium for art. Regular collaboration and interaction with the film industry to broaden the collection base of the National Museum of Indian Cinema (NMIC) besides giving it more acceptability among the fraternity is also an important step in the priority.
Q. What can we expect from NFDC?
A. The NFDC recently completed the production of four feature films during the pandemic and two films are ready (“Chhaad” – Bengali and “Korangi Nunchi” – Telugu) and two others are in post-production (“Josephki Macha” – Manipuri and “Mujib” – Bengali). Our main project is “Mujib – The Making of a Nation”, which is an Indo-Bangladeshi co-production. We plan to promote them at major festivals. In addition, we are open to new productions and calls for applications are open for animation series within the framework of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav. NFDC India will see a transformation and deliver a new comprehensive 360 degree view in the M&E sector.