Friday, February 26, 2016

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
                   Societies in India.  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 India International.  Habitat
                   is organizing every year Indian Film Festival in which Marathi films
                   are screened.

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.

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