Interview with Sudhir Nandgoanker. PCM- Mumbai.
By VK Cherian
Question 1 – When was Prabhat Chitra Mandal (PCM) Film Society Established?
and who were initial team and their involvement with films?
Answer: Prabhat Chitra Mandal was established in 1968 by group of 5 film
Critics. Shri Vasant Sathe English writer on cinema was the President
and Sudhir Nandgaonkar as General Secretary. All the film critics were
professional critics involved in writing various Marathi daily & weekly
news papers. Name of the Film Society Prabhat was given to
cherish the memory of Prabhat Film Co. lead by V.Shantaram in 30’s
early and 40’s.
Question 2 - How was the first 10 years in terms of membership numbers and
funding? (Membership fee etc...)
Answer: Prabhat started initially with 30 members but within 3 months
membership reached to 200. Membership fee was just Rs. 36/- per
annum. Slowly we gain grounds and confidence of members due to
our programming and selection of foreign films. We celebrated first
anniversary with festival of Prabhat Films. V. Shantaram
inaugurated it. Our programming was so strong that we were
choosing new films to celebrate anniversary day. The films released
after our show. Since founders were journalists; we got good
support from News papers in Mumbai and we celebrated 10th
Anniversary with the package of top 10 films from Sight & Sound
Magazine. Then I & B Minister Shri L K Advani inaugurated the
festival and Seminar on censorship. Many stall warts from film
industry viz. Raj Kapoor, Shyam Benegal, B R Chopra and others
participated in seminar which was grand success.
Question 3 – Mumbai had too many film societies and how did PCM establish a
place for it self
Answer : During 70’s Mumbai was having 18 film societies. Film Forum was
strongest with 1500 members. However, after the departure of
Basu Chatterjee and Arun Kaul Film Forum started dwindling.
We started our full fledge office thereby we could serve our
members better. This resulted in getting more members. Of course
strong programming participation in film festival Prabhat stood
first. It has surpassed the other film societies in 1992 by
organizing 27 films of Satyajit Ray to mark his Oscar Award. We
got financial support from Govt. of Maharashtra for Ray Film
Festival. By the time Film Forum was closed down.
Question 4 – What was the highest membership and when also what was the
lowest membership and when? The current membership and
activity levels – screenings per month, quarter, festivals etc... (Can I
get initial members, membership after decade and membership
Answer : We were screening our films Mini Chitra where the capacity was 80
seats. So for two shows we have 250 members beyond that we could
not enroll members. There was waiting list for membership.
However, after the advent of color T.V. in 1984 even the audience
was reduced for commercial cinema so also membership of film
society. Prabhat had only 150 members. Slowly, craze for T.V. died
down after the advent global economy and more channels. On the
juncture we organized Ray festival and enrolled 700 members. The
venue was Y B Chavan Centre Auditorium with 625 capacity. 700
was the highest membership of Prabhat?
Initially - 250 members
1984 – 90 - 150 members
After 1992 - 700 members
Present - 500 members
Currently we are screening 3 films every month. Due to
technological advance screenings are on DVD. Every six months we
will have festival. Besides that one day Appreciation Course,
Monthly study group and release book on cinema. More over, last 20
years Prabhat is publishing monthly magazine called
‘Vastav Roopwani’. The magazine has subscribers from all over
Maharashtra besides its own members.
Question – 5 How are you coping with the increasing technological changes,
projection film format etc. and also availability of films?
Answer : We had already incorporated technological change by introducing
DVD screenings. Films are available from FFSI, NFAI and NFDC.
Question – 6 Has the hay days of film societies ended, your experience and is so
what hold for the future of this movement?
Answer : It is general feeling of the public out side the fold of film society
movement that due to 24 x 7 channels screening films, DVD,
downloads from internet and now on mobile. Film Societies have
become irrelevant today. But it is not true. Take an example of
literature; the books are available in book shops and libraries even
then the languages are taught at the graduate and post graduate level.
Why? To understand the nuances of literature. The same thing is
about film society. It is not irrelevant in to day’s time. But Film
Society should give emphasis on study of cinema besides screening
films every month. The future of movement lies in the study of
cinema. So Film Society should give more emphasis on study of
cinema. Those societies will adhere to it will only survive.
Question – 7 How do you see the future of PCM?
Answer : Prabhat has already initiated monthly journal, monthly study group
and other methods where by film culture will be introduced. So
Prabhat will continue.
Question – 8 Is there any intervention which can salvage the situation for the FS?
Answer : One intervention can be further decentralization of Federation of Film
. At present FFSI has 5 regions combining 3 - 4
States in each Region. Honorary worker can not cope this work load.
So instead of Regional Council we should have State council based on
regional language. Secondly, all these years film societies were using
English as medium. Now it should regional language. Even one
week film appreciation course can be organized in Regional language.
Question – 9 Has the FS in Delhi supported and made space for regional film
makers especially those Marathi film makers who are doing well
Answer : Film Society movement is weak in Hindi belt. In New Delhi there are
only two societies are active. Habitat and
International. Habitat India
is organizing every year Indian Film Festival in which Marathi films
Question – 10 Does the Govt. have any role in FS and good films movement?
Answer : Govt. can play major role in promoting film society movement in
general and film culture in particular. Kerala & Karnataka has already
started this. Other states are far behind.