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Saeed Akthar Mirza’s novel launched

Special Correspondent

Discussion on ’Commercial cinema versus art cinema’

— Photo: M. Vedhan

Reading session: Saeed Akhtar Mirza reading from his book, Ammi: Letter to a Democratic Mother, launched in Chennai on Sunday.

CHENNAI: Religious extremism. Commercial cinema versus art cinema.

These and some other topics figured in an interactive session at the Nungambakkam outlet of Landmark on Sunday evening when noted film-maker Saeed Akthar Mirza’s maiden novel, “Ammi: Letter to a Democratic Mother” was launched.

The event witnessed readings of portions of the book by the author, chief guest of the function, and Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu N. Ram and a few members of the audience.

The book was “a lyrical, personal and polemical account of growing up in an India that is transforming itself. Mirza’s narrative interweaves memories of a mother with the living political creed she believed in — the egalitarian ethos of a democratic faith coupled with a deep, inquiring faith in religion,” said a release issued by the organisers of the event on the occasion.

The book was published by Tranquebar Press, an imprint of Westland Books, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Landmark.

Talking about the form of the book, Mr. Mirza described it as “miniatures set in a mural: a kind of reflective, personal journey set in a background of ideas, politics and history.” The novel also contained the love story of two extraordinary people.

“Exciting”

Calling the book important and exciting, Mr. Ram referred to the debate on commercial cinema versus art cinema. Noting that journalism, too, faced the similar issue, he asked Mr. Mirza how he handled the question and whether it could ever be resolved.

“I think this question was posed over thousands of years,” Mr. Mirza began his reply. Noting that it had never been an issue to him, he said that his attempt in his films or in a book was to be as inclusive as possible without losing out integrity of thought and idea.

To a question from a member of the audience which — feature films or documentary films — were close to his heart, Mr. Mirza replied: “I think, right now, my book.”

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