The ’90s do not match up to the past decades’

Dr Narendra Panjwani, sociologist, ex-journalist and professor of Media and Marketing at the Rizvi Institute of Management Studies and Research, Mumbai, recently launched his book, Emotion Pictures, an analysis of the impact of movies on people’s real and fantastical lives. Rishi Majumder met the author.

Photographer: Pal Pillai

Dr Narendra Panjwani

What got you writing the book?
A dissatisfaction with the kind of writing for cinema which tends to be either ‘PR’ or a devastating review which leaves the film industry cold because someone has used a Hollywood point of view to evaluate Bollywood movies. I wanted to find a meaningful language with which to speak about cinema from the producer’s, filmmaker’s, actor’s and viewers’ point of view.

The most influential cinematic trends have been…
Post 1951, filmmakers like Raj Kapoor, BR Chopra, Yash Chopra, Bimal Roy, Guru Dutt and Manmohan Desai addressed the public need of an Indian-ness that was cross-regional and multi-ethnic. The hero in the movies had no second name stated. They influenced private emotions by using the idea of romantic love as a means to find one’s self. Also contributing to these trends were relatively unrecognised directors such as Subodh Mukherji, Nassir Hussain and FC Mehta.

The most influential films. And why?
Awaara, in the period between 1947 – ’72, because it connected with the non-achiever who wanted to make something of his life, but was very confused about what to do; Mother India, because the main character
provided the full meaning of ‘character’; and Mughal-e-Azam and Bimal Roy’s Devdas, because they portrayed romance as a death-defying fantasy.
Between 1972 – ’93, Deewar, Sholay, and Amar Akbar Anthony. But, I don’t see Amitabh Bachchan here as an angry young man, but someone who, though down-trodden, carries himself with self-respect and has the courage to die for it. I don’t think the ’90s have created a film of the same power.

You’re keen to make a film. Any contemporary film that you’d have wanted to make?
Dil Chahta Hai, because it had the most realistic characters I’ve seen in Hindi cinema in a long time. Rang De Basanti is another favourite, because of the way it managed to rejuvenate idealism among college kids.

This article first appeared in Mumbai Mirror, Times Of India:


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