Rajni Basumatary: “The young generation is very innovative. They take challenges”

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An Indian delegation consisting of 15 companies from the media and entertainment sector in India visited Holland from 10 – 14th of October. Their visit was a part of a trade mission called ‘Dutch Media and Entertainment Program India’. This was the first time a delegation from this sector in India was making a collective visit to the country. Earlier we spoke to Rahul Dholakia on the changes in Indian Cinema. We also got the chance talk to director Rajni Basumatary and she shared her views on the recent changes.

Basumatary is a writer, director and producer at Manna Films. In 2007, she wrote and produced the highly acclaimed Assamese film Anuraag, which won seven state awards. Now she is getting ready to shoot her next film called Raaga. “I have been working on my next film called Raaga. The script of my new film has presence of Holland and that’s what brought me here. I wanted to see some locations.” She wants to shoot the film in Amsterdam and The Hague.

A few Bollywood films (Prem Rog, Silsila, Hello Brother and Hum Tum) have had scenes or songs which were shot in Holland, but that’s not what Basumatary is planning to do. “Raga is not going to be filmed in the fields as we have seen in other Indian films. It won’t have the hero and heroine dancing around tulips.”

A lot has changed in the last few years in Indian Cinema. Today there are very few films in which the hero and heroine do the classic dance around trees. According to Basumatary the change has been a step up. “Earlier it was quite stereotype. This is just a personal feeling, but I think when people made films, they just had the audience in their mind. They would make films that would appeal to the masses.”

She says the young generation is very innovative, very involved and likes to take on challenges. But, the audience has also matured.”They accept all kinds of cinema now. They are getting more educated and more intelligent about films. This was a long awaited thing that has happened.”

She went on to further talk about how the content of Hindi films has changed,”Content is the biggest change and secondly format and technology, which is a most welcome and is a positive change. Ten years ago, we couldn’t have imagined the stuff which is presented right now. I think this has to do with the makers and their mindset. Fortunately the audience has reacted positively to this change.”

“The change that is going on, should continue”, she adds. “Indian Cinema should keep evolving.”

The last few years a lot of films use VFX. Though Basumatary feels technology is a good thing, it should not take over the film. “I can’t speak about others, but some people like using technology in a smart way. But more than technology I would press and focus on the content. If you have got the content of the film right, I think any technology will support you. Content should be main part.”

Indian Cinema has been growing very fast and the attention it’s getting from the West is remarkable. Basumatary is happy with the response. “I think Indian cinema has made a mark abroad. I think it started with Lagaan, when it went to the Oscars. That has been the turning point for Indian Cinema in the international field. Slumdog Millionaire also turned heads to India. It spoke a lot about India. And the fact that they have used so many artists, music directors from India is great. I feel very happy about Slumdog Millionaire, even tough I wasn’t part of the film.”

She does feel that the length might be a problem for the Western audiences. “When you want to come out with your film and present it to an international audience, you should respect the mind of the international audience. But it’s changing now.”

According to her language and Indian culture are no barrier for a Western audience to enjoy Indian Cinema. “There are always subtitles. Besides that, images do speak, that is a language in itself. So many films in world cinema are not in English. French films are doing so well all over the world, because they have subtitles.”

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