INTERVIEW WITH YC HALAN--PAST PRESIDENT OF DFS BY VKCHERIAN
1. How long you were in DFS and what made you join DFS?
I am a member of DFS since the mid-sixties. I continue to be its member as long it is alive as I am a life member.
I was in Roorkee at the Central Building Research Institute in early sixties. My uncle was the President of the Roorkee Film Society. I watched a Kurosawa film and realised how different it was. I was told that the best films, particularly non-commercial, from foreign countries were not shown in India. Also films from non-English speaking countries were never shown in India. Those were the days when foreign films were not freely allowed. Such films were brought in by the embassies and were routed through film societies. Film society movement was at its peak as the most persons like Mrs Usha Bhagat, Social Secretary to Mrs Indira Ghandhi and serious film buffs were interested in watching such films. Since these people were the most influential in the society, the best films from the best directors were brought in by embassies and shown to society members.
2. Which period were you in the leadership of DFS and what was the highlight during your period?
I was member, executive committee, Treasure, Secretary and President during the seventies and eighties. It was the period during which Gautam Kaul joined DFS when he was transferred to Delhi. John Joshua was the Secretray and Gopal the President. There was a intense politics between two groups of Vinod Mehra and Joshua. Vinod was the protégée of Mrs Mulay and was able to dislodge John and held control of it. Of films were shown to members.
The DFS was at its peak during the eighties and the best and the frequency of films shown was almost five to seven in a month. Slowly a message went around that uncensored films were shown and this attracted a large riff-raff to the film society. This was the beginning of the decline of DFS.
Later in the nineties the film society movement became dormant because of two reasons: the advent of TV and liberal import of films. The censoring policy also became libral.
3. What was the USP of DFS according to you? What kind of audience were you building?
The USP was the DFS was the elitist membership. Persons serious in films, particularly the appreciation part were members. Many of them became film makers like Pankaj Bhutalia, Gopi Gajwani and Singh (I am forgetting his first name. He was in railways). Many were politically and culturally powerful like Moulay. Bhagat and Kaul. Thastlese people ensured that only serious members joined DFS. This helped to build up a quality membership. It deteriorated fast as these persons left interested in DFS.
4. What was the largest membership of DFS according to you (in numbers)?
I do not exactly remember but I feel was never large. May be three to four hundred at the maximum.
5. Did you remember any VVIP visit during the shows, and if you who were they?
Not any VIP I can remember but on special embassy shows ambassadors joined the first day.
6. You said the application of Rajiv Gandhi to DFS, was rejected,, on what grounds..if you can recollect?
I do not remember why the membership was rejected. I only saw his name in the register of applicants. At that time the membership was after an interview. He may not have for the interview.
8. How do you see the decline of DFS...the reasons , trends
I hope I have given reasons above.
9. Looking back, did DFS serve the purpose of improving the taste of film goers?
It did but in a limited way. The very fact that many of members produced films, Gopi Gajwani was associated with New Delhi and other two names Bhutani and Singh directed and produced art and documentary films.
10.Also, what strata's of people used to be DFS members?..
Already explained above.