We’re there to help filmmakers: VS Kundu

Jyothi Prabhakar | TNN | 8 Apr 2013

TOI_FD_080413It was at the screening of a documentary on Kashmir on Friday, that we met VS Kundu, the current director general of the Films Division. We could somewhat understand the complaint of young filmmakers when they say that Films Division people are inaccessible, for, not many were aware that Kundu had taken over some 10 months ago. But a short conversation revealed, surprisingly, a very willing to speak bureaucrat.

The Films Division is said to be very unsupportive of indie and documentary filmmakers…

It is not that. Everyone inside the organisation now is thinking of how they can help them, support them, better the communication between all of us. I myself was surprised to know that many of them found the FD to be inaccessible. But we are working towards being more transparent, and being accessible. We’re there to help upcoming, young and independent filmmakers.

But of late, the Delhi FD has been holding premieres of only Bollywood films.

While that is true, what is also true is that this facility is available for hire. So when a Bollywood filmmaker comes to us for a screening, be assured that they also have to pay for it. And the same applies for any other filmmaker wanting to screen his or her work.

FD doesn’t promote even its own films…

It is true that we have not been making films that frequently, and not promoting them either. But that has somewhat changed over the last six months. We have been holding a festival of sorts, you can call it an FD films club, called the Fd Zone, that shows films every weekend. It includes indie films, documentaries and everything. Mainly, these are curated shows, and are being appreciated a lot. We haven’t gone all-out on the publicity yet, because we don’t have the funds for it, but we’ve taken to the social media network in a big way for publicity – we have a Facebook page, we’re on Twitter. The idea is to get lovers of films more choices – I know it is a small effort, but it is a start.

It is said FD’s distribution system is a mess; that you should get more into it

I understand that all upcoming filmmakers face the same problem – where to show the film after it’s made. The nexus of film distributors controls the industry. I have suffered the same dilemma of lack of choices when last Diwali, I wanted to take my family for a good movie – and I realised every theatre in town was showing only two films – Son of Sardaar and Jab Tak Hai Jaan. We need to create a ‘cinema’ based distribution system, and for that, we’re focussing on creating showcasing avenues. Our Fd Zone is slowly developing as a pan Indian network of film clubs – we have it in Chennai, Coimbatore, Thrissur, Trivandrum, Kolkata and Bangalore. Very soon we will be operative in Chandigarh. In Delhi, our own auditorium was under renovation, and to start it and close it wouldn’t have been right, so we’re waiting for the renovations to get over. We’re doing our best, but lack of funds is a major issue.

A government entity saying it has no funds is not really palatable

One has to understand that the government has different mechanisms for operating. There are a lot of checks and balances in place, and there is a particular way in which the government functions.

The Fd Zone was a new venture, started suddenly. But the 12th Five Year Plan was already in place by then, and any new scheme started midway does face this problem. But we are trying to spare funds for it from other ventures. Yes, we have a huge budget allocated, but we cannot make provisions suddenly, as that entire budget is planned for specific activities.

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