Indian cinema has become a global enterprise: Patil

NEW DELHI: President Pratibha Devisingh Patil today said even as cinema was a very powerful medium for conveying messages, this imposed a great responsibility on everyone associated with the film industry to look at how the power of cinema can be used to do good for society through the portrayal of attitudes that help in building tolerant and harmonious societies.

"It is important that the entertainment sector includes value-based ideals and points of view, which can motivate viewers to aspire for higher and nobler goals in their lives," Patil said.

Speaking after presenting the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for 2007 for lifetime contribution in cinema to legendary singer Manna Dey and the 55th National Film Awards for 2007, Patil said: "Cinema should not only be a source of popular entertainment for families and individuals, but also a vehicle for social change. It has a deep impact on people as they watch how social evils like child marriage, dowry and drug addiction can destroy a life or how a good deed can bring out the gentler side of a human being or how we can help the disadvantaged and differently-abled to live a life of dignity."

She said films can fulfill a very important role in making individuals compassionate and acting as emotional integrators in society, and expressed confidence that the film fraternity will continue to understand this responsibility in its fullest sense.

Paying a laudable tribute to Manna Dey who received a standing ovation as he went up to receive his award, she said: "With the passage of time, change is inevitable. In our times change is rapid and likely to become faster in coming times. However, even in the midst of change there are talents that have a quality of touching the very core of a human being. Such works carry in them the essence of eternality and are appreciated across generations. Manna Dey is a singer par excellence, popular for his rendition of film music over more than four decades."

She said not only did Dey‘s discography of more than 3500 songs include those which he sang for films, but also a formidable non-film repertoire. The magic of Dey was also the consummate ease with which he could bridge Hindustani classical music and popular music. "Generations of Indians perhaps shall never forget the songs sung by him," she added.

She said Indian cinema had become a global enterprise in the "rapidly improving technology has helped the industry to upgrade itself as also to radically alter the manner in which cinema reaches the audience."

Indian cinema had found a market in a large number of countries. Increasingly, Indian filmmakers were entering international film festivals and are being recognized through awards. "This is a good example of how India‘s soft power can help project the nation around the world. We have a rich and varied cultural heritage that has been and continues to be a very significant base for telling the world the story of India - a nation whose history goes back many millennia, a nation that occupies an important place in the contemporary world and a nation whose future holds great promise," she said.

She noted that facilities for film production in the country have also been improving and some of them are even of the highest quality in the world. Prominent Indian enterprises are also participating in producing and distributing films around the world. Music in Indian cinema is popular in many countries and helps in generating goodwill for India, she added.

In her speech, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni announced that a panel was being formed to make the National Film Awards more contemporary and focused.

She said cinema was a vibrant medium which transcended linguistic borders. She said Indian cinema was now moving in new areas.

Earlier, filmmakers Sai Paranjpye and Ashoke Viswanathan, and writer Namita Gokhale presented their reports as chairpersons of the Feature, Non-Feature and Book juries.

Paranjpye noted that masses had grown up and did not accept simplistic cinema full of clichés, and noted that even meaningful cinema could be popular. Viswanathan said it was important that the short film format had survived the onslaught of the ‘bombardment of a Niagara of visuals from the Internet.’ Gokhale supported the interaction between literature and cinema.

Renowned singers Shankar Mahadevan and Shreya Ghoshal rendered the songs for which they won awards today – the ‘Meri Ma’ song from ‘Taare Zameen Par’ and ‘Yeh Ishq Haaye Jannat Dikhaye’ from ‘Jab we met’.

Manna Dey was accompanied by his wife. Other important dignitaries who received awards included Yash Chopra on behalf of his son Aditya, Sonam on behalf of her father Anil Kapoor, Prasoon Joshi, Dr Jabbar Patel and Feroze Abbas Khan.

Films from the South have romped in major awards at the 55th National Awards, but Hindi cinema dominated the 55th National Film Awards with as many as 17 honours.

While Priyadarshan‘s offbeat Tamil film Kanchivaram walked away with the best feature film, director Adoor Gopalakrishnan was adjudged the best director for Malayalam film Naalu Pennungal.

Malayalam films, in fact, won six awards, Tamil films five awards, and Kannada, English, Marathi and Bengali films bagged two honours each.

Shah Rukh Khan starrer Chak De! India got the award for Best Popular film providing wholesome entertainment.

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