Onir’s open letter to Manish Tiwari on Independent Cinema

Filmmaker Onir writes to Shri Manish Tiwari, Minister for Information & Broadcasting, Government of India

Dear Sir,

As we all celebrate 100 years of Indian cinema this year, a few of us filmmakers like Anusha Rizvi, Shonali Bose and Onir had met you earlier this year, representing approximately 64 filmmakers who make films in diverse (11) Indian languages all over the country.
This was a gentle reminder that we had approached you with our petition ‘Save Indie Cinema’. We had also submitted the signatures of 20,000 supporters for our petition at change.org/saveindiecinema. This was (on the) 13th of December 2012.

You were kind and encouraging and also gave us your precious time to listen to the challenges we are faced with and reassured us that our demand for creating an independent space to screen National Award winning films and other independent films was justified and would be addressed in due course of time. Further to which, we continued our efforts by meeting with respected Joint Secretary, who was very kind and said we should aim for at least 10 theatres this year and keep a vision for 60 in the next five years.

We were happy to have at last met a minister who recognized and understood the need to support good cinema along with senior officers who shared that zeal. It seemed like the best way to celebrate 100 years of indie cinema in India.

This was to bring to your notice that since then, months have passed and all our efforts remain unanswered. Our emails remain unanswered and the meetings just lead to another set of meetings. There was always something else that was more important.

On the day of the National Film Awards, you had announced that the Mahadev Road theatre (in Delhi) would be the first one to be converted into a space for screening independent cinema. You were cheered and celebrated. We would like to believe that the announcement was for real.
In 1961, when India celebrated the Tagore centenary, there was a visionary minister who passed a policy that every state capital will have a Tagore Mancha/Kendra that becomes a space for performing arts. We were expecting that kind of vision from you Sir.

Doordarshan announced a slot called “the Best of Indian cinema”, a 10pm slot meant to promote good films. But once again, films with an ‘A’ certification will not be shown. So some of the best films of the country are once again damned to be kept away from the underestimated mature audience of this country and rust in cans, doomed to be forgotten. Secondly, documentary films that are so vital in preserving our history, and showcasing various aspects of our country and people, are kept out of this special slot. We genuinely applauded the move but when we raised our concerns for our fellow documentary filmmakers, the DD officials called us “cry baby”. Is this the respect a filmmaker gets in the 100th year of Indian cinema? Can’t we have a dialogue and everything not be taken personally.

Do the voices of 64 filmmakers including Oscar nominees/winners and 28 National Award-winning filmmakers mean nothing to you sir?

We are in the second week of the ninth month of 2013. Will you not personally take an initiative regarding this Sir? We would also request you to sanction funds for our Delhi travel as independent film makers we have already made many futile trips to Delhi. Best regards.

Yours,

Onir

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