The graveyard at Ahmednagar
|Haal e Kangaal Poster|
I always wondered if Haal-e-Kangaal (The Bankrupts) would blend itself well with an rural audience. Some of my friends who have seen this film too have expressed apprehensions about this.
The twenty five screening that I have had of this film were largely for a city based audiences and in cities. This is an audience that has already an exposure for offbeat cinema and world cinema. To an extent I found their positive reactions to the film, not surprising.
But I always wanted a rural or a small town screening. That is when I thought the 'niche' tag would vanish for this film. I found an opportunity when I screened the film in Ahmednagar, a small town in central Maharashtra, at the New Arts, Science and Commerce college.
Bapu Chandanshive who heads the Communication Department is the guiding force behind the film club that the Arts department runs at the campus. The club is presently managed by the energetic Prof. Rahul Chaudhari.
It is associated with the Federation of Film Societies of India and it gets its regular share of films from them. Besides, it also sources films on its own.
They have been running a short film festival in this rusty town for quite a few years now. Film maker Nagraj Manjule had studied in this college. Chandanshive himself has made short films and is planning a feature. They have quality projectors. 'Rarely does a film maker wants to come here', to show his film, complained Rahul.
There were about fifty of them in the audience at the screening. Almost all of them were from a rural background. Normally, I prefer to sit in the back row when my own films are being screened, so that I can get some sense of the reaction of the audience.
But here the hall was packed. I was made to sit in the front row, where apart from the laughs and giggles I could gauge nothing.
And then for a few minutes after the screening, no one spoke. I thought this audience has failed this film. Then slowly the reactions started trickling in. Apart from the theme and content of the film, people discussed about the sound pattern, the edit pattern, the short taking, the usage of space, the script and the narrative pattern etc.
With a glow in their eyes some of them said that they had found out a new way of film making. It had never occurred to them that a film can be made with two characters and in a single location. It did help that they too had seen some of the best of world cinema.
That is when it struck me that I have had a screening in Kundapur, a smaller town in Karnataka for an audience of about fifteen. There too there was a great discussion and that select audience too had exposure to world cinema.
Thanks to the internet and the availability of film digitally, everyone can have access to world cinema. How mistaken was I when I, in my own biased little mind, had made an artificial rural-urban division of my viewers. I now stand corrected.
Next to the place where I was put up at Ahmednagar was a graveyard. I had to bury this stupendously patronising attitude of mine in there, deep below in one of those graves.
To screen 'Haal e Kangaal' or any of my other films in your schools, colleges, offices and film clubs