Thiruvananthapuram: Acclaimed Bengali filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta said the country was moving through a dreadful phase. “If you don't submit to the diktats of the state, anything can happen to you,” Dasgupta said at the International Film Festival of Kerala here on Sunday. “If at all artists are bowing to the wishes of the rulers, it is not because the rulers are right but in the hope that they might get something in return,” he added.
He said a single party has now become omnipotent. “It has abandoned culture, and crippled the youth of this nation,” the veteran filmmaker said.
Dasgupta said National Films Development Corporation (NFDC), an agency created to promote good cinema movment in the country, had virtually stopped functioning. The Films Division, which creates news and documentaries, was also moribund. “Nothing is happening there,” he said. Dasgupta said it was not just cinema. “The threat is very much there in the field of literature, too” he said. Besides being a filmmaker, Dasgupta is also a well-known Bengali poet. (Some 40-odd poems of his has been translated into Malayalam by Sachithanandan.)
Dasgupta was critical not just of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre. By omnipotence he was also referring to Mamata Banerji's iron grip over Bengal. “I refused to attend the Kolkata Film Festival this year,” the auteur said.
Dasgupta's latest film 'Flight', about a man who stumbles upon a World War II fighter plane, is said to be a metaphor of the times we are living in. Dasgupta is known for his surreal images; critics have called him the Salvador Dali of moving images. Though he has huge admiration for neo-realistic masters like Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak, his films are far removed from theirs in terms of technique. “I have great admiration for them, even Japanese greats like Kenji Mizoguchi and Akira Kurosawa, but I have never been inspired by them,” he said.
His style goes beyond realism. “I hate reality, it is boring, repetitive, and highly predictable,” he said. “But it should never be forgotten that the unreal is the path towards the real,” he said.
However, he said that if at all there was a filmmaker who had inspired him, it was Luis Bunuel, the iconoclastic Spanish filmmaker whose mind-boggling range extends from the surreal to the farce. “For me, he is the all-time great,” Dasgupta said.