There are times when one feels that our obsession with all things foreign is still haunting us. The classic example is the National Film Development Corporation of India's (NFDC) Film Bazaar at the ongoing 49th edition of the International Film Festival of India at Goa's Panaji.
This year, with the head of the NFDC, Nina Lath Gupta, gone, Raja Chinai is the Film Bazaar Director. An old hand at the NFDC, Chinai told me the other day that he had not invited any Indian journalist to the Bazaar. “The Press Information Bureau (PIB) of India is in charge of Indian invitations”, he added.
But a call to the PIB at Goa elicited a different kind of reply. An official there said categorically that the Bureau was not in charge of issuing any invites. “Our business is to merely provide media accreditations. Nothing more”, he said.
This is an old Indian game when the buck is passed from one to the other. Ultimately, one is never sure who is to be held responsible.
A Festival well-wisher and member of an IFFI steering committee was pained to find that no mainline Indian newspapers had been invited to cover the Film Bazaar, which had over the years gained enormous importance, thanks to Gupta. She had created it and worked hard to nurture it to a level that was admired not just within the country, but also outside.
(The Bazaar had helped dozens of Indian moviemakers find funds and even improve their scripts. Legends like Derek Malcolm (who was the film critic at The Guardian and Evening Standard for a very long time) have been holding mentoring classes at the Bazaar. This year too.)
The result of 'no invite for Indian journalists' is that the Bazaar has reportedly just three foreign publications covering the five-day event – The Hollywood Reporter, Screen International and Variety. Or so we are told.
It seems strange that the NFDC's Film Bazaar, a wholly Indian enterprise from an organisation whose most primary business has been to promote Indian cinema, has chosen to ignore journalists from Indian newspapers, magazines and web papers.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is an author, commentator and movie critic)